May 10, 2018 / 6:27 AM / a year ago

Broadcaster ITV looks to World Cup for June advertising boost

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s biggest free-to-air commercial broadcaster said it expected net advertising to jump by around 15 percent in June as viewers tune in for the soccer World Cup, after it reported first-quarter trading in line with forecasts.

FILE PHOTO: A company sign is displayed outside an ITV studio in London, Britain July 27, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo /File Photo

Net advertising revenue was down 15 percent in April and is forecast to be flat in May before an expected jump of 15 percent in June as the month-long World Cup kicks off on ITV and the publicly-owned BBC on June 14.

The company, which is in the middle of a strategic review under new CEO Carolyn McCall, said that while the economic environment remained uncertain, online advertising was growing strongly.

“We expect ITV total advertising to be up 2 percent over thefirst half, but profits will reflect the timing of the football World Cup,” McCall said before ITV’s annual shareholder meeting later on Thursday.

“Over the full year we are on track to deliver double digit growth in online revenue and good organic revenue growth in ITV Studios,” she added.

Shares in ITV traded up 2.4 percent at 154.8 pence at 0705 GMT, making the stock one of the top risers on the FTSE 100 .FTSE.

ITV, under former boss Adam Crozier, rebuilt its business to grow revenues from online services and programme production to reduce its reliance on volatile advertising. Under McCall, the group wants to improve the way it sells its shows to other platforms to grow those revenues further.

McCall said that a “strategic refresh” was progressing well and she would provide investors with an update at the group’s half-year results in July.

The former boss of easyJet (EZJ.L) McCall has said ITV creates great shows in a market where broadcasters and online players such as Netflix are battling for content. But she has said it needs to make sure it is paid the appropriate amount by platforms for its content made by its studios.

Analysts have welcomed the new focus but the shares are still highly sensitive to any change in advertising trends. Net ad revenue fell 5 percent in 2017.

Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Adrian Croft and Sarah Young

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