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How much is an hour of TV viewing worth?

How much is an hour of TV viewing worth to the industry? Roughly 23 cents ($0.23), by Ampere's estimates - at least in Western markets. Across eight territories in Western Europe and North America, Ampere has compared a typical consumer's broadcast TV viewing (which ranges from as low as 150 minutes per day in parts of Scandinavia to as high as 280 minutes per day in the USA) with the amount of revenue generated by the broadcast TV industry. On average across these markets, an hour of TV viewing corresponds to 23 cents in revenue generated by the industry. The USA and Denmark make the most money from an hour of TV viewing - 30 cents or more - while Italy and Spain generate just 9 cents for any given consumer's hour of TV viewing.

High revenue per hour is not necessarily always better, and may indicate underlying vulnerabilities. In both Italy and Spain, TV viewing has increased over the last decade, meaning (in spite of the underlying economic woes), TV generates more commercial impacts and has a greater role in the average consumer's leisure time and spend. But in markets such as the USA, Denmark and the UK, average TV viewing times per person have begun to slide as consumers switch over to online platforms, and revenue per-hour-viewed has climbed rapidly. Capturing a consumer's attention for an hour is now more valuable than it used to be in these markets, but this cash is now at greater risk - ad dollars are jeopardised by a loss of impressions, pay TV spend from a loss of relevance in the home.

The value per hour of the subscription video-on-demand space gives some clue as to the issues at hand. In 2015 Netflix made 19 cents in revenue per hour of video streamed to its subscribers. Taking into account the fact that many of these streams will be delivered to more than one end viewer (whereas broadcasting bodies already account for multiple simultaneous viewers in the same household), this means that on a revenue-per-hour-watched basis, Netflix is substantially undercutting the traditional broadcast model - by a factor of as much as 2x in the USA or Denmark. And the gap is widening. Coasting on overvalued viewing will only take traditional players so far, and the TV industry as a whole needs to be very wary of the dangers of a market correction towards this lower value ratio.