ITV’s breakfast fightback has begun with the launch of Good Morning Britain, the beefed-up replacement for Daybreak. With its format of four presenters around a table led by the former BBC Breakfast star Susanna Reid, the show has achieved higher ratings than its predecessor. But it is still a long way off challenging Breakfast.
It seems ITV has a long road to travel if it will ever catch up with its non-commercial rival, which attracts twice the number of viewers.
As the only serious commercial rival to the BBC’s morning offering, agencies and advertisers want the show to succeed. This is important for FMCG clients and for attracting advertisers from other categories to the slot. But some believe that, even if the show does add a few hundred thousand more viewers, this will make little difference to advertisers.
Starcom MediaVest Group notes that the surrounding press coverage, primarily focused on Reid and her legs being hidden behind a desk, drove the Twitterati to make Good Morning Britain the fourth most-Tweeted show on its first day.
Viewing figures for the first two days of Good Morning Britain, on 28 and 29 April, reveal the show attracted an average of 800,000 viewers, peaking at 1.2 million. Breakfast, meanwhile, had 1.5 million viewers, peaking at 2.1 million.
As the week went on, the ITV programme’s ratings continued to slip closer to its lambasted predecessor, Daybreak, which was averaging 600,000 viewers.
When these numbers are compared with the likes of Sky’s Premier League coverage or multichannel shows, the performance looks quite strong – almost "niche mass".
SMG’s head of trading, Chris Locke, notes: "It’s about the long game; the continued PR. Its opportunity would seem to be to bring new viewers in, possibly from radio, rather than expecting a migration from the BBC.
"For the new show, initial ITV audience are so far up versus the 2014 Daybreak average delivery, but ‘Rome’ and ‘a day’ spring to mind."
So, to gauge initial reaction, we asked media buyers a simple question: do you like Good Morning Britain more than Daybreak?
MAYBE Henry Daglish, Managing Director, Arena "You really have to give them a chance. You can tell that Susanna Reid is under huge pressure to do that job and she doesn’t look very comfortable. It will be broadly neutral for advertisers this week."
YES Chris Hayward, Head Of Investment, ZenithOptimedia "The morning segment has a real commercial value. ITV recognises this and has a dedicated sales team. I think the industry believed that this team in the guise of GMTV consistently attracted more revenue than its natural worth."
YES Richard Kelly, Head Of AV, Mindshare UK "It is important to offer viewers engaging, news-driven content and it has a genuine appeal to advertisers. ITV has a good heritage in the breakfast slot and the new show feels fresh and strong. We believe the new format will work well."
YES Richard Oliver, Managing Director, Magna Global UK "It seems to be a good variant on the formula. No-one thinks it will beat the BBC, which sees breakfast programming as part of its public-service remit. But ITV is the only commercial broadcaster with a decent breakfast product."