Media and advertising on the day of The Queen’s funeral: everything you need to know
UK media will go almost entirely advertising-free on Monday for The Queen’s state funeral. Here’s your complete guide to what broadcasters, publishers, platforms and out-of-home (OOH) companies will be doing to mark the day.
The UK will become ad-free on Monday during The Queen’s state funeral – here’s why / Unsplash
The death of The Queen prompted media owners to rapidly rip up their schedules, pull programming and advertising and introduce round-the-clock coverage commemorating the life of the monarch in their place. During Monday’s state funeral, UK media will once again diverge dramatically from normal service and advertisers will pause their campaigns.
As the UK’s biggest commercial broadcaster, ITV is funded by advertising but also has a significant public service remit. As such, it will conduct what it describes as the largest outside broadcast in its history from Westminster Abbey.
The Queen’s funeral will be screened live and uninterrupted on ITV’s main channel and simultaneously on its digital channels. ITV’s other television channels – ITV2, ITVBe, ITV3 and ITV4 – are scheduled to broadcast regular programming, but no ITV station will run any advertising during the entire day. This rule will also apply to ITV’s streaming services.
From 9.30am, it will cover the funeral service. Then at 7.30pm it will broadcast a documentary film, Queen Elizabeth II: A Nation Remembers. At 9pm, there will be a further special documentary program, Queen Elizabeth II: The Final Farewell.
Since The Queen’s death, no advertising breaks have run in any of ITV’s news programming, coverage of the ceremonial events and films about the monarchy.
The second-largest UK commercial broadcaster Channel 4 will have no ads for 24 hours on Monday on linear TV and its on-demand platform All4. Programming is still to be confirmed. The Drum will update accordingly.
As part of the Sky family, Sky News will come to the fore. It will broadcast its live coverage of the funeral on the Sky News channel, the Sky News App and YouTube. It is also making its coverage available to commercial radio networks.
Kay Burley will be live from Westminster Abbey from 5am. Then, from 9am, Anna Botting and Dermot Murnaghan will broadcast the funeral procession. Botting will be live from Westminster, with the funeral commencing at 11am. At 2pm Murnaghan will report live from Windsor Castle. Then Mark Austin will reflect on the day from Buckingham Palace at 7pm, looking back at the key moments, ahead of a round-up show at 9pm. Botting will then return to conclude coverage for the day with the News at Ten live from Buckingham Palace.
Sky News will not carry ads on Monday. They will return on Tuesday.
While the BBC is ad-free, precedent suggests it is the broadcaster that the nation will largely turn to on Monday to watch the funeral. The corporation hasn’t confirmed full plans for Monday but it will broadcast BBC News coverage of the monarch’s funeral live on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. There will be further reflection on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, on the commercial network UKTV (which is owned by BBC Studios), it will be business as usual – at least as far as programming is concerned. UKTV has no news channel outlet to cut to; however, advertising will be turned off from midnight on Sunday night through to the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Channel 5 will take an entirely different approach. It will show content catering for families and children. It will extend its kids' programming block Milkshake and then air family-friendly films until the news at 5pm where it will reflect on the day's events. From 6pm, the normal schedule will resume. The Paramount-owned broadcaster will also not air ads throughout that day.
The OOH advertising network is arguably the most visible public medium and is well-prepared for landmark national events.
During the pandemic, sites were handed over to vital public health messaging, and billboards and screens were also used to commemorate the death of The Queen’s husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, last year. Many prominent outdoor sites, including the iconic Piccadilly Circus screens in London, have displayed tributes to The Queen since her passing was announced on Thursday.
Industry body Outsmart is urging outdoor media owners to stop commercial advertising on digital out-of-home (DOOH) inventory for 24 hours on Monday. In its place, they will use approved funeral copy for much of the day. Alternatively, placements should go black as a mark of respect. Static OOH ads along the funeral route will be taken down.
On Tuesday advertising will recommence.
All brands impacted by these blackouts will be able to reschedule placements. In the days leading up to the funeral, OOH companies and advertisers are being warned to be extra vigilant about copy and to remove any inappropriate creative.
The social app has confirmed that it will not run ads in the UK on Monday.
TikTok’s approach differs. It will continue to run ads on its feed but, for that 24-hour period, it will donate UK ad revenues to The Red Cross and The Prince’s Trust.
DMG Media, owner of the Daily Mail, i and Metro, told The Drum that on Monday, the newspapers will be carrying tribute ads only. Metro's distribution will be limited to London.
Then on Tuesday, tribute ads only will run in the front half of all newspapers. Normal ads will run in the back half. On Wednesday, the normal advertising schedule will resume across all print titles.
Digital is a different matter. On Sunday and Monday, there will be no ads across any of its online platforms. Business as usual from Tuesday on this front.
From a content perspective, there will be "extensive" multimedia live blogs, news stories and explainer articles.
In digital, the top half of the Guardian UK homepage will not display any advertising on the day of the funeral. There will also be no advertising on the live blog or any other content directly related to the Queen’s funeral. In print there will also be no advertising in the front half of the Guardian paper on Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 September.
One of the UK’s largest commercial radio networks will pause all commercial activity across its radio stations. It will continue to broadcast, cutting to news from the state funeral.
Its rival Global will follow the same guidelines. It also has a substantial OOH network and will be following that playbook too.
Some UK cinemas will remain open to screen the funeral for free; however, most will close. Variety reports around 150 sites will screen the funeral. These events will of course feature no ads.
Additional reporting from Chris Sutcliffe and Hannah Bowler. It’s been a huge week in the UK, with media and advertising execs having to work fast to adapt to the situation. Read our coverage here.