ITV bosses have provided color on how the U.S. labor strikes are impacting the UK broadcaster and why they walked away from a £1B ($1.3B) deal to acquire The Traitors production group All3Media.
On a call with journalists this morning, ITV Studios CEO Julian Bellamy said the writers and actors strikes would not have “a material impact” on his production and sales division’s 2023 financials, stressing the division produces across genres in multiple territories.
“Saying that, if the strike goes into the autumn, it will potentially impact on the start of [ITV Studios] productions” in the U.S., he added. “Obviously, we’re hoping for a swift resolution.”
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Bellamy was asked if U.S. networks had approached ITV Studios, which has a catalog of about 90,000 hours, to help fill scheduling gaps created by the strikes. “We’re not seeing that,” he responded. “We work with them all the time on originals, coproduction and licensing but we’re not seeing a huge spike on that front.”
However, ITV Studios’ 90,000-hour catalog meant it was “in a good position to take advantage” should such talks begin, he said elsewhere during the call.
ITV CEO Carolyn McCall added: “We’ll be talking to see if we can help people fill their schedules. We’re not going to be charging a premium — we should be offering our customers [content] from our catalog if they require it.”
The WGA strike is now into its 87th day, while SAG-AFTRA action began two weeks ago today, with no end appearing to be in sight for either.
‘All3 Was “Bang On” Strategy’
McCall was questioned several times about ITV’s aborted plan to acquire All3Media in a deal that was estimated to be around £1B ($1.3B).
ITV had only not given a reason for its move when announcing the development to the stock market two weeks ago, only adding it “continues to monitor but is no longer actively exploring the possible acquisition” of the indie production giant, which is owned by Warner Bros Discovery and Liberty Global.
Competition regulation in the production market has been mooted as one potential problem, while we’ve heard All3’s debt pile may have played a key role. However, McCall declined to comment specifically, and instead outlined the rationale for the deal in the first place.
“We had to look at All3, and with great interest, because it was bang on strategy,” she said. “We’ve been very clear we know and understand the studios business very well and the strategy is to expand it further.
“But it’s not scale for scale’s sake — it has to be the right studios business. We remain interested in anything that comes up in the market, [but] it doesn’t mean the bigger you are the better you are. It means you have to have the right talent, programs, development and pipeline so you can see the potential for the future.”
McCall addressed ITV’s share price, which has been falling in the past year despite growth in the ITV Studios and digital divisions. “One of the things the share price is weakened by is UK consumer stocks are very much in the headwinds on the market. We’re at the center of that, even though we’re a global company.
“The catalyst [for an improved share price] there would be consumer and business confidence, interest rates and inflation coming down and a much better advertising market. This is the worst ad recession we’ve seen since the global financial crisis.”
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