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The WIR: TF1 Ad Revenues Rise Despite Viewership Drop, UK Regulator Investigates Online Platform Algorithms, and UK TV Revenues Grew 25 Percent in 2021

Tim Cross 29 April, 2022 

In this week’s Week in Review: TF1 posts strong results, Ofcom announces an investigation into online platform algorithms, and WARC/AA figures forecast a strong 2022 for TV.

Top Stories

TF1 Ad Revenues Rise Despite Viewership Drop
TF1 recorded 10.1 percent Q1 revenue growth to reach €561.3 million. The French network’s advertising revenue also climbed 5.4 percent to €377.1 million, with digital advertising up 8.2 percent. The results cited the “gradual return of certain advertising sectors, such as cosmetics and travel/tourism,” as well as “the ad sales house’s work on boosting value through supplementary offerings, mainly in targeting.”

Meanwhile viewership fell, reportedly due to alleviations in the pandemic situation compared to last year. Average daily viewing time was down 9 percent on 2021, returning to the pre-pandemic levels of Q1 2019. However the daily viewing decrease “was offset by the development of new content consumption forms,” according to the company, including the launch of ad-free SVOD service MYTF1 MAX in November 2021.

Looking ahead in 2022, the Bouygues-owned channel forecast that “taking into account consumers’ new behaviour and extending the advertising offering to our advertiser customers will help to strengthen the media business line, which is benefiting from strong growth in new services.”

UK’s Digital Watchdogs Take a Closer Look at Algorithms
The Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (DRCF) has launched an enquiry into the dangers of algorithmic bias and digital harm caused by machine learning and AI activity on websites and apps. The watchdog has invited submissions of views on the use of algorithms online, emphasising their tendency to “introduce or amplify harmful biases that lead to discriminatory decisions or unfair outcomes that reinforce inequalities.”

Comprised of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and Ofcom, DRCF outlined its priorities in a 2022/23 workplan that includes protecting children online, promoting competition and privacy in online advertising, and supporting improvements in algorithmic transparency.

“Whether you’re scrolling on social media, flicking through films or deciding on dinner, algorithms are busy but hidden in the background of our digital lives,” said DRCF Chief Executive Gill Whitehead. “They can be manipulated to cause harm or misused because firms plugging them into websites and apps simply don’t understand them well enough. As regulators, we need to make sure the benefits win out.”

UK TV Ad Revenues Grew Nearly 25 Percent Last Year
UK TV ad revenues grew by 24.1 percent in 2021, according to the latest figures from the Advertising Association and WARC, with further growth of 7.1 percent predicted for 2022. Broadcaster video on-demand ad revenues specifically grew 40.2 percent last year, and are set for 7.1 percent growth over the current year.

The latest expenditure report from the AA and WARC also compared actual revenues with early forecasts made at the beginning of the pandemic. The figures showed that TV ad revenues in 2021 outperformed early expectations by almost £1 billion, while online video revenues overperformed by approximately £2 billion.

The Week in Tech

Virgin Media O2 Announces New Connected TV Device ‘Stream’
Newly merged UK telco Virgin Media O2 this week unveiled a new connected TV plug-in device called ‘Stream’. The device will feature a new CTV platform operated by the telco, giving access to most major CTV apps including BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, ITV Hub, and All 4. The device will also offer traditional linear channels delivered by the internet (IPTV). Read more on VideoWeek.

Ad Sales Drive Roku Revenues
Roku revealed Q1 revenue growth of 28 percent, overwhelmingly due to ad sales accounting for 88 percent ($647 million) of the overall revenues ($734 million). “Ad-supported streaming services are a huge, growing part of the streaming ecosystem, said Roku CFO Steve Louden, “and that’s demonstrated by the continued success we’re seeing with The Roku Channel.”

Goldman Sachs to Invest in
The race to replace Nielsen as standard measurement currency heated up on Wednesday when Goldman Sachs said it would invest $325 million in, following the company’s appointment by NBCUniversal as its preferred trading metric for the 2022 Upfront season. Earlier this month Shamrock Capital invested $80 million in iSpot competitor EDO.

Meta Calls CMA “Irrational” Over Giphy Case
Meta hit back at the Competition and Markets Authority this week after the UK watchdog deemed Giphy a competitor as part of the CMA’s case to unmerge the two companies. The tech giant formerly known as Facebook called the claim “inconsistent” and “irrational”, arguing that it has never competed with the Gif seach engine in the UK ad market or globally. 

FreeWheel Extends YouTube Offering to Major Publishers
FreeWheel revealed plans to extend the advertising capabilities it currently serves to YouTube to other major publishers. The Comcast-owned ad tech company will offer its cross-platform frequency capping, ad personalisation and measurement tools to clients via an interoperable system for automated video ad insertion.

Samsung Ads Launches CTV Management Tool
Samsung Ads unveiled its Total Media Solution designed to help clients manage their connected TV buys. The “BYOM” (Bring Your Own Media) product enables marketers to load in their linear and CTV buys in order to find incremental reach across streaming apps through a managed service, previously only possible using Samsung’s self-serve DSP.

