Half of Population Barely Reached by Linear TV Ads in Samba TV Report

Dan Meier 23 February, 2023 

The proportion of ads reaching light viewers on linear TV in the UK fell to just 8 percent in H2 2022, according to Samba TV’s latest State of Viewership report.

Using Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) data, the measurement firm found that the bottom 45 percent of TV viewers saw an average eight ads per day; meanwhile the top 55 percent saw an average 72 per day. “While half of UK households were underreached or not reached at all, the other half were bombarded by more than 70 television ads daily,” said the report.

A similar trend emerged in Germany, with the light TV viewership seeing an average nine ads per day. That means 91 percent of linear TV ads reached the same 55 percent of audiences. “The need to drive incrementality and reach unique audiences, while also managing frequency to avoid consumer burnout, has never been more urgent,” added Samba TV.

The Watcher(s)

This trend is driven by declining linear viewership, Samba TV’s research suggests. Average daily reach in Q3 2022 dropped to its lowest rate in the past seven quarters, with an average 13.8 million UK households watching linear TV each day. Despite a seasonal bump in Q4, quarterly reach and viewing hours were both down year-over-year.

Again the decline was mirrored in Germany, where around half the population (20 million households) watched linear TV daily in H2 2022. “Overall, these shifts away from linear highlight the challenge advertisers face in reaching viewers, who are cord-cutting and shifting attention to streaming platforms and BVOD services,” said Samba TV.

The study also highlighted the prevalence of “binge culture” in both streaming markets. For example, 35 percent (UK) and 37 percent (Germany) of The Watcher‘s viewers completed the Netflix series in the first five days of its release.

While clearly spelling opportunity for advertisers, these bingeing habits potentially limit the shelf-life of content. According to the data, 73 percent (UK) and 72 percent (Germany) of viewers interested in watching a show do so in its first two weeks. Netflix’s Harry & Meghan was shown to have a particularly short shelf-life, with 91 percent of its 51-day viewership occurring in the first 15 days.

“Streaming platforms looking to capture audience attention have a relatively limited window to do so, highlighting the urgency behind understanding audience behaviour and interests across platforms in time for advertisers to discover and target valuable viewers,” suggested Samba TV.

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