MEDIA: STV Group plc trading update

STV Group plc trading update released today

STV chief executive officer Simon Pitts.

By Democrat reporter
EXCELLENT viewing performance continues; advertising recovery ahead of expectations; short-term outlook still uncertain due to Covid-19

* Advertising recovery ahead of expectations, with Q3 total advertising revenue -four per cent and October -two per cent;

* STV-controlled advertising outperforming, with regional advertising up eight per cent and VOD advertising up ten per cent in Q3;

* Continued excellent viewing performance on TV and online in the ten months to the end of October 2020, with TV viewing up 13 per cent and online viewing up 82 per cent; and

* Good commissioning momentum in Studios, with revenue guidance maintained for a strong 2021.

Advertising market

* Advertising trends have improved materially over Q3 and the start of Q4, albeit the Covid-impacted outlook remains uncertain.

Tough comparator – scenes from Scotland v Argentina in the Rugby World Cup.

* Q3 total advertising revenue (TAR) was -four per cent year on year, with July -seven per cent, August +one per cent and September -five per cent. October improved further to two per cent, with revenues seeing a meaningful step up in the important autumn months, even taking account of tough comparators with Rugby World Cup 2019. Total advertising revenue January to October stands at -13 per cent.

* Within TAR, STV-controlled advertising has continued to outperform, with regional advertising +eight per cent in Q3 and showing year on year growth every month since July. Between April and October, STV’s Growth Fund attracted 71 new Scottish advertisers to STV.  Year to date January to October regional advertising is -six per cent.

* VOD advertising was +ten per cent in Q3 and returned to growth in September and October. Year to date January to October VOD advertising is +12 per cent.

Record viewing growth on TV and online continues

* Highest TV audience volume growth ever, +13 per cent from January to October, with growth continuing into the autumn (+16 per cent in September, +ten per cent in October).

* Viewing share gain is higher than any other TV channel in Scotland in 2020 (19.2 per cent all time viewing share year to date).

* Still most popular peak time channel in Scotland (21.5 per cent share year to date), with peak audiences growing by 15 per cent in September and 12 per cent in October.

* Ratings success driven by the return of the soaps to their full episode count, a strong drama slate including The Sister and Des (STV’s biggest new drama launch in 18 years) and STV News at Six, with audiences +30 per cent year to date and averaging 554k viewers and a 36 per cent viewing share in October, its best performing month ever.

* In digital, STV Player continues to be the fastest growing broadcaster video on demand service in the UK, with online viewing up 82 per cent from January to October (VOD viewing +87 per cent, live simulcast viewing +71 per cent).

* In September, Des became the best-performing drama on the Player ever with 1.4m streams, and was the best-watched drama for 16-34s this year across all channels. Nearly half of 16-34 viewing for Des in Scotland was via the STV Player.

* Successful digital content strategy sees STV Player-exclusive programming accounting for 33 per cent of all digital viewing January to October, up from 15 per cent at the start of 2020 and six per cent in 2019, as well as five of the ten most popular programmes on the Player so far this year.


* STV Studios has maintained its creative and commercial momentum with 14 commissions so far in 2020, its highest-ever number, including five recommissions.

* The UK and Scottish governments have confirmed that TV production can continue during the English lockdown and through all levels of the new Scottish strategic framework for Covid-19. All STV programmes are currently still in production under the industry’s Covid-safety protocols which are working well.

* Our previous guidance for Studios is maintained: the production hiatus earlier in the year has impacted 2020 revenue but the profit impact will be limited. For 2021, Studios has £15-20m of commissions already secured as the benefits of our strengthened creative pipeline start to come through.

Simon Pitts, STV chief executive, said: “2020 has underscored both the loyalty of our viewers and the resilience of our business. We’ve seen record growth in audiences across the whole of 2020 so far, not just during lockdown, with TV viewing up 13 per cent and online viewing up 82 per cent.

“Despite the ongoing challenges around Covid-19, I’m encouraged that the advertising market has recovered strongly across the summer and autumn, demonstrating the enduring power of television and our ability to come through further uncertainty with confidence. In particular, STV-controlled Scottish advertising and digital advertising have returned to year-on-year growth during the autumn, fuelled by our Growth Fund and the excellent performance of our streaming service STV Player.

“We remain confident in our prospects for growth, and look forward to finishing the year strongly on screen with November traditionally our biggest month of the year thanks to the return of I’m a Celebrity; while, in STV Studios, our 14 new commissions so far this year means that 2021 promises to be our most successful year yet.”


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