More channels in the picture as TV ads competition hots up
BRITISH channels, such as E4, MTV and Paramount, will mop up between ?30m and ?35m in the Irish advertising market this year, according to industry sources, with Sky getting around ?20m in ad revenue.
Competition in the TV advertising market will be hotting up further, with TV3's agreement to start selling adspace on behalf of Living TV. And TV3 hopes that more agreements might follow, so more "opt-out" Irish advertising from British-based channels can be expected.
While satellite channels aim to get a slice of the buoyant Irish market, new Irish-owned stations are launching. Channel 6 has been here since the spring and plans to launch a music channel, while Irish-owned Bubble Hits launches on the Sky platform next month.
The smaller stations broadcasting here are unhappy with how they are measured here and a new alternative measure may be established.
However, the industry standard measure, Nielsen, indicates that Sky One still has the highest share of viewing of all the opt-outs with a 2.2pc share among individuals for Jan-Jun 2006. This is down significantly from Sky One's high of almost 4pc in 2002.
There was a mix-up in the Nielsen figures in April and May of this year, so figures from Dublin agency Initiative have excluded these months in their half-year analysis.
Said Louise Fitzpatrick of Initiative: "Sky One and Sky News began offering Irish opt-outs in September 2000. It appears that as more and more opt-outs enter the market, their share understandably goes down."
"However, the share of 'other channels' (those not measured by Nielsen) continues to rise, even as more and more stations move out of that category and are measured in their own right."
Most opt-outs record positive viewing figures in their first few months of operation, and often go down in their second and third years.
"MTV was the biggest casualty of this, losing 57pc of its market share (or going from 2.2pc to 0.9pc) between 2003 and 2006. Nickelodeon, Sky Sports and Paramount also lost share after their first year offering opt-outs," she said.
Pat Kiely of TV3 said that top-line figures have indicated that Living is already getting a bigger share of viewing than some more established opt-out stations.
He said that the station has been highly successful in the UK and hopes to replicate some of that in Ireland.
Ellen Kelliher of MCM said that individual stations weren't huge players.
"Some of the opt-outs have been here for quite a while, although they're generally not doing a huge share of viewing." However, she said that Living's arrival on the ad scene could impact negatively on Channel 6, as some of the programming is similar.
In terms of the importance of opt-outs, she said that RTÉ 2, for example was up this year due to its point of difference. "Traditionally, Irish people watch Irish programmes," she said. Ms Kelliher said that the opt-out stations act as "cost regulators" for advertisers, which are added to a mix of TV campaigns along with RTÉ to make the price of reaching 1,000 people in the target audience a bit cheaper.
This is a view shared by broadcast director of Mediaworks, Conor Hanover, who said that opt-out stations kept costs down.
Collectively, they are important in the advertising mix but he believes they will never be a a real threat to RTÉ and TV3.
"What's happening more and more is that fewer campaigns are using all of the (opt-out) station, so you're picking and choosing depending on the product. RTÉ and TV3 is where the mass audience is," he said.