TVB hopes for better ratings after rival's World Cup domination ends
Television Broadcasts (TVB) is hoping for improved ratings next month following the end of the World Cup tournament.
Ratings at the dominant free-to-air broadcaster have been hit hard as it lost viewers to pay-TV operator I-Cable Communications, which is broadcasting all 64 World Cup matches live.
Continued poor ratings could see advertisers become less willing to bid higher prices for airtime.
TVB assistant general manager Cheong Shin-keong believes the station will enjoy month-on-month advertising growth in July.
'I think the advertisers had already enjoyed a premium [in terms of cost efficiency] from January to May, during which we recorded better than expected ratings,' he said.
TVB has reported a ratings decline since the tournament started on May 31 as viewers' attention was diverted from conventional TV programmes.
For example, TVB Jade channel's prime-time programme Russian Roulette, which launched on May 27, recorded a rating of 29 points, or 1.85 million viewers, in its first week. In its second week it recorded a 22 rating, or 1.4 million viewers, as World Cup fever heated up.
Last week, its rating fell to 19 points, or 1.21 million viewers.
Tsang Kan-keung, managing director of specialist advertising firm Mind Share, estimated the advertising market would shrink 5 per cent this month from May.
'But we hope there will be 10 per cent month-on-month growth in July,' he said.
Some advertising agencies, which preferred not to clash with the World Cup, had avoided allocating heavy budgets this month, he said.
Meanwhile, TVB's pay-TV unit Galaxy Satellite Broadcast has slashed its sale price for a 50 per cent stake in the company from US$200 million to US$100 million, senior manager of business development Ronald Jones said at a Salomon Smith Barney investor conference on Monday.
TVB has asked for regulatory approval to delay its compulsory stake disposal in Galaxy from this month to February next year.
Norman Waite, media analyst at the US brokerage, said such a scale-back of the operation would change the structure of the offering, but its ability to find investors was still under test.
'There is nothing on the horizon to change my recommendation,' said Mr Waite, who expected TVB would scrap its pay-TV plan given the unfavourable market conditions.