Niche numbers nick Spanish nets

Ad revenue repped 1.4% of total TV spend

MADRID — For Spain’s TV channels, market fragmentation is a bittersweet story.

In 2006, payboxes notched a record 8.9% aud share. But their ad revenue — a paltry e44.5 million ($64.1 million) — repped just 1.4% of the country’s total TV spend. The supposedly back-against-the-wall free TV took 98.6% or some $4.5 billion.

“Pay TV ad investment’s seen as experimental,” says Juan Maria Romeu, SPTI Networks Iberia senior VP, explaining the disconnect.

“Thematic channel advertising’s been undervalued. It’s been established as a low-cost alternative,” says Eduardo Garcia Matilla, prexy of aud research company Multimedia Corp.

“Spanish thematic channels are still sub-driven,” says Pablo Romero, programming director at Sogecable satcaster Digital Plus, Spain’s pay TV leader. “The low ad investment hardly helps the development of multi-channel strategies in Spain.”

Just 28% of Spanish households subscribe to pay TV, one of Western Europe’s lowest penetration rates. Now the payboxes are battling for a bigger piece of the ad cake.

Their latest move is Conect, the Specialist Council in Thematic Channels, unveiled to Spain’s media agencies and advertisers Oct. 25 in Madrid.

Inspired by the U.S.’ Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau and Latin America’s Lamac, Conect is backed by the producers of 28 paywebs in Spain, including TBS, Fox Intl. Channels Iberia, MTV Nets, NBC U Global Networks, SPTI Networks Iberia, Multicanal Iberia and cable operator ONO’s Factoria de Canales.

Their aims include improving audience measurement and a campaign to promote the upside of pay TV ad spending, says Conect g.m. Maite Rodriguez.

“We want to raise advertising to half our ad share in two years,” she says.

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