Television viewers flocked to the BBC for coverage of Princess Diana’s death last Sunday, but switched over to ITV’s Coronation Street at 7.30pm.
The BBC proved to be the TV company people turn to at a time of crisis, although no advertising appeared on ITV until after 8pm.
According to the overnight figures, supplied by CIA Medianetwork, for much of the morning BBC kept a higher share of the adult viewing audience. For instance, at 9am, the BBC had 48 per cent of the audience and ITV 32 per cent. At 2pm, the BBC had 47 per cent and ITV 21. However, by 7.30pm ITV’s share of audience had reached 56 per cent while BBC’s fell to 25. By 8pm, the BBC had fallen to 17 per cent with ITV keeping the lead with 53.
Total viewing figures reached a peak of 19 million at 7pm when the Princess’s coffin returned to RAF Northholt.
The BBC and ITV covered the story throughout the day, scrapping the existing schedule until 7.30pm, when ITV showed Coronation Street and resumed normal service. The BBC continued to cover the Diana story throughout the evening.
However, once the coffin arrived, the BBC’s viewing figures plummeted. Viewers flocked to watch Coronation Street and the first Heartbeat programme in the new series.
TheBBC anchors were Martin Lewis and Peter Sissons, on ITV Dermot Purgavie, Trevor McDonald and Nicholas Owen.