Kevin Lygo, ITV’s director of television, has been speaking at the (virtual) Edinburgh TV festival about the impact of coronavirus on the channel.
“Production is back, generally speaking, a lot of issues are emerging as we start to film stuff, learning how to make big shows without audiences,” he said. “But for ITV it’s not been bad, to keep all the live shows on air through this, five days a week, six, seven hours a day, that was terribly important to us to inform people, to keep our schedule going.
“We were looking at so many repeats of quiz shows in the morning if those shows had gone, it was terrifying.
“The soaps were the next thing, because they did stop filming and I think now that they are back fully doing it, it has changed a bit but I still think it’s magnificent.
“We made an early decision to halve the amounts of soaps we had on air and that enabled us to keep the soaps alive.”
Addressing the process of getting dramas back up and running, Lygo said: “We have only started in the last week and quite a few more are gearing up. We had a couple of dramas interrupted and there is a logistical nightmare with actors’ time and directors’ time, but the industry is pulling together to understand there is a pecking order of when people can do shows.”
He said that one unanticipated consequence was the number of new viewers watching during the day. He added: “Trying to put a positive spin on all of this, if all these people tried for the first time, hopefully they will stick around a bit longer because the ratings have been up … It’s a good sign and I think public service broadcasters have shown how trusted they are.”
He said the channel’s ad revenue “slightly fell off a cliff” but “we have seen it come back fast so far”.