RTL AdConnect
Celebrating 25 years of TV Key Facts This year we celebrate 25 years of TV Key Facts. We’ve come a long way since the first publication, but the bottom line is the same: TV is alive, kicking, and evolving. Read More   
Celebrating 25 years of TV Key Facts
Celebrating 25 years of TV Key Facts
This year RTL AdConnect in collaboration with RTL Group will sign the 25th edition of TV Key Facts. We’ve come a long way since the first publication in 1994, but the bottom line is the same: TV is alive, kicking, and evolving.

This special edition of Total Video Key Facts brings together insightful research and articles written by international media experts from renowned institutes (Deloitte, Eurodata TV Worldwide, Magna Global, Warc) and the industry (FremantleMedia).

To put this publication into context, RTL AdConnect recently expanded to the United States with a new office in New York. The move is part of an ambition to open up the complex European market for US brands – and offer a premium global environment for advertising in an era where brand safety and integrity is in the spotlight more than ever.

This Total Video Key Facts summer issue features relevant reports from various perspectives on the future of television and the latest trends in the US and European markets—programmes, content production, consumption behaviour, ad investments—backed by some exclusive preview of data we collect in our TV Key Facts database (to be released this September together with the usual autumn edition).

About the TV Key Facts
The International Total Video Trends by RTL AdConnect.
The TV Key Facts is RTL AdConnect & RTL Group's essential study on TV and advertising. It is composed of a trend magazine and an online database covering 39 countries including 35 European countries as well as India, China, the United States and Japan.
Produced in collaboration with Europe's major audience and advertising data collection institutes, it provides a wide range of information and figures on international broadcast and digital media.
Europeans watch 3h49 of TV per day to America's 4h15
Europe and the US are very different markets.

Historically, US TV was mostly driven by pay TV, unlike in Europe. With an average of 5 hours of daily TV viewing time in 2007, Americans used to consume much more TV than their European cousins, whose live TV consumption was “only” of 3h45.

Now, Europeans watch 3h49 of TV per day to America's 4h15, offering a 72-75% reach; strong figures for an apparently dying medium.1

As Vincent Letang (Magna) points out in his article, if in Europe the share of live TV is unrivalled (e.g.: in Spain, 28 hours of live TV out of a total weekly video consumption of 32 hours), in the US it only represents 18 hours of the total 55 hours of weekly video consumption. As a result, in 2017, the US market invested much more in digital video than the European market: $12.32 billion of digital video ad spends in the US (14% of total digital ad spends) vs $6.15 billion in Europe (11% of total digital ad spends).2

Consumption habits are no doubt changing, and TV has fully adapted, reinventing its content production and innovative technology

James Mc Donald from WARC also weighs in on the European and US advertising markets. The scale of the US advertising market is already phenomenal with a record of €174 billion spent in the US last year, while on the European side, the EU’s advertising market it approximately 60% of that of the US with €103 billion. The share of TV has been remarkably steady over the long term in EU’s market and WARC expects both Americas and European key markets to grow in advertising investment this year, boosted by mobile and TV.

As the FIFA World Cup is at its peak, Duncan Stewart from Deloitte gives us insight into the future, quite rightly asking if young people will continue to watch TV, especially sports TV. It appears that even if young people are watching less traditional TV these days, the sports category holds its own as a stable force. On the content production side, Alison Cresswell from FremantleMedia addresses the nostalgia and retro programming trend that has been growing in the scripted content landscape for several seasons now. These hit series and entertainment formats which make successful come backs, such as Idol, remind us of the power of premium content and TV’s ability to always innovate, adapt to its audience, and generate engagement.

Avril Blondelot from Eurodata TV Worldwide gives us a glimpse at the content trends in Europe and in the US, from international prime-time “superformats” to successful local productions.

TV is constantly innovating.

At RTL AdConnect, we approach television as a driver of innovation. We help redesign a network where TV is Total Video, where your daily fix of your favourite content spreads across platforms, from one screen to the next, where watching content is a journey.

TV is advancing with the online video world. In fact, it drives search and response better than any medium, due in part to the rise of the second screen. When you put on-demand services and mobile platforms in the mix, TV’s potential in the digital age is unique.

