ITV has taken a right hammering for its loading of prestige new period drama offering Downton Abbey with ads, online viewers apparently suffered more than mainstream viewers with seven extended ad breaks in a 90 minute programme.
No important executive at the company has been prepared to put their head above the parapet to justify this so far, the PR department merely telling all and sundry that the station hasn’t broken any UK terrestrial TV rules (it’s allowed 12 minutes of ads in a peak-time programme so long as the average across peak-time is eight minutes or less) and reminding us that ITV depends on advertising for a living.
So it does but it also depends on audiences being comfortable with what they’re seeing on screen and advertisers getting value for their money – that is, potential customers being responsive to their ads.
So a disaster all round and ITV should have the guts to acknowledge it.
It won’t, of course. But it’ll be interesting to see how many ads there are in Downton Abbey this coming Sunday.