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Sunday newspaper ad battle to benefit ITV and others by more than £10m

ITV to take lions’s share of new advertising money from new Sunday tabloid marketing battle

The launch of the Sunday Sun has sparked a battle for the weekend newspaper market that will see more than £10m in extra advertising money spent in the coming weeks, benefiting hard-pressed media companies and in particular ITV.

The UK’s biggest advertiser-funded broadcaster will take the lion’s share of the new advertising money flooding the market as News International and rival Sunday tabloid publishers seek to promote their titles.

This extra money could help ITV avoid what had been forecast to be a decline in advertising revenue for the first three months of 2012. TV ad revenue for flagship channel ITV1 had been estimated by analysts to be down between 3% and 5% year-on-year in the first quarter.

It is thought that ITV1 is actually in slightly better shape than this and there is the potential if the Sunday newspaper marketing battle continues for the next month for the broadcaster’s first quarter to be flat, or even slightly up, in TV ad revenue year-on-year.

Rupert Murdoch has backed the launch of the Sunday edition of the Sun with a multi-million-pound ad campaign. Media industry sources understand that Murdoch’s News International will commit between £3m and £7m to advertising the new Sunday paper in its launch phase to the end of March, depending on initial sales and how much rival publishers commit to marketing their titles.

News International is also believed to be committing significant marketing resources to the launch to make a statement about the company’s commitment to the new Sunday title.

Media industry sources estimate that the rival newspaper groups – Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell, which publishes the Daily Star Sunday, Sunday Mirror and People owner Trinity Mirror, and Mail on Sunday owner Daily Mail & General Trust – could look to spend an extra £1.5m to £2m each up to the end of March These estimates are also fluid as the newspaper groups will adjust their marketing strategies depending upon the success, and support, behind the Sunday Sun.

“There is plenty of spending going on this week, but in a way rivals have to let NI have its day, the economics don’t work if you go toe to toe and match them at such short notice on week one,” said one media industry source.

“The battle won’t be won or lost in week one, it is about the long game. If you include the hit the titles are taking from their own price cuts, which could be considered marketing or promotional spend, the cost is going to be absolutely huge.”

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