STV gives out strong signals as advertising market rides out pandemic

Scottish broadcasting group STV has offered a positive outlook for investors after a further recovery in advertising spend.

Chief executive Simon Pitts said that while it was “relatively early days in the economic recovery”, advertising for the first five months of the year is expected to return to 2019 levels.

In a trading update, he added: “STV-controlled Scottish advertising and digital advertising both continue to outperform the wider market, driven by our advertising Growth Fund and the success of our streaming service, STV Player, following its recent launch across the whole of the UK.”

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The group’s January-April total advertising revenue is now up by 10 per cent, ahead of previous guidance of between 7 and 9 per cent. Regional advertising revenues are up 12 per cent in the first four months of the year.

STV chief executive Simon Pitts: 'We have more to look forward to in 2021, with STV Studios on track to deliver its most successful year yet'. Picture: Laurence Winram

The firm said its record viewing performance had continued into 2021, with TV viewing up 12 per cent in the first quarter, making STV the most watched channel in Scotland, ahead of BBC1 in both peak time and across the whole day, for the first time since 2006.

Bosses are expecting a strong commercial and viewing performance in June as the economy continues to reopen, supported by a “high-quality programme schedule on TV and online”, including the start of the delayed Euro 2020 championships where STV will broadcast more than 20 live and exclusive matches featuring both Scotland and England.

The group’s studios business also remains on track to deliver its most successful year yet, with revenues of £20-25 million already secured for 2021.

STV Studios is currently in production on 15 series for 11 different networks, including new drama series Screw and new factual entertainment format Murder Island, both for Channel 4.

Last month, the studios division confirmed a further drama series commission, Blue Lights, by creative partner Two Cities Television, for BBC1.

Pitts added: “We have more to look forward to in 2021, with STV Studios on track to deliver its most successful year yet following a record 19 new commissions last year, as well as the exciting prospect of the delayed Euro 2020 football championships.”

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