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MOTD viewing figures on the up

Roger Mosey | 11:32 UK time, Tuesday, 13 May 2008

So it's been a great year of football, and we've also recorded some excellent figures for our TV flagship programme Match Of The Day. An interesting statistic from Sunday is that the peak live audience for Wigan Athletic v Manchester United was 1.8m, whereas the MOTD high was 4.7m. And that fits into the overall story of the season with the highlights show routinely getting 2 or even 3 times the viewing figures for individual live matches.

We have a Fulham fan in the office so for the last few weeks we've been living the Great Escape, and I was out in the sunshine plugged in to the 5 Live commentaries on Sunday afternoon as we zapped from Wigan to Chelsea and then picked up the relegation battle.

Match of the Day in its Saturday version increased its average audience in 2007-08 from 3.3m to 3.7m - quite an achievement for our team when terrestrial TV audiences generally are going down and when there's more televised football than ever before. We reckon that's the best figure since ITV played the highlights in peak time in 2001. MOTD2 went up from 1.9m to 2.3m.

Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney of Manchester United

So what has caused the resurgence of highlights? Partly, obviously, it's because it's been a closely-fought season. Partly I think it's a factor of so many live games, split between Sky and Setanta, that the attraction of being able to watch all the games in one place has become stronger.

None of this is to question the case for live football, and we're open about the fact that - although our overall sports rights portfolio has massively strengthened in the past year - we will seek to bring more live football to the BBC in the long term. We're also pleased, despite the sniping from the usual suspects, that our Football League portfolio comes on stream in a year's time.

Danny Murphy scores for Fulham against Portsmouth

But someone said, a bit cruelly and maybe after a visit to Derby, that some games are better at nine minutes than 90 - and the fact is there's a great place for both. We reckon that at least 28 million people watched Premier League football on the BBC last season, so it's still the place where most people see the best of the action - and it can only be good for the game that pay TV and free-to-air can thrive together.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    You know the reason why viewing figures are on the up Mr Mosey!
    Its because people like the Match of the Day name, you know people will be fixated to Match of the Day because of his history and that we are better informed from each game then before.
    You know that either Gary, Gabby or Adrian will put out a point and it will be covered.

  • Comment number 2.

    For me MOTD(2) will always be an intergral part of my premiership viewing, the only downside is you have such short edits around 10 minutes i think it is of each match.

    MOTD2 is great especially the 2good2bad feature, can this not be extended to 3 minutes rather than 58 seconds.

    Finally great news that Adrian Chiles has decided to stay with the BBC after the offer from ITV- maybe in the future he could take over from Gary Linekar on MOTD.

  • Comment number 3.

    "But someone said, a bit cruely and maybe after a trip to Derby..."


    Ha ha ha! You're a funny guy! Maybe if you actually cared about football instead of ratings you'd reliase it's the bias within formally great programmes like MoTD pandering to the Big Four and displaying little knowledge or interest in what is happening elsewhere in English League Football and the creation of the white elephant that is the Premierleague that has helped carry along the increasing disparity between the divisions - something which will only get wider. I've stopped watching the BBC's sport coverage as the increasingly lop sided and staid 'expert commentary' shows ignorance to people who don't share the incorrect view that the Premier League is the be all and end all. What has happened to Derby and events such as Game 39 are an idictment of those with power in the once beautiful game and can only help bring closer the day football eats itself.

    Thanks for nothing.

  • Comment number 4.

    Whilst its good to point out that MotD is doing well in the ratings, comparing the figures with live games is silly. The ratings for live games don't include the vast amounts of fans watching in pubs around the country. Plus, I would think the BBC would have to do something terribly wrong with their football coverage for MotD to achieve lower viewing figures than a live game on satellite. The amount of people that have access to Sky Sports / Setanta is miniscule compared to those who can see MotD. Hence the "2 or even 3 times the viewing figures" you get compared to live games.

  • Comment number 5.

    "An interesting statistic from Sunday is that the peak live audience for Wigan Athletic v Manchester United was 1.8m, whereas the MOTD high was 4.7m. And that fits into the overall story of the season with the highlights show routinely getting 2 or even 3 times the viewing figures for individual live matches."

    Here's an even more interesting statistic; 60 million people have access to BBC TV to watch MOTD highlights, whereas only 8 million or so have access to Sky or Setanta to watch live matches.

    "...we will seek to bring more live football to the BBC in the long term."

    Good, but should that not be tempered with the apparent fact that there won't be a single live game of note on the BBC for the whole of next season?

  • Comment number 6.

    YojimboTheRam the simple fact is BBC TV currently do not have the rights to lower league football. That wil change next season when they will have rights to the Championship.

    Radio 5live sports extra throughout the season broadcasted championship football live but this stopped towards the latter end of the season any reason for this Mr Mosey?

    On Sunday MOTD had both the Arsenal and Liverpool games near the end of the programme how is that pandering to the big 4?

    Finally you must be in a minority who feels MOTD is not "great" anymore, as far as i am conecerned the ratings tell us a great deal about how well MOTD is doing and looking at those figures it seems it is going from strength to strenght.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    Well if you wanted to raise the MotD(1) ratings even more (or at least the quality), you could ditch the two Alans who despite having been great footballers in their time couldn't come up with something insightful to save their lives, and bump up Gavin Peacock and Lee Dixon who can actually analyse a game rather than just saying 'great goal' and 'that was never a pen'. If I wanted to hear the kind of boring rubbish Shearer and Hansen spout I'd just go down the pub.

  • Comment number 9.

    Thanks as ever for the comments.

    Seagull_Mark and JasonCrawley: I think you're missing the context where some people have argued in recent years that (a) only live football counts as proper coverage (b) highlights are dead and (c) sports can rely entirely on pay TV channels.

    The increasing demand for Match Of The Day disproves those arguments - though I absolutely accept and welcome the fact that commercial broadcasters and the BBC can offer complementary services.

    YojimboTheRam: I'm a Bradford City fan. I therefore know what pain is, and I take no consolation from the fact we scored slightly more points than you even in our second season in the Premier League. But Mr Techno is right that our Football League coverage will expand massively from August next year, and I hope that shows we have a commitment to football at every level.

 

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