Consumption habits are no doubt changing, and TV has fully adapted, reinventing its content production and innovative technology. The past few years have seen fresh, successful formats, major TV show comebacks such as Idol, addressable TV, VOD platforms and new ways of buying TV through the creation of programmatic platforms for example.

We help build a redesigned network where watching content is a journey
Brand safety. Viewability. Transparency.

These are the key words in today’s video world. There has never been more opportunity — and more risk — for advertisers than in the current media ecosystem. In these times of transition, advertisers need brand safety, viewability and transparency.

RTL AdConnect provides the safest platforms and premium environments for our viewers, as well as a simplified, global solution for brands seeking more transparency on monetization and measurement. x

Wait for it...
The TV Key Facts magazine comes back in September together with the release of the 2018 online database!

1Source: TV Key Facts 2018, Eurodata TV worldwide, Médiamétrie, All individuals, all day, January-December 2007, January-December 2017
2Source: Magna Global

Ad Market: Europe vs US Trends Discover the US advertising market's key figures and evolution compared to Europe. Read More   
Ad Market: Europe vs US Trends
Ad Market:
Europe vs US Trends
WARC has been monitoring the shifts in global ad spending for over 35 years, working with research agencies and industries in 96 countries to collect the best possible market data.

WARC has been monitoring the shifts in global ad spending for over 35 years, working with research agencies and industries in 96 countries to collect the best possible market data. In most cases, data is collected in a media survey, where media owners and publishers supply current advertising revenue figures for analysis each year. Data is net of any negotiated discounts, including agency commissions and excluding production costs, aiming to provide the most accurate scope possible. We’ve sifted through this data, alongside projections from WARC’s customised forecasting tools, to outline the following trends in advertising across the US and the EU.

The US ad market is almost twice the size of the EU’s.

The scale of the US advertising market is phenomenal: we believe a record €174bn was spent in the US last year, approximately €534.17 per American (compared to a per capita spend of €208.13 in the EU). This total excludes direct mail and events sponsorship which, if counted, would make the ad market’s value equivalent to about one third of the country’s defence budget. The market has been expanding at a compound rate of about 7% each year since the global financial crisis in 2009. In fact, it’s grown by €54bn in the last five years alone. The outdoor, cinema and online markets are consistent engines of growth in the US, while TV provides a boost every other year. At €103bn, the EU’s advertising market is approximately 60% of that of the US. Growth has been fairly steady at about 1% on a compound basis each year over the last decade, except for a 0.9% contraction in 2012, partly due to the European debt crisis. The UK is the bloc’s largest market, accounting for €23.6bn – or 23% – of last year’s total. Underlying growth in the EU ad market averages at half a per cent, excluding the UK. Germany is the largest mainland market, holding €20.6bn or 20% of the total, followed by France (€13.0bn or 12.6% respectively), Italy (€8.1bn, 7.9%) and Spain (€5.6bn, 5.4%).

A record €174bn was spent in the US last year
Advertising Spend by Key Market
2017, € million, current prices
United States: 174001.6
United Kingdom: 23,594.2
Germany: 20,619.6
France: 13,003.5
Italy: 8,140.4
Spain: 5,592.0
Other EU: 32,197.0
Counting direct mail and events sponsorship would make the ad market’s value equivalent to about 1/3 of the country’s defence budget
TV is still the largest display medium.

At €60bn, the amount spent on TV advertising in the US last year was two and a half times greater than the amount spent on advertising across all media in the UK. The US TV market is cyclical, boosted every even year by heightened investment from brands aiming to reach a wide audience during major sporting events (such as the Olympics), as well as ad spending by political parties during the presidential and midterm campaigns across free-to-air channels. TV’s share of the US ad market has dipped by just 1.5 percentage points over the past decade up to 2017.

The EU’s TV market is about half the size of the US. In total, TV advertising was a €32bn business in the EU last year, and its share has also been remarkably steady over the long term: it was 32% in 2000, and just under 31% in 2017. This rate stays strong despite the rise of the internet ( desktops, mobiles and tablets), which has grown from a share of just 1.2% to almost 40% over the same period.