Blockgraph and Cadent Partner for Addressable TV Targeting
Blockgraph and Cadent announced a new partnership aimed at simplifying data onboarding, audience building and media planning. The joint venture pairs the Cadent Aperture Platform with Blockgraph’s Identity Operating System, allowing customers to activate TV audiences across addressable households within the footprint of participating distributors.

Smart TV Climbs in Europe
Smart TV adoption is on the rise across Europe, a Freewheel study has found. The survey showed 91 percent of CTV viewers use BVOD, AVOD and SVOD services. “With the growing appetite for streaming in the UK, ad-supported services are an important inclusion within the media mix,” said Stefanie Briec, Director, Demand Sales, UK & International at FreeWheel.

The Week in TV

UK Government Targets “Golden Age of British TV” with PSB Reforms
The UK government has announced it is working on a broad set of broadcasting reforms, which it says are designed to better protect UK public service broadcasters (PSBs) and extend more strict content rules to on-demand platforms. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport says that plans outlined in a new white paper, published today, will help PSBs develop talent, drive growth in creative industries, and create distinctive British content. The DCMS hopes that these changes will spark a new ‘golden age’ for British TV. Read more on VideoWeek.

TalkTV Goes on Air
News UK-owned channel TalkTV launched on Monday featuring Piers Morgan’s interview with Donald Trump, attracting a 2 percent audience share. Largely funded by linear and programmatic ad sales handled by Sky Media, the network includes three hours of original programming each day, the rest of the schedule duplicated from its sister station TalkRadio.

Warner Bros Discovery Announces Q1 Growth
Warner Bros Discovery reported Q1 revenue growth of 13 percent, noting that the results exclude the newly acquired WarnerMedia business. “We are putting together the strategic framework and organisation to drive our balanced approach to growing our businesses and maximising the value of our storytelling, news and sports,” said president and CEO David Zaslav.

M6 Shareholders Greenlight TF1 Merger
M6 shareholders have approved the French network’s merger with TF1. The proposed deal is set to close in early 2023, having also gained approval from regulator Arcom and the French Competition Authority. Critics have expressed concerns that the new group, which generates a combined 75 percent of the French TV ad turnover, would dominate the advertising market.

Viaplay Soars with Netherlands Launch
Viaplay recorded 52 percent Q1 growth to hit 4.8 million subscribers. “The launch of Viaplay in the Netherlands last month has beaten all expectations, and was the primary contributor to the Q1 intake of 778,000 Viaplay paying subscribers,” said NENT Group president and CEO Anders Jensen. “Q1 was also our fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit organic sales growth.”

Viaplay Becomes Home to NHL in the UK
Viaplay will launch in the UK this year as home to the National Hockey League (NHL) and KSW mixed martial arts (MMA). The Nordic streaming service will show up to 1,400 hockey games every year until 2027, alongside 12 live MMA events until 2025. The deal extends the long-term agreement between Viaplay and the NHL to 10 European markets.

Vivendi Reports Q1 Sales Increase
Vivendi announced 7.9 percent Q1 sales growth, bringing the company’s total revenue to 2.38 billion, up from 2.1 billion a year ago. The rise was driven by the French media giant’s pay-TV and advertising operations, with Canal Plus Group’s revenues increasing 6.5 percent year-on-year to reach €1.4 billion.

Streaming Reaches Highest Share of US TV Viewing
Streaming viewing climbed in the US to capture its all-time largest share of TV use, according to Nielsen. In March 2022 streaming made up 29.7 percent of overall viewing time, beating broadcast’s share of 24.9 percent. Cable viewing remained the majority usage at 36.9 percent, partially driven by a 1.6% upswing for cable news, owing to coverage of the war in Ukraine.

The Week for Publishers

Elon Musk Agrees a Deal to Buy Twitter
Twitter this week announced that it has agreed a deal for entrepreneur Elon Musk to acquire the company, shortly after the Tesla CEO announced he has secured funding for his $43 billion bid. Musk has openly spoken about reforming the platform’s content moderation policies, and questioned the advertising model which currently funds the platform, meaning Twitter is likely set for radical changes if Musk’s deal goes through.

YouTube Begins Running Ads on Shorts
YouTube has begun showing ads within its ‘Shorts’ feed, the TikTok-like product which sits within YouTube’s main platform. Google’s chief business officer Philipp Schindler said YouTube has begun testing app-install ads, and has been encouraged by early advertiser feedback.

G/O Media Acquires Quartz
Digital media holding group G/O Media has agreed a deal to buy business news site Quartz, continuing a long run of consolidation in digital media. “G/O […] will help us reach a lot more people across its network and unlock new revenue streams that we couldn’t on our own. And we will make this combination without any reduction in jobs,” said Quartz CEO Zach Seward in an internal memo, according to Reuters.

