It’s no secret the coronavirus pandemic hurt the media industry. The economic slowdown and weak consumer sentiment saw advertisers – who determine the financial health of media companies – stop spending large sums of money.
But new data indicates the frugal period is over. Confidential broadcast figures given to industry body Think TV and obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, show a 5.7 per cent uptick in advertising spend for the first three months of this year compared to the same time last year.
The commercial television sector made $565 million between January and March 2021, a strong indicator that advertisers are willing and confident to spend large amounts sponsoring programs like Big Brother, Masterchef and Legomasters and sports events such as the NRL and AFL.
Network Ten, which is known for shows such as I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, The Bachelor and Masterchef, earned $141 million in advertising revenue in the first three months of this year, up from $113.3 million over the same time the previous year. The network still makes less money than rivals Nine and Seven, accounting for just 25 per cent of total advertising in the quarter.
Seven West Media, which aired shows such as Holey Moley and Ultimate Tag, made $192 million over three months, a slight improvement on last year’s $186.6 million. The Kerry Stokes-controlled network took 34 per cent of total revenue share.
The biggest income generator remains Nine Entertainment Co, which runs Nine Network and owns The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Nine, which ran Married at First Sight and Legomasters, made about $232 million – almost the same amount as last year. It makes up 41 per cent of total revenue for the sector.
“It has been proven that TV and broadcast video on demand deliver better sales results for brands,” Nine chief sales officer Michael Stephenson said. “The strong market demand is showing no signs of slowing. After a strong March quarter, in April, the TV market grew by 44 per cent, the broadcast video on demand market grew by over 100 per cent and market conditions are returning to pre-COVID levels.” Seven and Ten declined to comment.
The data provides insight into the way advertisers are spending money than a year into the pandemic. Advertising market conditions were soft before the pandemic began, but were made worse as social distancing restrictions were implemented and major sporting events were cancelled. Social-distancing restrictions had an outsized impact on the travel and automotive industries, sectors that usually spent large amounts on advertising. The temporary suspension of the AFL and NRL competitions also contributed to the revenue pinch.