World Cup viewing figures deflate 'TV is dead' narrative, say analysts

Television is on course to attract 20 million viewers for the third time this month when ITV screens England's World Cup semi-final clash with Croatia in two days' time.

World Cup viewing figures deflate 'TV is dead' narrative, say analysts

The surprise performance of the Vauxhall-sponsored national team has led to a pop in the commercial broadcaster’s share price, which hit a 14-month high at over 180p this morning. 

The "extremely high audiences" – which include a peak 19.6 million tuning into the BBC on Saturday to see England beat Sweden, not including out-of-home viewing – are good news for the medium, according to financial analysts Liberum. 

"The World Cup audience numbers (and, to a lesser degree, Love Island) provides plenty of ammunition for our argument that TV is not dead," said Liberum in a "buy" note on ITV issued this morning with a target price of 275p. 

It now expects the company’s overall ad revenue for the first seven months of 2018 to be 2% ahead of the same period in 2017, with July showing double-digit growth. 

It also drew attention to the success of Love Island in pulling more advertisers into the market and to the "disproportionate" positive impact on ad revenues of video-on-demand growth given VOD’s high margins, which it pegged at 60%-80%. 

Liberum added: "ITV’s rating has been dented by what we would call the ‘London bubble effect’ i.e. opinion formers extrapolating their own media habits onto the rest of the population when, in fact, they are wildly different e.g. Coronation Street and Emmerdale generate total audiences of 7-8m audiences five or six nights a week."

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