ITV’s Saturday Night Takeaway pulled in a record 9.5m viewers last night as housebound Brits flock to traditional broadcasters during the coronavirus outbreak.
The hit sketch show secured 45 per cent of all live TV viewers as hosts Ant and Dec presented the programme without a studio audience for the first time as a result of the pandemic.
The figures mark the largest overnight audience on any channel so far this year, while its peak of 11.1m viewers was the highest since the fireworks on BBC one on New Year’s Eve 2019.
It comes as a major boost to ITV, which has previously warned that coronavirus would hit advertising revenue for the year.
Last night’s viewing figures marked a 40 per cent increase on the series average, while the show was the most watched programme this year for young viewers, attracting almost two-thirds of 16 to 34-year-olds.
It was ITV’s biggest audience in the slot since April 2016 and its best share in the slot since June 2014 — with the previous records both held by Britain’s Got Talent.
The UK’s public service broadcasters have also reported a huge surge in viewing figures for TV news programmes as Brits turn to trusted sources for information on the pandemic.
BBC News, ITV News and Channel 4 News have all bagged record audiences over the last week due to increased interest during the crisis.
However, some entertainment programming has been hit by the virus, with the BBC last week cancelling production of Eastenders.
ITV today confirmed filming of soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale will be halted from tomorrow, while Lorraine and Loose Women will also be taken off air.
The pandemic will likely come as a fillip to streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus, which is set to launch in the UK on Tuesday.
However, all major streaming services have reduced video quality amid concerns broadband networks are being overloaded as millions stay at home.
Disney Plus has also been forced to delay the launch of its platform in France following a request from the government.
Main image credit: ITV