LONDON: The latest edition of ZenithOptimedia's UK Television Forecasts to 2012 predicts that ad revenues to the main terrestrial commercial channels (ITV1, Channel 4 and Five) will fall 7% in 2009. But it's not all bad news …

Among ZO's cheerier predictions:

Overall, digital channels will buck the decline with healthy 8% average growth;

  • 97% of households will have digital television by the end of 2009;
  • In real terms television is cheaper than at any time we have on record
Otherwise, however, the media agency's crystal ball is dark with storm clouds …
  • Digital off-shoot channels are not compensating for decline at the main terrestrial channels;
  • And there will be no growth in television ad expenditure until 2010.
Explains Zenith: "It is the main terrestrial channels that are weighing down the market: we forecast the much cheaper digital channels to increase their ad revenues by 6% in 2009, and grow by an average of 8% a year to 2012.

"We expect 91% of households to receive digital television on at least one set by the end of this year, and forecast this proportion to rise to 97% by the end of 2009."

As to the phased switch to digital TV: "We still think Freeview will be the largest digital platform when the last analogue signal is switched off in 2012, reaching 38% of UK homes.

"Sky's pay satellite service will be right behind with 37% penetration, while Virgin Media's cable service will come a distant third with 16% penetration."

Data sourced from ZenthOptimedia; additional content by WARC staff