From Maggie Brown in the Guardian, a (small) raft of reasons to love Big Broadcasting:
1) BBC1 is “seeing only a modest drop in audiences this year”. And ITV1 is “delivering its best performance since 2001”. (OK, the latter is mostly due to sporting drama and the decision to kill kids’ programming in the afternoons, but let’s not quibble, eh?).
2) The average UK household receives 127 TV channels. Patrick Barwise, professor of management and marketing at London Business School, argues that the Big Five “heritage” TV channels spend £2.6bn a year on programming. And the rest? Just £100m.
3) Freeview is now installed in 14m homes versus Sky’s 8m. Sky subscribers tend to stop watching the Big Five more rapidly than Freeview customers.
4) Re-runs on secondary channels are maintaining overall viewing figures. So if you string together the eyeballs that watch both ITV1 and ITV2, audience levels are “largely stable”.
And, er, that’s about it.
As a list of positives, this isn’t hugely impressive. And Brown barely tries to defend Channel 4 (“suffering”) and Five (“on a slippery slope”).
Brown’s positives are wrapped up plenty of fizzy prose — the kind that might tempt Big Five sales execs to think that all is well in their world.
Hopefully, they won’t get as far as the final par, which notes a projection from the think-tankers at DGA. This suggests that the Big Five’s audience share will decline by 13% to 58.7% by 2012.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that programming budgets follow suit.
We’d see a rise in multi-channel budgets of £46m by 2012. And, ahem, a decline of £338m in Big Five budgets.
Net loss? Err, something like £292m.