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ITV ratings beat BSkyB

B'caster on top due to 'Idol' worship

LONDON — Blighty’s dominant commercial broadcaster, ITV, has scored a psychologically important victory over its rival, satcaster BSkyB.

The terrestrial’s niche net ITV2, boosted by the return of “American Idol” and a cache of Hollywood pics, overtook BSkyB’s flagship channel, Sky One, in the ratings for the first time last week.

In the week ended Jan. 23, ITV2 scored a viewing share of 2.3%, dislodging Sky One from pole position in the U.K.’s multichannel top 10 — a position it has held since British cable and satellite webs began to challenge terrestrial networks more than a decade ago.

Sky One, which has recently gone on a buying spree in Hollywood, achieved a share of 1.9%.

BSkyB insiders insist ITV2 has a competitive advantage over Sky One because it cross-promotes its upstart web on terrestrial network ITV1, which still achieves huge primetime auds despite declining share.

ITV2 also has benefited from the spread of digital terrestrial platform Freeview, now estimated to be in 5 million U.K. homes.

As a premium service, Sky One is available only on Sky digital and cable systems.