When measured in total spend, the internet became the largest ad medium in the EU in 2016 (this happened a year later in the US). However, the top line measure is deceptive. The majority of internet spend (46%) is search, according to IAB Europe. When this is taken out of the picture, along with classified advertising (approximately 16% of the online total), the amount spent on display formats online is still only half of the TV total. A similar picture can be seen in the US; at €35bn, the online display market is some €25bn smaller than TV.

Yet, TV’s command of the European display market is even stronger when the online total is broken down by platform; it’s ranked a full 28 percentage points ahead of the second-largest display medium, desktop internet. Perhaps the most surprising thing to note here is that TV’s share of display advertising spend has actually grown in the EU since 2000, by around three percentage points. Despite the popular misconception that online advertising has been drawing money away from TV, data shows that the internet’s growth has instead come almost entirely at the expense of print. After a decade of battling for the win, 2017 became the tipping point, as online display overtook print display for the first time in the EU. This landmark was reached in the US in 2015.

EU, Display Media Share
% share of Total Display Advertising Spend, € current prices
Within the EU markets, online video’s share is highest in the UK
Online video and social boosts online display market.

Growth in online display investment is being driven by a number of formats aside from traditional banner ads, including online video, social and content/native, though there is overlap between all three. In the US, online video amounted to approximately €12bn in 2017, some 34% of total online display spend. This share has doubled over the last five years.

Within the EU markets, online video’s share is highest in the UK, at around 36% (€1.7bn). As with the US, video share of online display has doubled in the UK since 2013. Video share is also high in Italy, at just under one third, and while shares in France (19%) and Germany (18%) are lower, they’re steadily on the rise.

Online Video Share of Online Display Adspend
% Share of Total Online Display
Investment in advertising on social platforms is also growing rapidly

Investment in advertising on social platforms, including some of the video spend mentioned above, is also growing rapidly. In the US, almost €21bn was spent in 2017; approximately the same amount spent on radio, outdoor and cinema combined. This figure has doubled in just two years, fuelling a strong rise in the overall online display market. In the UK, social spend reached €2bn last year, up from €1.5bn in 2016 and €1.1bn in 2015 despite a weakening pound over the last few years. As with the US, the rise in social spend is driving a wider online display market in the UK.

The year ahead.

WARC’s Global Marketing Index, a monthly survey of CMOs which gauges marketing budget growth, trading conditions and staffing levels, collected data which shows that marketing budgets are particularly resilient in Europe. We can see that budget growth has been positive each month since September 2013, with some of the highest index levels on record in the EU in the first three months of 2018. Budgets across the Americas also rose in 2018 after a long period of contraction, which was mostly due to softness in Latin America.

WARC expects the key markets in each region to grow in advertising investment this year when measured in Euros, ranging from 5.1% in the US to 1.1% in France. Mobile will continue to underpin total market growth across the board, and we anticipate a good year for TV, with the FIFA World Cup being broadcast in a time zone favourable to European markets.  x

Global Marketing Index
Marketing Budgets Index, January 2012-March 2018

Graph sources: "Advertising Spend by Key Market": 'Other EU' includes Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Sweden. Source: WARC, Adspend Database.
"EU, Display Media Share": WARC, Adspend Database.
"Online Video Share of Online Display Adspend": WARC, IAB Europe.
"Global Marketing Index": An index value over 50 indicates budget growth. A value under 50 indicates contraction. Source: WARC, Global Marketing Index.

Entertainment Programming and the Nostalgia Content Trend For several seasons, the nostalgia and retro programming trend has been growing within the scripted content landscape. Read More   
Entertainment Programming and the Nostalgia Content Trend
Entertainment Programming and the Nostalgia Content Trend
Entertainment programming has consistently delivered on the nostalgia and retro trend, driving viewing and engaging audiences.

For several seasons, the nostalgia and retro programming trend has been growing within the scripted content landscape. Linear and digital platforms have invested in drama series which have an established history with viewers, with hit series returning with their original cast (The X Files, Will & Grace), whilst others are redeveloped for a new generation (Magnum PI, MacGyver, Lost in Space). In the flush of annual commissions the importance of non-scripted programming in schedules is often overlooked, however entertainment has consistently delivered on the nostalgia trend for far longer, providing schedule tent poles for broadcasters and delivering live, engaged audiences for advertisers. Those formats which successfully return year after year do so because they deliver both for broadcasters and for viewers; for viewers they are familiar, dependable and entertaining points of viewing amid the myriad of content offerings; for broadcasters, they bring in significant, engaged audiences within the key live plus same day and live plus three viewing windows.

