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LONDON – Simon Cowell‘s Britain’s Got Talent once again won ITV1 the honor of having the highest-rated entertainment show in the U.K. Saturday night.
Meanwhile, British tabloid The Daily Mirror created some industry buzz here over the weekend with a report based on unnamed sources that suggested that Cowell has pitched a drama to the BBC. This could see him expand beyond or potentially even switch from his current home ITV, a commercial network, to the U.K. public broadcaster.
The report said that Cowell wasn’t happy with the level of ITV support during BGT’s ratings losses to The Voice last month and was also upset that the channel hired one of the top executives of his production firm Syco, Shu Green, the head of Syco TV. He has been a key draw for ITV for over a decade, with The X Factor scheduled to return in late summer.
ITV and the BBC didn’t immediately comment, and observers suggested Cowell may simply want to show his current ITV bosses that he has options.
“We’re a long way off any commission,” the Mirror quoted a BBC source as saying. “We’re happy to talk, but there’s a feeling we could be being used in Cowell’s ongoing war with ITV.”
The Voice had edged out BGT in terms of viewers for much of April. Last week though, when BGT for the first time aired in a later time slot that fully avoid what previously was a 20-minute overlap, the ITV show regained the ratings lead. BGT, from Cowell’s Syco Entertainment, features the creator as a judge.
On Saturday night, the show’s final audition round reached an average audience of 9.5 million as it kicked off at 8:45pm instead of 8:30pm after a strong early evening performance for the British soccer cup final, overnight ratings data from ITV shows. Including viewers for ITV1+1, which repeats the show with an hour delay, the average BGT audience rose to 9.8 million.
In comparison, The Voice drew 8.2 million average viewers in its 7:10pm time slot. That was down from 9.3 million a week earlier and down from the show’s peak of 10.7 million in late April.
Looking at peak audience delivery, BGT reached 11.0 million viewers, or 11.5 million when including ITV1+1.
For next Saturday’s final season installment of BGT, the show has been scheduled to overlap with The Voice for 15 minutes.
The audience for the FA Cup Final between London soccer club Chelsea and Liverpool peaked at 11.2 million, marking the highest-ever peak viewership for an FA Cup Final on ITV1, the network said.
Overall, the average viewership between kick off at 5:15pm and 7:10pm, an average of nearly 9 million people tuned into the game.
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