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Bowing to the state: how TV channels without advertising will survive in a crisis
21 June, 15:45
Business
Bowing to the state: how TV channels without advertising will survive in a crisis
The ex-head of Roskomnadzor, now the CEO of Gazprom-Media, Alexander Zharov, predicts a reduction in TV channels in Russia due to problems with advertising revenues. The media manager announced this at SPIEF. Experts confirm this trend, but with some reservations.

Yekaterina Maksimova

Zharov clarified that his forecast refers to 2023. “There is a threat, first of all, for small air channels, because their profitability is low. Those who are not profitable can leave the air. I don’t expect any revolutions in 2022, but on the horizon of the second half of 2023, the landscape may change due to the reduction of channels”, - RBC quotes Zharov.

Sergey Smirnov, Associate Professor of the Department of Media Theory and Economics of the Faculty of Journalism of Moscow State University, believes that the future of TV channels will be determined by three main points.

These are the real size of the reduction in the advertising market, the volume of subscription payments (there are channels for off-air distribution), and the use of imported content. “Issues with imported content are not completely clear, and this is one of the significant factors that will determine whether people will continue to subscribe to TV channels, renew their subscriptions or not”, - Smirnov specified.

He also noted that due to the reduction in advertising flows, the dependence of regional and municipal broadcasters on contracts with local authorities will noticeably increase.

Associate Professor of the Faculty of Journalism of Moscow State University generally agrees with Mr. Zharov's forecast that there will be fewer channels on Russian TV. “How much it will decrease which channels will be the first to leave the market is difficult to predict here, but it will be difficult for everyone - this is obvious,” the expert believes and adds that the first conclusions can be made in the fall, when a full-fledged television season begins.

An expert in the field of media, RANEPA lecturer Victoria Sukhareva considers it obvious that financial flows to the television industry (as well as to medicine in general) will decrease, but recalls that this is far from the first severe crisis in the media market.

“Crisses for various external and internal reasons happen regularly: 1998, 2008, 2015, Covid, 2022. And every time the first reaction is “this is the end, everything dies.” And then there are some magical hand passes, and the industry demonstrates its lust for life. Formats, approaches, financing schemes are changing, “burnt out” personnel are leaving. A new strong growth sprouts on the ashes. Of course, the next forecast "at the end" has a good reason. The market has not yet had time to recover from the pandemic reality, and there is such a massive outflow of advertisers and a completely new information environment with a bunch of restrictions and inputs. Naturally, this is shock, fear, many different emotions. But the media will cope”, - says Victoria Sukhareva.

In her opinion, the number of TV projects will decrease, but primarily from among the underdeveloped, underloaded, created on the principle of cloning. Foreign projects will leave. But, if they were successful and attractive to the audience, they will be Russified according to the McDonald's principle. Surely, in her opinion, a certain percentage of niche TV channels sitting on subsidies will be curtailed.

Victoria Sukhareva has no doubts that the regional media will also survive the current crisis. “The remaining private regional media will certainly have problems. This is business. And the owners will strive to maintain their profits primarily by optimizing production, personnel and other costs. And here, closing the project is a typical, although not the smartest, model for solving the problem. No project - no losses. But no one will close the media affiliated with the state and local authorities. They will be pulled and developed, because no one has canceled the emergency warning system and the tasks of managing the mass regional consciousness, and all this must be viable, because a large country needs to be controlled, especially now. And this cannot be done only at the expense of telegram channels and the top five federal buttons. Therefore, in fact, I am watching with interest how the industry will change, where they will look for intellectual, financial and creative resources,” summed up Victoria Sukhareva.

The head of one of the regional TV channels, who wished to remain anonymous, shared his opinion: “We already roughly understand the story on the topic “how I spent this crisis.” The expansion of the staff, the recruitment of new employees is exactly on the foot, the renewal of equipment is a very, very big question. Reductions, layoffs - definitely not, there are not enough hands. Large commercial contracts are traditionally concluded for a year and for as long as they exist. It is useless to discuss preliminary plans for the next year with anchor advertisers during the period of uncertainty, but I believe that the bulk of the contracts will be extended. State contracts - in the first place, ”our interlocutor predicts.

Experts have calculated that in the first quarter of 2022, the total volume of advertising on the Russian market amounted to about 130 billion rubles. This was reported on the website of the Association of Communication Agencies of Russia.

“In the first quarter of 2022, the TV segment was at the level of the advertising market as a whole. Growth drivers were federal and thematic TV, the dynamics of which significantly exceeded the average market indicators. By the end of the first quarter, the market showed a general slowdown in dynamics due to the withdrawal or suspension of foreign advertisers. At the same time, TV's strong performance in January-February ensured the overall growth of the segment in the quarter”, - the experts specified.