ITV faces autumn ad sales slump

ITV is expected to suffer a 14 per cent drop in trading this October compared with last year, when screening the Rugby World Cup helped the network to its most successful month ever.

A downturn in dot-com advertising is also blamed for the declining autumn sales figures.

TV buyers are predicting that ITV will turn over some &£190m this October, nearly 14 per cent down on 1999’s record figure of &£216m for the same month. October 1998 sales reached &£190m.

TV buyers attribute the fall to the tough comparisons with last year, but also to advertisers’ high spending in the first two-quarters of this year.

Manning Gottlieb Media head of broadcast John McGeough says: “It’s a rationalisation of what’s gone earlier on in the year, and a reaction to the World Cup last year. Rugby attracts cars, financial services and telecoms.”

Phil France, managing director of ITV sales house Granada Enterprises, says: “Last October, the Rugby World Cup pulled in a lot of dot-coms. [This year] it will be great value for agencies and clients, so fill your boots.”

In the first six months of this year, ITV’s trading was up every month by at least ten per cent on the equivalent month the previous year. This was driven in part by do-com advertisers, though campaigns for many of these have dried up. In April, for example, ITV sales were up 19 per cent on the previous year to &£190m.

McGeough predicts that ITV’s revenues could be up between five and seven per cent for the year as a whole.

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