ITV will not meet its 40 per cent peaktime share target next year, according to independent media auditor the Billett Consultancy.
The largest terrestrial channel looks short of hit programmes to fight off increasingly fierce competition from Channel 5 and BBC1.
BBC1 is expected to slow its recent decline thanks to coverage of next summer’s Olympic Games and Euro 2000 football tournament.
Satellite and cable TV viewing is also expected to increase as BARB audience figures for digital TV homes are taken into account.
Billett’s Time Tracker – the auditor’s annual report on the &£3bn TV market – predicts these downward pressures on ITV’s audience growth, combined with an increased demand for airtime, will lead to the return of cost inflation next year.
Demand will remain buoyant because of healthy economic conditions, Euro 2000 and increased demand for prime-time advertising slots from sectors such as technology as they try to target ABC1 male youths.
Traditional packaged goods manufacturers, which are finding peaktime ITV less cost-effective, can find good value at Channel 5, which is attracting more women viewers, and GMTV, which has seen a decline in ad revenue, according to the research.
Andy Pearch, managing director of Billett, says: “There are signs of packaged goods companies falling out of love with TV.”
He says they are experimenting with other media, and cites food advertisers which have moved &£20m out of TV and into outdoor this year.