UTV Media's TalkSport hits record profit
The World Cup and a loyal male audience has helped radio station TalkSport deliver market-beating advertising sales last year, parent company UTV Media has said.
The Belfast-based group, which is also the ITV licence holder in the North, said advertising turnover at TalkSport grew 27pc to £28.2m in 2010 - compared to 6pc growth in the national market.
The station, which signed up disgraced former Sky Sports presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys last month, reported a 36pc increase in operating profits to £6.4m.
The strong performance helped UTV record its highest pre-tax profits of £21.1m, an increase of 17pc, while group revenues were up 7pc at £120.2m.
UTV is one of the largest media companies in Ireland, comprising television, radio and internet divisions. It employs more than 900 staff in the UK and Ireland.
With around three million listeners a month, TalkSport has Premier League broadcasting rights and also covered the FIFA World Cup.
UTV chief executive John McCann said: "I am pleased that despite the difficult economic environment UTV achieved record pre-tax profits. With strong audiences across our platforms and significantly reduced debt we remain confident that we are well placed to meet market challenges and opportunities over the coming year."
Looking ahead, the company said 2011 had started well with its British radio division - which includes TalkSport - expecting revenues to be up 3pc year on year in the first four months of the year.
Its radio divisions accounted for 60pc of group turnover and 72pc of group operating profit in 2010. TalkSport increased listeners by 24pc year on year, while its local radio stations in the UK saw a 10pc improvement.
UTV's television advertising revenues were up 11pc year-on-year, lifting total TV turnover to £36.7m.