TV’s Role in Shaping 2021

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What a year. A global pandemic, lockdowns, vaccinations. Covid has permanently changed the way we live, work, shop, exercise and relax and the effects of the crisis will be felt for years to come. Trends which were already present before the pandemic have accelerated.

A disrupted market

For advertisers, the pandemic has been a case of stop, start, transform. Brands suspended or decreased their advertising when the pandemic first broke out, then returned to the screens with campaigns that took into account the new realities. And now they are changing
their approach again. Brands are tailoring their advertising strate­gies to the latest twists and turns in a world where viewing and consumption habits are rapidly changing. Today’s marketers are having to adapt to an emerging post-­pandemic world of hybrid working, supply chain disrup­tion, labour shortages, a soaring savings rate and growing inflation. This is a time of optimism and challenge as we put the pandemic behind us and rebuild the economy. Looking ahead, every medium is set to confront similar challenges in 2022. Whether TV or digital, video or social, out-­of-­home or print, all media are becoming more data driven, technology­-focused and agile. Sales houses are all wrestling with issues such as how best to measure the reach and effec­tiveness of the ads they place, how to automate and simplify their media booking processes and how they can thrive in an increasingly global advertising market.

The new life of the living room

For media, the past 18 months have been a watershed as families gathered around their TV screens and the living room became the new focus of our daily lives. As people reorganized their nests with new furniture, devices and bigger screens, time spent online has soared and e¬commerce has boomed. But despite the growth of digital platforms, TV has won the battle for video content. With 3.54 hours of daily consumption on average in 2020, TV has established itself as the preferred medium of Europeans, while in the United States, viewing reached 3.33 hours a day.
TV has proven to be the medium that unites, reassures, informs, and entertains. From vital news updates about the state of the pandemic to entertaining and comforting people through the long months of lockdown, TV has been the medium that helped people through these hard times.
From what we can observe, as we slowly went back to “normal” in 2021, viewing times are decreasing overall compared with 2020 figures, but in many markets, they’re higher than before the crisis (2019). Time will tell if the trend goes on.


For TV, 2022 will raise more questions about the evolution of video consumption from linear towards non­linear viewing. While traditional viewing surged during the pandemic as families gathered around their TV sets, new ways of watching video also grew. Catch-up TV, time shifted viewing and Broadcaster Video-on-demand (BVOD) platforms became more firmly entrenched in people’s viewing schedules.


Creating alternatives to global giants

The rupture of the past 18 months is also accelerating competition between broadcasters, tech platforms and social media networks. But they are not just vying for eyeballs, they are also competing for a place at the heart of community interaction.

A wave of consolidation is sweeping through the global TV industry driven by the need to create local cross­-media organisations to compete with the US tech giants. All eyes are turning towards Europe, where local competition authorities are in the process of clearing a series of game­-changing mergers in this battle with the GAFAs (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, etc.). In Europe, several mergers between the main local broadcasters have been announced, for instance in France, the Netherlands and Germany. (Read more on pages 5 and 52). These consolidation moves will help to boost the growth of local streaming services. They will also reshuffle the cards of a constantly evolving media ecosystem, which needs to be assessed on a new basis by competition authorities as different media combine.

If these mergers go ahead as expected, they will provide greater investment for the broadcasters to provide locally produced content and offer an alternative to the global productions created by the streaming giants such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+. While viewers warm to the big budget series that run in across countries and continents, they still have a large place in their hearts and their viewing schedules for shows which are very local, that tap into domestic culture and appeal to national audiences.

Brands are safe with TV

Against this background of uncertainty and in the face of a complex and fragmented advertising market, global advertisers are looking for simpler ways to access international expertise and find strong solutions for their marketing strategies. After some bad experiences with pure online advertising, they are flooding back to TV as they look for brand safety, transparency, and performance. Therefore, we believe it is essential to offer brands a premium and innovative pan-­European alternative.

Brands and media agencies increasingly look for global ad buying opportunities.
RTL AdConnect offers brands seamless connection to a pan­ European Total Video portfolio. This includes linear TV, radio, streaming or BVOD services, but also a wide range of digital platforms from premium publishers. Including all RTL Group’s European media branches, ITV in the UK, RAI in Italy and Belgium’s DPG, our partners count among the biggest broadcasters in Europe: connecting local champions and creating an international cross media sales champion.

TV’s connected future

The rapid transformation of the television advertising market, driven by the increasing fusion of traditional linear and digital media, offers game-changing opportunities for data­driven TV advertising, programmatic buying, and innovative new advertising formats.

One of the emerging trends of our era has been the growth of Connected TV (CTV), and further devel­opment is taking place across Europe. CTV offers enormous possibilities. Yet, the market for European CTV is fragmented due to the multilingual nature of the continent with its differing business practices, technologies, and TV ecosys­tems. One of the big challenges for 2022 is to grow CTV across the continent. This will allow broadcasters to offer advertisers opportunities to reach mass audiences, but also to run precise and targeted campaigns as well. We will see the spread of addressable TV advertising (ATV), where campaigns are targeted at individual households, as well as data-­driven advertising on catch­up channels. TV will be able to offer both brand building and performance­-driven advertising.

The social role of TV

Social platforms tend to mono­polize the very idea of community and socialization by becoming the default networks for conversations, controversy and sharing points of view. But it is inescapable that TV’s role is truly social, and it is a key vehicle for community, togetherness, and solidarity.

One of the most marked facets of the Covid-19 pandemic was how people turned to trusted and reliable news brands in a time of crisis as they sought clarity and leadership. TV became once again the primary medium for keeping people informed and transmitting all-­important messages about the pandemic. This stood in stark contrast to the fake news and Covid scepticism that spread on the open web.


Journalism is a vital pillar of democratic societies, and combating fake news is one of TV’s biggest contributions to social good, helping keep people accurately informed about the pandemic and how they should stay safe. This is an era when all organisations are called upon to demonstrate their broader social purpose and to make real their promises to improve the world for all. Brands are using TV advertising to show their commitment to social and environmental issues, while TV stations are also showing how they are tackling social problems such as mental health issues, inclusivity, and climate change.

The transformation of the world brought about by Covid has been immense, but we still have not yet witnessed all its after-effects. The world really has changed, with a greater emphasis on purpose and values and a new focus on the meanings of freedom and social responsibility. Issues of diversity, inclusion and equality have become even more important. Crucial questions surround public trust in institutions, whether government, health services or the media. The pandemic has sparked interest in issues such as work/life balance, climate change, sustainability, mental health and general well¬being.

The impact of the pandemic is multi-faceted and the TV industry must pay attention to make sure this industry reflects social trends and the people’s changing demands. In 2022, TV will play a vital role in driving these trends. And, in the process, broadcasting itself will be transformed. /

Stephane Coruble

Stephane Coruble

CEO, RTL AdAlliance

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