The last Christmas Day of the century saw ITV take the majority of
peak-time television viewing as BBC 1 lost the battle for the first time
in 15 years. The commercial network’s decision to broadcast three
editions of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? paid off, with two of the
three programmes appearing in the top ten list for the day.
The BBC has traditionally come out comfortably on top in the festive
battle for viewers, but this year BBC 1 only took 39.7 per cent of live
peak-time viewing (6.00pm-10.30pm); while ITV clocked 46 per cent,
according to unofficial overnight figures. However, across the whole
day, BBC 1 retained the upper hand with 40.7 per cent compared with
ITV’s 33.7 per cent.
In the live viewing figures, ITV’s Coronation Street took first place
with an audience of 14.7 million; The Vicar of Dibley on BBC 1 attracted
12.4 million and the 8.30pm edition of Who Wants to be a Christmas
Millionaire? came third with 12 million viewers.
However, in the consolidated data, which accounts for people who taped a
programme, the positions change. Coronation Street was still the day’s
most popular programme with 15.6 million and The Vicar of Dibley (14.2
million) retained second place.
But the 8.30pm edition of EastEnders, while going head-to-head with Who
Wants to be a Christmas Millionaire?, moved up to join the gameshow in
third, each with a consolidated audience of 12.4 million.
ITV’s performance at Christmas is in contrast to 1998 when four of the
top five programmes on Christmas Day were BBC 1’s. EastEnders came first
in 1998 with 15.0 million and Men Behaving Badly took second with 14.9
The decision by ITV to show three editions of Who Wants to be a
follows a commitment from the network’s chief executive Richard Eyre to
take a 39 per cent share of peak-time viewing across the whole of
In the run-up to Christmas, ITV had almost achieved this figure.
MediaTel’s database is available at www.mediatel.co.uk. For more
information contact 0207-439 7575 or e-mail email@example.com.