ITV’s decision to pull Baywatch, which is sponsored by Wella, out of its
Saturday evening schedule and replace it with a new teen programme has
raised questions about sponsorship deals and their vulnerability to
According to ITV, Baywatch has been suspended from air after eight weeks
because the programme caught up with the US schedule.
An ITV representative said: ‘We began transmission earlier than intended
because SeaQuest 2032 wasn’t delivering what we had hoped for. Baywatch
was brought forward and production schedules got ridiculously tight.’
A new US import, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, will run in the 5.30pm slot
on Saturdays and is set to compete against BBC1’s The Simpsons, which
will be on at 5.30pm from November 23.
A spokesman from Laser, the ITV sales house which helped to broker the
Wella sponsorship, said: ‘We have to decide whether or not to proceed.’
Wella, which renewed its sponsorship this summer, signed up for 22
episodes and said it will continue to sponsor Baywatch.
ITV however, may not put it back on air until after Easter.
Since early summer ITV has aggressively revamped its weekend schedule to
try to maintain audience share. With next year’s Channel 5 launch, and
the increasing presence of satellite and cable TV, scheduling is set to
sharpen in 1997.
But one media source said: ‘This is just a momentous cock-up which makes
the broadcasters look stupid. Wella will now have a gap in its marketing
plans which it will have to do something with.’
The decision by ITV to move Baywatch poses serious questions about the
processing of information from the network to the regional centres. One
media buyer said: ‘ITV is fatally decentralised in that the head doesn’t
seem to talk to the arms. This cannot be said of any other channel.’
According to the latest figures on audiences for Baywatch, the US series
underwent a decline in viewers from just over 5.8 million on November 2
to 5.38 million on November 16.
Compared with the same time last year, Baywatch has lost almost 1.5