Cable catching conventional

A new report from Statistics Canada backs earlier CRTC numbers in showing the specialties continuing to steal both audience and dollars from the conventionals.

A new report from Statistics Canada backs earlier CRTC numbers in showing the specialties continuing to steal both audience and dollars from the conventionals.

Both the StatsCan report, released on Dec. 2, and the earlier CRTC Broadcasting Policy Monitor Report, indicate that viewership for conventional stations in Canada has declined 15% since 1992, dropping to 50% in 2001. Meanwhile, revenue generated by specialty television in 2001 totaled $1.2 billion, up almost 14% (17% according to the CRTC) from 2000 (see ‘Specialty revenues up’ below).

According to StatsCan numbers, specialty channels now represent 26.6% of the total revenue generated by the Canadian television industry ($4.5 billion). Pay-TV revenues are also climbing, bringing in $286 million in 2001, taking 6.3% of total revenue generated.

The most recent figures from PricewaterhouseCoopers also bear out those of the StatsCan study.

In 2001, broadcast accounted for 72% of the total spend on television advertising in Canada, but PWC projections suggest that in 2006 that number will shrink to 67%. In terms of advertising spend in 2001, the growth rate for broadcast was 2.4% and 21% for specialty networks. However, over the next five years, PWC figures predict a compound annual growth rate of 12.6% for specialties and 7.1% for broadcast.

‘The impact of the digitals will be one of the principal drivers in the growth rate of specialty channels. There will be fallout from the current levels; we don’t expect them all to survive,’ says Gino Scapillati, Canadian leader in entertainment and media practice at PWC. ‘The specialty networks were already clipping at a pretty high rate of growth in advertising spend, and as a group, including the digitals, that rate of growth will slow, but the market share will increase.’

The increasing clout of the specialties can also been seen south of the border, where cable recently announced that it has overtaken the seven major broadcast networks in overall viewer share – for the first time ever. U.S. ad supported cable grew its share to 48% of the viewing audience in 2002, up from 45% in 2001. The collective share of the big seven amounted to 45% in 2002, down from 49% the year before.

The StatsCan study also shows average weekly employment in the television industry falling in 2001 after slight gains the two previous years. The loss of employment, however, is restricted to Canadian television’s public non-commercial segment, where the workforce shrank by 11%. Among private broadcasters in Canada, employment is up 3.7%.