Economic recession hits international TV sales

MADRID — The global economic recession hit European advertising spend across the board in 2008, with worse to come this year, according to new reports.

Spanish TV advertising spend plunged a massive 11% in 2008 to E3 billion ($3.9 billion), per research company InfoAdex.

Whammied by a burst housing bubble, credit crunch and TV market fragmentation, Spain suffered far worse last year than other major Western European markets.

Elsewhere, 2008 TV adspend was either flat or negative with Italy dropping 0.7%, Germany down 1.3%,  France down 2.4% and the U.K. crashing 5.4%, according to media research company Screen Digest.

On Thursday, Screen Digest downgraded its forecast for U.K. 2009 TV adspend to 7.7%.  Hit by weak consumer demand and few penalties for pulled advertising, adspend will plunge by at least 10% at main commercial channel ITV 1, said Screen Digest senior analyst Vincent Letang.

“Over Europe’s Big Five, the situation will be much worse in 2009. The 2010 soccer World Cup, a bottoming-out economy and cheap TV ad prices may stabilize the situation,” Letang added.

Screen Digest forecasts 2009 TV adspend falls of 4% for Italy, 8% for Germany, 9% for France, and 12.5% for Spain.

TV ad revs plunged even though countries and even some companies increased consumership. TV viewership rose in 2008 in Spain hit an all-time record daily average of 3 hours 47 minutes.

“In a recession, media buying agencies are able to wring far better prices from TV ad houses,”  said Jonathan Barnard, head of publications, at Zenith Optimedia.

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