BBC BLOGS - The Editors
« Previous | Main | Next »

The Battle of the Tens: One year on

Craig Oliver Craig Oliver | 16:57 UK time, Wednesday, 14 January 2009

A year ago today ITV relaunched News at Ten. It was a big moment in the TV News industry - could a once dominant brand return to its glory days? Would BBC News at Ten lose its position as Britain's most-watched news programme?

BBC News at Ten logoI can't pretend I wasn't concerned. An audience analyst sent me a note a week before the big day saying the programmes would split the available news audience - meaning the BBC would lose one-and-a-half million viewers.

There was an added frisson for me - I had worked at ITN for much of my career, and had been a proud member of the ITV News at Ten team before it was axed. I wrote in this blog at the time saying that we may lose out initially, but that I was confident a year later that we would still be the market leader.

So was I right?

On 15 January last year I waited nervously for the overnight viewing figures to drop into my inbox. I was surprised to see that despite all the hoopla surrounding the return of Sir Trevor, the BBC had the most viewing figures, winning by more than a million viewers.

Over the year we have never been overtaken. In fact I am pleased to say that BBC News at Ten has actually slightly increased its audience in the past year to 4.9 million (following an increase of 250,000 the previous year). ITV has averaged around 2.3 million.

I'm also glad to say that our audience is not purely driven by "inheritance" (that is, people who have been watching the programme before the news who don't change channel) - we often have up to two million people joining BBC One at 10 O'Clock.

In the past year the BBC News at Six has increased its audience by 200,000. What's encouraging is that in a world of ever-increasing channels and fracturing audiences, television news programmes are fighting fit, and can attract new viewers.

ITV News at Ten has been a very sharp programme which continues to keep us on our toes. The competition is a great thing, and long may it continue.

Craig Oliver is editor of BBC News At Six and BBC News At Ten.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    stay tuned more news at 11

  • Comment number 2.

    I always switch to Radio 4 to hear the 10 o'clock news. I can't stand the noise made by BBC News at Ten.

  • Comment number 3.

    "ITV News at Ten has been a very sharp programme which continues to keep us on our toes. The competition is a great thing, and long may it continue."

    Really?

    I find ITV NAT pretty dumbed down these days. BBC NAT has gone some way down that road as well, though is still a lot better. But I find BBC4 radio news is much more intelligent and worth listening to than either of the TV offerings.

    ;-)

  • Comment number 4.

    Never mind the quality, feel the ratings.

  • Comment number 5.

    I thought that the mission of the BBC was to "inform, educate and entertain".

    Not gloat about winning audience figures.

    Please, spend BBC time and resources on informing, educating and entertaining me and not on researching viewing figures and writing articles that need not be written.

  • Comment number 6.

    Its a pity the BBC don't report the news at 10pm instead of following the sensational press to report on non-news like a Prince Edwards video shot 3 years ago or Charles calling to his friend by his nick name. Is this news reported to suppress the real news like the killing of innocent children in Gaza, I suspect so and what's with these stupid trendy little news updates at 8pm. Are we all becoming brain dead, if the BBC get their way I suspect we will.

  • Comment number 7.

    Sir Trevor was a disastrous choice. How lucky you were!

  • Comment number 8.

    #4 Spot on.
    #5 The forgotten Charter.

    I stopped watching TV news a while ago because it is less factual, less precise, less everything in fact, than the radio equivalents. Gloss adds nothing to an image (pictures or words) unless that image is pretty perfect in the first place. Sadly the BBC cannot even claim that its gloss is good let alone the original image.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think BBC News is of obviously superior quality to ITV News. Less sensationalisation and a focus on important, rather than emotive headlines.

    Couple this with the BBC program obviously having no adverts then the decision on which to watch seems obvious. What surprises me is ITV still manages to get a few million tuning in which is still a very healthy audience in this day and age.

  • Comment number 10.

    BBC News - red arrows pointing in a particular direction, words and numbers launched into the front room, and patronising reports from the likes of Richard Scott (re Marks and Spencer recently).

