Media Fortune Fame & Folly

ITV buys into savings site

The UK’s largest commercial broadcaster ITV has acquired what is believed to be a 20% shareholding in online price comparison operator Nineteen21 Ltd.

The company, which trades as ismybillfair. com, is currently live for energy bills, with expansion plans set to cover broadband. It claims its ‘see where you stand, stay and save’ proposition is “a much-needed antidote to the confusing world of price comparison sites, with 79% of people saying they would prefer to stay with their supplier and save”.

 ITV’s 20% stake is valued at £1.25 million and is being paid for by advertising inventory across TV channels and the catchup site. It has an option to invest a further £1.25m in Nineteen21 which had a net loss of £400k for the year ended February 2020. ITV reaches over 40m viewers in the UK every week.

The ITV shareholding is just the latest of a series of deals in which media companies are becoming major players in online cost saving sites.

It is 15 years since Axel Springer acquired 75% of the German cost savings site Idealo which is now operating also in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Poland, the US and the Netherlands with estimated revenue of more than €100m.

Bauer Media claims 10m people use its finance, telcoms, energy and insurance comparison sites in Spain, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Czech and Slovakia. The Hamburg-based company is believed to be seeking a price comparison acquisition in the UK.

The biggest recent splash has been by Future Plc, the Anglo-US magazine-centric group which acquired GoCompare for £594m earl;ier this year. It also owns the Mozo site in Australia. But the largest media group involvement in price comparison sites may be Red Ventures whose UK interests include ownership of USwitch, Confused. com, and Shopzilla.