The Glasgow-based media group said STV remains the most-watched peaktime channel in Scotland as it reported that revenue reached £144.5 million last year, a year-on-year jump of more than a third, and reflecting “continued momentum” in its STV Studios arm, and a revived advertising market.
It also achieved its highest-ever advertising revenues, up 24 per cent on 2020 and 11 per cent ahead of 2019, with growth continuing into 2022.
STV Studios revenue trebled to almost £27m, with future profit trajectory supported by new creative partnerships; STV announced alongside its results that it has taken a minority stake in unscripted producer Mighty Productions; and has extended its exclusive partnership with scripted producer Tod Productions for a further three years. “We continue to accelerate our content-acquisition strategy,” STV also said.
Total adjusted operating profit was up 12 per cent to £25.2m, with pre-tax profit having stepped up by about the same percentage to reach £23.6m, with a proposed final dividend of 7.3p per share for the year, giving a full-year dividend of 11p per share, an increase of 22 per cent on 2020.
The London-listed business also said it is on track to hit its three-year growth targets in 2023, with investment guidance unchanged, while it notched up its best all-time viewing share since 2008, at 19.6 per cent.
Chief executive Simon Pitts said: “2021 was an exceptional year of growth for STV, which saw us deliver the highest revenue, operating profit and lowest net debt on record.
“We are taking full advantage of the growth in video viewing, with STV recording its highest viewing share since 2008 and our streaming service STV Player growing streams by 63 per cent, thanks to huge audiences for new dramas and Euro 2020.
"Our strategy of creating a more diversified media business through a relentless focus on digital streaming and production growth is delivering, with these new areas now making up 36 per cent of our total profit.
"STV Studios enjoyed its best-ever creative and financial performance in 2021, winning 16 new programme commissions across the genres, with plenty more to come as we aim to become the UK’s leading nations and regions producer.”
He also highlighted the firm’s social purpose agenda, with the STV Children’s Appeal last year distributing £4.4m to families and young people living in poverty, and its new Expert Voices campaign offering media training to more than 400 people from under-represented groups in Scotland, with more than 40 already appearing on air.
Mr Pitts also said 2022 has got off to a good start, including a robust advertising performance in the first quarter. “2022 will be our biggest year yet in terms of content, with over 150 hours of new, original drama, 40 per cent more than 2020, including the Ipcress File and Our House starring Martin Compston, followed by extensive coverage of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year,” he added.
Roddy Davidson of house broker Shore Capital Markets praised the results for being “very strong” both financially and operationally, and said he sees scope for further financial forecast upgrades should such positive momentum continue.