ITV puts mass audience first

ITV’s need to build mass audiences in peaktime may have to take priority over winning younger and more upmarket viewers, ITV marketing and commercial director John Hardie has admitted.

Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, Hardie stressed that the channel’s long-term strategy was about achieving both aims.

But when asked by a member of the audience what ITV will do in two years’ time if it is losing audience share, but building its profile among young and affluent groups, he responded: “The first thing is total mass audience in peaktime. Then look at profile in that regard.”

Hardie, who was speaking in a debate on TV marketing with Channel 5 head of creative services Glynn Brailsford, said ITV had no plans to show programmes solely with an appeal to younger people in peaktime.

He said: “The answer is not to create a bunch of programmes for younger viewers, but broadly appealing programmes in the heart of the schedule that redress the balance.”

He cited Coronation Street as an example, which has increased its overall viewing by six per cent, and its viewing among 16- to 34-year-olds by ten per cent.

Brailsford, who reports to C5 marketing director Jim Hytner, said the channel’s integrated marketing approach – the first by a terrestrial TV station – had often been copied since its launch.

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