UK commercial TV leader ITV (LSE: ITV) has pushed back its ambitious 150 million ($293 million) online revenue target from 2010 to 2012, after only creeping toward that goal since it was set last year. In today's earnings, ITV online income grew to 17 million ($33 million) in the half-year to June - but that's just 1 million more than a year ago, suggesting the broadcaster is still far short of the aim, set in September's turnaround plan.
The goal always looked mightily ambitious, and progress to date had been slow, but the situation is now compounded by an advertising recession that no-one saw coming when the plan was drawn up. Before interest, tax and amortisation, overall online losses widened to 8 million ($15.6 million) from 3 million ($5.8 million) a year ago, blamed on the ITV.com relaunch and ITVLocal.com nationwide roll-out.
The turnaround plan said at least 75 percent of this mythical 150 million online revenue would come from online display, video and local classified advertising, ie. the sector most at risk from the economic downturn. The rest would be from subscription services and pay-for content, which its once-mighty social net Friends Reunited actually abandoned in May in favour of ad funding. Digital income is also hampered by an antitrust review of the Kangaroo VOD JV with BBC Worldwide and C4, which pushes launch back to next year.
By Robert Andrews