ITV Consider Streaming Coronation Street and Other Popular Soaps to Attract New Audiences Amid Declining Viewership

ITV Consider Streaming Coronation Street and Other Popular Soaps to Attract New Audiences Amid Declining Viewership

ITV chiefs are discussing a major shake-up of its soaps which could see them screened first, or exclusively, through online streaming.

The move has been prompted by declining viewing figures, forcing budget cuts to Coronation Street and Emmerdale, say ITV sources.

Anxious bosses are desperately looking at how they can attract a new audience, as even their older viewers are watching less terrestrial TV in favour of streaming giants such as Netflix.

Its popularity led ITV to launch its online ITVX last year, with bosses calling it a ‘huge success’.

Now they are considering it as a home for soaps, especially Emmerdale, which insiders claim is ‘more vulnerable’ than Coronation Street. 

ITV chiefs are discussing a major shake-up of its soaps which could see them screened first, or exclusively, through online streaming. Pictured: Emmerdale

ITV chiefs are discussing a major shake-up of its soaps which could see them screened first, or exclusively, through online streaming. Pictured: Emmerdale

Bosses are also considering cuts in the number of episodes, though an ITV spokesman said the same number have been commissioned for next year as 2023. Pictured: Coronation Street

Bosses are also considering cuts in the number of episodes, though an ITV spokesman said the same number have been commissioned for next year as 2023. Pictured: Coronation Street

Both are on five evenings a week, including one hour-long episode.

Bosses are also considering cuts in the number of episodes in future, though an ITV spokesman said the same number have been commissioned for next year as 2023, with storylines plotted until August on both soaps. 

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An ITV insider said: ‘Soaps don’t make as much advertising money as they used to. 

‘There are some chiefs looking enviously at all the consumer-themed documentaries Channel 5 makes and thinking that there could be better commercial opportunities in that kind of programming and using the slots allocated to the soaps for those. 

‘Corrie and Emmerdale are losing viewers at a drop of around ten per cent on last year. 

‘Budgets have already been cut on both shows and it is hard to see how they can sustain so many episodes.’

On Christmas Day last year Coronation Street was watched by 2.85 million, while Emmerdale had 2.56 million viewers. 

They were narrowly beaten by EastEnders with a 3.17 million audience, a huge contrast with its Christmas 1986 episode when 30 million watched Den Watts serve wife Angie divorce papers. 

Overall, soap audiences are down 42 per cent since 2014.

Last month, in a speech to celebrate the success of ITVX, the channel’s boss Kevin Lygo told of his pride at how popular it had become by putting on dramas such as Nolly – the story of Crossroads star Noele Gordon – before screening it on ITV1 this Christmas.

Last year Channel 5 axed Neighbours and earlier this year Channel 4 put its soap Hollyoaks online.

Overall, soap audiences are down 42 per cent since 2014. Pictured: ITV television studios

Overall, soap audiences are down 42 per cent since 2014. Pictured: ITV television studios

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