As ITV cancelled The Jeremy Kyle Show in May after a contestant died in a suspected suicide, it’s been suggested that this has left an £80m hole in its advertising revenues. The talk show, which held a regular morning slot on ITV from 2005, saw host Jeremy Kyle and psychotherapist Graham Stanier discuss guests’ personal issues in front of a studio audience.
Accounting for 13% of impacts across ITV2 and 3% on ITV (BARB Jan-April 2019), it was a commercial success: according to The Guardian’s analysis, with a 30” spot on ITV1 costing an average of £12k, the show would have generated £328k a day, £6.9m a week and £83.6m a year, before taking ITV2 repeats into account.
With MPs such as Charles Walker MP stating the format was “not compatible with a responsible society and a responsible broadcaster” ITV has been praised for removing the show from all its stations, platforms, and YouTube. Replaced in the short-term with antique show Dickinson’s Real Deal, which delivers just half the audience, ITV is expected to extend This Morning and start Loose Women earlier in the day, before launching a new replacement show in the autumn.
Whilst a significant change in the schedule, ITV is not expected to suffer commercially. Due to the way the UK TV trading market works, falling audiences increases the costs of accessing airtime. And with new series of Britain’s Got Talent (audiences up 7% YOY), Love Island, and The Rugby World Cup set to air in the next few months, ITV has plenty more to offer advertisers.
The issue has posed wider questions about the welfare of reality TV contestants, following the deaths of former contestants Sophie Gradon & Mike Thalassitis. The Love Island production team has announced new ‘duty of care’ guidelines ahead of the launch of its fifth series, where contestants will receive ‘proactive contact’ from the production team for 14 months afterwards.
Given TV’s substantial reach, and the loyal audiences reality shows attract, it’s commendable to see ITV take greater responsibility and acknowledge its influence on popular culture.