Internet Transforms TV Trends
Published: November 2, 2011 (Issue # 1681)
More and more Russians, especially those living in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other big cities, are waking up to the possibilities of Internet television. The Big Three — the top three federal television channels — are slowly but surely losing their audiences as they switch to smaller private, often locally managed, channels. These are some of the trends in the television and new media market that were discussed at the Second Mediasphere conference held at the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg in October.
The event gathered market analysts, advertising and media experts as well as major advertisers from St. Petersburg, Moscow and other cities.
According to this year’s survey, carried out by TNS Russia Research Company, 60 percent of Russians have the possibility to receive at least one private TV channel. In St. Petersburg in particular, audiences tend to seek alternatives to the Big Three when it comes to sports, international events, social problems and cultural and criminal news.
According to diverse reports, 100 percent of Russians watch television at least once a month, while as many as 70 percent of those surveyed said they watch TV on a daily basis. The average Russian spends around four hours a day watching television, although figures are substantially lower among younger audiences, especially from the bigger cities.
“Younger people are more active; they are more open to alternative forms of news consumption besides just sitting around watching TV,” said Ksenia Achkasova, director of television research at TNS Russia.
“Still, the percentage of people who watch the news on their computers is much lower in Russia than in many European countries. For example, in the U.K., 25 percent of people get their news from the Internet. In comparison, in Russia the figure does not exceed 15 percent.”
Another recent trend is the growing number of those who get their news via various services on their cell phones.
“In the U.K., three percent of people said they do this; this may not sound like much, but a year ago nobody reported doing so,” Achkasova said.
Russia’s biggest television channels are seeking to launch Internet-related products in order to win over a greater part of younger audiences. Russia currently boasts 45 million Internet users, the second-largest user market in Europe. It is expected that by 2014 there will be 80 million web surfers in the country.
“With the launch of the Videomore social network, we have seen substantial interest from users; they spend time discussing and downloading various things, playing games and so on,” said Anna-Maria Treneva, director of new media projects for STS-Media holding. “We are also vigorously expanding our ties with Facebook and Mail.ru’s social networks. It is all about the simple truth that there is no better trusted recommendation than the advice of a friend.”
According to Sergei Veselov, a professor with the Higher School of Economics in Moscow and head of the market research department at the Video International advertising holding, the advertising market has only now regained the level of its pre-crisis position.
“Before the crisis, the advertising market in Russia was one of the fastest-growing in the world,” he said. “This was not because the economy was doing all that great, but simply because the size of the advertising market had to correspond to the possibilities of the economy — which means that the advertising market had to grow to correspond to the economy in general.”
Internet advertising reached its pre-crisis level of revenue of $880 million by the end of 2010.
In the print media sector, the advertising prospects do not look even remotely as good, an expert said. At present, print media advertising has only recovered to reach two thirds of its pre-crisis levels.
“In the best-case scenario, print media will reach pre-crisis levels of advertising by 2015,” Veselov said. “In the most depressing scenario, this will never happen.”
In the future, people should not expect the television advertising market to resume its dynamic pace, Veselov said.
“Generally, the higher the dynamic of GDP growth, the more vigorous the advertising market,” he said. “This rule now applies to Russia, where the advertising market has reached its natural size, which reflects the state of the economy in general. My prediction is that in the next several years the advertising market will demonstrate growth of about 10 to 15 percent annually.”