December 8, 2022

  • Several UK media companies pulled the ads after the Queen’s death and during her funeral.
  • Analysts estimate that the advertising blackout could cost media companies more than $100 million in lost revenue.
  • Experts also said that media companies could benefit from additional print sales and pent-up advertiser demand.

British media stripped ads from TV, radio and billboards as millions of viewers watched every aspect of the Queen’s death, which preceded the King’s funeral on Monday.

While individual media owners have put in place varying periods of ad-free periods, independent media analyst Ian Whitaker said power outages and low levels of advertising during the national mourning period could represent a shortfall of around £107m ($122m) in a worst-case scenario. .

Douglas McCabe, chief executive and director of publishing and technology at Enders Analysis, estimated that the lost advertising could equate to around £15 million ($17 million) a day for television companies, £2 million ($2.3 million) for radio, and £2 million for a billboard. And its owners are one million pounds ($1.1 million) for newspapers.

The entire period of mourning could mean a shortfall of 60.5 million pounds ($69 million) for the UK TV industry alone, media analyst Alex DeGroot said.

Members of the public watch the state funeral of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on a large screen in Hyde Park, in London, United Kingdom on September 19, 2022.

Members of the public watch the state funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on a large screen in Hyde Park, in London, United Kingdom on September 19, 2022.

Tolga Ovali / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Not all of that money will disappear completely, McCabe said. There is likely to be pent-up demand from brands that want to return to advertising in a timely manner. McCabe added that many publishers and out-of-home media owners have received advertisements from companies looking to honor the Queen.

However, this could make the ads more expensive, Whitaker said. “The obvious unknown factor is whether the ads pulled back into the system at a later time crowd out other ads, which then drives prices up,” he said.

Meanwhile, McCabe said additional sales from consumers snapping up a limited edition commemorative print may have helped make up for some lost advertising revenue, even though the newspaper industry should have printed more papers the morning after the Queen’s death was announced.

“They could have sold three or four times more,” McCabe said. The demand for newspapers was greater on Friday [September 9] than they have been for many decades, with retailers selling out early in the morning.”

How calm was the announcement in the British media to commemorate the Queen’s death

Nightly ratings figures from British television rating agency Barb Barb indicate that BBC One’s audience peaked at just under 20 million viewers, while ITV’s peaked at 5.3 million. These numbers do not include people who viewed the service via streaming apps or at shows in locations such as parks and bars.

ITV, the UK’s largest commercial broadcaster, pulled the ads from its main channel on September 8 as it switched to renewed coverage of King’s deteriorating condition. ITV 1 remained ad-free for another 72 hours. Also, the announcer did not place any advertisement on any channel throughout the day of the Queen’s funeral.

An ITV spokesperson said it has kept advertisers informed of the changes and offered them alternate airtimes.

Channel 4 has removed all advertisements from two of its major TV channels after the Queen’s death was announced until the morning of Saturday 10 September. It also imposed an advertising blackout for 24 hours on the day the Queen was buried.

While media companies have returned to running some ads during the period of national mourning, they have removed potentially sensitive advertising content – such as government, funeral and life insurance commercials.

“We understand the balance between protecting and supporting both viewers and advertisers alike, so it is imperative that we use all the resources we have to prioritize [sic] Remove all ads and sponsorships that are objectively likely to cause harm and crime [sic],” Sky Media Managing Director Brett Umüller wrote in an email to media agencies on September 10, seen by Insider.

Lindsey Clay, chief executive of UK TV Marketing Thinkbox, said broadcasters wanted to reflect the national mood, but were now focused on helping TV advertisers “get back to normal”.

The Queen's salute to Piccadilly Lights

Piccadilly lights in Piccadilly Circus displaying a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.

Vuk Valcic / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Several British newspapers removed advertisements from their websites and the first half of their print editions for varying periods of time during the mourning period, and out-of-home media owners replaced digital billboards at transport hubs and major landmarks. For example, the Piccadilly Lights in London showed an official portrait of the Queen given by Buckingham Palace during the mourning period.

UK commercial radio stations, which have switched to more bleak playlists, have also removed advertisements for varying lengths of time. American tech giants, including Snap and Twitter, also suspended some ads in the UK for a while after the news.

But even when advertising returns, UK media companies remain in a tight spot due to rising inflation and a bleak economic outlook. The loss of the queen may deepen some of those challenges.

“For me, the long-term damage is more worrying,” Degrott said. “Without the Queen, I think the UK is losing some of its tourism appeal and soft power, which will affect advertising. The economic outlook is bleak with the energy crisis.”

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