UTV disclose the pandemic's impact on 2020 advertising revenues

The delay of major sporting events such as Euro 2020 hit UTV's ad revenues during the first year of the pandemic.

UTV has disclosed a significant hit to its profits in the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ITV-owned broadcaster said the impact on advertising revenues saw pre-tax profits drop 68 per cent from £5.97 million to £1.89m in the year ending December 31 2020.

Revenues over the year fell 11 per cent to £23.96m.

UTV Limited also recorded a £628,000 loss on the sale of a car park at its former Belfast offices.

The media company, which employed 85 people in 2020, stopped broadcasting from Havelock House in June 2018, moving its operation to Belfast Harbour’s City Quays 2 waterfront building.

Developer Olympic Homes bought the building in 2018, but last year it failed in a bid to secure planning permission to clear the building for a 271-unit build-to-rent residential scheme.

In a report submitted to Companies House, the directors UTV Limited said its 2020 performance reflected “the challenging market caused by Covid-19”.

Despite the hit from ad revenue, UTV’s viewership share increased by 0.7 percentage points in 2020, leaving it with a 19.69 per cent share of the region.

The broadcaster said viewing figures benefited from the lockdown restrictions introduced in late March 2020, helping Coronation Street and Emmerdale secure their status as the UK’s two largest soaps.

UTV said it aired four of the UK’s five most-watched dramas in 2020, including Des, White House Farm and Van Der Valk.

It described The Masked Singer and Beat The Chasers as its two biggest entertainment series launches in 13 years.

‘I’m a Celebrity…’ proved UTV’s most popular entertainment programme, with The Voice and Britain’s Got Talent also performing well.

However the channel took a big hit by the loss of major sporting tournaments in 2020, including Euro 2020, which was postponed until the summer of 2021.

UTV said the pandemic also delayed a number of scripted programmes, which also had an impact on viewing figures.

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