It was both intriguing and disappointing to read Mick Desmond’s response to my article on ITV’s coverage of the World Cup (MW July 18). Intriguing, as I certainly learnt many new statistics, but disappointing, as Desmond failed to address the main points in my piece.
These concerned three areas: ITV’s poor selection of games and buried highlights package, its diminished share in head-to-head games with the BBC – despite Des Lynam – and its lack of support for advertisers. I don’t dispute any of Desmond’s facts, but these were shoe-horned into his response to obscure, rather than disprove, the charge that ITV’s World Cup coverage was poor.
Why didn’t ITV1 go against the BBC for every England game, and why was its highlights package after the news? If viewer satisfaction with ITV was high, why did a greater proportion of the audience turn to the BBC than ever before for shared games? At the end of the tournament, we can see ABC1 impacts for June dropped four per cent on ITV1, while revenues bulged, creating inflation of 16 per cent as brands struggled to find enough viewers to achieve campaign targets. The result is that advertisers should feel let down by ITV.
It was disheartening to see ITV effectively avoiding the questions posed. Advertisers and media agencies need a strong ITV1 if they are to continue reaching a mass market on a single channel. They have a variety of views on how this can be achieved, and as the main funders of ITV, feel these views should be heard. It’s disappointing to discover that, after recent positive attempts to engage in debate, we may now be returning to the bunker mentality of previous ITV managements.