ITV chief executive Charles Allen has embarked on a “roadshow” of media agencies as flagship channel ITV1’s total advertising revenues look set to dip below &£100m a month for the first time in more than a decade, with the World Cup failing to stem any decline.
Analysts and executives believe that July and August will see the main channel slip below the &£100m mark for the first time since 1994. Figures suggest that July’s revenue will drop 18% to &£96m, yet forecasters believe August’s decline will be even more dramatic. ITV1 turnover is heading for a decline of about 11% year on year, in a broadcast market that is expected to fall 3% to 5% overall.
Analysts add that some of the shortfall is likely to find its way in to ITV’s digital portfolio of channels: ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4.
Allen is said to be arranging a series of personal visits to a number of top-billing agencies to get a hands-on view on why advertisers are seemingly shying away from the medium and the channel. It is the first time he has done so, having left one-to-one contact to his commercial and sales teams in the past. He is also believed to be lobbying senior media executives over contracts rights renewal (CRR), which was put in place as a condition of the Granada/Carlton merger and which he now wants scrapped.
One agency head says Allen will have little support for scrapping CRR, which advertisers still see as a necessity, although he is sympathetic to ITV’s revenue plight. “It is encouraging to see ITV being flexible about advance booking deadlines,” he says. “There is tremendous value to be had in TV at the moment,” he adds. ITV1’s prices are believed to offer the cheapest cost per thousand in real terms for six years.
In the long term Allen wants half of all revenues to come from outside ITV1.