UK TV Ad Revenues Fell by Over Six Percent Last Year says Ofcom

UK television advertising revenues fell by between six and seven percent in 2019, according to UK communications regulator Ofcom’s ‘Communications Market Report’. But Ofcom’s data shows that the overall audiovisual market in the UK remains flat, with online growth making up for TV’s decline.

Data from the AA and Warc puts the total fall in UK TV ad revenues at seven percent, while Ofcom’s own data shows a six percent fall. And this decline came while the total UK advertising market continued to grow, from £13.9 billion in 2018 to £15.7 billion in 2019.

This drop was led in part by the fall in live TV’s audiences. Live television’s reach fell from 88.5 percent in 2018 to 86.3 percent in 2019. And daily viewing time fell from an average 3 hours 12 minutes per day in 2018 to 3 hours 3 minutes in 2019.

Unsurprisingly, this trend has been most pronounced among younger audiences. Over 75s watched over six hours of TV per day on average. But the 16-24 age group watched an average of just 1 hour nine minutes of live TV per day.

But growth in other revenue channels has meant the UK’s overall audiovisual market remained stable, at £16.2 billion. Ofcom says that continued growth of subscription video on-demand (SVOD) revenues, as well as digital video ad revenues, have balanced out the fall in TV advertising.

Ofcom says that SVOD revenues grew 27 percent in 2019, reaching £1.7 billion. This means SVOD services now account for more than half of all online video revenues in the UK.

And the varying fortunes of the UK’s domestic broadcasters and the international SVOD services are borne out in their content investment.

The amount of content available on the UK’s six biggest SVOD services continued to swell, reaching 152,304 hours of content in 2019, up from 138,986 in 2018.

Meanwhile public service broadcasters’ investment in first-run UK-originated content fell to its lowest value in real terms since 2006, down to £2.52 billion.

The PSBs are, however, seeing some benefits from the growth of the SVOD platforms. While their own investments in UK-originated content fell in 2019, third-party spend on first-run PSB content continued to grow.  Third-party spend reached £549 million in 2019, meaning it has more than doubled since 2014.

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