Diversification strategy accelerates: revenue from growth areas more than offsets expected linear advertising declines


  • Diversification strategy accelerates delivering total revenue growth of 21%
  • Studios revenue nearly quadruples even before benefit of Greenbird acquisition in H2
  • Strong Digital growth; STV Player streams +25% and new registrations +65%
  • Adjusted operating profit down 33% with wider economic uncertainty impacting linear advertising revenue and cost inflation, as expected
  • STV is Scotland’s most watched peak time channel for 6th year in a row across H1
  • First half total advertising revenue down 14%, with Q3 expected to grow by 3-5% driven by major sporting events including Rugby World Cup
  • STV expects over 60% of 2023 earnings to come from outside broadcasting, comfortably exceeding 50% diversification target
  • Board proposes interim dividend of 3.9p, in line with 2022

Financial Summary – 6 months to 30 June



vs 2022





Total advertising revenue




Adjusted operating profit*




Adjusted operating margin*




Operating profit




Profit for the period




Adjusted basic EPS**




Statutory basic EPS




Net debt+




Dividend per share




*   Before exceptional items and including HETV tax credits (2023 only)

** Before exceptional items (2023 only) and IAS 19 finance costs (both periods)

+  Excluding lease liabilities; net debt at 31 December 2022 of £15.1m

Refer to notes 8, 10 & 19 to the condensed interim financial statements for a reconciliation of the adjusted to statutory numbers

Financial highlights

  • Total revenue of £75.3m, +21% on 2022, driven by organic growth in Studios and Digital, more than offsetting expected linear advertising revenue declines
  • Studios revenue of £27.2m, +294% due to increased drama deliveries, with division profitable (£0.1m; 2022 loss of £1.0m) and strong H2 profitability coming through with expected seasonal second half weighting
  • Regional advertising revenue down 14% to £7.3m (excluding Scottish Government spend, regional down only 2%)
  • Digital revenue +9% to £10.1m (VOD revenue +14%), with adjusted operating profit up 26% to £5.0m
  • Group adjusted operating profit £8.0m, -33% on 2022, reflecting expected impact of declines in higher margin linear advertising revenue and inflationary cost pressure
    • Savings realised to offset broadly half the inflationary increases, as guided
  • Exceptional costs of £2.8m incurred in the period relating to the new agreement with ITV for digital content and national VOD sales representation (2022: nil)
  • Net debt of £16.3m, up only £1.2m since December 2022 despite reduced profits, with working capital outflow of 2022 partially unwinding in the period; significant facility and covenant headroom maintained

Good audience performance

  • STV Player’s strengthened content line-up drove excellent streaming growth in H1:
    • Online viewing (consumption) +25%, streams +25%
    • Registered users up 18% to 5.3m, well ahead of 5m target
    • New registrations +65% driven by new STV Player content
    • VIP users up 24%
  • Enduring appeal of linear TV: STV’s peaktime viewing share of 22.5% grew year on year (+1%), with the lead over BBC1 the highest in 15 years:
    • Most watched peaktime channel in Scotland for 6th year in a row across H1
    • H1 all-time audience higher than any other commercial channel on 180 of 181 days
    • Average Scot spent over 5x longer with broadcast content than SVOD services on the TV set in H1

Continued strategic momentum and execution

  • Studios: Scaling rapidly and profitably even before benefit of post period end Greenbird deal
    • 12 returning series (2022:9)
    • Drama business accelerating, with series 2 of Blue Lights confirmed, and Screw season 2 (for C4) and Criminal Record (for Apple TV+) delivering in H1
    • Greenbird acquisition transformative:
      • Enlarged Studios group now has 39 returning series
      • 29 new commissions across Studios in H1
      • 7 new commissions announced since acquisition, including major new ITV reality format, The Fortune Hotel, showing immediate impact of Greenbird deal
  • Digital: STV’s new streaming partnership with ITV driving viewing and commercial growth:
    • 30 new series premiered in H1 under new deal, driving 11% of VOD viewing
    • Benefitting from increased scale and targeting capability:
      • STV digital brand count up 50% in H1
      • STV average price (cost per thousand) up 55% in H1
    • Long-term partnership in place with ITV until 2029, on a variable cost basis
    • Continued strong performance of STV 3rd party content, with c.8m Brookside streams
    • UK Government draft Media Bill (published March) will guarantee prominence for STV Player on all digital platforms
  • Scottish advertising:
    • Further 180 deals secured under the STV Growth Fund so far in 2023, with over 70% of clients rebooking from 2022.
    • Split of SME/Scottish Government spend back at pre-Covid levels of 85%/15%
    • STV will now offer addressable regional VOD advertising through Planet V, further enhancing market positioning

