It all adds up to a 1.4% contraction in fourth-quarter television ad spend that I recently referred to as tv having its "Uber moment" this December. As we enter this fateful month for the channel that once ruled the roost, I thought I would take a look at the latest Ofcom figures. Although they were only recently published, they mostly cover the period only up to the end of 2017. Even so, the scenario that is now beginning to play out is apparent in several of the regulator's charts.
Here are breakdowns of the six of the charts that reveal a very telling tale.
1. As 2017 ended, Ofcom calculated that net television advertising was down 7.5% across the year.
2. There is a glimpse into the first half of 2018 and television viewing has "declined steeply." Ofcom makes the point this is bad news because the UK had a spell of bad weather and then the World Cup, suggesting that viewing should be up, not down.
3. The main terrestrial channels are holding their proportion of overall viewing at a steady rate for the past five years, consistently accounting for around 70% of viewer attention.
4. However, there are far fewer big shows attracting audiences of 8 million or more. In fact, among soaps, the number of times an advertiser could hit an audience of 8m more than halved in 2017 compared to 2015.
5. And here is the disconnect. Sport offers no opportunities to reach an audience of 8m or larger but accounts for nearly half of all the money put into producing television programming.
6. At the same time, younger audiences are tuning out. Live broadcast viewing was 71% for all age groups but dipped significantly to 46%, of tv consumption among 16- to-34-year-olds.
So to compile dozens of charts and graphs into a snappy line, TV advertising is on the decline and so too is viewing. There are few opportunities to reach massive audiences, but the one niche that will never deliver more than 8m viewers -- sports -- gets 43% of all television production money.
All of this means tv's traditional ability to provide a huge volume of eyeballs regularly has severely diminished, particularly among Gen Z and millennials.
This is not fodder for a trendy guru to say television is dead, and throw everything at Facebook and Instagram. No, but it is contracting and I suspect the reason is to be found in those six findings.