Established entertainment delivers.

American Idol is a great example. After being off-air for less than two years, the show returned to US television screens in 2018 for its sixteenth season. The show’s value for both broadcasters and viewers was immediately apparent; American Idol delivered ABC’s highest rated Sunday night premiere in four years and commanded a reported $200,000 for a thirty second spot. The show highlighted that content, not platform, is king – with audiences and advertising dollars following the entertainment format to its new network and new night. The data clearly shows that viewers had been missing the annual event’s appearance in their TV schedule, with the original reality competition show returning to its roots – delivering a nostalgic viewing experience that deals with universal truths and the American dream.

Content, not platform, is king
American Idol, ©ABC/Craig Sjodin
Viewers continue to frame their viewing schedules with these unmissable, long-running entertainment formats

Viewers continue to frame their viewing schedules around these unmissable, long-running entertainment formats. As American Idol delivers viewers on ABC, The Voice, now in its fourteenth season, continues to bring in viewers for NBC. Dancing with the Stars (ABC) delivered viewers in its twenty-sixth season, with a junior version commissioned for the 2018/19 season, driving both the audience that has grown with the show and aiming to bring it to a new generation. America’s Got Talent has delivered for over twelve seasons, achieving its highest performance to date and ranking as the number one most watched entertainment series of the 2016/17 season. America’s Got Talent also delivers on the nostalgia of people chasing their dreams, driving summer audiences and ad spend. Building on this audience engagement, America’s Got Talent: Champions will launch in the upcoming Winter season, providing further points in the schedule for audiences to engage.

Nostalgia and retro programming drives viewing.

During the summer season, when viewers have proven to be more elusive, nostalgia programming can absolutely drive viewing. Building a night around retro game show brands, in the case of ABC’s Sunday Fun & Games, boosted viewing levels, achieving the network’s highest summer Sunday night ratings in ten years and creating a destination viewing evening in the typically lower summer viewing period. All the shows in this block first aired over forty years ago; Match Game for example last aired new episodes seventeen years prior. Tapping into this family-friendly, established programming enhances viewer engagement and boosts the live TV appeal. Audiences are more likely to view a show either within the live plus same day or live plus three environment, making this a strong strategy for driving broadcaster ad revenue and attracting major brands.

American Idol, ©ABC/Craig Sjodin
In 2018
American Idol became the first reality competition series to allow viewers to watch and vote simultaneously across all time zones.

Innovation is key.

Although these shows have an established heritage with viewers, there is no room for stale or stagnant formats. Striving for innovation while honouring a show’s DNA is key. In 2018, American Idol drove innovation into its return by becoming the first reality competition series to allow viewers to watch and vote simultaneously across all time zones. The impact of this strategy increased the week on week audience by fifteen per cent, leading to more engaged viewers nationwide, removing the issue of spoilers, and allowing both coasts to see the outcome in real time.


In a crowded content landscape, established entertainment brands continue to command a live engaged audience, serving as the framework around viewers’ TV schedules. The combination of nostalgia and innovation drives more engaged viewers watching within the key live plus same day and live plus three viewing periods, with more than eighty per cent of entertainment show viewing taking place live plus same day, and nearly fifteen per cent catching up within three days. These elements are key for brands who seek engaged, high-volume audiences, allowing scalable campaigns to be built around these annual events. x

Entertainment Finds its Spark with Homegrown Productions From international prime-time “superformats” to successful local productions, have a glimpse at the content trends in Europe and in the US. Read More   
Will Young People Continue to Watch TV, Especially TV Sports? Young people are watching less traditional TV these days, but the sports category is an island of relative strength. Read More   
Will Young People Continue to Watch TV, Especially TV Sports?
Will Young People Continue to Watch TV, Especially TV Sports?
You Can Bet on It. Young people are watching less traditional TV these days, but the sports category is an island of relative strength.

