With all its glitz and glamour, the spring TV programming schedule is upon us once again. We’ve seen the return of seasonal favourites such as ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent and the commission of new shows such as Channel 4’s Homeland and BBC’s The Voice. There have also been a few shows upping sticks and finding new homes. All of this activity has made for interesting ratings battles.
The most publicised of these battles has been between the The Voice and Britain’s Got Talent. ITV’s decision to pull the scheduled start date of the first episode of BGT a week forward to create a direct twenty minute ‘clash’ between the two shows only acted as a catalyst to the intensity of the ratings battle.
The first skirmish on the 24th March saw BGT pip its rival to the post with an average 10.6m viewers (inc. +1) against The Voice’s 9.4m. However, in the brief 20 minute overlap, The Voice averaged 9.9m with BGT at just 7.5m. The second weekend saw similar results. However, on the 7th April The Voice averaged 9.54m viewers versus BGT’s 9.1m (rising to 9.36m when +1 is included). These figures have certainly been noticed by ITV who is re-scheduling BGT from the 21st April to start at 8.30pm to prevent any viewer loss to the BBC. Victory for the Beeb!
ITV and Channel 4 have seen contrasted levels of success with their spring offerings. Backed by the ITV publicity machine, the Titanic four part mini-series was commissioned to celebrate/commiserate the 100th anniversary of the disaster and hoped to attract similar viewing figures as Downton Abbey, Julian Fellows’ previous work. The show launched on 25th March with 7.6m viewers but quickly slipped down to 5.2m in the second episode – and last Sunday’s episode figures slipped to just 3.1m. Poor Titanic – these sinking figures seems to be a case of art imitating life. In contrast, Channel 4’s US acquisition Homeland has been a resounding success, consistently delivering audiences between 3.1m – 3.3m (inc. +1). More importantly, it is delivering in the key demographic of ABC1Ads averaging 7-8 TVRs.
There has also been a scheduling spring clean in recent weeks. The most prolific of these was Mad Men’s season five launch on Sky Atlantic, which was viewed by only 209,000 individuals – disappointing when you consider the season four launch on BBC4 averaged over 344,000 in September 2010. Over on terrestrial, Sunday morning magazine show Something For The Weekend, has renamed itself Sunday Brunch and moved to Channel 4 from BBC2. Again, viewing figures have declined, with the show’s previous average of just over 1m individuals down to just under 700,000 on Channel 4.
With spring schedules now well and truly underway and providing us with some interesting rivalries and surprising victories, What’s Hot is already looking forward to the summer season. Let the battles commence!