The weirdest show on TV came to an end this week after little more than three months on air. Despite huge ratings, no social media campaign has been started in a bid to get it back on BBC One every afternoon.
Yes, the 5pm Government coronavirus briefing, usually starring Matt Hancock (the health secretary made 24 appearances, eight more than Boris Johnson) is no more, meaning the game show Pointless is no longer banished to BBC Two.
In the wake of lockdown that kept the population at home, broadcast television has enjoyed a ratings surge as people tuned into the Covid updates and other news programmes. But as Tom Harrington at Enders Analysis points out, this boost was always going to be temporary. “It doesn’t matter how pressing an issue is – as the ramifications and constraints become clear, people will tire of following it.”
As the lockdown wore on, viewing for both BBC and commercial broadcasters started to drop back to 2019 levels, with commercial TV audience falling under even that mark in the last week of May, according to Enders. The research firm concludes that streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube, as well as gaming are proving to be the lockdown winners.
Broadcasters are facing an uphill battle to retain viewers. Not only has the pandemic halted production of dramas, entertainment and factual programming, the cancellation of events such as the Tokyo Olympic Games, Euro 2020 football tournament and Glastonbury have left gaping holes in schedules.