ITV sells Bates vs Post Office to 12 countries

Mr Bates vs The Post Office has caused such a stir in the UK that 12 foreign broadcasters have bought the right to show it, despite the series being “particularly British,” the boss of ITV has said.

Carolyn McCall said that ITV was “very proud” of how the show has put the plight of subpostmasters in the public eye and led to legislative changes.

It came as the broadcaster said that profit dropped last year as it was “challenging” to get advertisers to spend money on traditional TV commercials.

Speaking to journalists on Thursday, Ms McCall said: “We’re very proud of what it’s achieved. I think it really does show the power of TV.

“And it often moves them to action. I think Mr Bates is one of the most brilliant examples of that.

“It’s interesting, because British dramas like this, which are particularly British and will resonate in Britain, don’t often travel globally.

“And of course from a studio’s perspective, you want to take what breaks on ITV1 strongly and take it around the world. Now interestingly this has had such an impact on society here because it’s the public that has risen up and the Government is listening.

“There has been a change in legislation and there will be a change in how the subpostmasters are compensated or redressed as they would say.

“So it has had a huge impact on the structure of the Post Office not being allowed to judge their own cases or rule in their own cases.

“Also pleasingly we’ve sold it to 12 markets worldwide, and that is brilliant actually.”

Profit fell from £501 million in 2022 to £193 million before tax last year, ITV said.

It was what the business calls “linear” advertising – the industry’s word for the ads shown on television rather than online – that really struggled.

ITV said it had seen a “severe decline” of 15% in linear advertising, as companies that normally advertise were more cautious because of the poor global economy. However, digital revenue performed much better, increasing 19% to £490 million.

Reduced advertising spending is also hitting international broadcasters, meaning they have less money to spend on TV programmes from ITV Studios, the company said.

ITV told investors on Thursday: “2024 will be impacted by the 2023 US writers’ and actors’ strikes, which will delay around £80 million of revenue from 2024 to 2025, as well as weaker demand from free-to-air broadcasters in Europe who are holding back spend until they see more certainty in the advertising market.”

But that will come off the back of a record year for ITV Studios’ profit and revenue, as it produced hit shows including Love Island, a format that has now been sold to 27 countries, and Mr Bates vs The Post Office, which was ITV’s biggest new drama for more than 10 years.

“Our Studios business recorded the highest ever revenues and profits, and in its first year, ITVX delivered strong growth in viewing and digital revenue with investment on plan.

“This growth in production and streaming substantially offset the challenging linear TV advertising market conditions.”

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