2020 is turning out to be one of the most unusual years ever for the communications industry in Central and Eastern Europe.
The first half began positively, only to be struck down by the tsunami that has been the coronavirus pandemic. It now remains to be seen to what degree it recovers, and indeed returns to the way it previously was, in the final six months.
Take Romania. The latest edition of the annual Media Fact Book, produced by Initiative, forecasts that the country’s media market will shrink by 16.6% this year. Within that, TV ad spend is expected to fall by 15% and digital by 7%, with print suffering the biggest reversal at -61%. All this is course assuming a steady recovery in Q3 and Q4.
Meanwhile, in Russia it has been predicted that the communications market will shrink by up to 3% this year, having grown by 2.1% in 2019. In Poland, on the other hand, Publicis Groupe predicts a fall of up to 14% in the country’s ad market this year, with the best-case scenario being a contraction of 7.3%.
This comes alongside major changes in the consumption of media, especially at the height of the lockdown measures imposed throughout the region. They included exceptionally high TV viewing figures, in particular for news content, and strong growth for streaming services such as Netflix and HBO. At the same time, many pay-TV operators opened up their services in the hope of attracting new customers.
While difficult times undoubtedly lie ahead for the ad industry in the short term, perhaps even more challenging than those that followed the global financial crisis of 2007/8, there is also much to look forward to as the pandemic recedes.
TV viewing figures may level out, but on demand services are here to stay and pay-TV, though long established in many regional markets, still has a promising future in CEE.
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