ITV has finally confirmed an hour-long Evening News programme, following months of online speculation.
ITV has revealed their planned changes to bolster the key programmes in its pre-9pm schedule, which include the risk of losing the 7pm slot to BBC One in the first major changes to ITV News in the schedules since 1999.
The ITV Evening News, produced by ITN, provides the international and national stories to the network and is as ITN notes ‘the most-watched commercial news programme in the UK’. ITV is extending its commitment to national and international news and audiences across the UK with the announcement today that the evening news programme will be extended to an hour, with even more focus on reporting from outside of London feeding into the programme, to reflect the whole of the UK.
The new hour-long weekday national and international news programme at 6.30pm will build on the success of the current 30-minute programme. Presented by Mary Nightingale, the longer offering will provide trusted journalism and build on one of the key features of the current programme, strong on-the-ground reporting from across the UK and the globe.
In what is the biggest expansion of jobs within ITV Network News in the past 20 years, 27 new journalists, producers and multi-skilled camera operators/video editors are being recruited to join the programme alongside ITV’s existing specialist editors and correspondents. New appointments include correspondents being taken on in Wales, Scotland and the north of England to work towards the programme. As well as general reporters, there will also be a new Social Affairs role based in the north of England.
ITV’s Evening News programme was watched by an average of 3.2 million viewers/ a 21% share of viewing in 2021, and the programme has posted its highest viewing shares for a decade, in 2020 and 2021.
The changes affect the schedule from 7pm to 9pm with both Emmerdale and Coronation Street moving slots. This is the risky part of the change that could see the BBC swoop on the 7pm slot, as they did when News at Ten was originally axed in 1999 when they moved to Nine o’Clock News to capitalise on the 10pm slot that ITV failed to lure viewers to.
If the BBC were to move EastEnders into 7pm it could be just the boost it needs. On the night ratings for the Walford set soap have been abysmal at times in 2021, and a lead-in from the well-rated BBC regional news programmes could be just what Albert Square needs.
This would also take out The One Show from going head-to-head with the extended ITV News programme, moving it nightly half-an-hour later. The BBC has yet to decide on any action it will take on schedules with the changes ‘on the other side’ confirmed.
Coronation Street moves to hour-long episodes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8pm, and Emmerdale moves further into peak with a consistent 7.30 pm slot.