ITV expects to score with Euro 2012 soccer coverage

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LONDON (Reuters) – ITV, Britain’s biggest free-to-air commercial television broadcaster, reported a 13 percent rise in first-quarter revenue on Wednesday and vowed to outperform the overall TV market this year with a strong performance by its in-house production arm and coverage in June of the Euro 2012 soccer tournament.

ITV, home to period drama Downton Abbey and Britain’s Got Talent, reported revenues from its in-house production ITV Studios up 61 percent in the first three months of the year, offsetting a 1 percent fall in net advertising revenue which was in line with the market.

Overall, revenues were up by 13 percent, as the company showed tangible signs of success with its new strategy to grow alternative revenue streams to make the group less reliant on volatile advertising revenues.

The statement sent shares in the group up 3.5 percent against an otherwise flat FTSE 100 Index.

“The ITV first quarter was better than expected and we expect it to drive consensus upgrades,” Ian Whittaker at Liberum Capital said.

The group forecast net advertising revenue for the first half of the year would be up 3 percent, ahead of the overall market.

The first-half estimate assumes that net advertising revenue was down 1 percent in the first quarter, broadly flat in April, up 6 percent in May and up by between 12 and 17 percent in June, when the Euro 2012 soccer tournament is played.

ITV said its share of viewing for all its channels was down 2 percent in the four months to the end of April but it remained confident for the rest of the year as it has the Euro tournament in June and a strong autumn line-up of programs.

“While the underlying television advertising market continues to be broadly flat, we expect ITV’s ad revenue to be up around 3 percent in the first half, helped by Euro 2012,” Chief Executive Adam Crozier said.

“Going forward we expect to outperform the TV ad market in the first half and for the year as a whole.”

(Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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