Ad crisis hastens Spain’s TV shake-out

The free-fall of TV advertising revenues is speeding up the reorganisation of the Spanish TV market, with a second consolidation process now under way in the commercial TV sector, a far-reaching reshuffle of the DTT channels with new entrants and a multiplatform approach of the pay-TV companies to exploit new windows and capture new clients.

The latest data from Infoadex reveals that TV ad revenues dropped by 7.5 per cent until September with TV channels losing €132 million, from €1.767 billion the same period last year to €1.635 million. The two largest private TV companies, Mediaset-owned Tele 5 and Antena 3, took most of the ad revenues (two out of three adverts are shown on their channels) creating a huge gap in comparison with other smaller (DTT broadcasters).

Their duopoly is likely to be intensified with the possible merger between Antena 3 TV and La Sexta, the second consolidation move following the merger between Tele 5 and Cuatro last November. The agreement may be concluded by the end of the year with the new company up and running from next January. Up to September, Antena 3 had €490 million in ad revenues, up 1.8 per cent, with an ad market share of 30.3 per cent while Tele 5 and Cuatro together made €711 million, down 10 per cent, though, with an ad market share of 43.5 per cent. La Sexta’s ad revenues fell by 2.6 per cent to €190 million.

Other DTT channels saw their ad revenues fall significantly. Veo 7, owned by Unidad Editorial, publisher of the El Mundo newspaper, experienced a decline of €28.02 million to €11.8 million; Disney Channel lost 15.4 per cent of its ad revenues to €14 million and Intereconomia’s ad revenues dropped by 39 per cent. Regional TV channels lost 24.4 per cent of their ad revenues to €150.2 million. Overall, ad revenues in nationwide TV channels fell by 5.3 per cent to €1.442 billion; pay-TV and DTT were down 5.8 per cent.

This gloomy situation is driving smaller DTT channels such as Veo TV or La 10 to sub-let their DTT licences as they cannot afford to maintain their DTT services with an annual cost of around €5 million. New entrants, above all foreign companies, are taking the opportunity of entering the Spanish FTA DTT market, as has been seen with Disney and Discovery Networks. The latter recently signed an agreement with Veo to launch Discovery Max in January. Other possible candidates include Fox and Viacom. A small Spanish DTT channel, Intereconomia, specialised in financial information, has come up with the request to its viewers to give donations to save the channel. In the pay-TV business, Digital Plus has become Canal Plus to exploit the popularity of the brand and, like other pay TV operators, is reaching agreements with other possible distribution platforms to distribute its own pay-TV services.

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