ITV is enjoying its highest share of viewing in nearly a decade, as its portion of UK TV audiences has risen three years in a row.
Consolidated figures for ITV’s main channel (for January-November 2018) released this week show that ITV is enjoying a successful year, becoming the most watched channel for 16-34s, and the most watched channel in peak time for the first time since 2013.
The share of viewing increase has been driven by strong performances across the schedule. I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! had its highest ever launch in 2018, with 13.7 million viewers. I’m A Celebrity has built on the success of other ratings hits for ITV’s family of channels in 2018, including Saturday Night Takeaway, and Vera, which also averaged their highest ratings ever this year. ITV’s World Cup coverage, which included England’s semi-final against Croatia, became the most watched football match on a single channel ever with an average audience of 24.3 million viewers from kick-off until final whistle, and This Morning achieved its most watched episode since records go back, with its coverage of HRH Princess Eugenie’s Wedding consolidating at 3.2 million viewers.
The Voice returned in 2018 with a new coach, Olly Murs, joining Tom Jones, Will i am and Jennifer Hudson, and was up year on year by 300k viewers and 3.5 share points. Britain’s Got Talent live shows were rounded off by 10 million viewers watching Lost Voice Guy become the first comedian to win Britain’s Got Talent. Entertainment shows Dancing on Ice and Who Wants to be a Millionaire delivered slot boosting performances and factual hits included The Queen’s Green Planet averaging 6.4 million viewers and a 25.3% share, making it ITV’s highest audience for a factual programme this year, and new series Gordon, Gino and Fred: Road Trip, which pulled in 5.1 million viewers and a 22.5% share, achieved the highest volume for any factual series on ITV since Long Lost Family in the summer of 2013.
In terms of ITV’s family of channels – ITV, ITV2, ITVBe, ITV3, ITV4 and CITV – share of viewing for the family as a whole is the highest since 2007, the highest in over a decade based on January -November consolidated data. The stand out success outside of the main channel was the record-breaking Love Island on ITV2, which averaged 4 million viewers and a 17% share, up year-on-year by +1.5 million and +6 share points, making it the show’s best season yet.
All of these figures highlight how ITV’s strategy of steering towards live and event TV continues to pay off. In a year that has seen BBC iPlayer hit record figures for people catching up on its big-budget dramas, ITV’s emphasis on entertainment shows that are designed for live, or near-live, viewing keeps bringing in people at the time of broadcast and those who time-shift, by recording on hard drives and devices and catching up that way.
Indeed, according to BARB’s 2018 Viewing Report, published in May, the BBC accounted for the top five on-demand programmes, while ITV (and ITV2) accounted for three of the top five live programmes. ITV’s Interm 2018 report found that its online platform, The ITV Hub, has seen a 23% rise in long-form video requests (representing primarily on-demand drama), but has seen its overall streaming rise 33% year-on-year, with younger viewers increasingly using the ITV Hub for simulcast viewing: in the first six months of 2018, live-streaming was up 41% year-on-year.
When it comes to drama, then, it is logical that ITV has tended to strip its shows across weeknights to encourage live viewing and built an event-like hype. Trauma, starring Adrian Lester and John Simm, and Innocent, starring Lee Ingleby and Hermione Norris, are two out of the three highest rating new drama series on TV this year, based on seven-day consolidated data (which includes time-shifted viewing).
Kevin Lygo, ITV’s Director of Television says: “2018 has been a fantastic year for us – England’s World Cup clashes on ITV and Love Island were the most talked about TV of the summer, and this autumn, I’m a Celebrity has broken records in what is its 18th series. All three have brought in huge audiences, including amongst younger viewers, who have been watching these shows in their millions. ITV’s trend busting performance in 2018 is also a story about every aspect of our schedule working harder, and the amazing teams who work on our soaps, our entertainment shows, our daily daytime programmes and quizzes – who continue to deliver talked about TV that stands out in the schedule.”