ITV hit by drop in audience

Agencies are up in arms over ITV’s poor first-quarter schedule as the network suffered its biggest loss in audience for March since 1998.

Agencies are up in arms over ITV’s poor first-quarter schedule as

the network suffered its biggest loss in audience for March since

1998.



According to Barb results, ITV’s audience is down 18 per cent across its

entire schedule for the first three weeks in March, compared with the

same period last year.



This is further highlighted by the fact that last year’s figures

recorded an audience increase of 9 per cent across its total

schedule.



Agencies attribute ITV’s loss in audience to a weak programming schedule

compared with last year, as well as the fact that viewers are switching

to digital TV.



Mike Style, broadcast director at CIA Solutions, said: ’The fact that

ITV is missing its peak targets across its total schedule is due to an

unimaginative line up and lack of audience-driven programmes. However,

March is the most difficult month for ITV because it has to compete with

its own fiercely attractive schedule that was in place at the same

period last year.’



ITV withdrew its News at Ten last March and replaced it with

uninterupted feature films. It also introduced Who Wants to be a

Millionaire?.



David Jowett, broadcast director at MediaCom TMB, said: ’ITV needs to

prove this is a blip and not a trend. Euro 2000 in June might improve

the situation.’



Agencies now have to explain to clients that they are losing airtime in

March. Jowett continued: ’With the cost of advertising so high and

returns so low, advertisers will get less airtime for their money than

they originally thought. This will drive advertisers into the arms of

digital channels.’



David Cuff, broadcast director at Initiative Media, said that flagging

audience figures were due to a lack of strong management.



’ITV has lost its captain in a storm - Richard Eyre would have known

what to do. ITV is lacking incisiveness and strong leadership.’



It was recently announced that the culture, media and sport committee

has told the ITC to put pressure on ITV to reinstate News at Ten.



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