One of the reasons is that young people, especially young men, are betting on sports matches, and watching live TV contests where they have “skin in the game.” In some countries, up to one third of all TV viewing by the youngest viewers is due to this factor.

Let’s Talk Sports and Millennials.

Not all millennials are watching sports on TV. In fact, they are less likely to watch TV sports than older viewers in the US. As can be seen in the chart on right, about 13% of viewers 18-34 watched no sports in 2014, while the comparable figure for those over 35 is about 4%. But if we flip those numbers on their head, we see a much more important truth: 87% of American millennials ARE watching TV sports (and an astonishing 96% of Americans over 35 do so.)1

of American millennials are watching TV sports
of Americans over 35 do so too
No Sports, please
Percentage by Age Group, average over Q4 2013 to Q3 2014
Millennials are still watching about 3.2 live games per week

Although the average age of sports viewers is rising2, when we look at reach (as opposed to time spent), the percentage of millennials who watched the NFL in the 2016/2017 football season actually rose two percentage points, to 67%. That’s right: two thirds of all millennials watched the NFL last season.3 Although millennials are slightly less likely to define themselves as “committed” sports fans (38% compared to 45% for Gen X) those fans are still watching about 3.2 live games per week.

But what about ratings? According to the same study, NFL ratings for millennials declined 9% in that season, which certainly sounds troubling. But when put into context, that may not be so bad: total live and time shifted US TV viewing by 18-24 year olds fell by 11% and 16% year over year in the quarters that matched the NFL season. And in the four Nordic countries, total TV viewing by roughly similar age groups fell between 25-35% in 2017 compared to 20164. Moving on from American football, NBA basketball saw ratings rise in the last year. In fact, for the 18-34 year old demographic, viewing was up 14% year over year5.

Now Let’s Talk About Gambling.

Globally, gambling is an industry of roughly half a trillion dollars. Betting on sports tends to be about 40% of the total market, or around $200 billion per year. One report estimates sports betting will grow nearly 9% per year between 2018 and 20226. In the UK, sports betting had £14 billion in turnover in 20177. In the four Nordic countries, legal gambling of all kinds was about 6 billion euros in 20158. One estimate (which seems high to me) says that US betting (mainly illegal) on professional and college football is $93 billion annually9. For comparison purposes, 2017 NFL revenues from all sources was about $14 billion in 201710, which suggests the wagering market is 4-5 times larger than all gate admissions and TV rights combined. So, gambling on sports is a big deal…but what does this have to do with TV viewing? In 2016 and 2017, I conducted a series of focus group discussions with 200 millennials in France, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Canada and Ireland, with the majority of the subjects being in France and the Nordic. The focus groups had both qualitative and quantitative aspects. In our Nordic focus groups, there were several striking findings.


1. Although average rates of millennials gambling at least once per year (this is pure gambling, and does not include lottery play) were about 34%, there was a strong gender divide, with men much more likely to gamble. On average across all Nordic countries, over half of young men gambled and only about 10% of women gambled. See chart below.


2. There were also country differences, with higher gambling rates for both men and women in Norway and Finland: three out of four Finnish men in our study gambled. This finding is supported by other research which shows higher gambling rates (not just for millennials, but for the whole population) for Finland, with 80% of those 15-75 gambling annually (this figure does include lotteries)11.


3. From the focus group discussions, the gambling breakdown for Nordic millennial men who gambled was roughly as follows: about a quarter were annual gamblers, perhaps playing in Vegas once a year or equivalent. Another quarter bet once a month or so, often games such as online poker or playing cards with friends for real money.


4. But half of them were betting on sports (or 30% of all the males surveyed), and doing so weekly, with about half of those betting daily (or 15% of the total), especially when the sport(s) they preferred gambling on were being played. Sports mentioned focused on football/soccer (not a surprise), ice hockey (not a surprise in the Nordics) and US football and basketball (which was a surprise).


5. Key Finding: among those heavier gamblers on sports betting (roughly 15% of the Nordic millennial men) almost all of them mentioned that they watched all or almost all the games they were betting on live. A few said they used online services to follow matches, but the vast majority watched the games on traditional TV. This viewing could be at home alone, at home with friends, or out of home and in public places like bars. They also added that they didn’t watch much traditional TV aside from sports.

