Statscan: domestic broadcasters rebound in 2010

The latest industry snapshot points to private broadcasters' recovery from the 2008-09 economic slowdown.

The impact of Canada’s TV ad industry rebound in 2010 was underlined Tuesday with Statistics Canada’s latest snapshot of domestic broadcasters.

The government statisticians pointed to advertising revenues last year growing by 9.2% to $3.4 billion, almost on par with 2008 levels, before the 2008-09 economic slowdown.

Statscan said advertising revenues for Canadian broadcasters in 2009 fell 8.3% year-over-year to $3.1 billion, the first fall in 15 years as domestic ad revenue – buoyed by simulcasts of American primetime shows with Canadian commercials substituted – enjoyed a slow uphill climb until 2009.

Operating revenues in the TV broadcast sector reached $7.1 billion in 2010 as domestic networks maximized simulcast opportunities, up 8% from 2009.

Results for 2010 varied across sectors, however, with Canadian pay TV operators enjoying the biggest gains coming out of the 2008-09 economic slowdown.

Statscan said private conventional TV operating revenues jumped 8.8% to $2.2 billion in 2010.

That was after operating revenue for private conventional TV networks fell 7.7% in 2009,  the largest sector fall in 30 years.

During the industry consolidation of the last several years, conventional sector market-leaders CTV and Global Television were eventually acquired by Bell and Shaw, respectively, and the rival Citytv network landed with yet another carrier, Rogers Communications.

Statscan also revealed that private conventional TV networks managed a slight pre-tax profit in 2010 of $5.4 million, a big swing from a pre-tax loss of $113.4 million in 2009.

The losses of two years ago were the first posted by the private conventional TV sector in 30 years after a generation in which free, over-the-air TV stations were seen as a licence to print money.

Statscan on Tuesday pointed to a new sweet spot for Canadian broadcasting: pay and specialty TV, which continued its upward trend in 2010.

Pay and specialty TV, underpinned by the certainty of subscriber fees, saw its operating revenues jump 11.1% year-over-year to $3.5 billion in 2010, representing 48.8% of the industry’s operating revenues, up from 47.5% in 2009.

And the pre-tax profits for pay and specialty TV channels rose 25.4% in 2010 to $877.3 million.

That gain was driven in part by subscription revenues for pay and specialty TV services, which accounted for 31.7% of the TV industry’s total operating revenues in 2010, up from 22.5% 10 years earlier.

Canadian pay and specialty broadcasters in part weathered the 2008-09 economic slowdown by relying on subscriber fees, as the domestic advertising industry suffered as major marketers pulled back in reaction to falling consumer spending.

The 2009 Statscan industry snapshot can be viewed here.

From Playback Daily