Companies make losses. It’s embarrassing, but it happens. But there are bigger embarrassments than losing money. London Live, the TV channel owned by Russian media oligarchs Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev, just announced revenues for its first six months’ broadcasting, of only £1.3m.
That’s all takings from advertisers, in six months. The pub down the end of your road probably turns that over, but it’s not a household name. Just to add to salt to the wound, London Live also reported a loss of £11.6m for the year to September. Not exactly a surprise, all things considered.
The good news is that the channel’s rising up the ranks of Londoners’ televisual choices. In May this year it had a total audience of 2.5 million, up 200,000 from the previous month, giving it a market share of 0.36%. Incidentally, this puts it a hair’s breadth behind Sky 1, not that this much consolation, given that Sky’s revenues are roughly 500 times higher than London Live’s...
‘I’m delighted with the progress made over the past few months with the channel enjoying record audiences and revenue. The business is in far better shape than it has ever been and is building a strong foundation for the future,’ said Steve Auckland, Group CEO at parent company ESI Media.
Of course, like many a start-up, London Live faces costs getting its name out there, and to be fair those viewing figures are for its first six months only, from March 31st 2014. Indeed, the channel expects its losses to halve next year (presumably this involves those revenue figures going up).
Nonetheless, such low figures must surely grate, after the aplomb with which London Live launched last year. It certainly doesn’t dispel doubt over the need for local TV. A particular problem is that perhaps London is just too big and too prominent in national coverage to warrant an all-purpose, local channel.
The capital connection is all that links today’s rather eclectic line-up, which alongside its usual fare of 90s sitcoms ranges from hipster cooking show Food Junkies and Drag Queens of London to a documentary on Westminster Abbey, Made in Chelsea and some Ealing comedies. It still remains to be seen whether that connection is sufficient to attract a large and loyal audience.