ThinkTV set free, as positive revenue results for 2010 warm broadcasting cockles

For decades, TV has been seen as the go-to medium when it comes to mass awareness marketing. But, with other media eating into its share as consumers modify their media habits, it isn’t the eyeball powerhouse it once was. TV is still a very attractive proposition, however, and is undoubtedly the best way for brands to tell stories, so the major New Zealand broadcasters have joined forces in an effort to start talking themselves up and launched a spruced up, industry funded organisation called ThinkTV.

ThinkTV, which has been in the pipeline for a few months, was created with the help of ad agency Religion and will represent free-to-air television in New Zealand, has emerged from the cocoon of the New Zealand Television Broadcasters Council, which chief executive Rick Friesen says was set up with two major objectives: 1) to be a lobby organisation for the industry and 2) to manage the Qantas Film and Television awards.

“That was really the extent of it. But the broadcasters felt it needed to have a broader focus; it needed to start marketing the medium to marketers and agencies,” he says.

ThinkTV (which is also helping to draw attention to the best ads on telly by sponsoring the TVC of the Week section on StopPress), will continue to undertake these two major tasks, but Friesen says the new focus will be on increasing awareness of the benefits TV can offer. Friesen was only employed part-time in his role with the NZTBC but, with more funding now available from the broadcasters, he is now joined by industry experts Rob Hoar, Nicky Dunn and Di Winks in a new Auckland office. ThinkTV will also be able to commission a range of original research for the industry as a whole, not just individual broadcasters.

With the dominance of TV as a marketing channel, some might feel as though TV didn’t have much need to market itself. But Friesen believes there has been a need, it’s just that the industry hasn’t done anything about it. And, in this time of media fragmentation—and changing media consumption—where so many other media choices are now available, he says this more cohesive industry approach is long overdue.

Optimisim abounds as the new industry body is launched, and the positive vibes look set to continue after revenue figures for 2010 from returns prepared by TVNZ, MediaWorks TV and SKY Network Television (including Prime) showed a 6.6 percent increase in revenue compared to the year before, with an additional $37.5 million going into the coffers.

Total revenue was $606.7 million, compared to $569.2 million the year before. Still, it’s got a long way to go to get back to 2007 levels, when total TV revenue reached $654.4 million for the year.

“After feeling the effects of the economic downturn and tightened marketing budgets, television has bounced back with an impressive performance in 2010. The June quarter posted the best performance with 11.27 percent growth,” says Friesen.

Total revenue for the December quarter was $171 million, which was a 4.2 percent increase on the same period last year. And while Friesen says that’s a drop from the 11.3 percent year-on-year growth recorded in the third quarter, he believes it’s part of a long term upward trend.

After the last quarterly results, telcos, retail and energy were the major spenders on TV. But, aside from saying that automotive advertising was on the up, he didn’t have any specific trends to report for the fourth quarter data.

“It is encouraging to see the feelings of optimism flagged in 2010 have been echoed in this improved performance. We are looking forward to a good year ahead for television in New Zealand especially with the Rugby World Cup in September and October,” he says.

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