Carlton and Granada's decision to cut their losses and concentrate on the free-to-air ITV brand seems, from an advertiser's point of view, to make knee-jerk sense. But, given their synonymity, does it really serve advertisers for ITV to pull Digital's plug and so throw the brand credentials of its terrestrial channel into question?
The Digital saga has seriously dented the ITV brand name and that's not good news for advertisers seeking mass audiences. Already other sports bodies will be questioning whether they dare sit round a table with ITV; confused sports fans will be wondering what fate lies in store for their cash-strapped teams (no matter that many were already facing financial crisis before ITV Digital; ITV will get the blame); confused ITV Digital subscribers will be wondering if they'll have blank screens in a few weeks' time; and a host of local businesses whose existence is reliant on the local footballing community will be wondering whether they'll have a crust to earn if the local team goes belly-up. All will be harbouring a grievance against the ITV brand name.
Will they stop watching Coronation Street? Of course not. But will ITV be less likely to secure exclusive programming deals? Possibly. And will the saga sour ITV's reputation with TV regulators and politicians? Yes.
All of which could hamper the ability of ITV's terrestrial service to compete in the commercial arena. And by severing its hold on the digital future, ITV has also once again resigned itself to managing decline.
But there is some hope. Recent NOP figures suggest that the ITV Digital furore has left more than a third of people harbouring second thoughts about switching to digital TV. And for an ITV1 desperately trying to fend off competition from satellite channels, that's really quite an interesting statistic.