Agencies’ alarm over the rising price of TV airtime has switched focus
from ITV to Channel 4 as inflation soars on the station because of
falling viewing figures.
The price of advertising on Channel 4 is thought to have increased by an
average of around 12 per cent in the first quarter of this year
following a downturn in viewing numbers.
The channel has faced stiff competition for audiences from BBC2 over the
past few months, and there has been a corresponding fall in commercial
At the same time, demand for advertising airtime on the station was
healthy during January and February, pushing up the price for many
Some media companies are, as a consequence, failing to deliver on the
savings they promised to make on their clients’ television adspend.
One TV buyer said: ‘Channel 4 is used by buyers as a cost regulator as
much as it is used as a unique coverage provider, especially on accounts
that are heavily audited. This inflation is causing some agencies real
problems, and making the channel far less attractive.’
ITV faced widespread criticism from advertisers and agencies for its
price inflation last year, which was well into double figures right
through to the autumn.
This year, ITV’s prices have increased by around 3 per cent year on
year, so that the price for many of Channel 4’s audiences has risen to a
For some key audiences, such as young adults, Channel 4 is now more
expensive than ITV. One ITV sales director said that more TV buyers were
now coming to ITV for their short-term airtime.
If Channel 4’s inflation continues throughout the year, it is likely to
have a beneficial knock-on effect for Channel 5 when it launches in
Andy Barnes, Channel 4’s sales director, was unavailable for comment.