ITV to get extra ad income in BT and Sky battle

ITV is poised to reap the benefits from BT’s battle to win sports fans away from Sky as the telecoms giant pumps cash into its advertising budget.

The broadcaster expects its advertising revenues to jump by 20 per cent year on year next month as BT tries to lure customers away from Sky with the promise of English Premiership football matches.

Comparisons will also be flattered by last year’s Olympics Games, when spending on advertising dried up as the BBC mopped up viewers due to wall-to-wall sports coverage.

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News of the expected boost to advertising came as ITV yesterday unveiled a 16 per cent rise in half-year profits to £270 million, on the back of a 2 per cent rise in turnover to £1.3 billion.

Investec Securities analyst Steve Liechti said that the half-year figures were “fine or slightly above forecast”.

ITV has continued to diversify in an attempt to reduce its reliance on advertising.

The FTSE 100 group has bought a string of production companies, including last week snapping up Big Talk, the maker of films such as Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead and The World’s End and television series including Black Books, Friday Night Dinner and Rev.

Meanwhile, BT has unveiled plans to split its retail division into BT Consumer and BT Business as part of a shake-up that will follow the retirement in September of Scots-born chief executive Ian Livingston.

John Petter, currently managing director of the consumer unit within BT Retail, will become chief executive of BT Consumer, while the chief executive of BT Business will be Graham Sutherland, currently managing director of the business unit within BT Retail.

Both will report to current BT Retail chief executive Gavin Patterson, who will succeed Livingston as group chief executive.