Small Talk: Profits slump for TalkSport owner UTV after fall in advertising

 

Profits have slumped more than 40% at TalkSport owner UTV because of an advertising drought as there has been no big football tournament this summer.

Chief executive John McCann blamed tough comparisons with Euro 2012, saying that contributed to nearly three quarters of TalkSport’s 20% drop in half-year sales to £13.8 million.

Stripping out the impact of the Euros, revenues were down about 6% — better than the wider radio market, which fell 9% in the first six months of the year.

TalkSport’s blokey editorial coverage has managed to pull in record audiences this year, according to Rajar industry figures, thanks to presenters such as Johnny Vaughan, top right, and Stan Collymore, bottom right, and it has just signed Colin Murray, left.

But McCann said it had been “very difficult” to increase prices when the market as a whole was depressed.

He was upbeat about the second half of this year as UTV, which also operates the ITV channel in Northern Ireland, is seeing signs of optimism among both UK and Irish advertisers.

“There’s generally a sense of things starting to improve,” said McCann, who forecast that TalkSport’s revenues would be up 5% in August and 10% in September, while TV should be up as much as 11% across the third quarter.

“Having had a very tough first half, all of our broadcasting business are improving from Q3 to Q4,” he added, likening UTV’s full-year performance to “a game of two halves”.

Half-year pre-tax profits slumped 43% to £6 million from £10.7 million.

TalkSport, based on London’s South Bank, is expanding overseas as it has the international radio rights to broadcast all 380 Premier League games a season.

“If you go into TalkSport’s offices on a Saturday, you’ll hear people commentating in nine different languages,” said McCann.

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