TV ad revenue continues to slide Broadcasting Seven still in lead
Commercial television advertising revenue has fallen a further 0.62 per cent in the June half, capping off two straight years of declines, as the industry struggles outside the key Melbourne and Sydney markets.
Industry numbers released by FreeTV Australia on Monday show that Seven's share of revenue has inched forward from 40.29 per cent to 40.5 per cent, while Nine's dipped marginally to 37.6 per cent.
Last year's dive in Ten's share of revenue has not been repeated. The market share of Australia's third-ranking network crashed from 25.5 per cent in the front end of last year to 21.57 per cent, and is now sitting at 21.9 per cent.
The numbers demonstrate that the early signs that Nine has improved its ratings performance have yet to trickle through to its revenue market share - although this type of movement has to be maintained over several ratings periods before it translates into more advertising dollars.
But overall the anaemic industry revenue numbers could have been worse. The main Melbourne and Sydney markets held up relatively well - rising 0.86 per cent and 0.04 per cent respectively, but adjusted for inflation they are down.
The troubled metropolitan markets are Brisbane and Adelaide, where revenues fell 3.73 per cent and 3.25 per cent respectively. At the back end of last year these cities fell sharply - down 5.65 per cent and 8.7 per cent.
During the six months to December, the only positive gains were posted by regional Western Australia and Tasmania/Northern Territory.
The recent $340 million acquisition by Nine Network of its Perth and Adelaide affiliates appears to be an attempt to boost national advertising dollars and take out duplicated costs.
Meanwhile, when regulatory restrictions on audience reach are abandoned, Ten Network is near certain to acquire listed regional affiliate Southern Cross or WIN Television from Bruce Gordon.
The industry is desperately looking for ways to improve or diversify earnings. All three have announced cost-cutting drives this year, including staff cuts.
The Nine and Ten networks have also been busy extracting more lucrative broadcast deals from their regional affiliates. Ten managed to increase its fee from Southern Cross in an exercise that Citi analyst Justin Diddams estimates will deliver Ten another $12 million in cash flow in 2014.
Ten is also attracted by Southern Cross' radio network, one sector of the media market that has shown resilience to the soft advertising.
While the most recent revenue numbers still show a decline, the trajectory has improved and if it continues on this path the industry may experience some small overall growth in the second half of calendar 2013.
The last positive revenue result was January to June 2011, off the back of 15 per cent growth in the period to December 2010.