Advertisers stay with ITV football

Advertisers are prepared to stick with ITV1's The Premiership

programme after it launched with lower viewing figures than the BBC's

The Weakest Link.

While most are happy with the 7pm time slot, including sponsors

Coca-Cola and Barclaycard, in order to reach a younger, more upmarket

male audience, media agencies are warning that programme content needs

to improve quickly.

The Premiership only managed 4.3 million viewers, beaten hands down by

The Weakest Link's 6.7 million.

More football action, less chat and a slicker format are required,

buyers say.

Mark Jarvis, the broadcast director at Carat, said: "I'm disappointed as

a buyer by how badly it did. Blind Date did eight million at the same

time, so I think it's on at the wrong time."

Paul Benson, the TV account director at Universal McCann, echoed this

opinion. "I don't see it staying at the 7pm slot unless ratings pick up.

But ITV has the flexibility to do that and the content will improve," he


ITV's director of channels, David Liddiment, made it clear that he was

committed to the 7pm time slot when ITV1's autumn schedule was

officially launched this week.

However, the editorial content of the programme will be improved. ITV's

spokesman, Paul Tyrrell, said: "We are in it for the long haul and David

Liddiment also said at the launch that the programme format will evolve

over the season."

Jonathan Allan, the TV director at OMD UK, which has Barclaycard as a

client, said: "It performed in line with our expectations considering

it's August and the BBC scheduled a very strong programme against


Tyrrell denied reports that ITV had been flooded with complaints about

the amount of advertising during The Premiership, saying "very few" fans

contacted ITV directly. "Viewers are used to watching football on

digital where there are even more ad breaks than ITV1," he added.

Liddiment unveiled ITV1's autumn schedule on Tuesday. It includes 2DTV,

a new cartoon satire, and Night and Day, a soap with two different

editions with material suitable for an early and late slot.