LONDON: ITV, the UK's largest commercial broadcaster, saw ad revenues decline by 15%, or £108 million ($184m; €127m), in the first half of 2009, as total TV adspend "suffered its worst year-on-year decline on record".

According to the company, total net TV adspend tumbled by 17%, or £277m, in the opening six months of this year on an annual basis, although the rate of the decrease was said to have "eased slightly" in the second half thus far.

Overall, ITV predicts its ad sales will fall by 12% in the third quarter, and by 7% in September, although growing online revenues may partially offset this trend, having risen by 6%, to £18m, in H1, with posting a 100% improvement, to £10m.

In terms of web viewing levels, some 116 million pieces of content were streamed via in H1, up from 31 million in the January to June period last year, with the site recording an average of 8.7 million unique users a month.

Across its "family" of TV channels, peak viewing share was down by just 0.1%, to 27.8%, with its share of commercial impacts falling from 41.4% to 39.7%.

Within this, ITV1, its flagship station, saw its share of commercial impacts slide from 30.5% to 28.4% when compared with the same period a year ago.

The company also delivered £57m in cost savings across its programming budget and broader operations in the first half of this year, with cutbacks set to reach £155m this year, rising to rising to £215m in 2010 and £285m in 2011.

It has also sold Friends Reunited, the social networking website in bought for £175m in 2005, to DC Thomson, the publishing company, for £25m.

Michael Grade, ITV's executive chairman, argued that "our financial results for the half year reflect the impact of the unprecedented downturn in television advertising, offset by the comprehensive action we are taking in mitigation."

"The rate of market decline has eased slightly in the second half and ITV continues to outperform the market. We are maintaining our peak audience share across our channel family and are growing our share of television advertising, while delivering our targeted cost-savings," he added.

Data sourced from ITV; additional content by WARC staff