January 13, 2022
The CRTC’s annual report on broadcasting metrics was released in December for the 2019-2020 year ending August 31st (a 15-month lag). As expected the report revealed the impact of the pandemic’s first six months on media consumption, revenue and profitability.
Key trends from previous years for legacy and Internet TV continued but were accelerated by pandemic conditions for advertising and consumer consumption.
Streaming audio and visual media increased their share of the total market (combining regulated legacy TV and unregulated Internet TV). Lead by Netflix ($1.1 billion in revenue) and YouTube ($900 million), the “over the top” media claimed 25% of media revenue, or a $4.4 Billion slice of a $20 billion pie.
On the flip side, regulated television distributors and broadcasters kept declining. Cable, satellite and IPTV distributors still have 40% of the overall revenue market (at $8 billion) but continued the long term trend of shrinking revenues and profitability.
Meanwhile television broadcasters had a miserable year in 2019-20. Local television continued its eight-year run of losses by plummeting another 14% in revenue and registering a stunning net loss of 18.6% despite the fact that news consumption rose sharply.
The only good news was that normally healthy (and subscription-based) specialty channels were down only 7% in revenue and still showed a 25% profit.
Specialty TV represents 60% of overall broadcasting revenues while advertising-dependent local TV accounts for the rest. However the de facto subsidy of “specialty” to “local” impacts the major broadcasters differently, and does not exist at all for independent local TV stations that do not own specialty channels.
The knock-on effect of the revenue downturn for both distributors and broadcasters is the shrinking budgets for Canadian news, sports and entertainment. As “CanCon” spending is tied to a percentage of earned revenue in the regulated sector, the 2019-2020 year was very bad news.
As for private commercial radio, the sector was down 21% in revenue which hit the local advertising-dependent AM stations the hardest.