Nordics by country and gender
Sports that people bet on seem much better at drawing 18-34 year old viewers than sports that people don’t normally place bets on
Putting it all together: TV, TV sports and gambling.

Using the observations above, let’s take a look at Finland. If 20% of millennial men (or 10% of the millennial population of both sexes) watch seven live matches per week on TV that they have wagered on, at 2.5 hours per match (high for football/soccer, but low for US football, basketball or ice hockey) then that would be 17.5 hours per week, 1050 minutes weekly, or 150 minutes per day. If no one else in their age group watched any TV at all, the viewing of live sports by these gambling young men would generate an average of 15 minutes per day for the total millennial population.

This isn’t much, one might argue. Except that the Finnish media measurement data says that those aged 15-24 watched only 48 minutes of traditional TV daily in 2017 (which is down 54% from the comparable number in 2006 of 105 minutes.)12 Therefore, if the kind of back-of-the-napkin assumptions above were true, nearly a third of all TV viewing by 15-24 year old Finns would be accounted for by young millennial men who had bet on a game and watched it on TV to see if they had won or lost!

This all sounds a little theoretical – is there any evidence suggesting that gambling drives as much TV viewing as suggested above? We don’t have data for Finland, but if we look at TV sports viewing data by age and event in Sweden13, we see an interesting trend. Young people (both genders, ages 18-34) under-indexed watching some TV sports and were either less under-indexed or even over-indexed on others. Events like the Olympics, IAAF Championships, tennis, handball, and others are watched much less by 18-34 year olds than by the population as a whole. On the other hand, matches like soccer and NHL ice hockey show much narrower viewing gaps. Not to put too fine a point on it, but sports that people bet on seem much better at drawing 18-34 year old viewers than sports that people don’t normally place bets on.

TV Sports Viewing by Age and Event
The US TV market is the world’s largest, at around $250 billion per year
Conclusions and Caveats.


1. Deloitte will be writing more about this topic, as part of our TMT Predictions 2019 report, for release on 11 December 2018. As part of that report, we will have more statistically robust sampling, asking over 10,000 people in ten countries about their habits around gambling on sports and TV viewing.


2. Pending that analysis, it seems likely that some part of traditional TV viewing is being driven by millennials (mostly men) betting on sports and watching the matches they have bet on.


3. It seems probable that this may make TV viewing more resilient than some critics expect. Live TV sports viewing motivated by gambling may provide support for overall TV viewing statistics for younger demographics, either slowing the decline somewhat, or perhaps even providing a floor.


4. This effect may significantly vary by country. Although we saw some variation in gambling habits of millennials within the four Nordic countries, in our French survey we observed that betting of any kind (let alone betting on sports) was extremely low in the millennial/Gen Y population14. In fact, no French millennial males in the survey said they gambled weekly. If point three above is correct, we might expect to see millennial TV viewing be less resilient in countries with less of a gambling culture.


5. Although all markets matter, the US TV market is the world’s largest, at around $250 billion per year (for TV broadcasters and distributors). TV sports are a big part of that market, and although gambling is big in the US, it is largely illegal gambling at present. The US Congress is currently reviewing the gambling laws15, and any measures that allow American millennials to gamble more easily or more often could have an effect on TV viewing, and likely a positive effect. x

Graph sources: "No Sports, Please" Source: Nielsen; "Gambling" Source: Deloitte study (to be published shortly);
1This article is a little dated, published in 2014. But more recent versions of this kind of analysis don't seem to exist. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/dear-mona-are-there-any-other-men-who-dont-watch-sports/
4Daily TV Viewing Time by Age, 2005-2017 http://www.nordicom.gu.se/en/statistics-facts/media-statistics
8Benchmarking Report by the Nordic Gambling Supervisory Authorities, 2016, page 12: https://www.arpajaishallinto.fi/instancedata/prime_product_julkaisu/intermin/embeds/arpajaishallintowwwstructure/ 56775_Benchmarking_2016_report_Final.pdf?0fe83d941e9dd488
11Benchmarking Report by the Nordic Gambling Supervisory Authorities, 2016, page 8
12Daily TV Viewing Time by Age, 2005-2017 http://www.nordicom.gu.se/en/statistics-facts/media-statistics
13Future of TV Advertising: State of the Union, Ampere Analysis, 2017. No link available.

