Upbeat forecast for commercial TV in 1999

Media auditor The Billett Consultancy predicts good news for advertisers next year with more people forecast to watch commercial TV – and therefore the commercial breaks.

According to Billett, the BBC’s share of audience is expected to drop below the 40 per cent threshold for the first time by the end of December this year. Commercial viewing should remain above 60 per cent of all viewing throughout 1999 because such factors as the continued growth of Channel 5 and satellite and the resilience of Channel 4. Billetts believes ITV will continue to lose audience next year, although the rate of decline will be slower and peaktime viewing will be bolstered by the decision to scrap News At Ten.

But the UK’s biggest channel will still be able to command a price premium from advertisers, some of whom are locked into “share of broadcast” deals where they have committed a proportion of their TV spend to each ITV saleshouse.

Billett predicts ITV’s price premium for adults will move up from 10 per cent in 1998 to 12 per cent in 1999. Andy Pearch, Billett managing director, says: “ITV is still losing audience more rapidly than it is losing cash.”

The report, called An Advertiser’s Guide to the Broadcast Negotiation Battlefield, says that while last year’s key issues were the introduction of share of broadcast deals and the impact of the World Cup, for 1999 they will be external factors such as global economic conditions and the effect of the Millennium celebrations on advertisers.

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