ITV (LSE: ITV) keeps trumpeting the growing success of its website as a video destination – this April, video views were 300 percent up on the same time last year. But, for all that growth, ITV’s Q1 online revenue hadn’t moved from last year at £9 million – it’s not clear whether this includes for-sale Friends Reunited but, going from previous years’ figures, it looks like it.
In the recessional context, however, the broadcaster’s Thursday earnings announcement says this isn’t so bad: “Despite tough economic conditions in the online display market, ITV held online revenues in Q1.” ITV.com unique users grew 70 percent to 11 million in April, which benefited from Britain’s Got Talent fever. But, after deciding to ditch most online assets to focus on live and catch-up video, ITV must next hope it can find a way to profit from video pre-rolls. If ITV.com video used Flash, rather than Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Silverlight, it’s likely video views would be even higher.
Updated: ITV contacted us to clarify: “Online revenues were flat because they were impacted by the weakness in the online advertising market, particularly display, and the impact of taking Friends Reunited from subscription to ad-funded. Clearly as an ad-funded model Friends, will also be affected by this downturn. The area of growth is actually in video advertising. We have delivered very significant percentage revenue growth in this area. This growth offset the declines above to deliver a flat position.”
Elsewhere in the company, TV ad sales in April were down 16 percent down from last year, with the same fall expected for May and worse at 18 percent in June. Group revenue is down 14 percent to £425 million. With Michael Grade having decided to step down as executive chairman, the appointment of a new CEO will come “no later than the end of 2009”.