It may seem a foregone conclusion that, while a sad occasion, the death of Queen Elizabeth II and her State Funeral that followed would be a triumphant day for UK broadcasters seeking ratings and newspaper editors seeking readers.
For sure, the audience aggregator Overnights.tv previously estimated the TV ratings on the day of the Queen’s death to be at the top at the charts – with approximately 33million viewers tuning in to the BBC and other network channels. While figures for the funeral itself are not yet published, estimates so far have put the figures worldwide at more than a billion.
However, the Guardian reports that because of the total TV advertising blackout over most of the weekend – agreed in advance with Buckingham Palace – the broadcasters enjoying all the extra eyeballs were unable to cash in as they would normally do for mass media events such as England doing well in a football tournament, or a TV competition final.
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And the pause, instituted by most media owners in the UK and extending to platforms such as Snapchat and Twitter, was observed again on Monday for the day of the funeral.
This, plus the decision to forensically vet all advertising content to check it was suitable for broadcast during the mourning period in between, has led to a huge dip in profits over the past 10 days.
One unnamed senior exec at a UK media agency told the Guardian: “We are talking about the loss of millions and millions of pounds of advertising for media owners. It’s kind of like the mass media event that commercially never was.”
Similarly counter-intuitively, the cost to newspaper publishers of creating extra pages and supplements has seen them also miss out on a perceived bonanza with so many extra sales.
Faure Walker of Newsquest, which publishes 27 daily tiles and ran an additional supplement after the Queen’s death, also spoke to the Guardian of losses at his company. “You might not think it given the magnitude of such an event, but overall at the end of the day I would say there has been a marginal negative financial impact.”
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