Lowest Ratings Ever for ITV

Sunday saw the worst-ever ratings for ITV – the channel, which will be 55 in September, saw the lowest viewer turn out in its history of broadcasting due to a combination of BBC World Cup coverage and high temperatures during a sunny weekend.

When ITV started it was only seen in the London area. The first night – a co-production between ATV Network and Associated Rediffusion – drew in 188,000 viewers. When in 1956, ATV Midlands, ABC TV and Granada Television were added to the network the channel was reaching just under 3 million viewers. It wasn’t until the ITV regional network was complete that ratings upwards of 20 million would be reached.

However this weekend saw ratings drop to the lowest ever with one programme reaching just 30,000 people. While ratings have decreased over the subsequent years with the arrival of Channel 4, Sky Television and Five, ITV has continued to pull in ratings that rival BBC One – but not last weekend.

The main BBC channel dominated the ratings with its World Cup coverage reaching 17 million viewers – peaking at 19 million – leaving shows such as Inspector Morse spin-off Lewis lagging with just under four million viewers, a repeat of popular detective series Poirot managed 500,000 – which was also beaten by BBC Two’s car show, Top Gear.

The worst ratings fell in the children’s slot, with just 30,000 watching The Fluffy Club.

“Naturally, the fact that BBC One broadcast England’s game against Germany, as well as the later game between Argentina and Mexico, impacted on all other channels on Sunday. However, ITV is delighted to have broadcast the two most watched games of the World Cup so far with England’s opening games both attracting audiences in excess of 20 million on ITV1 and ITV1 HD.” – A spokesman from ITV quoted in The Sun

ITV has also suffered a fall in advertising revenue in recent years, along with a number of commercial broadcasters, which has seen major cut-backs to the network including the closure of the ATV Centre Studios in Birmingham, Central Television’s Lenton Lane production centre, Meridian’s Northam Studios in Southampton, the City Road production facilities of Tyne Tees Television and more recently the mothballing of Kirkstall Road, the production centre of Yorkshire Television. With the closures 1000s of jobs were also lost.