Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: ITV Puts Price on Euro 2004

Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: ITV Puts Price on Euro 2004

Article excerpt

As the tournament draws near, ITV must strike the right balance to maximise ad revenues, writes Mark Sweney

With Euro 2004 due to kick off in little over a month, ITV sales staff are in stoppage time trying to squeeze every penny out of advertisers.

The tournament is the first real test for a merged ITV and the pressure is on to drive up revenues.

Arguably, ITV is starting on the back foot. It is already down by about pounds 4m in revenues compared with Euro 2000, when Carlsberg paid that much to be the exclusive sponsor of its coverage. This time, under the rights format decided by UEFA, there is no package to sell, because official sponsors - Coca-Cola, McDonald's, JVC and Carlsberg - are guaranteed the beginning and end of sponsorship break spots.

But head of sales Gary Digby insists this has not hampered ITV. 'This brings Euro 2004 in line with the way the Champions League works. It does not restrict our ability to make money from spots. The question is whether we would have had to pay more for the TV rights deal if it wasn't already sponsored.'

For advertisers, Euro 2004 is a must-have. The European location ensures peak-time viewing, and the tournament is shorter than the World Cup, meaning viewer interest is better sustained.

Revenue drivers

It is difficult to make direct comparisons for revenues with Euro 2000, which netted ITV pounds 169.4m - a figure inflated by an influx of dotcom money.

But ITV predicts audiences will outperform the 2000 event, which delivered an average of 7m viewers per live match, peaking at just under 15m for England v Portugal.

Digby says 98% of the ad inventory has already sold at prices 'similar to the 2002 World Cup'. A 30-second spot is thought to be going for about pounds 250,000-pounds 300,000, while the premium for appearing during an England game pushes the rate to pounds 350,000.

ITV is pricing aggressively, yet Digby is wary of repeating the 1998 World Cup ad sales fiasco, which saw advertisers stay away in droves when the price of spots was deemed too expensive. 'You can push the price too far,' he admits.

In terms of advertisers buying into Euro 2004, car manufacturers make up the biggest sector by far. According to a media agency source, ITV has booked ads from 16 manufacturers across 30 models. …

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