‘Big Brother’ dents ITV, BBC aud share

Reality skein rises to average primetime share of 9.3%

LONDON — ITV and the BBC, the U.K.’s main terrestrial broadcasters, suffered a ratings decline in primetime during 2000, due in part to increasingly mainstream competition from Channel 4 and Channel 5.

Their primetime audience shares were seriously dented by C4’s “Big Brother,” which won record ratings for its web.

ITV missed its target peaktime share of 38.5% for the year, recording a 37.1% average compared to 38.8% in 1999. BBC1 was down from 29.2% in 1999 to 27.9%, while C4 averaged 7.9% over the year, up from 7.4% in 1999 and 7.5% in 1998.

‘Big’ ratings boost

In the “Big Brother” weeks, C4 rose to an average primetime share of 9.3%, while ITV and BBC1 fell to 34.8% and 26.9%, respectively.

BBC2 held on to a stable 9.4% share for the year, up 0.1% from 1999, and Channel 5 continued to increase its viewership with 5.5%, up 0.3%.

Somewhat mollifying its advertisers, ITV picked up in the last quarter, when popular soap “Emmerdale” was expanded to five nights a week. Pubcaster BBC1 traditionally tops the ratings during the Christmas and New Year period, but this year ITV won peaktime on all but two evenings.

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