STV sees rise in non-broadcast earnings

Image source, STV

STV, the Glasgow-based media firm, has announced its annual financial results, with a continuing shift away from dependence on broadcast.

In six years, the share of non-broadcast earnings has risen from 11% to 23% of the total.

Advertising revenue from its broadcast channels is expected to fall this year - national advertising by 7% and regional by 9%.

That follows a slowing of advertising since the first half of last year.

The anticipated fall is despite plans to launch a new channel this spring called STV2, based on the company's city broadcast licences in Glasgow and Edinburgh, with the addition of Aberdeen, Dundee and Ayr.

It says the new channel should reach 85% of the Scottish population on air and will be available to every home through the online STV Player.

Most popular programmes

Losses sustained through starting up the city stations were £1m in 2015, falling to £800,000 last year.

Meanwhile, STV claimed that its main channel had a slightly higher share of the TV audience than the ITV network. It said it broadcast 47 of the 50 most popular programmes on commercial TV last year.

Its flagship current affairs programme, Scotland Tonight, has been forced to move to later in the evening due to ITV schedule changes.

STV chief executive Rob Woodward emphasised that the Nightly Show, a topical chat show format, is in the 22:00 slot for an eight-week trial.

Image source, PA
Image caption, STV is expected to extract value from the information it gathers from online customers

The company's full-year results show revenue up 3% to £120.4m. Statutory pre-tax profits were up 60% to £15.7m.

Digital advertising revenues, from STV Player and its online news service, grew by 20% in 2016, to £7.9m, but fell short of the £10m target. They are expected to continue their growth, by 11% during this year.

The company also expects to extract value from the information it gathers on its online customers.

Another key part of STV's bid to rebalance - aiming to reach 30% of earnings from non-broadcast by 2018 - is in winning commissions to make programmes for other channels.

'Strong position'

After a disappointing year in 2015, that division has returned to growth, with revenue up 53% to £12.7m. However, its value has been written down as it has failed to achieve targets.

STV is making a four-part series for Channel 5 called Tour de Celeb. During the last financial year, it made documentaries for Channel 4 and the BBC, including an award-winning programme on the 20th anniversary of the Dunblane killings.

It has a recommissioned series on Prisons for Sky, a further series of Catchphrase for ITV and Antiques Road Trip for the BBC.

A large pension deficit in the STV staff scheme ran to £130m at the end of last year. The company is putting nearly £9m into helping to close the gap this year.

Mr Woodward said STV had shown "a robust and resilient performance" in its core business.

"We are continuing to de-risk the core business placing the company in a strong position to deal with any weakness in the advertising market in the short to mid-term, whilst relentlessly pursuing our growth objectives."

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