    ITV News - Should be renamed ITV Lack of News.

  • Comment number 11.

    Just to agree with Brian_A, the sensationalism of ITV News has unfortunately turned it into something of a joke these days, which is a great shame as it once used to be a well-respected outfit.

    Now it resembles a sort of broadcast equivalent of the Daily Express - forced to sink lower and lower and get dumber and dumber in a bid to rescue its plunging audience.

    It can't be long before it resorts to filling each bulletin with stories about immigrants, cancer scares, miracle cures, rising bills, etc.

    The BBC News at 10 is obviously nothing like as bad, but I have to say I've noticed a steady deterioration here as well over the years. I trust you'll keep on top of this? The Six is now unwatchable.

  • Comment number 12.

    As the intrepid bbc news has completly avoided the holocaust in Gaza over the years (unless reporting on the israeli killing's of "terrorists"), I wondered if you'd like this current item, happening right now, though I suspect your zionist overlords will demand that you remove it, as you removed Orla Guerin when she dared report the truth:
    15.1.09 – 10am GMT

    Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) have just had confirmation from our hospital emergency aid coordinators that both Al Wafa Hospital, in the eastern part of Gaza City, and Al Fata (also known as Al Wia’m) Hospital, in Tal El Hawa, west of Gaza City, have both been bombed by the Israeli military.

    Al Wafa hospital is the only rehabilitation hospital in all of Gaza.

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that Al Quds Hospital has suffered a direct hit. Both Al Quds hospital and the European Hospital have been surrounded by Israeli troops and are reportedly being hit with white phosphorus.

    The UN has warned that security for medical personnel and access to medical facilities continues to be of major concern. Attacks on medical personnel and ambulances have hampered the ability to assist the injured. According to the Ministry of Health (MoH), since 27 December 2008, 13 medical personnel have been killed and 22 medical personnel have been injured while on duty; 15 ambulances have been damaged and seven ambulances have been destroyed; and twelve health facilities have been damaged through direct or indirect shelling

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm listening to the BBC News Channel, waiting for the business and sport while presenters and reporters have chat, chat and more chat.

    What's the point of advertising something at a particular time when it is always shown at a different time?

  • Comment number 14.

    How do you justify trivia by Nick Robinson as a lead item? He never does any proper analysis any more but just uses things fed to him by the PR reps of political parties. No attempt to provide balance either just pure bias. This is why ITV news still gets good figures as many viewers retune in the hope of finding a more balanced take on the issues rather than the dumbed down line fed by the BBC.

  • Comment number 15.

    Dear Mr. Oliver
    Why is it your job to tell us about this? Whether you intend it or not, your piece appears to be about winning a race. No one other than TV people care. And BBC TV people aren't paid to care about winning the ratings, they're paid to serve. To serve us, the taxpayer/license-payer. And that means it is US who decide whether what you do professionally is worthy, excellent, or not good enough. We'll let you know how you're doing, by tuning in or not tuning in. But we don't require you to tell us that you're the best. We don't really care what you think. We just want you to work hard and do your best. Leave us to make up our own minds how good it is. Write this sort of piece in Ariel if you must. But either way, please learn some humility.
    Matahari

  • Comment number 16.


    Before you get too carried away, the BBC News at Ten may have the higher audience but you will find that many influential people in public life and business – and those who work in the news media itself - prefer Channel Four News with John Snow.
    Being a shorter bulletin, the Ten lets itself down with packages which are often too long: years ago, the old Nine O’Clock News was much tighter and newsier. These days there’s too much of a mission to explain, with soft feature material and items which are merely illustrative of the news. As a result, some significant news developments of the day are quite often squeezed out.
    One necessary change is to drop the parochial regional headlines at the top of the Ten – about news which has already been broadcast hours earlier on local programmes. Instead, in the same slot, let’s have a trail for Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman in the news studio, a move which would be much more in keeping with the interests of the audience for the Ten.

  • Comment number 17.

