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TV’s journey in 2020

I’m sure you heard it throughout the year, TV in 2020 made a ‘comeback’ after years of falling ratings. Overall, there were 5% more adult impacts available in 2020 vs. 2019, and that was even a slight increase during 2018 also. You can see below that this came from significant jumps in TV viewing in April – up 18% year-on-year (YoY) – but also during Lockdown 2.0 in November (up 10% YoY). No doubt lockdown is the biggest contributor to increased TV viewing. In fact, on New Year’s Eve, total TV ratings for 31st December between 2300-0015 were at their highest level since 2015. Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenanny achieved a reach of 10.2m, which is the highest since 2002.

In terms of audiences, viewing was stronger across 45+ and ABC1 viewers overall, although 16-34s are still harder to reach on TV as expected.

So, what was everyone watching?

It’s no surprise that news ratings increased 23% YoY, which was consistently up every month throughout the year apart from September, but all genre viewing has increased apart from kids. Music ratings increased overall by 15% and lifestyle and documentaries were also up 23% and 19% respectively. Kids stations were down by 31%, which we’ve seen fall throughout recent years with more dependency on YouTube. Despite kids being home-schooled, they didn’t take advantage and watch kids’ TV.

So viewing was up, did TV revenue recover?

Overall, the number of advertisers on TV was down by 4% and revenue down by 8%, significantly contributed to by March and April, although by November there is a positive trajectory moving in 2021. Many new advertisers came to TV during 2020, taking advantage of TV costs, ratings, and seizing the opportunity. These categories were office equipment, business and industrial, government, games, household, and telecoms. There are some surprises in the number of categories down YoY: travel and transport, retail, but also finance, health and wellbeing, and food.

All Response Media viewpoint

It’s positive to see TV viewing is still so strong, and there are certainly pockets of opportunity to reach more up-market audiences on TV, especially when a year ago there were discussions about whether we can make higher priced media work to reach these normally harder to reach audiences.

With the kids genre viewing down year-on-year, it’s worth considering that for those targeting kids or families, these stations will become tighter in terms of availability. Besides, with news viewing up significantly, it’s worth noting performance during the Prime Minister’s updates, as these have had a share of viewing of 77%. Therefore, during these time bands, there may be a loss in immediate performance, and the volume of conversions may be lower with attention elsewhere.

Although certain sectors being down may look off-putting, this certainly give an opportunity of share of voice and being the louder voice at a lower spend. Q4 looks like an onward turn to normality, and there are still plenty of opportunities to reach the majority of audiences on TV.

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