Can ITV be a star in the corporate version of The Voice?

Bid rumours regularly do the rounds but it speaks volumes that they've never proved to be reliable

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What do the judges in big media make of ITV in the corporate version of The Voice? Could it do something the real show hasn’t yet managed and make them a star? Or will it end up auditioning for a bit part in an off West End musical as part of the stock market's basement troupe?

This is a company that regularly does the bid rumour rounds when dealers are short of things to gossip about. Those rumours have proved to be no more anchored in reality than Donald Trump’s Twitter feed. 

Perhaps it’s because the potential predators have all found an answer to a rather important question: how long can the ITV rely on its position as the third channel along when people toggle through with their remotes in the era of devices, streaming services, and binge watching?

And the answer? Not long enough for us to fork out the required premium, even at a time when the pound can bought for less than a ready meal approaching its sell-by date on the sale rack at Lidl. 

The headlines around the latest results focussed on falling ad revenues. They actually weren’t as bad as some had feared, and shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone. 

Given the economic uncertainty facing the country thanks to the mad behaviour of its governing classes as regards Brexit, a 3 per cent dip is actually quite creditable. 

The City, which had expected worse, certainly thought so, which is why the shares were ahead even though advertisers are still sitting on their hands. 

Of course, the World Cup rolls around in the summer and should provide the company with a pick-me-up. People will watch the games, even in the certain knowledge that England will go out early and provide as about much excitement as an afternoon watching competitive fishing. 

Fans are basically getting used to that. If one of the other home nations makes a run into the second phase of the tournament – Wales and Northern Ireland are currently mounting a strong challenge – they’ll still tune in. And there’s always the chance that Brazil will start playing sexy football again and thus regain their status as everyone’s second team. 

In the interim, ITV continues to boast about its ability to deliver a mass audience to advertisers. The Voice! Britain’s Got Talent!  

Broadchurch is back. See, look, we can do drama too!  And there’s Victoria. So there Is life after Downtown after all, and we can do period dramas just like the Beeb can (more’s the pity). 

ITV has been bulking up ITV Studios in the hopes of finding itself more hits and, in an era where content is king, it’s a sensible strategy for Adam Crozier, ITV’s chief executive, to pursue. He has the ship sailing on a reasonably even keel, despite the company’s challenges. 

It really ought to represent a bite-sized morsel for someone, particularly given the Murdochs – who spoiled a previous bid party – are otherwise occupied. But so is Liberty Global, the owner of Virgin and a major shareholder, which has said previously it’s busy with other things: things that might provide a better return than focusing on what remains of an old school broadcaster,  now facing questions that go beyond ad revenues in Brexit Britain. 

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