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Loss For Post Office Drama











ITV made a loss of about £1m on its agenda-setting drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office, despite it being the UK's most-watched TV show of the year so far, the broadcaster has revealed. 

The four-part drama, which aired in January, showed the human toll on hundreds of sub-postmasters who were wrongly prosecuted for false accounting and theft due to faulty software. 

It sparked an outcry and led to plans for new legislation to clear their names. 

The series has been watched by 13.5 million people to date. 

But Kevin Lygo, ITV's managing director of media and entertainment, said: "Mr Bates has made a loss of something like £1m and we can't continually do this." 

Broadcasters are facing big financial pressures, and often rely on overseas channels or streamers buying the rights to show a programme to help recoup its budget. 

Last month, ITV said 12 foreign broadcasters had bought the Mr Bates drama. But Mr Lygo said it wasn't sufficiently appealing to foreign viewers to break even. 

"Of course, some things are very profitable on the channel, and some things aren't," he told the Voice of the Listener & Viewer spring conference on Wednesday, according to PA Media. 

"But it's a challenge to be able to fund some of the things that aren't, obviously, of international appeal. 

"We're hoping this may be, because it caused such a furore here that maybe sales will pick up, but there's no evidence of it yet. 

"If you're in Lithuania, four hours on the British Post Office? Not really, thank you very much. So you can see the challenges here." 

Another challenge for mainstream broadcasters is "getting enough audiences to turn up on the night" to watch a show, he said. 

Five or six years ago, a programme like Mr Bates would have been expected to attract a live audience around six or seven million. The first episode of Mr Bates was watched by four million on the night, which is as "good as you get" now, he said.

25 April 2024                                          

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