THE value of ITV has dived by £1.2billion since Ant McPartlin’s battle with drug and drink addiction was revealed last year.

Its share price tumbled from £1.81 to around £1.40 last week — a 22½ per cent drop.

It saw the company, which was worth £7billion in June 2017, valued at £5.8billion.

Experts told how the future of troubled Ant and co-host Dec Donnelly, both 42, is intrinsically linked to their TV employers.

The Geordie pair hosted three of its top seven programmes last year — I’m A Celebrity, Britain’s Got Talent and Saturday Night Takeaway. They are believed to rake in £2million per show for the network.

Their programmes represent five per cent of the network’s net advertising revenue of £1.67billion.

But in just three days over last weekend — during which Ant was arrested for suspected drink-driving — ITV’s share price plunged by 6p, a loss of £235million.

It had fallen by 7p the day after Ant confessed his demons last June.

Media analyst Alex De Groote said: “Since Ant’s problems were first reported, the ITV share price has fallen from just over £1.80 to £1.40.

“That makes the company’s value around £1.2billion less — down from £7billion to £5.8billion.

“That will not be entirely down to him, but it’ll be an important factor. A peak-time advert of 30 seconds airing during Saturday Night Takeaway, Britain’s Got Talent or I’m A Celebrity would cost around £50,000.

“That means one of Ant and Dec’s shows — airing for 90 minutes, with 15 minutes of advertising — can pull in as much as £1.5million for ITV.

“And the sponsorship of each show pushes the total higher, earning around £500,000 a show.

“When you bear those two factors in mind, Ant and Dec are tied to an estimated £85million of advertising revenue for ITV every year.

“They seem to have that magic ­formula that attracts advertisers, because they appeal to all demographics and age groups.”

Ant and Dec — ITV’s top-earning hosts — are estimated to be worth £200million to bosses. In 2016 they signed a £10million-a-year golden handcuffs deal which ends next year.

Mr De Groote said Ant’s crisis will be even more damaging to new ITV boss Carolyn McCall in light of the struggle to keep hold of audiences.

He went on: “Traditional telly is under threat because of the challenge presented by catch-up TV and new streaming services like Netflix.

“If Ant’s situation was to worsen, and they were to lose those three flagship shows, in my opinion the response at ITV would be total panic.”

By yesterday the shares had risen slightly to £1.40.

I’m a Celebrity was ITV’s most watched programme last year — pulling in 12.6 million viewers for the launch show on November 19.

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