STV reports ad growth and hails success of The Victim

Broadcaster STV Group has flagged a resilient advertising market and posted a double-digit hike in digital revenues.

The Victim is an STV production shown on BBC1. Picture: Ian Georgeson
The Victim is an STV production shown on BBC1. Picture: Ian Georgeson

In a trading update, the Glasgow-based group said that it expects advertising revenue for the first quarter of 2019 to grow by 1 per cent to 2 per cent. It added that the growth reflects “increasing resilience in the advertising market”.

National advertising revenue is tipped to come in ahead of previous guidance, down by just 1 per cent to 2 per cent.

Regional advertising continues to perform strongly, STV told investors, and is set to rise by 20 per cent to 25 per cent, helped by the group’s partnerships with more than 130 Scottish advertisers – more than half of whom are new to TV.

Digital revenues are expected to be up 15 per cent to 20 per cent, and the firm said that its production business was performing in line with expectations and had secured by the end of the first quarter revenue equivalent to more than 60 per cent of the total achieved in 2018.

The group said STV Player “continues to grow strongly”, with online viewing up 20 per cent and streams up 28 per cent in the first quarter driven by hit dramas such as Manhunt, Cheat and The Bay.

Chief executive Simon Pitts said: “We have made a strong start to 2019, with TV and online viewing levels continuing their positive momentum from 2018 and total advertising revenue also growing, demonstrating STV’s increasing resilience in the advertising market even in an uncertain economic climate.

“Our STV Growth Fund goes from strength to strength, underpinning strong regional advertising sales and bringing new advertisers to television for the first time.

“We are immensely proud of our new Scottish drama series – The Victim – which aired on BBC1 earlier this month to huge critical and popular acclaim and represents just the sort of landmark programming we want to do more of in future.”

The group also confirmed that Lindsay Dixon will take up her appointment as chief financial officer on 21 May as George Watt steps down from the board before leaving the company on 30 April.

Last week, STV announced that it had struck a deal with the trustees of its final salary pension schemes to plug a £127 million deficit.