STV audience boom but advertisers turned off by lockdown

Audience figures rose by 86% online and 12% on broadcast during lockdown.

STV audience boom but advertisers turned off by lockdown STV

STV saw its audience grow at record speed but advertising dropped in the first six months of the year.

Audience figures soared by 86% online and 12% on broadcast, and growth continued even as lockdown began to ease.

But advertising revenue dropped nationally by 23% and regionally by 18%.

However, digital revenue at STV – Scotland’s most trusted news source, according to Ofcom – was 5% higher than the same period last year.

Overall revenue dropped 19% to £44.7m, with a £9.1m profit last year turning into a £4.9m loss before tax so far this year.

Chief executive Simon Pitts said: “Our record audience growth in the first half – up 12% on TV and 86% online – illustrates the enduring power and relevance of public service broadcasting, particularly STV’s local news, which has been a vital lifeline for millions of Scots during this crisis.”

Lockdown viewing increased 24%, and daytime TV watching was up 48%, while 40% more TVs were switched to the news.

But, like many media companies, a bigger audience did not translate into more money, as advertisers pull commercials from screens and newspapers.

STV normally makes a lot of money through its studios but, as filming paused in the second quarter of the year, this fell by 17%.

Mr Pitts added: “While our advertising and production revenues have been significantly impacted by Covid-19, we have been able to mitigate nearly half of the impact thanks to the proactive steps we have taken and our variable cost model.

“The outlook is much more positive in the second half, with advertising trends improving materially in July and August, and a strong schedule to look forward to on TV and online.”

Soaps such as Coronation Street and Emmerdale are set to return to screens, while David Tennant will star in new drama Des.

STV will also show Britain’s Got Talent and I’m A Celebrity in the autumn.

Mr Pitts praised STV staff for their resilience during lockdown.

He told them in an email: “I don’t need to tell you that it’s been an extraordinary few months, and the first thing to say once again is that I couldn’t be more proud of how everyone at STV has responded.”

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