The Battle of the Tens: One year on
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?
I 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.