In 2017, television in Spain has six main actors: 

  • two large private audiovisual corporations, Mediaset España and Atresmedia, leaders in audience and advertising billing mainly thanks to their generalist channels, as well as to the rest of their segmented channels;
  • national public television (Radio Televisión Española, RTVE);
  • digital television platforms (Movistar+, Vodafone TV, Orange TV...), which combine the pay television offer, consisting of generalist channels, specialised channels and systems of subscription to audiovisual contents (Netflix, HBO España...);
  • private channels broadcasting nationally but with smaller audiences (13TV, Intereconomía…);
  • regional public television;
  • local television channels. 

Due to the continuous corporate movements in the audiovisual sector, it is common for a channel or service that originally belonged to a certain operator to be taken over by its competing company. However, the general structure of television in Spain is basically represented by the six actors described.

The Spanish media market has a high degree of business concentration: 20 companies invoice approximately 75 percent of the revenues of the 100 largest private media companies. The television medium is the one that carries a larger share, with almost 60 percent of the market, as indicated in the Annual Report of the Journalistic Profession 2016 (APM, 2016). The situation of dominance is such that the two main private companies, Mediaset España and Atresmedia, are often classified as a "duopoly". Almost 90 percent of the total advertising investment in television is distributed between the two companies (El Confidencial, 2016). This is achieved mainly due to the success of the audience of their generalist channels -Telecinco and Cuatro in the case of Mediaset España, Antena 3 and LaSexta in the case of Atresmedia- but also due to another external factor: The decision adopted by the Government in 2009 to withdraw advertising from RTVE, the national public television. The disappearance of this public competitor, at least as far as advertising is concerned, has made it possible for the two large private companies to achieve an undeniable position of advertising dominance.

The APM (2016) reveals that television is still the medium most Spaniards choose to stay informed. It is noteworthy that this medium exceeds the majority in all age groups in Spain, while for other media, such as social networks or printed newspapers, age is a clear discriminator: the younger-age group show a clear preference for social networks and newspapers on the web over printed media.

According to the 2016 Informe Barlovento (Barlovento Report), “a decrease has been observed in the average television consumption time of Spaniards.” In 2015, the daily average per person was 3 hours and 54 minutes; the estimated forecast for 2016 was 3 hours and 49 minutes, about 5 minutes less. The main decline is among those aged under 45, while those aged over 64 have increased their television consumption time by 5 minutes, reaching a consumption of 5 hours and 48 minutes a day. 

Broadly speaking, despite this slight decrease in the overall average, watching television is one of the most common activities among Spaniards: “Apart from sleeping, working or studying, watching TV is the activity on which most time is spent; in fact it represents 16 percent of the day on average,” according to the 2016 Barlovento Report (Barlovento Comunicación, 2016).

According to the Deloitte report, Fortalezas de la TDT 2016 (Strengths of DTT 2016), compiled by the Unión de Televisiones Comerciales en Abierto (Union of Free-to-Air Commercial Television Channels - UTECA), digital terrestrial television (DTT) is the most widely consumed television in Spain (81 percent), even among subscribers to pay TV channels, 70 percent of whom consume this free digital television. In terms of overall video consumption, traditional television is still the most consumed (70 percent), even among the youngest age group (15-34 years), although in this age group it falls to 58 percent since they consume more video on YouTube and Facebook (19 percent of the time). According to this report, “social networks are a good ally of television,” since 85 percent of active users of Twitter in prime time tweet about television and a third of these active users change channels to see a programme on about which they have received some information through Twitter.