ITV1 plans push to boost viewers

ITV1 is planning a big marketing push this spring to boost ratings, which have slumped severely in the past two months.

ITV1’s poor performance this year was first flagged up in Marketing Week last month (February 24). If the channel continues in the same vein for the rest of 2005 then advertisers could move up to £230m out of the channel in 2006, using the contract rights renewal (CRR) mechanism to do so.

ITV is now looking at increasing the advertising spend behind key ITV1 shows and scheduling potentially big audience bankers such as Hell’s Kitchen, which is returning for a second series, and Celebrity Love Island.

Total audiences for ITV1 are down by ten per cent for the past two months compared with the same period last year. The 16- to 34-year-old age group has shown the most dramatic decline, with only 17.4 per cent tuning in for the first two months of the year, compared with 22.7 per cent for the same period in 2004.

ITV claims that ITV1 is working off a high base, as hit show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here boosted ratings at the beginning of 2004.

The ratings crisis comes at crucial time for the broadcaster, which is due to unveil its preliminary results today (Wednesday). Analysts at Numis Securities believe revenues will be flat at £2.08bn with profits up 17 per cent at £290m.

It is not clear which advertising agency ITV marketing director Clare Salmon will use following Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s resignation of the broadcaster’s £4m account last week. Although M&C Saatchi has been appointed to handle a project evaluating the ITV brand, an ITV spokeswoman says that Salmon will use a variety of agencies on a project basis to handle advertising.

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