TV WATCH

ITV has managed, at last, to halt the slide of its commercial impact figures. A good movie made all the difference

If there were Oscars for generating ratings then the latest nominations would go to Bruce Willis, Anthony Hopkins, Dudley Moore, Mariella Frostrup, Pavarotti and the entire cast of The Bill.

ITV broke its 15-week run of year-on-year commercial impact declines, with a small increase (two per cent up for adults) in the week ending October 8.

What is most interesting about this particular week is the number of individual contributions by the famous names which managed to produce this overall result.

An individual programme can generate an improvement in audience delivery – something Channel 4 benefits from substantially. In ITV’s case, a number of programme successes are needed if a significant overall improvement is to be made.

Our analysis supports the notion that an improved ITV performance is likely to be evolutionary as it seeks to improve many areas of its programming schedule over the next few months and during 1996.

Die Hard 2 is an example of how one programme can influence channel performance, or put another way, it illustrates the difference between a good film and an average film.

Die Hard 2 succeeded three films in the Monday 9pm slot. Comparing its performance against Shining Through, Wall Street and Alien 3 – see table – one can not only see an improvement in average ratings for the ad breaks but, multiplied by the likely number of advertisements in those breaks, this produced more than 40 million extra adult impacts for Die Hard 2 than Alien 3.

Forty million impacts represents 0.6 per cent of total impacts delivered during the whole week in which Alien 3 appeared. In terms of extra impacts, this is quite significant to the airtime market, but such a small figure is hardly something marketing brochures are made of.

Add Silence of the Lambs, the Tuesday movie, which out-performed the previous week’s European football by more than 50 million impacts and you have a 1.5 per cent increase in impact performance accounted for by two movies.

Combined with Blame It on the Bell Boy, Mariella, The Bill trilogy and Pavarotti on the South Bank Show and you arrive at a healthy increase in impacts for the week of October 8 over the week before. l

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