StockMarketWire.com - Broadcaster ITV reported a fall in annual profit amid a 'challenging' advertising environment, but said annual performance was ahead of expectations, driven by a strong end to the fourth quarter and cost cuts.

For 2020, pre-tax profit fell to £325 million from £530 million year-on-year as external revenue slipped 16% to £2.78 billion.

ITV studios revenue fell 25% and broadcast revenue was down 8% following an 11% fall in advertising revenue.

'Due to the lack of VOD volume drivers, such as Love Island, fewer soaps and no major sporting events, online viewing was down 5%,' the company said.

Looking ahead, the company said the challenging environment would persist in Q1.

Total advertising, which includes ITV Family NAR, online VOD and sponsorship, was forecast to be down around 6% in Q1 with January down 9%, February down 15%, March up around 8% and April up between 60% and 75%.

The company was aiming to deliver around £100 million of annualised permanent overhead cost savings by 2022 (from 2019), compared to its previous guidance of £55 million to £60 million.

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