STV Group plc has reported a half-year operating profit of £11.4m as the broadcaster returns to pre-Covid levels of growth and profitability ahead of expectations.
Operating profits surged 118%, up from £5.2m on the same period in 2020, as the advertising recovery continues.
Total advertising revenue was 32% higher and is expected to be up by between 20% and 25% for the nine months to end of September.
The company, which also announced it had acquired a 25% stake in unscripted production company “Hello Mary”, said it was maintaining record audience growth on both STV (+5%) and STV Player (+66%).
The board proposes an interim dividend of 3.7p, which is 23% up on 2020.
Chief executive Simon Pitts said: “Ahead of expectations, STV has returned to pre-pandemic levels of growth and profitability, thanks to the strength of our programming, the success of our diversification strategy, and the commitment and creativity of our people.
“Our record viewing performance has continued into 2021, with TV audiences up 5% even on last year’s lockdown levels, and online viewing via STV Player up a further 66%.”
Player-exclusive boxsets now constitute over 40% of the company’s on-demand viewing. This has driven a 32% advertising bounce back in the first-half, which is continuing into the autumn.
Mr Pitts continued: “Our strategy of creating a more diversified business through a relentless focus on digital and production growth is delivering.
“STV Studios is going from strength to strength, winning 15 programme commissions so far this year, and we’re delighted to be filming new, large scale returnable formats in Scotland like drama series Screw (C4), quiz show The Bridge of Lies (BBC1) and the genre-bending Murder Island (C4), as we aim to become the UK’s leading nations and regions producer.”