TV ad market holds up in third quarter despite Brexit jitters

The TV ad market has held steady since the Brexit vote and Theresa May's early appointment as prime minister has encouraged most marketers to stick to their spending plans, according to two of Britain's biggest broadcasters.

Sky Media's Litster: expects market to be roughly flat next year
Sky Media's Litster: expects market to be roughly flat next year

Both Sky and Channel 4 expect revenues from the TV market to be about flat in the third quarter and slightly up across the year, rather than suffering a fall as some analysts feared in the immediate aftermath of the vote. 

John Litster, the managing director of Sky Media, was upbeat about the run-up to Christmas and expects the market to be roughly flat in 2017 too. "Advertisers are saying, ‘we’ve got to get on with it,’" he said.

Litster admitted there had been "massive uncertainty for a couple of weeks" but claimed marketers now feel there is "no point making any short judgments" because Brexit negotiations will take at least two years. 

Jonathan Allan, director of sales at Channel 4, said: "The TV market was up around 3% in the first half of the year and whilst August and September are currently showing small declines, this is against huge growth of 9% and 13% respectively in 2015, so we would have expected a little softness, regardless of the political and economic situation. Due to the uncertainty post-Brexit, we have moved our full-year market forecast from 3-4% to 1-2%."

That suggests the TV ad market is likely to suffer a small fall before Christmas.

Observers said ITV was likely to have a tougher third quarter as brands brought forward spend because of the Euro 2016 football championships in June. The broadcaster warned in May that the ad market had slowed because of Brexit jitters. 

ITV could be facing a double-digit decline in September but that is largely because it had a near-15% surge a year ago during the Rugby World Cup. 

ITV and Sky report financial results next week.

Two Bank of England monetary policy rate-setters, Martin Weale and Kristen Forbes, have said this week that they have seen no sign of a major economic slowdown since Brexit.