European television is back in business

Top 12 broadcasters' revenue up 10% in first half

COLOGNE, Germany -- European television is back in business. The turnover of the top 12 European commercial broadcasters hit €17.6 billion ($22.5 billion) in the first half of this year -- on par with levels seen two years ago before the financial crisis sent TV ad revenues into a tailspin.

Free-to-air giants including Germany's RTL Television and ProSiebenSat.1, Britain's ITV, Italy's Mediaset and France's TF1 reversed double-digit revenue drops from the first half of 2009, many posting near-record results for H1 2010.

Revenue growth for the dozen leading European broadcasters -- which includes pay TV operators BSkyB, Canal+ and Spain's Sogecable -- was 10% in the first half, if one discounts the red ink from Brit network Five, which RTL sold off in July.

The only Euro media giant still in decline is Spain's Prisa group -- owners of Sogecable as well as free-to-air network Cuatro. Turnover at Prisa fell nearly 13% in the first half after dropping 15% over the same period last year.

Consolidated Operating Revenues (in Euros)

First Half 2010/First Half 2009/Growth

British Sky Broadcasting €3.72 billion/€3.23 billion/15.2%
RTL Group €2.66 billion/€2.48 billion Euros/7.5%
Vivendi (Canal Plus) €2.33 billion/ €2.26 billion/3.1%
Mediaset €2.28 billion/€1.95 billion/16.7%
ProSiebenSat.1 €1.42 billion/€1.32 billion/7.4%
TF1 €1.29 billion/ €1.13 billion/13.7%
ITV €1.21 billion/€1.01 billion/13.5%
Prisa (Audiovisual interests) €860 million/€987 million/-12.8%

Source: European Audiovisual Observatory