TV viewing by 15-34 year olds fell by 17.8% in the Irish market in the first half of 2022, with lower traditional viewing among this group driving an overall decline of 8.1% year on year adult audience.
Figures from marketing group Core show broadcasters are struggling to retain younger viewers on their linear channels, with viewership for 25-44 year olds also falling by 14.2%.
Despite this, TV advertising investments are expected to be 19% higher this year than they were in 2019, amid growing advertiser demand for the relatively large audience they bring.
Colm Sherwin, chief digital and investment officer at Core, said he was seeing a “substantial increase” in TV ad spend, with the medium acting as “the bedrock” of video campaigns for many brands. “You start with TV and build it from there. You don’t start with YouTube. »
Irish adults watched an average of two hours and 40 minutes of TV per day (excluding streaming) from January to June 2022. But among those aged 25 to 44, the daily average was a more modest 98.5 minutes, and for 15 – for the 34-year-old it was just over an hour, or around 64 minutes, Core said, citing Nielsen data compiled for ratings body TAM Ireland.
The pattern of linear TV viewership decline, which began in the years before the Covid crisis but briefly reversed when lockdown hit in 2020, has now firmly recovered. Viewing in the first half of last year was 7% lower than the same period in 2020 and also slipped below 2019 levels.
But Irish broadcasters continue to drive streaming rates to their players, with RTÉ player usage up 60% in H1 2022 compared to January to June 2019 and TG4 player seeing gains of 59% .
Virgin Media’s video-on-demand streams were 28% lower comparing the two periods, but that’s because the 2019 series of Love Island featuring Irish contestants Maura Higgins and Greg O’Shea was exceptionally popular during of its transmission dates in June.
Virgin’s Love Island streams have increased this year compared to 2021 and the series was the most streamed program in the first half overall, suggesting there is plenty of life left in the reality TV phenomenon for Virgin Media Television, which is importing the show under a long-term output deal with ITV Studios.
Among people aged 15 to 34, Love Island was the third most popular program on linear television during the first half, behind two of Ireland’s Six Nations matches. Core had “eight to 10” clients advertising every night for the Mallorca-based show’s two months, Mr Sherwin said.
Among all adults, Ireland’s Six Nations game against France, shown on Virgin Media One, was the most-watched TV program in the first half, ahead of the England and Wales games , both on RTÉ2, featuring Virgin’s Ireland v Scotland game four. . Those ratings have since been topped in the annual table by the All-Ireland Football and Hurling Finals in July.
“The problem for all broadcasters is that they have to produce more and more content. They can’t just build their business on live sports,” Sherwin said.
Bookings to date indicate that TV advertising demand will be sustained this fall at least, with ad prices also rising. Core forecast earlier this year that TV ad spend, excluding video on demand, would hit €276.3 million in 2022, up from €232 million in 2019.
Joy will also be brought by the continued growth in player usage, aided by better and increased access via connected TV screens. More than 40% of streams from broadcasters’ players are now watched on a TV, with RTÉ enjoying the strongest year-on-year growth in this space. The trend is positive in part because more people are more likely to watch a television screen than would be the case with another device.
RTÉ recently struck a new distribution deal with Sky – the biggest pay-TV operator and also an active seller of TV advertising – which allows the public broadcaster to run adverts through its app on the Sky Glass platform. However, video-on-demand advertising represents only a fraction of the total revenues that broadcasters derive from linear television.
Broadcasters will also face new competition for ad revenue in the Irish market as early as 2023, with Netflix and Disney set to introduce cheaper ad-supported subscription plans.