Football leagues must think innovatively about maintaining broad exposure, but relying on advertising revenues from free-to-air TV makes no economic sense.

Creating league-operated direct-to-consumer platforms would undermine the very competition between broadcasters that has propelled rights.

The only realistic option for sustainable growth is deeper, longer-term partnerships with broadcasters.

As guided, ITV’s advertising performance was down 8% year-on-year (£1.8 billion), while Studios performed slightly better than expected (+4%, £2.2 billion): meaning that adjusted EBITA, while challenged (-32%, £489 million) could have been worse given the trials of H1

Unsurprisingly, ITV has announced an acceleration of its cost-cutting measures which intensifies an earlier hiring freeze: costs have risen 19% since before COVID, while revenues are only up 10%

ITVX continues its strong growth, and although we think that this needs to be contextualised, there are unintended but encouraging signs for the broadcaster

As viewing moves online, broadcasters’ on-demand players make up a growing proportion of viewing, becoming central to their future strategies.

However, even though SVOD viewing might have begun to plateau, BVOD growth cannot yet balance the decline of linear broadcast.

Of this shrinking pie, 2023 saw most of the major broadcast players increase their viewing shares.

Disney's bottom line results were flattered by a year-long cost cutting drive: the decline in linear entertainment revenue is accelerating and direct-to-consumer subscriber growth has temporarily stalled.

A new sports JV with Warner Bros. Discovery and Fox, along with other announcements are designed to grab attention in midst of turbulent shareholder rebellion.  Disney also—at last—unveiled a new games initiative with a $1.5 billion equity stake in Epic Games and a major immersive universe to attract younger audiences.

Disney's approach to the licensing of content to third parties is nuanced and so will be its effect on the perception of Disney+'s exclusivity.

Dramas from the public service broadcasters based on books consistently bring in bigger audiences than those that are not, a trend driven by certain genres, especially detective mysteries and thrillers.

A greater volume of newer book IP is being developed into programming, but this preference is not necessarily reflected in audience figures.                                 

Younger demographics are less enamoured with dramas based on books than older viewers. There are however notable exceptions, while attracting younger audiences may have more to do with the age, genre, and fame of the IP.

The UK’s ‘zombie’ economy—largely flat since March 2022—is due to the cost-of-living crisis weighing on households, with this exacerbated in 2023 by the rising cost of credit. Real private expenditure growth will be weakly positive in 2024 before strengthening in 2025 as headwinds recede

Our 2023 forecast of a nominal rise but real decline in display advertising was realised, with TV’s revenues falling while digital display rose. Advertiser spend online is justified by the channel’s size and growth, worth an estimated £406 billion in 2023

For 2024, much lower inflation and mildly positive real private expenditure growth points to 3-4% display advertising growth, with a stronger recovery anticipated in 2025

ITV Studios (+9%, £1.52 billion) continues to prop up the company's advertising business (-7%, £1.23 billion)—which faces macro headwinds—helping external revenues for the first nine months of 2023 slightly upwards to £2.53 billion

Q4 is shaping up as a particularly difficult period for advertising with the lead up to Christmas potentially down by 15% YoY

ITVX continues to show growth; given that this is mostly a result of cannibalising ITV's linear audience, there is a ceiling on its potential

ITV’s external revenues saw only a small decline in H1 (-2%), a product of the Studios business’ solid growth (+8%, £1.0 billion) offsetting a very tough period for television advertising, which saw an 11% YoY decline.

Despite the appearance of a contracting market, ITV remains very confident in the continued organic growth of Studios, while the ad market looks to be improving although the full year will be down.

ITVX is growing both in total viewing and the length of viewing session, an outcome of improving the experience and content offering. However, broadcast viewing of ITVX exclusives is lower than might be expected, indicating that cannibalised linear viewing is more of a driver of ITVX growth than ITV seems to suggest.

Advertising activity has shifted dramatically from brand-building to activation in the past few years. Advertisers should resist the pressure to spend even more on activation: those that rebalance to brand building can gain a long-term competitive advantage.

Brand advertising works by building up memories and associations, supporting market share and pricing. This is done best by television, print, audio and out-of-home, but in a rapidly fragmenting media landscape online video and display can no longer just be a supporting act.

Investing in proper cross-channel audience measurement and planning will allow advertisers to use brand advertising effectively across all media, as well as supporting broadcaster and publisher ad revenue. 

Channel 4 was resilient in 2022: highlighted by a 2% YoY drop in total revenues after a record 2021, a quickly growing digital business and a new high for content spend

With privatisation now off the table, in its draft form the Media Bill presents new opportunities and challenges: an “appropriate degree of prominence” on smart TVs and devices, the option to produce content for the first time, and a “sustainability duty”

The effect that these might have is murky without a body of interpretation and mediation, and indeed execution—it appears uncertain whether Channel 4 would begin to produce, with the optics concerning indie producers tricky and accumulation of the required operational skills a long process