Weekly football conversation since 2009, with Graham Sibley, Jan Bilton and Terry Duffelen. Listen on Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or your podcatcher of choice.

Reaction: ITV Ditches Euro 08 Final

Its pretty clear why ITV have decided not to screen live coverage of the Euro 2008 final. However, it does reveal a worrying loss of confidence in the one of nation's most watched Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs).

If you follow the TV news (that is the news about TV) you'll know that ITV has had a rough time of it lately. Revenue has been down as its, main channel ITV1 has lost audience share. Multi-channel TV has hit all of the five PSBs and ITV has suffered a great deal.


As this Guardian article suggests, decision the to drop the final probably stems from the networks poor showing in the 2006 World Cup final. Both the BBC and ITV shared coverage of Italy's 1-0 victory over France and the ITV lost out heavily ratings-wise. So much so that the powers-that-be have looked ahead to a tournament without any of the home nations (particularly England) and thought they'd get trounced again. Worse in fact because, without the home nations, there is a strong possibility that ratings for the whole tournament will be down due to a lack of interest from a part of the audience who won't bother watching because England or Scotland aren't there. It is estimated that ITV will have missed out on £10 million on England's failure alone.

Franky my dear

Free-to-air commercial broadcasters still rely heavily on advertising revenue for their income. Advertisers pay according to the number of people that watch their adverts. If most people are planning to watch this match on the other side, why go to the expense of a live presentation, when you can shove a movie on for a fraction of the cost and probably make the same money?

From a supporter/viewer point of view this decision makes very little difference since most of us are planning to watch the game on the BBC. However, if ITV choose to put a commissioned popular light entertainment programme against the match such as Dancing On Ice, Grease Is The Word or even (my favorite) a Harry Hill's TV Burp special then they would provide a genuine alternative to the football and the prospect of a remote control battle in the home. My guess is that they'll show a chick-flick instead.

We could be heroes

The more concerning aspect to this is that ITV appear to have lost their fight. They have left the BBC to continue with their usual fare unchallenged. In my opinion, UK football coverage is in desperate need of a rethink. The anchorman, pundit, pundit format is tired, lazy, predictable and dull. By dropping the final, ITV are conceding that the usual farrago of Lineker, Hansen, Shearer and A.N. Other is better than anything they can do. Moreover, it would appear that they do not have the desire to take them on by trying something else, using different people, experimenting with another format. Here is an opportunity to do something different, something innovative, safe in the knowledge that hardly anyone was watching so if they messed it up it wouldn't matter. I suspect that they are not doing this because

a) They're not prepared to spend the money.

b) They probably don't have any ideas.

This is the same broadcaster who shook up the established order with their coverage of Mexico '70 which was ground-breaking at the time. Back then, they came from nowhere and set the tone for TV coverage which still resonates to this day. The fact that they seem to lack the confidence or the desire to take on the BBC establishment, like they did back then, is a big disappointment and condemns the viewer to the same old guff. ITV have, to all intents and purposes, given up.

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