Now that the World Cup is over, normal TV schedule has resumed but what have we learned from the last game – Britain prefers to watch their football coverage without ad interruptions.
Over the tournament, coverage was equally shared between BBC and ITV but the final was the only game both channels broadcast at the same time. This was also shown on their HD channels.
18.4 million viewers watched Spain win over the four channels – BBC1, BBC HD, ITV1 and ITV1 HD.
Unlike the match, the rating figures weren’t even close. BBC’s audience was 15.1 million while ITV faired only 3.3 million. BBC HD contributed 1.45 million to the total BBC figure between 7.30pm and 10.15pm and ITV1 HD averaged 198,000 over the same period.
Quoted in The Guardian, the ITV director of television, Peter Fincham said, “I’m proud of what ITV Sport has achieved in South Africa, with Adrian Chiles and the entire team bringing our viewers coverage of the highest quality and offering a fresh perspective on the competition,”
“In the age of multichannel television, the television audiences achieved by both channels throughout the tournament are impressive, and I’m particularly pleased that ITV1 broadcast the two most-watched moments of the tournament with over 20 million watching each of England’s opening games.”
Unfortunately for ITV their “fresh perspective” didn’t count for much. Most people I know watched the final on the BBC, myself being one of them – one reason being no ads. Some even found the build up and analysis more superior on BBC. There’s no denying that Gary Lineker is an extremely popular presenter/ex-footballer and that’s part of the appeal. Who else could advertise crisps in some of the most ridiculous adverts and still have any credability at the end of it. I do know one person that watched it on ITV only because he didn’t realise it was also on the BBC.
When the viewers were left with a choice between the two, the BBC triumphed. This helps them with their push to use licence fees to pay for sports. ITV were criticised in the past for their coverage of the Premier League and they made no friends when their HD channel lost coverage during one of the group matches.
BBC has a long history of showing football and I think this counted in their favour. Some people are just so use to watching it on the BBC that I guess some of them didn’t want to break a habit of a lifetime.