As I observed yesterday, the Daily Mail has continued its attack on ITV’s new breakfast time offering Good Morning Britain, suggesting that the show’s ratings are not up to the level needed to keep bosses happy. But, as with so much else that it reports, the Mail is being highly selective: it has ratings numbers for every day’s edition of GMB, yet most are not mentioned.
This programme still offends the Daily Mail
Zelo Street regulars may recall the practice at the Sun of only reporting its daily opinion poll returns if they follow the approved narrative: news of any significant Labour leads does not get published. Likewise with the Mail and GMB: the press gets data from the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) from across TV channels, but little of it gets into the paper.
So what is the Mail not telling its readers? Well, thanks to an industry contact, I’ve seen yesterday’s viewing figures for GMB. The Mail has also seen them, and has talked of “the 15 per cent of the audience share bosses reportedly said it needed to survive”. Yesterday, GMB not only met that 15% criterion, it did particularly well in the 0730 to 0830 hour, which will please the advertisers.
From the bare numbers, Tweeted by John Plunkett of the Guardian, who told “Yesterday Good Morning Britain 600k vs BBC1 Breakfast 1.6m”, the show’s performance looks, well, ordinary. However, and in cases like these there is inevitably a however, the overall share of viewers turned out at 15% - the figure which the Mail says GMB needs to reach.
Moreover, that figure had increased by 0730 to 700k, and then increased to a round one million for its last 20 minutes before handing over to Lorraine at 0830 (at which point the audience fell by around 100k). Audience share in that last period was between 17% and 18% of the total. These are not exceptional numbers, but they are nothing like the picture of doom painted by the Mail.
What the Mail is also not telling its readers is the two elements that make GMB different: one, the format of this new generation of breakfast shows is novel enough to make it more difficult to bed in, and two, ITV has therefore made a commitment to give the show sufficient time to do so. A third factor is that ITV director of television Peter Fincham is behind the new show.
Instead, the press angle – with most players taking their lead from the Mail – is to relentlessly seize on Bank Holiday viewing figures, together with painting GMB as a personal vehicle for former BBC host Susanna Reid, which it is not. As I’ve outlined, the viewing figures are not so bad, and all that the press is doing is to score some cheap copy by speculating, while actually knowing very little.
So it’s as well-informed as on every other subject, then. No surprise there.