Television continues unequivocally to be the dominant and the most transversal medium in Portuguese society. In 2016, according to GfK, the official entity for measuring television audiences in Portugal, the average daily television viewing was 4 hours and 47 minutes.
The evolution of the Portuguese television market has been determined by the provision of five free-to-air television channels - RTP1, RTP2, SIC, TVI and ARTV - and the consolidation of pay-TV.
RTP 1 and RTP 2 are holders of the public service and submitted to a set of obligations defined by the State. RTP 1 has a mixed funding model based on advertising and the “contribution for the audiovisual”, a tax collected every month with the electricity bill. RTP 2 cannot broadcast commercial advertising. SIC and TVI are both commercial stations created at the beginning of the 1990s and bestowed with a renewed licence to broadcast until 2021. SIC is owned by Grupo Impresa and TVI by Media Capital.
Cable television was launched in Portugal in 1994. Currently pay-TV has a penetration rate of around 80 percent of Portuguese households. The growth of pay television in recent years in Portugal is mainly due to the diversification of access to technologies, as well as the increase in the number of available channels.
The main communications players – MEO and NOS, which together hold a market share of more than 80 percent – have invested in the development of package offers that include Internet, landline and mobile. According to the Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações (National Communications Authority - ANACOM), at the end of 2016, 90.4 percent of subscribers to pay-TV had this integrated service. About 79.7 percent of television subscribers had access to more than 80 channels. The timeshift functionality offered by operators, with automatic recording systems that allow viewing programs already broadcast within the next week, is increasingly used by viewers and comes to challenge the classic linear concept of television.
Considering the television offer, among the programme services authorized by ERC, in 2016, 60 channels were active, of which 13 were generalist and 47, thematic or targeted to specific audiences. Among thematic programme services, the majority are dedicated to sports (12), followed by channels dedicated to films and series (9) and entertainment (6). It should be noted that ERC only regulates 28 percent of the television channels made available in the offerings of the pay-TV operators, since it only oversees entities that carry out media activities under the jurisdiction of the Portuguese State.
In 2015, the Netflix streaming service was launched in Portugal, albeit with minor disturbances in the structural operation of the audiovisual market.
The paradigm change in the distribution of content, with the reinforcement of the importance of the subscription television service and the Internet, has had a direct effect on the evolution of the sources of revenue of each business segment. Nevertheless, according to different sources, television continues to concentrate the major slice of advertising revenues.
In addition, older generalist channels continue to attract the largest share of audiences. TVI holds the largest share (21.5 percent), followed by SIC (17.6 percent) and RTP 1 (13.7 percent).
In recent years, the two commercial operators SIC and TVI increased their programming choices, namely in Portuguese fiction, “telenovelas”, talk shows, talent shows, quizzes, movies, series and reality shows. Sports, in particular football matches, and information are the other two television genres which gather public preferences and where the competition between channels stands out most visibly.
The second public service channel, with an audience share of around 2 percent, is focused on more demanding and segmented groups and, in terms of programming, emphasises culture, education, social activities, sports, religion, independent production, Portuguese cinema, audiovisual environment and experimentalism.