US TV Industry at a Crossroads 2017 may go down as a tipping point: a year when several existing trends in media consumption and TV advertising market reach tipping point and suddenly accelerated. Read More   
US TV Industry at a Crossroads
US TV Industry at a Crossroads
The U.S. television industry is facing unprecedented challenges and uncertainty as the media ecosystem is going through complex, rapid transformations. 2017 may go down as a tipping point: a year when several trends in television consumption and the TV advertising market reached tipping point and suddenly accelerated.
Cord-Cutting: The Cable slump.

The near universal availability of smartphones and over-the-top TV connections are causing dramatic changes in media behavior, and it's no longer restricted to younger generations. The rate of “Cord Cutting” – households cancelling their subscriptions to cable/satellite pay TV (Multichannel Video Providers Distributors or MVPDs) – suddenly accelerated in 2017 as the MVPD industry lost more than 3.5 million households (dropping from 100.5 to 97 million homes). MVPDs and broadcasters have designed “skinny bundles” of cable networks, available online (e.g. Dish's “Sling”), to win back cord-cutters with the concept of linear TV bundles. They've had some success, but it did little to mitigate the decline in the penetration and reach of many cable networks in the last three years.

Linear TV: low consumption, high ad demand.

The decline in linear TV consumption continued in 2017. Typical ratings on broadcast networks are half of what they were just five years ago, and, by the end of the current broadcast season, MAGNA expects the average primetime rating (adults 18-49) to be under 1.0. In 2008, the average American between 18-49 was consuming 35 hours of video entertainment per week, 32 hours of which were live television (an all-time high). In 2018, Americans consume 55 hours of video on various screens, live linear TV down to 18 hours, while on-demand video consumption is growing (64% of households subscribe to at least one SVOD service).

Meanwhile, the demand from advertisers remains robust. In fact, in 2017, a number of TV-centric verticals (food, drinks, personal care, pharmaceuticals, film releases) not only maintained the share of national television in their advertising budgets but increased it. Shrinking supply and stable demand mechanically leads to CPM inflation and, indeed, we've seen CPMs grow by an average of 10% per year across national TV over the last five years. In a good year (e.g. 2016) double-digit CPM inflation would offset double-digit rating deflation, stabilizing advertising revenues as a result. But that wasn't the case in 2017 as the ratings crisis worsened.

2008: 35h
of video consumption per week, of which 32 hours of live TV
2018: 55h
of video consumption per week, of which 18 hours of live TV
Television broadcasters and stations will benefit from additional ad spend generated around cyclical events
Cyclical Ad Spend Rescues TV Revenues.

National television advertising sales were down -2.2% at $42 billion last year, according to MAGNA estimates (excluding the incremental ad sales generated by cyclical events e.g. Summer Olympics of 2016). No industry segment was spared: English-speaking broadcast networks' Net Advertising Revenues (NAR) decreased by -3%, Spanish networks by -7%, and cable networks by -2%. Local television ad revenues declined by -14% at approx. $20 billion, mostly due to the lack of political spending (following the election cycle of 2016) but non-political ad sales decreased too, by approx. -4%.

This year (2018), MAGNA anticipates that television broadcasters and stations will benefit from additional ad spend generated around cyclical events: Mid-Term elections ($3 billion of political spend), Winter Olympics (600 million) and FIFA World Cup (200 million). This will help national TV stabilize its ad revenue (+0.2%) and local TV grow its ad sales by nearly 10%. Television sales houses can mitigate the stagnation in traditional linear ad sales by better monetizing digital on-demand viewing platforms (e.g. Hulu and Full Episode Players on mobile devices and OTT). MAGNA estimates TV advertising sales houses generated approx. $1.7 billion of NAR from those platforms in 2017 (+12%). That growth, however, is not enough to offset the bigger erosion in traditional TV ad sales and stabilize total, cross-screen television advertising revenues.

