Mainstream national TV channels are losing their grip on viewers across central and eastern Europe as people turn to niche and thematic channels, according to Marcin Boroszko, CEO and president of the board at Poland-based advertising sales specialist Atmedia Group.
Speaking at the Digital TV CEE Summit in Budapest at the end of last week, Boroszko said that people were watching as much TV as ever across the region, but that viewing was becoming dispersed across a much wider range of services.
He told attendees that between 2010 and 2014, the share of viewing accounted for by the big four national channels in Poland had declined from 80% to 40%, while the share accounted for by challengers had risen from 20% to 60%.
Similarly, in Hungary, the share taken by the main channels had fallen from 66% to 35%, while in the Czech Republic the share of the main channels had fallen from 75% to 45% over the same period, he said.
The decline in the share of the main channels had been accompanied by a fall in the advertising rates they could command, while thematic channels were still only able to capture a disproportionally small share of ad revenue, according to Boroszko.
National channels have been unable to arrest the decline in advertising rates, which has been accelerated by mergers and acquisitions between media agencies that buy the inventory. Boroszko said that the top four media agencies in Poland now accounted for 75% of the market, while the top four in the Czech Republic accounted for 84%.
Boroszko pointed to the cautionary example of leading Czech channel TV Nova, which had refused to discount the rates it charged in 2013 and had been boycotted by agencies as a result, leading to unsold inventory. Boroszko said that the broadcaster had abandoned this policy after six months but had been unable to recover its lost ground subsequently as advertisers had already looked elsewhere.