Bouquet of Barb figures adds to ITV pain

ITV has many problems at the moment, like falling advertising revenues, redundancies and budget cuts.

ITV has many problems at the moment, like falling advertising revenues, redundancies and budget cuts.

So it was bound to cause a row when the Broadcasters Audience Research Board (Barb) altered its method of measuring audience numbers, and revealed that ITV's figure in the first two weeks of January was 25 per cent down on the same period last year.

The number of people watching a programme is directly related to advertising revenue. The two companies behind ITV, Carlton Communications and Granada, need every penny they can get. Both reported ad revenues down at least 12 per cent last year, and 2002 is not predicted to be much better.

Coronation Street, a vital money-earner for ITV, also seems to have a smaller audience than previously thought. Barb figures say that on the final Friday in January, only 11.2 million people watched the programme, against 12.3 million on the same day in 2001. If the fall in the show's figures continues, ITV could lose out on nearly £40m in annual ad revenue, says the media-buying firm Carat.

But Carat was suspicious of Barb's figures, so last weekend it conducted its own telephone survey, which found that 14.5 million people were watching the programme.

Now Barb has hit back, claiming its method is more sophisticated. Barb has a panel of selected homes around the country where "black boxes" monitor what's being watched on the TV sets. This panel has now been overhauled for the first time in 30 years, and Barb says it will be more representative of the population.

But teething problems meant the new panel was smaller than it ought to have been, comprising 3,800 rather than 5,100 viewers. ITV says the figures may be more representative when it runs at full strength.

Despite the doubt about Barb's numbers, ITV's market share was already declining. Patrick Wellington, an analyst at Citigroup, explains: "There has been a relatively steady audience decline, quarter by quarter, from the 30.2 per cent level in the first quarter of 2000 to 25.1 per cent in the last quarter of 2001," he says. He has also calculated that ITV's advertising is more expensive than Channel 4 or Channel 5's, taking into account how many adults the ads reach. So companies could be even less willing to put their commercials on the channel.

Less revenue means less money for the programmes, which in turn threatens audience share even more, so ITV could be caught in a downward spiral. Even Pop Idol and a planned culling of unpopular characters in Coronation Street may not be enough to save it.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Ashdown Group: .NET Developer : ASP.NET , C# , MVC , web development

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits - see advert: Ashdown Group: .N...

Guru Careers: 3D Package Designer / 3D Designer

£25 - 30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an exceptional 3D Package Designer / 3...

Guru Careers: Interior Designer

£Competitive: Guru Careers: We are seeking a strong Middleweight / Senior Inte...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss