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2020, a year to remember for Dutch television

How do you summarise the Dutch TV developments during a year that has completely been turned upside down by a pandemic most of us have not experienced before in our lives? Where do you start?

TV screen time at record high in 2020
With the viewers market? This has grown significantly. We have watched far more TV; a total of 206 minutes per day which is 7% more than in 2019. People have watched more content on linear (live) TV channels, especially after the first lockdown. But also, during the second lockdown, the Netherlands was glued to the TV screen.

Screen time has never been as high as in the past year. Linear and delayed together, we watched the programmes from the TV channels for 159 minutes a day (an increase of 3%). Also, we watch 46 minutes of content per day on other platforms like Netflix, YouTube, Videoland, Disney +, and Amazon Prime. This has grown strongly by 31% at the time of the lockdown.

Retail is largest TV category
And the advertisers, how did they do? Good, and not so good. Many categories suffered and still suffer: if you consider tourism, catering and recreation, their spending on TV decreased by 30%. We see the same picture for automotive and financial services. But some categories did well, with the likes of e-commerce and retail experiencing golden times; the retail sector strengthened its number 1 position in 2020 by growing by 4%.

According to Nielsen, the retail sector invested a total of €978 million in spot campaigns on TV. Notable risers in 2020 were the construction market and garden centres (21%). A smaller industry which benefitted in 2020 was the medical industry, including the vitamin category. They saw their spending increase by as much as 23%! The largest increase in euros came from vitamin brand Omega Pharma, which accounts for very strong growth. The largest grower in percentage terms, was Bol.com, with TV spending doubling from €12.9 to €27.6 million. In 2020, as in 2019 and 2018, Procter & Gamble was still the biggest advertiser in the Netherlands with a TV investment of €85 million.

And how did the TV contractors do in 2020? Similarly, good, and not so good. There was joy about the great viewing figures and new programme formats that scored well. And after the first shock about the advertising spend collapsing in the first half of the year (down 23%!) there was a relief with regards to the rapid recovery in the second half. Looking at the damage the pandemic caused in many markets, including the advertising market, the sales houses can look back with a sense of understanding with ‘only’ 9% down.

All Response Media viewpoint

It is still pretty unclear whether the current measures will put a hold on the spreading of the virus and for how long they will remain in effect. Also, it is still uncertain whether new waves of contamination could follow. And we Dutch haven’t really been at the forefront of getting our adult population vaccinated quickly, at least not at the rapid pace the UK is working at for instance.

Nevertheless, our Minister of Health predicted not so long ago that by the end of June at least all of the adult population should have had their first ‘shot’ of vaccine which would potentially open the country up a bit. The lockdowns have a direct impact on the economy and in turn media spend, we noticed that with the declining TV spend in the first quarter, although March was picking up again.

Fortunately, 2021 also has several positive factors in the form of upcoming major which will glue the Dutch population to the tube again and offer advertisers the opportunity to participate. For the time being, we assume events such as the European Football Championship and the Olympic Games in Tokyo will take place, with or without a live audience. But also, the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam and the return of Formula 1 in our own Zandvoort. After a sharp decline in 2020, it is easier to grow in 2021, so TV news outlet Screenforce expects a growth of the spot market of 5% to 7%.

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