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Posted 2024-03-18 08:26:12  
Quarter of UK TV Audience watched Cheltenham

During Friday afternoon, a quarter of the entire British television audience tuned in to ITV to witness Galopin Des Champs successfully defending his title in the Boodles Gold Cup. Over the course of the Cheltenham Festival's four days, the network demonstrated a strong performance, with the average audience share steadily increasing from 15.6 percent on Tuesday to 19 percent on Friday, marking the second-highest share in the past eight years.

In terms of viewership numbers, the average for the week was 953,000, up from 941,000 in 2023. Although the Gold Cup achieved a 25 percent share, translating to a peak of 1.59 million viewers, it was slightly lower than the 1.68 million in 2023.

Richard Willoughby, ITV Racing editor, emphasized that, in today's media landscape, the channel's share of the television audience is the most crucial metric. He offered an optimistic perspective on this year's festival, suggesting that it still resonates with ITV's diverse sporting and daytime audience.

Willoughby explained to the Racing Post, "The figures reflect the evolving viewing habits, particularly among the younger generation, who are moving away from traditional television. The share is the key number because it represents the available audience watching TV at that time. Achieving a quarter of that audience watching the Gold Cup is fantastic."

He continued, "At ITV, we cater to a broad audience, and despite some criticisms within the sport, our audience appreciates the spectacle and significance of the Cheltenham Festival compared to other sporting events."

Regarding the scheduling challenges faced, Willoughby expressed frustration at the lack of flexibility in coverage. He suggested exploring alternatives such as selling the time slot to a sponsor rather than a specific race. Ideally, introducing another race sponsored by Glenfarclas could have provided five terrestrial races.

Willoughby highlighted the decision to interview Lucinda Russell about Corach Rambler's performance in the Gold Cup as evidence of the coverage's positive momentum heading into the Randox Grand National meeting. 

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