Channel 5 will take market share from other commercial broadcasters, rather than the BBC, according to the first set of overnight figures to appear following its launch on Sunday.
ITV is losing the ratings war to the BBC in the wake of the Channel 5 launch. Overnight ratings figures for Sunday show that ITV’s peaktime viewing fell from 43 to 39 per cent.
On Monday night, ITV showed two major feature films, Ace Ventura – Pet Detective and Robocop, to compete with the BBC’s Before They Were Famous and the film Malice. ITV’s share of the TV audience fell from 39.3 to 31.1 per cent compared with the same period the previous week.
Although Channel 5’s first night audience share exceeded Channel 4’s with peaktime ratings of 6.2 per cent compared with 5.9 per cent, on Monday night it dropped to two per cent. None of its Monday programmes attracted more than 1 million viewers. Channel 5’s soap opera, Family Affairs, had an audience of only 337,000.
BBC1 and BBC2 increased their audience share over the same period.
Reaction to the launch of the new channel was mixed. Some TV buyers claimed that in certain areas the reception was so weak that they may demand free airtime in compensation. However, most were enthusiastic about the first programmes, particularly Jack Docherty and Family Affairs.