Europe’s TV markets continue to improve well beyond last year’s dire slump, with leading broadcasters enjoying combined growth of 10% and ad sales climbing back to near pre-crisis levels.
According to a report Monday by the European Audiovisual Observatory, in the first six months of 2010, Europe’s 12 leading commercial broadcasting groups saw combined revenue reach €17.6 billion ($22.5 billion) compared with $20.6 billion in the first half of 2009 and $22.5 billion in the first half of 2008.
Pay TV giant BSkyB and pan-European RTL Group led the pack. With $4.7 billion, BSkyB’s half-year revenue was 10.2% — higher than 2009 and 22% higher than 2008. The ad-funded RTL saw sales of $3.4 billion, up nearly 3% over 2009 but still 7% below 2008 levels.Ad-driven broadcasters, which were worst affected by the recession of 2008 and 2009, showed a slight improvement, with the highest growth figures recorded by Polish group TVN, which saw a 19% increase over 2009 and a 1.8% bump over 2008.
Sweden’s Modern Times Group also saw strong growth, with revenue at $1.03 billion — a 6.8% increase over 2009 and 16% above 2008.
Italy’s Mediaset, which also operates in Spain, was up 16.7% to $2.9 billion compared with 2009 and 1.4% higher than 2008. Revenue at France’s TF1 rose 13.7% to $1.65 billion but was still down nearly 6% compared with 2008.
The U.K.’s ITV saw an 8.6% increase to $1.5 billion but was still 4.3% below 2008. Likewise, Germany’s pan-European ProSiebenSat.1 group saw a 7.4% increase in revenue over 2009 to $1.82 billion but down 7.3% compared with 2008.
In 2009, pay TV groups managed to cope better with the economic crisis than ad-financed broadcasters, the report found. However, feevee operator results in the first half of 2010 were more mixed.
BSkyB achieved 10.2% growth in the first half of 2010 and also saw an 11% increase in full-year sales to $9.1 billion, including a 15% rise in subscription income.
Yet other pay TV groups failed to register the same level of growth.
Spanish conglom Prisa was the only group still in decline, down nearly 13% in the first half of 2010 to $1.1 billion due mainly to a 22.7% drop in sales at its Digital Plus division and a 10.6% fall in revenue at its Portuguese group, Media Capital. At the same time, sales at Cuatro, Prisa’s ad-financed channel, rose 52.4%.
In Germany, revenue at feevee operator Sky Deutschland rose by just 1.6% to $604.6 million but remained 2.5% below 2008 figures. The financially strapped group is struggling to increase subscriber numbers and is seeking to sign agreements with cable operators in an effort to expand its reach.
Sky Italia’s sales remained steady during its tax year ending in June, while at France’s Vivendi group, Canal Plus saw its half-year revenue increase to nearly $3 billion — 3.1% over 2009 and 3.2% over 2008.