Report Overview

COVID-19 UK TV impact – Permanent change without intervention

COVID-19 has led to an unprecedented decline in advertiser demand for TV, and while the steepest drop has occurred, broadcasters will feel the impact over a long period of time
Programming costs are being cut or deferred, but it is not possible—or even sensible—to reduce total programming budgets significantly in the mid-term due to existing contractual commitments
Increased government support in the form of advertising spend, a loosening of Channel 4’s programming obligations—the lifeblood of the independent production sector—and revisions to existing measures (to capture a greater proportion of freelancers) will be required to ensure a flourishing, vibrant sector for the future


Advertiser demand for TV has declined faster than ever before

Potential mitigations

Impact on UK production sector

List of charts/tables

Figure 1: Total TV advertising revenues YoY change, constant prices (%)

Figure 2: YoY change in minutes viewed* by week in year, 16+, 2019-20 (%)

Figure 3: YoY change in minutes viewed* by daypart, 16+, weeks 12-14 2019-20 (%)

Figure 4: Content spend as a proportion of total television costs

Figure 5: PSB channel spend, 2006-18 (£bn)

Figure 6: Payment stages for BBC cashflowed productions

Figure 7: Timescale from commissioning to delivery to broadcaster

Figure 8: Channel 4 cost of transmission and sales, 2018 (£m)

Figure 9: TV advertising as a proportion of total revenue mix (%)

Figure 10: Months for which shortfall from advertising losses can be sustained

Figure 11: Programme and film rights: acquired, produced or in-production (£m)