Sunday 26 January 2020

Ad revenue windfall for RTE as demand lets it hike prices


Room to Improve, starring Dermot Bannon and Lisa O’Brien, has boosted RTE viewing figures
Room to Improve, starring Dermot Bannon and Lisa O’Brien, has boosted RTE viewing figures
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

RTE is increasing the price of its television ads for the month of May, due to higher than expected demand from advertisers.

The broadcaster saw TV revenues for the first quarter fall due to TV3 scoring the Six Nations coverage - a drop that had been built into estimates for 2018.

However, April and May are performing better than RTE had expected.

Joanne Watts, head of commercial operations at RTE, said that advertising from categories such as financial services and utilities was strong, while brands involved in the World Cup would also begin to roll out campaigns in May.

Watts said that there was an "slight" overall improvement in the ad market.

"We anticipated ourselves that quarter one would be down with the loss of the Six Nations but things have picked up a bit for April and May," she said. "May is looking like a busy enough month and we operate on a supply and demand basis."

The broadcaster will also get an advertising boost from activity around the abortion referendum in the coming weeks.

Programming is also important from a revenue point of view as advertisers follow the audiences. RTE has a big hit with Young Offenders and the return of acclaimed series Can't Cope, Won't Cope should drive viewing figures. The recent series of Room to Improve has also performed well.

RTE has been highlighting its financial difficulties with government in recent months.

It lost almost €20m in 2016 and will record a significant loss for 2017 when it reports its financial figures shortly.

It was particularly hit by Brexit, as many of the TV advertising decisions are made in London and paid for in sterling so currency fluctuations reduced spending power here.

Director general Dee Forbes conceded earlier this year that RTE would make a loss in the current year unless the Government tackled its funding problems.

One of RTE's top priorities is to get licence fee evasion reduced.

An Post currently collects the fee but there has been a proposal that Revenue could collect it instead. RTE believes that it could receive another €40m in income if the evasion was significantly reduced.

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