Established channel suffer as digital develops

MADRID — The plethora of new digital terrestrial television continued to make audience gains in France and Spain in 2009 at the expense of the incumbent terrestrial broadcasters.

In France, nearly 90% of households can now access DTT channels free-to-air and free-of-charge with a digital TV set or DTT decoder while Spain has a near 80% DTT household penetration.

As Spain’s April analog switchoff approaches, consumption of TV via DTT, including digital versions of the most popular broadcast channels, skyrocketed from 23.8% of total TV viewing in January 2009 to 52.8% in December.

Dedicated DTT channels continued to erode the shares of the established broadcasters. In Gaul, where the analog signal won’t be turned off until 2011, the market share of commercial broadcaster TF1′s core channel dropped from 27.2% in 2008 to 26.1%. in 2009

At pubcaster France Televisions, France 2 lost 0.8% for a 16.6% share; France 3 fell 1.5%, averaging 11.8% last year.

Only commercial web M6 withstood the digital deluge, dipping just 0.2% points to 10.8%

In Spain, pubcaster TVE clocked up a 16.4% share, down 0.5%, while former audience leader Telecinco fell 3% to 15.1%, according to audience statistics company Sofres. Antena 3 dropped 1.3% to 14.7%.

Meanwhile, DTT channels made small gains.

In France, W9′s market share rose from 2.2% in December 2008 to 2.9% a year later. Spain’s Disney Channel climbed from 1.9% of total DTT aud share in 2008 to 3.3% in 2009.

Whether auds will continue to migrate to the digital channels “will depend on the strength of the DTT program offer, if there are mergers between operators, and how many channel go pay or high definition,” according to Carlos Arnanz of Spanish research company Multimedia Corp.

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