Downton Abbey helps boost ITV profits

<p>ITV has reported a 39 per cent rise in pre-tax profits.</p>

Programmes such as Downton Abbey and Doc Martin has helped to boost profits at ITV.

The commercial broadcaster reported a huge 39 per cent increase in pre-tax profits, including exceptional items, to £605 million for the year to December 31st. Revenue was up by eight per cent to £2.59 billion while net advertising revenue by six per cent to £1.63 billion. Non advertising revenue had also risen by ten per cent to £1.3 billion thanks to a 30 per cent increase in ITV's online, pay and interactive division.

In its latest trading update, ITV confirmed that 2014 was the fifth consecutive year of double-digit profit growth. It is now focusing on delivering value from investment in quality content. This involves more money being used to improve ITV Studios while also boosting its presence in terms of international revenue.

Over the past year, ITV has purchased US TV companies Leftfield Entertainment and DiGia Vision which allowed it to screen popular shows across the pond. Alongside this investment, the company launched new channels such as ITV Encore, its first pay-only channel, and ITVBe, which targets a young female audience.

Adam Crozier, ITV chief executive, said: "ITV delivered another strong performance in 2014 as we continue to rebalance the business, drive new revenue streams and invest in our future growth. All parts of the business are progressing well with group external revenue up."

The announcement caused an uplift in ITV's share price with the company seeing a 5.54 per cent increase as 10:16 GMT on Wednesday (March 4th).

Loss of sports coverage

From the 2015/16 season, ITV will be losing its coverage of Champions League and Europa League football. In November 2013, BT Sport paid £897 million for an exclusive three-year deal to broadcast live European football matches.

This brings an end to ITV's coverage, which would include selected Champions League and Europa League matches, however the broadcaster will retain some coverage of the England national team and exclusively broadcast the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

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