Multi-Channel Brits Desert Terrestrial Giants

27 December 2002

Britain’s major terrestrial TV stations are losing out in multi-channel homes, according to new figures from BARB (Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board).

BBC1 and ITV1, the two biggest terrestrial channels, have seen their combined audience share in households subscribing to one of the pay-TV platforms drop below 40% in 2002.

Viewers appear to be switching to the plethora of non-terrestrial offerings available on multi-channel services. The combined viewing share of these channels totalled 41.5% for the year, the first time they have overtaken the BBC1/ITV1 ratings.

Indeed, if this shift continues at the same rate, more Britons will watch non-terrestrial channels than will watch ITV1 next year -– a major blow for the ailing ITV network.

Nevertheless, there is some consolation for ITV. Its flagship terrestrial channel caught up with BBC1 after falling behind in 2001, with both channels claiming 26.9% shares in the year up to December 14. Also, its non-terrestrial ITV2 channel has increased its ratings in 2002 thanks to Champions League soccer and spin-offs of ITV1 shows.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff