European TV sector optimistic about 2014

February 11, 2014 07.14 Europe/London By Broadband TV News Correspondent

tvSetIn a press release, a number of European television trade bodies have expressed their optimism about the future of traditional television.

ACT, EGTA, French SNPTV, Dutch SPOT, the UK’s Thinkbox, Germany’s Wirkstoff TV and Belgian ABMA listed “Four reasons why TV will have a great 2014”, especially with major events such as the Winter Olympics in Sochi and other masjor sports events.

The Super Bowl final between Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos in New Jersey set a new highest TV viewership record in the US ever with 111.5 million viewers. Following this success for the first big global TV event of 2014, the European TV sector has identified four grounds for optimism for the year ahead.

Great content is as popular as ever, and broadcasters are providing it. “We are living in a true Golden Age of television. Across Europe, viewing of scheduled television has grown every year for the past 12 years to a daily average of 235 minutes. Pan-European data is not yet available for 2013 but early indications are that, even in a year without big global sports events, TV viewing remained stable.”

Talent shows continue to be extremely popular: 9.8 million viewers tuned in to watch the 3rd season launch of The Voice in France, while its third series opener in the UK peaked at more than 10 million. 2014 started with a great January for TV in Germany too: Jungle show I’m a Celebrity – Get me out of here scored an average viewership of 7.96 million for over 16 days. Overall, the show had a net reach of 36.41 million TV viewers, which equals 50.4% of the TV universe (3+)!

This is not by chance, but because of the careful nurturing of and investment in on-screen and off-screen talent. The ability to experiment and develop a story away from the peak time schedules has allowed television to develop long-form stories which are attracting the big names back to television (Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey and Michael Douglas have all recently ‘returned’ to making TV projects).

Although there are regional variations reflecting the economic difficulties facing many parts of Europe, on average European broadcast revenues, whether from subscription or advertising, continue to grow and are keeping ahead of the overall economy (and helping generate a wider economic growth as shown by a recent Belgian study). Latest British research showed that every £1 spent in advertising pays back £6 to the national economy.

Also 2013 saw a growth in new TV advertising clients: 777 compared to 670 in 2012 in France, 750 new clients on TV in Germany and there were 737 new or returning advertisers to UK TV.

Consumers are buying more and better TV sets than ever before. The average TV screen size in German homes has more than doubled in the past decade, from 38 cm in 2003 to 82 cm in 2013, a 115% increase. There were 34 million new TV sets being sold in Germany since 2010 (in a country of 36 million TV households). In France, an average screen size has grown from 65 cm in 2006 to 84 cm in 2013 (+29%). It is estimated that 29.4 million new TV sets were sold in France since 2010 (in a country of 26.9 million TV households).

2014 will be a great year of sport. European broadcasters noted that the appeal of the Super Bowl remains undiminished, with advertising spots in and around the game sold out weeks in advance and trading at 4 million dollars. Recent figures confirm that the live sports events continue to attract mass audiences in Europe too:

The rugby game between France and England attracted 6.4 million viewers in France (34.1% audience share), with a peak at 8 million at the end of the game, and 5.9 million viewers in the UK (32.1% share).

Some 173 million viewers across and beyond Europe watched Germany’s Bayern Munich and Dortmund square off in the UEFA Champions League final last season.

Super Bowl in France was watched by an average of 270.000 viewers – a three times bigger audience of this time slot on other days for the channel. A reported peak audience was 484.000 viewers. In Germany, Super Bowl final scored a market share of 39.6%, a new record for this programme.

In the Netherlands, speed skating realised an audience of 11.5 million viewers (75% of total population 6+).

2014 will be an exciting year for international and European sport fans. With the Sochi Olympics underway – reaching 3 billion viewers worldwide for its opening ceremony – and the FIFA World Cup in the summer, there is a good chance that audience records will be broken again in some territories.