UK Culture Secretary Likely to Intervene in Newsquest’s Takeover of Archant
The UK’s culture secretary Nadine Dorries has said she is “minded” to intervene in local news publisher Newsquest’s planned takeover of rival Archant, a move which could see the deal being blocked. Dorries said she has concerns over how the deal could impact media plurality.

YouTube Ad Revenues Slow in Q1
YouTube’s ad revenue growth saw a significant slowdown in Q1 this year, according to Alphabet’s latest financial results, which the tech giant attributed to an advertising pullback relating to the war in Ukraine. YouTube’s ad revenues were up 14 percent in Q1, much slower growth than the 49 percent jump it posted in Q1 2021.

ITV-Backed Digital Media Company Woo Launches
Woo, a new digital media brand focused on wellness founded by Stephen Mai, previously CMO of both Vice and Boiler Room, launched this week. The media brand will live across a social digital ecosystem of podcasts, editorial, products and video — with key video content streaming on Woo channels as well ITV Hub.

Crunchyroll Announces New Partnership with Google
Anime streaming service Crunchyroll has announced a new multi-year strategic partnership with Google to accelerate and support Crunchyroll’s global scale ambitions. The announcement builds on Google’s existing partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment that includes collaboration across Android, Google TV and Android TV OS, YouTube, Google advertising solutions, and Google Cloud.

The Week For Agencies

WPP Raises Full-Year Outlook After Strong Start to 2022
Agency holding group WPP’s like-for-like revenues minus pass-through costs grew 9.5 percent in Q1, a strong start to the year despite turbulent macroeconomic conditions. The agency group increased its full-year outlook to between 5.5-6.5 percent, up from a previous forecast of five percent.

UK Digital Ad Spend Grew 41 Percent in 2021
IAB UK this week released its 2021 digital ad spend report, finding that digital ad spend in the UK was up 41 percent year-on-year, reaching £23.5 billion. Video spend in particular was up 58 percent, to 5.5 billion.

IPG Posts 11.5 Percent Organic Growth
Agency group IPG this week posted its Q1 financial results, recording 11.5 percent organic growth year-on-year. This continued a strong set of quarterly earnings from the major holding groups – and like WPP (see above), IPG has now raised its full-year outlook, from five percent to six percent.

WPP Announces Wave of New Mergers
WPP this week announced three new mergers that would consolidate its growth from 2021 and centre technology in its operations. Essence and MediaCom, media agencies under the GroupM umbrella, will merge next year as EssenceMediaCom. In addition, Mindshare will merge with global performance agency Neo, while GroupM Services will join forces with Xaxis and Finecast to form GroupM Nexus.

Accenture Interactive Combines its Creative Agencies into Accenture Song
Accenture Interactive has rebranded as Accenture Song, and combined the vast majority of its creative agencies into one unit. Only Droga5 will continue operating as a separate brand, the others will now operate as one combined business under the Song brand.

Havas Sales Rise 11.3 Percent
Vivendi-owned agency Havas was one of the media giant’s standout performers in Q1, with sales rising 11.3 percent year-on-year, according to the company’s earnings which were reported this week.

Thirty-Five Agencies Reach IPA Gold Accreditation
Advertising trade body the IPA has announced that 35 agencies have reached gold accreditation, which recognises agencies “who demonstrate a genuine culture of learning, bettering the professionalism, development and reputation of the industry enhancing clients’ brands and agencies’ worth as a result”.

This year’s gold agencies are: 23red, Access, AMV BBDO, Anything is Possible, April Six (Mobility), Bray Leino, Cogent, December 19, Elvis, Generation Media, Havas Media, Hearts & Science, Hunterlodge Advertising, mSix&Partners, MG OMD, MBAstack, McCann Central, McCann Manchester, MediaCom, Medialab, Mindshare, Ogilvy, OMD UK, PHD UK, St Luke’s, The Advertising Association, The Kite Factory, The Specialist Works, Total Media, Total Media Connect, VMLY&R Commerce, WAA Chosen, Wavemaker, Wieden + Kennedy London and Wordbird.

Hires of the Week

Reddit Hires Jannik Hülshoff as German Marketing Director
Reddit has hired Jannik Hülshoff to lead its expansion into Germany, as it continues to launch local teams in new markets. Hülshoff joins from Twitch, where he is senior director of partnerships for Central Europe and CIS.

Hawk Platform Announces Three Senior Promotions
Media and insights platform Hawk has made three senior promotions within its team as it continues to expand to meet the growing demand for its cross-channel advertising and insights technology. Jennifer Richards has been promoted to group commercial lead; Matthew Stark is to take up the position of senior manager in the company’s new platform solutions division; and Nadia Nuseibeh will take on the role of client development manager.

This Week on VideoWeek

The Future of Identity Guide 2022 is Now Available to Download, read on VideoWeek

Virgin Media O2 Announces New Connected TV Device ‘Stream’, read on VideoWeek

WPP Announces Wave of New Mergers, read on VideoWeek

UK Government Targets “Golden Age of British TV” with PSB Reforms, read on VideoWeek

Ad of the Week

Dove, Toxic Influence, Ogilvy

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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