Why Daybreak must ditch its 'tabloid-esque' tone

By James Weinberg, mediaweek.co.uk, Thursday, 09 September 2010 02:58PM

Daybreak will have a good chance of success if it rethinks its dumbed-down approach, writes James Weinberg, broadcast executive at Carat

Why Daybreak must ditch its 'tabloid-esque' tone

GMTV’s tired format has led to a steady ratings decline and the programme has long settled in its place as a housewives favourite, largely ignored by other, more lucrative, audiences.

More exciting multichannel offerings such as the new Sky News HD have hacked still further away at its share every morning.

Daybreak aims to deliver a more news-led programme similar to the more successful BBC Breakfast, while trying to retain some of the charm of the old GMTV.

ITV has spent millions poaching Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley from The One Show, which started out as a four-week trial but is now the BBC’s biggest commission outside drama.

Daybreak immediately sets itself up to cater for a slightly more highbrow audience, with a state-of-the-art studio overlooking London’s skyline.

Despite spending an awful lot on ‘smart-glass’ that can dim when necessary, the producers seem to have been forgotten the view is largely cloudy and miserable.

Unfortunately, Chiles is also mostly miserable, despite being accompanied by Bleakley and their £1m-a-year-worth of chemistry.

And the HD broadcast, a first for the programme, only further highlights the slightly forced relationship between the presenters.

Overall, Daybreak achieved 1.04 million viewers and a 23.7% share on its first day. The housewives with kids audience averaged at 289,000, up 22% year on year and taking a 28.2% share of that market.

Despite Chiles’ gloomy demeanour, he undoubtedly has a large fanbase and will bring a stronger male audience to Daybreak than GMTV ever enjoyed.

The first few days of the programme have already delivered a significant 60 point rise in 16-34 adults compared to GMTV, which could open up the programme to a new range of advertisers.

World Cup coverage and the continuation of Chiles’ association with ITV football will only be beneficial to Daybreak.

There are a few desperate links to try to retain GMTV fans, such as keeping former presenter Kate Garraway, who has been demoted to an entertainment correspondent. Another big draw to GMTV was Martin ‘money saving expert’ Lewis, who has already made his debut on Daybreak.

GMTV still peaked at one million viewers a day even as recently as last week, so reports of Daybreak’s one million plus audience immediately look less impressive than first appear.

If Daybreak can slowly move away from the dumbed-down, almost tabloid-esque format that GMTV established, it can secure long-term success.

This must involve removing the show’s patronising viewer competitions - this week viewers could win £100k if they could remember how many years there are in a century - and an over-reliance on celebrity news.

This shift in tone has already started thanks to the removal of Richard Arnold, GMTV’s glitzy TV critic.

This article was first published on mediaweek.co.uk

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