aITV’s World Cup campaign did not start well. Customers viewing England’s opening game against the United States in high-definition (that ITV had marketed to them) found that their picture cut to a car advertisement moments before Steven Gerrard put England ahead. ITV’s BrandIndex Buzz score dropped from +8 the day before the match (11 June), to -8 by 22 June. Brandindex “Buzz” scores are calculated by subtracting all those who have heard something negative about a brand from all those who have heard something positive in the last few days. ITV’s decision to go head-to-head with the BBC for the World Cup final also brought bad news for ITV; its viewing figures peaked at 3.7m (a 13 per cent share of the 20m+ audience), in comparison to the advert-free BBC’s 17.8m (a 60 per cent share).
However, the World Cup was not the disaster for ITV’s brand that it might have been: the graph indicates a gradual recovery in ITV “Buzz” scores while the World Cup was still going on. This may reflect positive reaction to the rest of ITV’s World Cup coverage, or indicate that the rumours of Jonathan Ross’s move to ITV have gone down well with the public. The latter perhaps provides a better explanation, as a gradual increase in “Buzz” score is visible from around 25 June, when rumours of Ross’s move first emerged. Jonathan Ross was with the BBC for thirteen years and this move ends his three-year contract, for which he reportedly earned £18m. Poaching him from the BBC at a “bargain price” may turn out to be one of ITV’s smarter moves.
Stephan Shakespeare is founder and chief executive of YouGov.