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ITV unveils boost from World Cup

ITV kept up its momentum today after a strong World Cup for the broadcaster boosted advertising revenues by 7% in the first half of the year.

As the company's five-year turnaround plan draws to a close, chief executive Adam Crozier said he was hopeful that a strong autumn schedule of new and returning drama and entertainment will maintain progress.

Profits were 16% higher to £312 million on an adjusted basis in the six months to June 30, with total revenues 6% stronger at £1.38 billion.

Net advertising revenues (NAR) across ITV channels were up 14% in June due to the World Cup, which compared with 2% in the first quarter.

Its share of viewing improved during the second quarter, helped by the World Cup, although the figure was still 3% lower across the first half.

ITV said NAR should be up around 6% in the nine months to the end of September and that it will "significantly outperform" the market over the full year.

Mr Crozier said: "The economic recovery is leading to an improved advertising market with good growth across all key categories.

"However, as we anticipated the television advertising market again showed significant fluctuations across the period particularly around the timing of Easter and the FIFA World Cup."

The company said ratings successes included comedy Birds of a Feather, Britain's Got Talent, drama series The Widower and Britain's most watched soap in Coronation Street. The overall most watched programme in the period was England against Uruguay in the World Cup.

ITV has been looking to minimise its exposure to volatile advertising markets by boosting its spending on original content.

It has snapped up production companies behind programmes such as 24 Hours In A&E and the Graham Norton Show to build an arsenal of original content it can sell around the globe.

Revenues from ITV Studios were 2% higher in the period, although its overall performance was impacted by the proportion of ITV's programme budget allocated towards the World Cup.

Mr Crozier added: "The plan we embarked on four years ago of rebalancing and strengthening ITV creatively and financially, both in the UK and internationally, is clearly the right one for the company and our vision remains unchanged."

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