RTÉ content cuts ‘a concern’ for advertisers, says marketing group Core

Advertising spend to rise more than 4% this year but television and print revenues forecast to decline again

Continued cuts to RTÉ's content budget “seem inevitable” and will be of concern to the Irish advertising industry, according to marketing group Core.

The company, which plans and buys advertising campaigns, said it was forecasting growth of 4.1 per cent in overall advertising spend in the Irish market this year, with total investment set to reach €1.53 billion.

This follows a “volatile” 2023 in which the market is estimated to have grown 4.6 per cent to €1.47 billion.

Spend by advertisers is expected to swell in the summer during Euro 2024 — despite the absence of the Republic of Ireland team — and the Olympic Games in Paris.


But both television and print advertising revenues will fall again, it said, with print on track for a steep decline.

Core said the RTÉ controversy meant 2023 would go down as “one of the most significant years in recent times for the TV industry” and suggested that its planned €10 million budget cut in 2024, together with any future content cuts, could exacerbate the impact of media fragmentation.

It noted the reduction in the number of episodes of soap opera Fair City being broadcast each week from four to three — one of the cost-saving measures recently announced by RTÉ.

With the consumption of linear television increasingly driven by live sport, joint ventures for sports rights “may become more prevalent” as broadcasters come under financial pressure, Core’s Outlook 2024 report concludes.

Television advertising revenue fell 5.8 per cent to €244.2 million last year and is forecast to drop 3.9 per cent to €234.7 million in 2024.

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Printed news media advertising plunged 11.7 per cent to €75 million in 2023, according to Core’s figures, with the decline exceeding the estimated 5.4 per cent rise in publishers’ digital advertising revenues, which reached €29.4 million.

There will be no reprieve in 2024. Core, led by chief executive Aidan Greene, expects print advertising to plummet 13.1 per cent to just €65.2 million this year. Digital spending with publishers will climb 7.1 per cent to €31.5 million, but again this will not make up the difference.

Its forecasts indicate that revenues earned by news publishers from both print and digital advertising in 2024 will come in at €96.7 million — lower than the sector’s revenues in crisis-stricken 2020.

Radio is the traditional medium that has been faring much better of late, with a “modest year of growth” in 2023 likely to be followed by a 1.8 per cent rise in revenue to €157.7 million, said Core, which noted “almost universal listening to audio” by Irish adults and “significant growth” in digital formats.

Out-of-home advertising revenues, meanwhile, are predicted to grow 6 per cent to €86.2 million in 2024, bringing the sector close to the value of activity seen before the pandemic. The sector expanded 15 per cent to €81.2 million last year as traffic and retail footfall returned to 2019 levels and public transport usage reached a record high.

The standout performer in 2024 will once again be digital advertising, which now accounts for 64 per cent of all advertising revenue in the Irish market. After climbing 9.3 per cent to €912.8 million in 2023, it is expected to increase 7.85 per cent this year to €984.5 million.

Two tech giants — Google owner Alphabet and Facebook parent Meta — accounted for 79 per cent of total digital spend last year and their share is likely to be similar in 2024. But the ongoing ascent of TikTok will result in even greater dominance by global players, with Core forecasting a whopping 42 per cent surge in the value of Irish advertising with the ByteDance-owned social media app this year.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics