ITV is assembling a new cast of faces to front its breakfast offering in the latest bid to boost the fortunes of the flagging early-morning slot.
The broadcaster has scored a coup by poaching the BBC Breakfast presenter Susanna Reid (for a rumoured £1 million salary) to launch Good Morning Britain later this year, replacing the current Daybreak. But do advertisers really care?
According to sources, ITV breakfast – which is traded separately from the rest of ITV – brings in about £55 million in advertising revenue a year for the 6am-9.25am slot. This is a tiny proportion of the broadcaster’s £1.5 billion overall revenues.
The ITV breakfast audience is two-thirds female and appeals to FMCG advertisers keen to connect with the main household buyer. But media agencies argue that the viewership needs to be broadened.
It certainly appears to be a battle worth fighting. ITV has research showing that ads viewed in the morning are more likely to cut through than at other times of the day. Rival breakfast offers on Channel 4 and Channel 5 are negligible, although there has been a migration to digital channels – Sky Media is hot on ITV’s heels, driven by Sky News’ Sunrise With Eamonn Holmes. So there is much to play for.
Daybreak, the format that replaced GMTV in 2010, has been through a number of changes but has struggled to find a winning formula.
Average audiences for the show are languishing at 600,000, with a peak of 1.1 million – about one-third of BBC Breakfast’s 1.5 million average viewers and 2.5 million peak viewers. What’s more, the BBC show attracts a more upmarket and male-oriented, albeit much older, audience: ITV breakfast’s audience is 76 per cent female compared with the BBC’s 51 per cent male.
If Reid and her fellow presenters – Ben Shepherd, Charlotte Hawkins and Sean Fletcher – can bring a dose of gravitas to Good Morning Britain, this could entice viewers from the BBC and attract a broader set of advertisers.
With a revamp, ITV breakfast could become a more compelling proposition to advertisers. Is now the time for ITV to get its morning mojo back?