STV boss Simon Pitts to step down, while production arm trebles revenue

Criminal Record (Source: STV Studios)

Simon Pitts, CEO of Scottish broadcaster & producer STV, is stepping down after six years at the company.

Pitts has informed the board of his decision to exit the role, though will remain in place for around 12 months, and will vacate to take up a new appointment in Q1 2025.

Until his departure, Pitts will remain in charge of the firm, which he has helped grow during his tenure – particularly production arm STV Studios, which is behind shows including Criminal Record for Apple TV+ and Screw for Channel 4, and has almost trebled its revenue in the past year.

The STV board has already begun looking for Pitts’ successor. Chairman Paul Reynolds commented: “Simon has been an outstanding leader of STV over the past six years. As the architect of our diversification strategy, he has successfully led the transformation of STV from a linear broadcaster into a resilient content creation and digital streaming business with an exciting future.

“On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Simon for his significant achievements to date and his ongoing commitment to implement the next phase of our growth strategy until he steps down over the next twelve months.”

Pitts, meanwhile, said: “It has been a huge privilege to lead STV. Since 2018 we have become the most-watched peaktime TV channel in Scotland and retained that position for five years in a row, transformed STV Player into a high- growth streaming service, and created one of the UK’s leading TV production groups, and we have today set out further ambitious growth plans for the future.

“With STV’s latest diversification targets fully achieved, now is the right time to plan a smooth and orderly succession. Our leadership team is very strong, our strategy is clear and it’s delivering.”

Simon Pitts

Rapid growth for STV Studios

Pitts’ exit was announced alongside the STV Group’s 2023 annual results, which reported a 22% revenue increase, up to £168.4m from £137.8m in 2022. Adjusted operating profit was, however, down by the same percentage during the year, from £25.8m in 2022 to £20.1m in 2023.

STV also felt the impact of the downturn in the ad market, with a 12% decrease in total advertising revenue over the year, from £110m in 2022 to £97.3m in 2023.

“Our overall financial performance was impacted by weak linear advertising and cost inflation, as expected and related to the challenging UK macro environment, although the start of 2024 has been more encouraging,” said Pitts. “Q1 total advertising is expected to be up around 5% and we have a strong H1 schedule to come, culminating in live coverage of UEFA Euro 2024 featuring both Scotland and England.”

Pitts also highlighted STV’s recent investment in Blue Lights producer Two Cities, who he said “have already secured £55m of future revenues across three high-end drama series.”

STV Studios saw rapid growth over the past year, almost tripling its revenue from £23.9m in 2022 to £67.2m in 2023. The studio now aims to double its revenue again, setting a target of £140m by the end of 2026.

“Despite the challenging commissioning environment, STV Studios had a standout 2023, with revenues almost trebling and operating profit up 280%, propelled by fantastic dramas like Criminal Record for Apple TV+ and Screw for C4 and the transformative acquisition of Greenbird,” said Pitts.

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