In terms of programming there have been few winners in the 2017-2018 season so far. The number one show was, yet again, The Walking Dead on AMC. The Walking Dead made television history in 2012 when it became the first cable show ever to top the year's ratings, beating broadcast shows. However, with an average rating of 3.4 (live+same day, ages 18-49 with 7.8 million viewers – 11.7 million when adding DVR), season 8 was down by -30%, showing that not even popular shows are immune from the general and dramatic fall of ratings.


The reboot of Roseanne on ABC in March 2018, bringing back the same cast 20 years after the first series, was the top rated new sitcom this year. It's been the most successful reboot by far in the long list of trials over the last few years (X-File, McGyver, Will and Grace, Hawaii 5-0, 24 etc.). The Roseanne reboot also made headlines as an attempt to target white working class families who, some have argued, had been under-served by TV programming in recent years while several shows focused on minorities with some success (ABC's Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat). Roseanne was nevertheless cancelled by ABC in May, following a racist tweet from the star of the show Roseanne Barr. That was the latest example of television programming getting embroiled in the bitter “culture war” and toxic political environment affecting the US in the last two years, as Roseanne Barr, a left-leaning working-class actress twenty years ago, went on to embrace Donald Trump's politics and rhetoric.


Among other successful new shows are The Good Doctor on ABC (highest rated new drama) and Young Sheldon (a Big Bang Theory spin-off) on CBS. Meanwhile, the highly emotional drama This is Us on NBC remains the second highest rated show on broadcast TV and one of the very few shows whose ratings grew over the previous season despite the general ratings erosion.


Traditional Media Consolidates Against the “Duopoly”.

2017 also kicked off an unprecedented wave of mergers and acquisitions in the television industry, which remains, for now, less concentrated than most European media landscapes. ATT/DirecTV just won the court approval to acquire Time Warner (Turner, HBO, Warner Bros, etc.) for $85 billion, despite the opposition of the Department of Justice (DOJ), and this decision is likely to trigger more consolidation in the industry. Producers and broadcasters of premium television and movie content need to increase scale to fend off the multiple threats of Netflix, YouTube and Facebook. Disney seems set to win a bidding war against Comcast/NBCU to acquire most of Fox's assets for $71 billion, after getting approval from the DOJ. The Burbank company is keen to strengthen its catalogue before launching its SVOD service in 2019, when Disney movies and series will no longer feature on Netflix. Discovery bought Scripps. Meanwhile the MVPD sector has consolidated around Comcast, Charter and ATT (66% of the combined market share) and local television has consolidated around Sinclair.

2017 kicked off an unprecedented wave of mergers and acquisitions in the television industry
US Media Owners Advertising Revenues
©MAGNA June 2018. “CE”: Cyclical Events
$2 billion
“Advanced TV” advertising sales in 2018
In the works: Advanced TV and Real-Time Monitoring.

A consolidated television industry may have the resources and scale to successfully develop new, more sophisticated advertising products which would enable brands to leverage consumer data in linear television campaigns, as they do today with digital media formats. MAGNA forecasts that “Advanced TV” advertising sales will grow by +40% this year to reach $2 billion. That includes 800 million dollars in household-addressable linear dynamic insertion campaigns served by MVPDs through set-top boxes on the two minutes of cable network airtime that they control (enabled in 52 million households). Meanwhile, smart TV manufacturers (Samsung) and system operators (Roku, Sorenson) are developing the capability to serve targeted commercials alongside or within linear TV feeds, with real-time monitoring. This will allow any television provider to offer addressable campaigns and tap into “programmatic” ad budgets, beyond the traditional two minutes of locally-inserted commercials on cable networks. x


ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Vincent Létang has been analyzing the global media and advertising market for 25 years (Vincent.letang@magnaglobal.com, @vletang_magna). ABOUT MAGNA. MAGNA is the division of IPG Mediabrands focusing on Investment, Innovation and Market Intelligence. MAGNA Intelligence publishes market research and forecasts on the US ad market and the global media industry, thanks to its New York-based team of analysts and its network of local experts in 70 countries. More than 30 media companies subscribe to MAGNA Intelligence’s reports, insights and data, in Europe and North America. To learn more about MAGNA reports: forecasting@magnaglobal.com.