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Day-Broken? The Battle for Breakfast

fter almost a year of Daybreak, Audrey Migot takes a look at their performance

As of September, Daybreak hosts Christine Bleakley and Adrian Chiles will only present four days a week from Monday to Thursday with Kate Garraway and Dan Lobb filling in on Fridays. If you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of the undertaker preparing the coffin.

ITV viewers simply haven’t warmed to Chiles and Bleakley despite having had 11 months to attempt to win them over. The final broadcast of GMTV on Friday 3rd September last year was watched by 906,000 individuals and the first broadcast of Daybreak on Monday 6th September was watched by 1.06 million. They were off to such a good start, and while viewing since then has fluctuated, the decline is unmistakeable. The most recent numbers for Daybreak show 629,000 viewers (consolidated figures 2nd August) which represents a loss of 431,000 viewers overall.

Since it began, Daybreak has been averaging 738,000 viewers per day. While this is 862,000 less than the average daily viewers for BBC Breakfast (1.6 million), it is 43,000 more viewers than the daily average for GMTV in 2010 (695,000). This means that ITV has spent £233 for each of those extra viewers, and that’s just the cost of Chiles and Bleakley’s contracts, never mind the new set and other accoutrements. Not only that, ad revenue has reportedly decreased by half since GMTV became Daybreak in September 2010.

The aim behind the launch of Daybreak was to revitalise the ailing GMTV, which had been haemorrhaging viewers for some time. Looking at the period from January to the end of July, total weekly viewers for GMTV last year started at 4.5 million and dropped to 3.6 million. Daybreak started this year with 3.1 million weekly viewers and acquired an additional 231,000 to give a total of 3.3 million. Given the vast sums of cash that have been thrown at this new show, it should be doing far better than that. The BBC meanwhile, are laughing all the way to the TV ratings bank, as they mopped up all the ITV defectors when Daybreak began its steady demise in the latter part of September 2010. Daybreak lost 356,000 viewers between the 6th September and 1st October. The BBC gained 1.2 million during the same period.

There are many in the industry who feel that ITV should just admit defeat and cut their losses. Last month, show editor Ian Rumsey resigned from his role and just this morning (11th August) Grainne Seoige confirmed that she has quit from her position as features editor. Such is the speculation surrounding the fate of the show that ITV have been forced to deny rumours swirling on Twitter that Daybreak won’t survive past Christmas. Chiles signed a four year contract when he left the BBC and Bleakley signed on for two years. It would cost ITV far more than £10m to buy them out and rebrand their morning show yet again. However, the popular opinion is not that Chiles and Bleakley are rubbish presenters but rather that breakfast time is simply not their forte; put them back in the segments where they perform well and bring back presenters who the viewers respond positively to.

All viewing information is courtesy of BARB, based on individual consolidated viewing figures (2010 – 2011).

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