Improving 2023 outlook


  • Expecting at least 25% increase in total revenue for FY 2023
  • Total advertising revenue expected to be up 3-5% in Q3 driven by strong sporting events, but down for the full year
  • July TAR +1%, August +4% and September forecast to be up 5-7%
  • On track to hit target of £20m Digital revenues in 2023
  • Organic Studios revenues will be £50m+ in 2023 (£70m+ with Greenbird), well ahead of £40m target

Adjusted operating profit

  • Linear advertising decline will mean full year adjusted operating profit lower than FY22
  • Strong profit growth in Digital and Studios, and cost mitigations of £2.5m in 2023, offset by impact of linear advertising decline and cost inflation
  • Confirming previous Studios guidance of £6-6.5m of adjusted operating profit in 2023, boosted by post period end Greenbird acquisition
  • H2 performance more positive on back of improving TAR and Studios profits

Net debt

  • Net debt immediately following completion of Greenbird investment c.£32m, including c.£6m of cash balances in Greenbird entities
  • Expect net debt to reduce towards year end, with leverage (ratio of net debt to EBITDA) around 1 times for full year and at lower end of self-imposed target range of 1-1.5 times
  • Revolving credit facility increased by £10m to £70m as part of acquisition through partial exercise of accordion to provide additional liquidity headroom

Diversification targets

  • STV expects to deliver at least 60% of earnings from outside broadcasting in 2023, comfortably ahead of 50% target
  • New targets for the next phase of STV’s diversification and growth strategy will be confirmed in due course.


  • The Board proposes an interim dividend of 3.9p per share, in line with H1 2022, after considering all relevant factors including the ongoing macroeconomic uncertainty
  • The Board remains committed to a balanced approach to capital allocation across investing for growth, fulfilling our pension obligations, and paying a sustainable, progressive dividend to shareholders.

Blockquote open STV’s diversification continues to accelerate, with strong growth in Studios and Digital revenues in the first half more than offsetting the expected weakness in the UK linear advertising market, and delivering total revenue growth of over 20%.

Studios revenues almost quadrupled and VOD revenues on the STV Player grew by 14% as we continue to execute our strategic plan and reduce our reliance on traditional broadcasting. We now expect over 60% of our total 2023 earnings to come from these new growth areas, well ahead of our 50% diversification target.

Our audience position remains unrivalled, with STV again Scotland’s most popular peaktime TV channel, stretching its lead over BBC1. We delivered the largest commercial audience on 180 of the 181 days of the first half of the year, with the England vs Scotland Calcutta Cup match our biggest audience of the year so far.

Our streaming service STV Player continues to grow strongly and profitably with online consumption and streams both up by 25% and digital profit up by 26%, as our new long-term content and advertising partnership with ITV bears fruit.

The transformative acquisition of Greenbird Media represents a major step towards our goal of STV Studios becoming the UK’s #1 nations and regions production company and adds significant scale and creative firepower to the group, illustrated by the recently announced major reality format The Fortune Hotel which will debut on ITV in 2024, produced by Tuesday’s Child.

Our overall financial performance in H1 was impacted by a challenging advertising market and cost inflation, as expected, although looking forward we see a more encouraging outlook. Q3 total advertising is expected to be up 3-5% driven by the Women’s Football World Cup and the Men’s Rugby World Cup which starts next week, exclusively on STV. Our business is well positioned to benefit when the advertising market improves and we also see strong profit growth coming through in STV Studios in the second half of 2023. Blockquote close

Simon Pitts Chief Executive, STV

There will be a presentation for analysts today, 5 September 2023, at 12.30 pm, via Zoom.  Should you wish to attend the presentation, please contact Angela Wilson, angela.wilson@stv.tv or telephone: 0141 300 3000.


STV Group plc:

Kirstin Stevenson, Head of Communications

Tel: 07803 970 106


Geoffrey Pelham-Lane, Partner

Tel: 07733 124 226

Ben Woodford, Partner

Tel: 07790 653 341

Financial and operating review

Read our interim financial statements.