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ITV in talks to buy group behind The Traitors and Fleabag | ITV

ITV has confirmed it is in talks to buy All3Media, which owns the production companies behind hit shows such as Fleabag, The Traitors, and Wild Isles, as it seeks to expand its studio arm.

The FTSE 250 broadcaster is in talks with All3Media’s joint owners, the US media companies Warner Bros Discovery and Liberty Global, it said on Friday in a stock market announcement.

Carolyn McCall, ITV’s chief executive, is trying to diversify the company’s revenues away from a reliance on television advertising, which is expected to decline further as the UK economy slows. By contrast, the global demand for new content remains strong.

All3Media could be valued at as much as £1bn, according to Reuters, which first reported the talks. One option under consideration could involve Liberty growing its existing 9.9% stake in ITV, while Warner Bros could sell out, according to a source cited by Reuters.

ITV confirmed that it was “actively exploring the possible acquisition of All3Media” in a statement.

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Discovery and Liberty Global bought All3Media in 2014 for an enterprise value of about £550m. The company, which also makes Gogglebox, Midsomer Murders and The Only Way is Essex, had its biggest revenue year in 2021, making £867m.

All3Media was set up in 2003, and has steadily grown by acquiring production companies across different genres and regions. It includes production companies in the UK, US, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and New Zealand, with a central office handling functions such as finance.

That would fit with the ITV Studios arm, which makes shows such as Love Island and Line of Duty. ITV Studios reported record revenues of £458m in the final three months of 2022. At the start of 2023, ITV Studios’ revenues remained steady, cushioning the blow from a 10% decline in advertising sales.

ITV and other broadcasters dependent on advertising have had to contend with inflation and rising interest rates, which have prompted advertisers to scale back their campaigns in anticipation of a weaker economy.

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McCall has also had to deal with the fallout from the departure of the former star presenter Phillip Schofield from the broadcaster’s This Morning show. Schofield last month quit This Morning after admitting that he had lied about an “unwise, but not illegal” affair.

Jasper Jolly

Published: 2023-06-16 09:26:12

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