BBC loses two million viewers in election night ratings battle

BBC's general election results programme was hosted by Clive Myrie and Laura Kuenssberg
BBC's general election results programme was hosted by Clive Myrie and Laura Kuenssberg - JEFF OVERS

The BBC’s election night audience was down nearly two million on 2019, while Channel 4 doubled its ratings.

BBC 1 topped the audience figures, with 4.2 million viewers tuning in between 10pm and 11pm on Thursday to see the exit poll – but at the last general election the figure had been 6.1 million.

In 2019, Huw Edwards was the election night host. This year, following his exit from the BBC, presenting duties were shared by Laura Kuenssberg and Clive Myrie.

Early on in the BBC’s coverage, Myrie quizzed Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, about the exit poll results. She said she did not want to “count the chickens”, referring to the election results not having come in yet.

Responding, Myrie said: “You say you are not counting your chickens. What kind of chickens might they be? What kind of chickens would you like to see?”

ITV’s audience for election night was 1.3 million, down from 2.3 million in 2019. Sky News remained broadly stable, with 530,000 viewers, up from 512,000 last time.

Channel 4 was the night’s success story, with 930,000 viewers – almost double the 466,000 who tuned in for the last election.

Emily Maitlis and Krishnan Guru-Murthy anchored the coverage. The guest list included Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart, who host The Rest Is Politics podcast, plus Nadine Dorries and Carol Vorderman.

Emily Maitlis and Krishnan Guru-Murthy presented Channel 4's election coverage
Emily Maitlis and Krishnan Guru-Murthy presented Channel 4's election coverage

Ms Dorries, a former Tory MP, who served as culture secretary under Boris Johnson, got into a heated debate with Mr Campbell during the programme.

She asked Mr Campbell if she could finish her point, saying “I don’t think I interrupted you”, as she outlined reasons why the Conservative Party were not performing well. Earlier in her appearance on the show, Ms Dorries accused Mr Campbell of sexism.

Louisa Compton, the head of news and current affairs for Channel 4, said the programme “shook up TV coverage and drew more young people than any channel aside from BBC 1, adding: “The ITN Productions team did a tremendous job of creating a noisy, disruptive and insightful alternative.”

Overall, ratings were down three million on 2019 at a combined 7.3 million.

Last year, Ofcom warned that the BBC’s channels had experienced a steady decline. Viewers aged 65 and over watched 10 per cent less broadcast TV in 2022 than in 2021, following a trend begun by younger audiences.

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