ANALYSIS: MEDIA TRACK - Peak-time victory over the Beeb gives ITV cause for a double Christmas Day party

The last Christmas Day of the century saw ITV take the majority of peak-time television viewing as BBC 1 lost the battle for the first time in 15 years. The commercial network’s decision to broadcast three editions of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? paid off, with two of the three programmes appearing in the top ten list for the day.

The last Christmas Day of the century saw ITV take the majority of

peak-time television viewing as BBC 1 lost the battle for the first time

in 15 years. The commercial network’s decision to broadcast three

editions of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? paid off, with two of the

three programmes appearing in the top ten list for the day.



The BBC has traditionally come out comfortably on top in the festive

battle for viewers, but this year BBC 1 only took 39.7 per cent of live

peak-time viewing (6.00pm-10.30pm); while ITV clocked 46 per cent,

according to unofficial overnight figures. However, across the whole

day, BBC 1 retained the upper hand with 40.7 per cent compared with

ITV’s 33.7 per cent.



In the live viewing figures, ITV’s Coronation Street took first place

with an audience of 14.7 million; The Vicar of Dibley on BBC 1 attracted

12.4 million and the 8.30pm edition of Who Wants to be a Christmas

Millionaire? came third with 12 million viewers.



However, in the consolidated data, which accounts for people who taped a

programme, the positions change. Coronation Street was still the day’s

most popular programme with 15.6 million and The Vicar of Dibley (14.2

million) retained second place.



But the 8.30pm edition of EastEnders, while going head-to-head with Who

Wants to be a Christmas Millionaire?, moved up to join the gameshow in

third, each with a consolidated audience of 12.4 million.



ITV’s performance at Christmas is in contrast to 1998 when four of the

top five programmes on Christmas Day were BBC 1’s. EastEnders came first

in 1998 with 15.0 million and Men Behaving Badly took second with 14.9

million.



The decision by ITV to show three editions of Who Wants to be a

Millionaire?



follows a commitment from the network’s chief executive Richard Eyre to

take a 39 per cent share of peak-time viewing across the whole of

1999.



In the run-up to Christmas, ITV had almost achieved this figure.





MediaTel’s database is available at www.mediatel.co.uk. For more

information contact 0207-439 7575 or e-mail info@mediatel.co.uk.



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