TV ad spending slumped £24.4bn last year as COVID-19 and streaming services hit sales

Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
·2-min read
An Apple iPhone 11 smartphone with the Twitch video streaming app logo on screen, taken on January 27, 2020. (Photo by Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
Video in demand services have seen ad spending rise, while broadcast TV ads have slumped. Photo: Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Broadcast TV advertising spending slumped by $34bn (£24.4bn) across the globe last year as COVID-19 wreaked economic havoc and streaming services hit revenues, according to new figures.

Broadcast TV companies suffered as the pandemic "paralysed production" for swathes of shows, and advertisers cut back on broadcast spending amid a global economic downturn.

With demand rising for streaming services online, video-on-demand platforms funded by advertising saw it jump 9.9% to a total value of $26.7bn. The broadcast TV remains more than twice as large, but is "eroding," with streaming ad revenue expected to continue to surge, according to a new report by marketing intelligence service WARC.

Surveys indicate more than one in four UK and US viewers is spending more time watching streamed video content at the expense of broadcast TV, while one in three people in the US only streams video content.

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But TV sets still accounted for three-quarters of all streamed video time in the fourth quarter of 2020, via smart TVs, set top boxes, games consoles or other devices. Mobiles and tablets made up only 15% of time in countries surveyed overall, but trends varied significantly between regions.

"Research by Brightcove shows that mobiles are favoured over smart TVs when streaming video content in key Asian, African and the Middle Eastern markets, while Western markets skew heavily towards smart TVs," said WARC's report.

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Companies' spending with ad-funded streaming services is expected to almost double to $54bn by 2025, reaching $24.2bn in the US, $9.2bn in China and $2.8bn in the UK.

"Consumers have never before had such a varied choice when it comes to how and where they watch video content, and the distinction between channels continues to blur - one in three Americans now regards YouTube and TV as analogous. Brands are taking note, with investment data showing a clear pivot to advertiser-funded video-on-demand (AVOD) platforms last year," said James McDonald, head of data content at WARC.

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