Royal Baby: U.K. Ratings for Birth News Coverage No Match for Long-Running Soap

3:51 AM PST 07/23/2013 by Georg Szalai
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ITV evergreen "Coronation Street" on Monday night drew higher ratings than BBC One, BBC News and Sky News combined, reached just before 9pm.

LONDON – Monday evening U.K. TV ratings for breaking news coverage of the birth of the royal baby were no match for long-running soap opera Coronation Street.

The audience peak for the live news coverage of the birth came late in the 8 p.m. hour just after the baby’s arrival, when the combined audience for BBC One, BBC News and Sky News reached 4.9 million, for a share of 22.2 percent of the overall TV viewing audience. But ITV's soap averaged 7.77 million, for a share of 35.0 percent, at that same time.

News specials focused on the birth of Kate Middleton's and Prince William's royal baby drew solid ratings but didn't come near the U.K. audience high for 2013, set by Andy Murray's Wimbledon final.

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ITV's special drew a bigger viewership than BBC One's with the help of the lead-in from Coronation Street.

The special aired from around 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. and drew an average of 3.5 million viewers, for a share of 16.5 percent of total TV viewership at the time. It peaked at 5.24 million, or 24 percent. The BBC drew an average audience of 2.9 million, or a share of 13.4 percent. Its special coverage ran from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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BBC News and Sky News have been running near wall-to-wall coverage since Monday morning, when Middleton went into labor. The BBC, ITV and other networks have also offered continuing coverage of the birth.

The Guardian reported that the royal baby news boosted news channels' ratings share on Monday. BBC News had an all-day share of 2.8 percent, compared with 1 percent for the past three months, while Sky News boosted its share from a three-month average of 0.7 percent to 1.6 percent on Monday.

Earlier this month, the BBC set the highest U.K. ratings of the year as an average audience of 12.1 million viewers tuned in for the Wimbledon final, a 72.8 percent share of the total TV-watching audience in the U.K.

The public broadcaster also saw a five-minute peak audience of 17.29 million people tune in during the three-set win by Murray over Novak Djokovic that ended a 77-year period without a British winner of the men's singles portion of the tournament. The peak ratings amounted to a 79.6 percent share of the overall British TV audience at the time.

The audience figures compared with a 20 million peak audience during the London 2012 Summer Olympics for the 100-meter men's sprint won by Usain Bolt.

Danny Boyle's Olympics opening ceremony peaked with 26.9 million viewers and became one of the top 20 most-watched British TV programs ever. The closing ceremony drew a peak viewership of 26.3 million.

Meanwhile, the royal baby boosted Twitter activity on Monday as the social media platform said at its peak the topic drew 25,300 tweets per minute following the announcement of the baby’s birth.

The company didn't immediately say how many U.K. tweets per minute came in, but the total figure fell way short of the 120,000 U.K. tweet-per-minute record recently set by Murray's Wimbledon victory.

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

 

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