LONDON: The forthcoming Rugby World Cup is expected to boost advertising revenue at UK broadcaster ITV, its chief executive has said while unveiling better than expected half-year results.

Adam Crozier told analysts that net advertising revenue would be up 6% for the nine months to September and forecast that ad sales would increase by 8% over the third quarter.

ITV's pre-tax profit rose 25% year-on-year to £391m in the first half of 2015, although its audience share fell 4%, prompting Crozier to state that improving viewing figures would be a key focus for the year.

He added that the Rugby World Cup – the world's third-largest sporting event which kicks off in England on September 18 – as well as the Six Nations rugby tournament would help ITV to outperform the market in the second half of the year, Marketing Week reported.

"We're confident that through our acquisitions of the Rugby World Cup and the Six Nations we are providing advertisers with a very attractive platform to a vast ABC1 audience of men," he said.

"The key to the rugby is we know the quality of the games we are getting and they are scheduled at good times," he added, in reference to poor viewing figures for the UEFA Champions League football tournament.

Ian Griffiths, ITV's group finance director, reinforced the message about how important rugby events will be for the broadcaster of Coronation Street and Downton Abbey in the months ahead.

"We feel we were slightly behind in the first half of the year on adspend but we are confident we will be ahead of the market for the full year and that will be driven by the rugby," he said.

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff