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BBC are World Cup Winners

Tue 22nd Jun 2010 | Television & Broadcasting

Vuvuzelas and tensions in the England camp aside, survey figures just released by the Football Fans Census reveal that the BBC team has come out early winners in the World Cup ratings battle.

The survey, conducted after the first week of coverage amongst fans up and down the leagues will be happy reading to BBC executives, and a bitter blow to ITV who revamped their football coverage just prior to the World Cup with the appointment of Adrian Chiles as anchor man.

Asked to rate the overall coverage of the two channels, the BBC scored a solid 7.4 out of ten, while ITV was rated at only 4.7. ITV’s commentators fared a little better – scoring a 4.9 rating in the survey, still someway behind the BBC at 6.9.

Scores for individuals however were low for both channels – perhaps reflecting the notoriously subjective appeal of commentator styles. Top dog was Jonathan Pearce of the BBC who scored a 6.4, while Clive Tyldesley, ITV’s standard bearer in the commentary box, only managed 5.2 out of 10.

The commentator’s wing man, the expert co-commentator, fared even worse it seems, with three ex-centre backs topping the charts. Martin Keown emerged as the front runner, rated at 5.5 by those who took part in the survey, followed closely by ITV’s Gareth Southgate and the BBC’s Mick McCarthy both on 5.4.

Bottom of the pile, unfortunately for ITV where Andy Townsend and Jim Beglin, both scoring a lowly 4.8 out of 10 in the poll.

The anchormen did better however with the ubiquitous Gary Lineker topping the ratings with 7.1, followed by new arrival to the role Gabby Logan on 6.3. The ITV’s new golden boy, Adrian Chiles, clearly has some way to go however before he worries White City executives, scoring 6 out of 10 in the survey.

Chelsea fan C. Minelson commented in the survey; “Adrian Chiles is wasted on ITV because of the advertising breaks, but has done much better with his move than the others before him that moved from the BBC. His genius is that he represents the voice of the fan and asks the pundits the questions we would want.”


When it comes to expert studio pundits, the BBC again dominates the ratings. Jurgen Klinsmann took top position with a 6.5 rating, followed by Dixon, Hansen, Seedorf and Motty all scoring 6.4 or above. Hugging the bottom of the ratings were a crop of ITV summarisers, with Keegan and Townsend both scoring below 5 and the unfortunate Robbie Earle propping up the table with a limp 4.3 out of 10 in the survey.

Chiles aside, the survey seems to hint at a general perception that ITV, simply, isn’t up to the professional standards of the BBC, and if one incident summed up ITV’s coverage it was the infamous glitch in its HD coverage of England’s opening game.

Man United fan Anthony, summed up the mood in the survey: “ITV HD switched to an advert while Gerrard scored England’s goal – this was an unbelievable mistake. The most important broadcast for four years and they miss the ten seconds in which England score! Something needs to be done at ITV to ensure this never happens again.”

Some consolation can be drawn from survey by ITV however – as the fans surveyed overwhelmingly supported the continued commitment to stage the World Cup on terrestrial TV.

So while fans maybe underwhelmed with ITV coverage, they would prefer that to Sky covering the games, regardless of the comparative programming quality. As West Ham fan D. Prior put it in the survey, “Although SKY or ESPN would possibly give far better coverage the right for all people to watch a world event like the World Cup should take preference.”

Finally, things could be a lot worse for ITV. They may be unpopular according to this poll, but they are not as unpopular as one newcomer to the World Cup scene – the dreaded Vuvuzela. Two thirds of the fans polled in the survey want them banned from all English football grounds. So provided ITV doesn’t put Jim Beglin on screen blowing into his plastic horn, things could be a lot worse.



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