Sex, pizza, telly: Not everything shrinks during recession

Zenithoptimedia is suggesting that Five has seen its ad revenues collapse by 27% YOY during January.

At first glance, this seems consistent with the findings of last week’s Bellwether Survey of marketing professionals. Remarkably, this recorded that marketers reduced their spending on ‘main media’in by one-third during Q408.

Before you reach for the pearl-handled revolver, however, consider Zenithoptimedia’s accompanying suggestion that ad revenues at ITV1 will fall by 15% — perhaps a little bit more — in January. That’s nowhere near as bad as the prognosis from the marketers polled by Bellwether.

Meanwhile, here comes Kelly Williams, sales director at Five, to explain her side of the story. Williams suggests that the 27% decline is an aberration.

‘This represents an artificial picture caused by a protracted negotiation season which meant some deals were still being finalised and as a result some agencies are not advertising with us during January.”

“We have subsequently concluded deals with all agencies and this will be reflected in our performance going forward.”

Let’s hope so. Meanwhile, my confusion about the state of TV ad markets was augmented this week by some interesting news from Deloitte.

UK television viewing hours were already rising in the second half of 2008 and are expected to rise another 30 minutes per week per viewer in 2009, according to the report from the technology, media and telecommunications practice at Deloitte.

This leads Jolyon Barker, head of Deloitte’s TMT practice, to suggest: “This year’s predictions show there could be a silver lining to a recession, if you are in television.”

It’s obvious, really: as recession takes hold, people go out less and spend more time indoors. Typically, they order more pizza and have more sex. Unsurprisingly, they also seem to watch more telly.

Of course, the only problem with a swelling audience is that you’ve got to make money by selling it. As Kelly Williams of Five knows, that’s problematic.

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