Speaking exclusively to Televisual, for the Entertainment genre report in the new Summer issue of the magazine, out next week, Katie Rawcliffe, Head of Entertainment Commissioning ITV expands here on what’s working for the channel and what she’s looking for next.

Saturday nights are one of our big strengths, when the content is right the audience comes in volume. Take Britain’s Got Talent, it has gone from strength to strength and is now the biggest entertainment series of 2024, currently averaging 7.1m including repeats with the launch episode consolidating up to 8m and still growing. The live viewing is still huge and for those who miss it there is immense conversation around the show on socials, this drives engagement and catch up viewing. The social content to date has generated in excess of 660M video views.

For Saturday night so far this year ITV has won 15 out of 21 weeks, with ITV’s entertainment shows reaching 85% of the population – that’s over 54 million viewers. They have generated 166 million streams on ITVX (up +10% on last year). Plus 25 shows across five titles – BGT, Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, The Masked Singer, Wheel of Fortune and The 1% Club – have all exceeded 5 million viewers.

There is something special about Saturdays which allows us to view in a different way than any other time in the week – it’s in our DNA, the collective viewing with multiple generations watching simultaneously. Of course there’s rife speculation that this will not last forever, especially as viewing habits have dramatically changed. However, then something like Gladiators relaunches or BGT returns to our screens and it reminds us that Saturdays are still very much a thing, appointment-to-view and the streamers are still trying to crack it.

We are always looking for the next Saturday night hit, everyone is hungry for the next big thing. It doesn’t have to be studio based, but it does need to have mass appeal, revelation, warmth, humour and high production values when it sits alongside shows like BGT, The Masked Singer and The Voice. We have a healthy development pot and will invest if there is something in an idea we like.

To build a Saturday night there are absolute heroes in the schedule like Catchphrase, which regularly attracts audiences of 3m plus. All of the returning game shows have been performing well – Limitless Win launched with 4.8m, up by almost a million viewers on the previous series; Wheel of Fortune returned with 5.7m; and The 1% Club is ITV’s biggest original quiz show in over a decade, every series has done better than the last with the current series averaging 5.8m and a high of 6.3m; plus Deal or No Deal which was an afternoon hit and also had celebrity peaktime specials. It has been streamed 7m times since it launched, with an overnight audience of 2.4m, almost doubling the slot average at 4pm. In With A Shout also returned with a solid audience of over 2 million, another early peak building block.

We are looking forward to some new titles coming soon also. Password with Daisy May Cooper, Alan Carr and Stephen Mangan, as well as 99 to Beat.

We are also on the hunt for more ideas in both the reality and entertainment space. For Saturday nights or as strips or events. I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! does brilliantly for us and was the most-watched entertainment show on any channel last year.

We have recently announced a new commision SHARK! Celebrity Infested Waters from Plimsoll Productions, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of Jaws. The show will see a group of celebrities confront their greatest fear – sharks, but in the Bahamas! There will be multiple stories to tell due to the huge challenge undertaken by the celebrities, and also the appreciation of sharks’ valuable place on the food chain and in our ecosystem. The idea was instantly appealing and working with the skill set of Plimsoll, a natural history company, feels like it will have a distinct look and tone.

Another exciting commission which we have touched on before is Genius Game from Remarkable Entertainment, which David Tennant is fronting. This is a brand-new reality game show that will see strategically minded players, chosen not just for their high intellectual prowess but also their social IQ, face the ultimate battle of survival. To win, contestants will participate in a host of never before seen games all designed to not only test their intellectual acumen, but encourage them to carefully and creatively use the art of manipulation to outfox their opponents and win a cash prize. This isn’t set in a traditional studio space, yet still delivers scale and intrigue.

And of course we will always make room for big event one-offs, our re-imagined Audience With brand, with Adele and Kylie have brought in volume and younger demos, 8.6m and 4m respectively. We will always find room for one-offs which feel unmissable, especially big talent vehicles and it doesn’t always have to be music focused.

Read the full feature in this quarter’s Televisual to find out more from heads of commissioning at the BBC and Channel 4.

Pippa Considine

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