ITV reported a 42 per cent slide in ad revenues in April — significantly worse than previously anticipated — as the coronavirus pandemic forces companies to cut back on marketing.
The British free-to-air television network had warned in March that ad revenues were likely to drop 10 per cent in April as the travel industry postponed campaigns.
The figure underlines both the speed and scale of the blow from the virus to companies’ marketing spend. Ad revenue had been up 8 per cent in February and flat in March.
ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall said the group was “very focused on emerging from this crisis in a strong position” and was “continuing to offer advertisers effective marketing opportunities”.
The group has suspended the majority of its productions across the world since mid-March due to the lockdowns and social distancing measures imposed by authorities in many countries.
It said on Wednesday it was cancelling its final dividend for 2019 and was unable to provide guidance for the second quarter of 2020 or the remainder of the year as the outlook remained “uncertain and is changing rapidly”.
The group has furloughed 800 members of staff — 15 per cent of its workforce — and said it would double its overhead savings this year to £60m.
“ITV has taken swift and decisive action to manage and mitigate the impact of Covid-19, by focusing on our people and their safety, and by continuing to reduce costs and tightly manage our cash flow and liquidity,” Ms McCall said.