Soundings conducted earlier this week among European broadcast executives and financial analysts by the Financial Times, found the former in uncharacteristically upbeat mode. Unsurprising perhaps, after three years of remorseless battering by the Scylla of recession and the Charybdis of ad agencies' online media infatuation.
Italy's Mediaset and TF1 in France bettered analysts’ expectations, both on revenues and profits. And last week ITV in the UK, Telecinco in Spain, and ProSiebenSat1 in Germany all were similarly bullish.
And Bertelsmann, Europe’s largest media conglomerate, released a trading statement on Wednesday saying it was “profiting from the revival in advertising revenues,” including those of its subsidiary, the pan-European free-to-air broadcaster RTL Group.
Also buoying the sector is the growth of internet television and on-demand viewing from platforms like the BBC's [non-commercial] iPlayer none of which have cannibalized advertising to the extend feared by established TVcompanies.
Confided the coyly anonymous executive to the FT: “Our research suggests that catch-up TV on the internet is actually additive to our linear [traditional] TV. And we charge the same CPT [cost per thousand viewers rates for advertisers], so that is a big positive for us.”
The FT also solicited the opinions of the City of London's motley band of financial entrail-rakers, citing Credit Suisse haruspex Nick Bertolotti: “Everyone is more optimistic, but also cautious. In the last couple of weeks, FTA broadcasters have been marked down very hard, but the bounceback has surprised people in the market.”
Volunteered another EC3 bookie, Filippo Lo Franco, of JP Morgan: “If the second half of the year is as good as the first – and the comparables with 2009 are tougher – I could see these companies [shares] growing 15% to 20%.”