2019: a year in TV and news

TV has evolved. There may have been much talk of decline in viewing, but really what we’re seeing is simply a shift in the way people choose to consume content.  There is more choice than ever; be it catching up on your favourite shows wherever you are (and whatever sort of device you’re using) or being one of the 4m+ who like to tune in to watch other people watching TV on Gogglebox!

Yes, there are audiences where this shift has been more pronounced – particularly among the sought-after younger demographic – but this just means we now need to plan and buy our TV campaigns differently in order to find those audiences, wherever they are watching.

In a difficult year for the wider economy, linear TV budgets remained relatively stable (-3.1%) for 2019 and 2020 is set to see record investment in VOD and addressable TV (AdSmart).

It’s also shaping up to be a bumper year for live sport with Six Nations Rugby and Euro 2020 helping to attract further investment in traditional TV.  There is still nowhere better to find a return on your advertising investment than TV – regardless of whether your budget stretches to a few thousand or a few million.  Whatever the question, TV usually has the answer…



In 2019, ITV was the second largest sales house in terms of Audience, not far behind the total of all channels sold by Sky.  ITV1 saw a 4.7% decrease in Adult Impacts on linear TV year on year (2018 vs 2019), with the total market ending down -4.4%.

They still take the lion’s share of TV Advertising Revenue though; with a reported drop of 2% year on year they beat All Commercial TV (-3.1%), taking just under £1.7bn in 2019. How will ITV continue to compete against other Broadcasters, and what is their plan for a successful 2020?

Love Island’s continued success on ITV2 in 2019 prompted ITV to release a winter series of the show in addition to their usual summer run. The launch episode on 12th Jan peaked at 3m viewers, a 22% decrease vs 2019’s first Love Island episode in the summer. Although this year’s launch episode wasn’t as successful as last year’s, it translated to a huge increase in audience by 2.1m vs Ibiza Weekender, shown in the same slot on ITV2 last year. Episode 4 has seen a decrease in viewership with 2m individuals watching the last episode, 1m of which were young adults (16-34).

The ever-popular series Cold Feet is also back on with a new season.  The first episode on 13th peaked at 3.3m individuals. Along with plenty of new drama, quirky new entertainment series The Masked Singer has been causing a stir.  The launch episode on 4th January reached 6.6m individuals.

Will a winter Love Island, the return of Cold Feet and The Masked Singer help ITV see year-on-year growth in January? We’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to find out.


Channel 4

Channel4, as a group, finished the year on par with ITV in terms of year-on-year viewing variations (Channel4 down 5.57% Adult impacts vs ITV -5.48% Adult impacts). With The Great British Bake Off and Gogglebox among the programmes continuing to pull in the viewers on the main channel, Channel4’s focus for retaining/increasing audiences will continue to be across their Owned portfolio, especially with the all-important Adults 16-34 audience.

E4’s year-on-year Adult Impacts decayed -11.5% and -18.5% for Youngs from 2018 to 2019. Mid-2018, Channel4’s Director of Programmes, Ian Katz, appointed Karl Warner as the new Controller of E4 with the aim of rescuing the youthful audience.

In a bid to rival the subscription service providers who are stealing all the young impacts, Karl will be under pressure to deliver growth and turn negatives into positives. With the addition of Adult Swim which produces youthful programming such as Rick and Morty, he’ll be in with a fighting chance, but we’re yet to see a significant impact as we start 2020….



With the Comcast takeover of Sky announced at the end of 2018, we are starting to see some of the changes filtering through.

Along with a renewed push of their industry-leading AdSmart technology and a focus on measurement in the evolving TV landscape, we have also seen a number of station rebrands.

Consolidating station names under brand umbrellas makes them more recognisable, gives viewers a better idea of content they can expect to find there and should help them compete with big players such as Netflix and Amazon.

In October last year, Real Lives changed to Sky Crime, now the home of premium US true crime content.  Next month they will launch Sky Comedy, the home of premium scripted US comedy from HBO, NBC and Showtime and a vast library – including favourites such as Will and Grace.

Sony also followed suit in reintroducing the Sony brand with three of their stations True Entertainment, Movies 4 Men and True Movies changing to Sony Channel, Sony Movies Action and Sony Movies Classic – removing the ‘true’ element. True Crime and Sony Crime were also closed.

Trace bought and rebranded Chartshow’s music channels such as The Vault and Chart Show TV. To package them together with the Trace brand they, along with Chart Show Hits and Starz, were changed to: Trace Latina, Trace Pop Channel, Trace Urban and Trace Vault.

Linear viewing to channels sold by Sky held up better than the overall commercial market, with them losing only 2.97% of Adult viewing.

For all broadcasters, 2020 will bring new challenges and opportunities; with the increasing competition for eyeballs from streaming services and social media platforms, they will all be improving their offerings, as well as focusing on the growing challenge of effective measurement across platforms and devices.  With more to follow on all this in future months, here’s to another strong year for TV…