ITV has said it is “cautiously optimistic” about its recovery in the year ahead after a rebound in advertising sales in recent months.
The broadcaster told shareholders it has been “encouraged” by trading in recent months as revenues increased amid strong growth in its ITV Studios production and distribution arm.
Total external revenues jumped by 2% to £709 million in the three months to March 31 despite pandemic restrictions throughout the period this year.
It said ITV Studios reported a 9% lift in revenues to £372 million as production largely continued despite the pandemic.
ITV Studios hailed the successful delivery of a number of new commissions, such as dramas Grace and Vigil in the UK, as well as returning titles including Saturday Night Takeaway, Unforgotten and Line Of Duty.
Nevertheless, it said Covid-19 restrictions continued to “impact the delivery of productions with international travel and multi-location shoots, particularly drama”.
The group said its media and entertainment division reported a 3% decline in revenues to £484 million after being impacted by the pandemic, including a 6% fall in advertising revenues.
ITV total viewing figures were up 1% as it was boosted by a “strong schedule” including Unforgotten, Saturday Night Takeaway and Six Nations rugby, along with a “good performances” by soaps.
Carolyn McCall, chief executive of ITV, said that although advertising revenues were lower for the period they have rebounded in recent months.
Ad revenues jumped 68% in April compared with the same month last year and are expected to be up by 85% in May.
Ms McCall added: ““We have made a good start to 2021 with total revenue and total viewing both up, despite the continuing impact of the pandemic.
“We finished the quarter strongly with the substantial majority of our shows back in production and a recovery in the advertising market.
“We remain committed to investing in the acceleration of our strategy to digitally transform ITV which will, in part, be funded by the delivery of our cost-saving targets.”