BRUSSELS: European TV ratings remained high this summer, unaffected by the rise of YouTube, a lack of major sporting events and the warm weather, according to latest figures from industry bodies.
The Association of Commercial Television in Europe collated figures from across the region and, for the first time, compared time spent watching television against that consuming various online media. It found that the UK experience – for every minute spent on YouTube, the average person spent an hour watching linear television – was replicated across the major European markets.
Tess Alps, Executive Chair at Thinkbox, the UK trade body, said the figures showed that commentators could no longer "glibly" announce that YouTube had displaced television.
"This is not to denigrate YouTube in any way," she added. "It is complementary to TV and it is going to grow, but the assumption that time spent on YouTube will inevitably cannibalise linear TV time is flawed and not borne out by analysis of real consumers."
In Germany, for example, linear TV accounted for 139 hours a month, compared to 3 hours for YouTube. Comparable figures for Italy were 145 hours and 87 minutes, and for France 126 hours and 88 minutes.
Buoyant ratings figures were sustained by local sporting events, politics and royalty.
The Champions League football final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, for example, was watched by a global audience of 360m, including 23.7m in Germany. The Tour de France cycle race got 14m viewers in France and the Wimbledon tennis men's singles final 14m in the UK.
And a German election debate between Chancellor Angela Merkel and her challenger Steinbrück gained 26m viewers.
Philippe Delusinne, President of the ACT, praised the rapid advances in the use of technology by European broadcasters and noted that high levels of linear TV viewing were being joined by rapid growth in additional, non-linear TV viewing.
"As and when the European economies return to growth, this will be translated into increased advertising and subscription revenue to be reinvested in future programming – a real virtuous circle for European business and consumers," he said.