Friday, December 28, 2012

ITV Does Great, For Now...

I'm on record as saying that the head of the UK's top commercial broadcaster, ITV, was the the last job I would have wanted to have taken on board some years ago.

But Adam Crozier is quite an act. At a macro level he hasn't put a foot wrong (although I do hear about endless problems at the operational end of the organisation), and the acquisition of US producer, Gurney for just four times earning provides far better value than anything the company can achieve in the UK. It also takes them into the crucial US cable markets.

There is little doubt that the halo of Downton Abbey has shone brightly on the other side of the Atlantic and ITV seems to be making great progress in exploiting this.

However, the company's main strength, its great TV brands, is also its weakness. Unlike BBC Worldwide and Top Gear, or Shine and Masterchef, their brands are TV centric and do not extend as well into global licensing and merchandising. They don't own the X Factor, so there's good and bad news about this show, which seems in terminal decline.

In a world where TV is just a shop window for online and mobile, this may succeed in the short term, but the company needs a long term multi-platform, multi-device strategy too.

ITV did the right thing in buying Friends Reunited, but, like many traditional media companies, was incapable of operating in the new media world, even if it is good at leveraging its existing content for new devices and platforms.

Fundamentally, ITV is a cash cow in decline, but they still have time change this. But I suspect their ambitions are purely to become the UK's premier commercial production company. not a bad goal if they can find and develop properties that travel.