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ITV’s online director Ben McOwen Wilson uses a Guardian.co.uk interview to talk up talk up reasons prospectors might fancy on-the-block Friends Reunited. The price? “Well north of £60 million”, Wilson reckons. ITV (LSE: ITV) has made £57 million revenue from Friends since buying it for £120 million in 2005, according to previous earnings – so, at that price, it will only be making its money back.
He’ll be lucky – despite its premium subscription model historically bringing in the bulk of ITV’s online revenues (ITV.com pulled in £35 million over the same period), Friends’ cash-generation plateaued in 2007 and is now falling after ITV switched it to ad-supported, as our chart below shows. Wilson adds: “We’re also selling around five core components of data and add-ons that advertisers can buy back.” It’s not clear what this means, but: “In a market where CPT [costs per thousand for user data] on Facebook are sub-five cents, some of the Friends inventory is in the £2-£3 level.”
Wilson rejects critics’ arguments Friends, under ITV, didn’t keep apace with the social networking revolution happening around it: “I don’t accept the charge that ITV didn’t see social networking coming. Friends made its money providing a payment barrier around access to real personal data, but after Facebook people were prepared to put personal data online