1509 Wednesday 12 December 2018

It’s been a big 24 hours for ITV…

News broke yesterday evening that the broadcaster had made a deal with Haymon Sports and Premier Boxing Champions to exclusive air live boxing events. Earlier today it was announced that ITV had reached their best viewing figures for a decade. And in the last hour, the broadcaster appointed Kate Waters as director of client strategy and planning to build on their new model of strategic partnerships.

The three year deal with Haymon Sports and PBC is a throwback to the pre-pay-per-view days of live boxing on terrestrial television and will see a minimum of 15 live events per year as well as PPV events on ITV Box Office. PBC has 160 fighters on their roster, including 60 current and former world champions. Niall Sloane, ITV Director of Sport was quoted as saying “This unprecedented deal between PBC and ITV is great news for boxing fans in the UK. We look forward to bringing viewers big events and superb action from some of the world’s best fighters in the coming years”. Tim Smith, Vice President of Communications for Haymon Boxing, said of the deal “We're thrilled about this new exclusive three-year deal with ITV, UK’s biggest commercial broadcaster, and the opportunity to bring the best boxers in the world to the UK’’.

In relation to the viewing figures, ITV have already posted their highest numbers since 2007 in the months from January to November and still have the Christmas period to call upon. Amongst the highest rated shows, Love Island, I’m a Celebrity and the England national team saw the largest numbers, while other shows including This Morning and Coronation Street saw increases and even the News at Ten bulletin saw its highest average share since 2011. Love Island saw a growth of 1.5m compared with the year before, I’m a Celebrity broke its own records with 13.7m watching the first episode and England vs. Croatia had an average audience of 24.3m. Kevin Lygo, ITV’s director of television, said: “2018 has been a fantastic year for us – England’s World Cup clashes on ITV and Love Island were the most talked about TV of the summer, and this autumn, I’m A Celebrity has broken records in what is its 18th series.

In terms of the balance sheet, the appointment of Kate Waters could be the most significant for ITV. Within her role, Walters will build on the broadcaster’s strategy of working with strategic partners and sponsors to bring additional content and revenue for the firm. Walters will work directly with the data teams of ITV and relay insights through to their advertising partners to enhance their relationships. Simon Daglish, deputy managing director of commercial, was quoted as saying "As a major partner to thousands of brands, it is important that ITV continues to develop its capabilities to add real value to clients’ marketing plans. This requires a much more strategic approach and I cannot think of anyone more qualified to lead this team than Kate Waters – we are delighted she is joining us".

The triple header of news today will come as relief to investors holding positions in ITV and the stock is currently up 2.17% at 131.70 on the back of it. ITV.L is still down 20% on the year, but all three factors seem to be building on the blue sky outlook that Carolyn McCall outlined and with the strategic partnerships being a key area for them. Since November, ITV received Buy recommendations from brokers including Liberum and Shore Capital with the former holding a target price of 260.00. Other brokers such as Barclays and UBS are less bullish with their targets of 170.00 and 150.00 respectively.

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