    Before you get too carried away, the Ten may have the higher audience but you will find that many influential people in public life and business ? and those who work in the news media itself - prefer Channel Four News with John Snow.

    For a shorter bulletin, the Ten lets itself down with packages which are often too long. Years ago, the old Nine O?Clock News was much tighter and newsier.

    These days there?s too much of a mission to explain, soft feature material and content which is merely illustrative of the news. As a result, some significant news developments of the day are quite often squeezed out.

    One necessary change is to drop from the top of the Ten the parochial regional headlines ? about news which has already been broadcast hours earlier on local programmes. Instead, in the same slot, let?s have a trail for Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman in the news studio, a move which would be much more in keeping with the interests of the audience for the Ten.

  • Comment number 18.

    Craig:
    I think that there are enough audiences for both the ITV News @ 10 and BBC News at 10PM...

    to the question you are asking, who won? I am going to say it is a draw!

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 19.

    A summary of (any given) Ten O'Clock News.

    Nick Robinson, Robert Peston and now Jeremy Bowen flogging their websites.

    "Special Correspondents" given airtime for the sake of giving them something to justify their job description - Gavin Hewitt at the US election being a notable example.

    Someone in the studio in front of the large screen is compulsory.

    And, childish reporting (like Robert Peston playing on an escalator) is a must.

  • Comment number 20.

    #17

    Another vote for Channel Four. John Snow has a very relaxed and involving manner, capable of asking incisive questions and not content with evasive answers. The whole program has the ability to become personal to you no matter what the subject matter is.

    I also enjoy the lightness of touch of Channel Five News when you do not have the time to listen to in depth analysis.

    Audience figures are really only relevant to commercial broadcasters who rely on sponsorship or advertising. I would prefer a much less popular but very fulfilling news program instead of one that cannot live without being the same as everyone else.

  • Comment number 21.

    Somtimes watching the news is the only decent thing shown on tv.
    However what I fail to understand is why we need two people to read the news plus another person to give the weather forecast. Talk about overkill! You do not see two people driving one lorry or one bus.

  • Comment number 22.

    telecasterdave: I take it that it's been a long time since you went on a long haul National Express coach trip then.

  • Comment number 23.

    what chance an update of these figures before and after Mark Thompson cowardly decision to wave a little white flag to the Israel lobby?

  • Comment number 24.

    I went on line to complain today about the bbc coverage of the WILDCAT OIL strikes on the BBC. I give the bbc nil out of ten for sympathy.

    I live in london but know the area, it is around Grimsby and has been depressed for many years. Their is little left of industry and much cheap labour does farming, Youngs and the docks have gone like the glorious fishing fleets of yesteryear.
    The BBC now makes the walkouts sound Malicous- yet they do not tell the whole story.

    When you know it, like the reporter should have discovered it- it is as straight forward as a random wildcat strike . that is suddenly supported by seven other areas.

    The truth is that last week one of two floating hotels catering for up to 600 workers each was moored in Grimsby Harbour. It looks like a prison ship.

    So not only are the skilled workers made redundant, because a contract went to an italian firm, who now want to import their own cheap labour to reduce the costs-- the local economy suffers because they will not be fed or watered in local houses or hotels.

    This will make a depresed area worse, and cut wages. Viva le depression!

    If that can be done first at the Humber, then it can and will be done at Scotland, South Wales , and in East london .etc

    No wonder the other sites all walked out-
    I would in solidarity because I would fear for my job. Talk about insecurity properly.

    Also report the whole story and get it right or I won't rely on the bbc, and if also enough people can't rely on you -- to do that then it will be you are out of a job as well, because they will use the same principle to get better value at the BBC.

    CNN, sky or NBC could take your contract.

    Oh, by the way, I couldn't find a place on your web page to complain so I pasted it here, I hope the message gets through!

  • Comment number 25.

    Re: John's Simpson report on Iran last night.

    Can people at BBC News not tell the difference between "history lesson" and NEWS?

 

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.