Is commercial TV set to finish 2013 on a high?

Is the return of confidence in the sector fully warranted or just a case of wishful thinking, Mark Banham asks.

Jeremy Tester: director of brand strategy, Sky Media
Jeremy Tester: director of brand strategy, Sky Media

Despite a modest rise in TV advertising revenue in 2012, most in the industry entered 2013 cautiously, with little talk of any real market growth in traditional spot revenue. 

The TV marketing body Thinkbox had revealed that advertising revenue during 2012 grew by 1.4 per cent to a record £4.48 billion – a platform-neutral figure that represented all the money invested in commercial TV including linear spot and sponsorship, TV-on-demand and product placement.

Any positive effects of the BBC-led London Olympics, Euro 2012 and Diamond Jubilee were unclear for commercial broadcasters. Hopes for the once much-vaunted product-placement initiative had failed to deliver a revenue revolution, with commercial players now considering it as little more than a nice additional bonus.

A strong summer – in­cluding good showings from series such as ITV’s The X Factor, Channel 4’s Homeland, Channel 5’s Ce­lebrity Big Brother and Sky’s Boardwalk Empire – seems to have somewhat changed the outlook.

Earlier predictions of flatlining 2013 revenues have been upgraded in some quarters to an increase of up to 5 per cent by the end of the year, as broadcasters talk about increased advertising spend from brands, the return of long-dormant advertisers and new money across their channels.

Jeremy Tester, the director of brand strategy at Sky Media, says: "2013 will finish on a relative high, but a high nonetheless."

As economic growth appears to be returning to the UK, with the Government and the CBI talking up near-double-digit rises in manufacturing, and boosts in con­fidence across business and professional services, the TV sector seems to be mirroring the upswing.

Nick Bampton, the commercial director of sales at Channel 5, says: "The medium is reinventing itself via new ways of trading, closer links with content and greater audience engagement."

But is all of this a sign of a TV industry that is on the rise, or merely a case of one talking itself up? Is commercial TV on track to finish the year on a high?

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