Media choice - ITV1's Christmas Day line-up looks a winner

In the world of TV there were always certain truths, and the biggest was that the BBC won the ratings war at Christmas.

In the past couple of years though, like in all other areas of TV, this has been changing.

Last year, BBC1 only pulled in 33% share of adult viewing versus a 23% share for ITV1. Judging by this Christmas Day schedule, I reckon ITV will do even better.

The ITV1 schedule on Christmas Day is a cracker. Creature Comforts into Emmerdale, Celebrity Millionaire into Coronation Street into Booze Cruise 2, a Southbank Little Britain special. All proven ratings winners.

BBC1 looks a bit more hit and miss. The biggie is Doctor Who at 7pm. It will do big numbers and, I think, will be the highest rating spot of the day outside Coronation Street, Emmerdale or EastEnders.

The other shows BBC1 has on offer look a bit weaker. My Family looks past its best, The Green Green Grass (the Only Fools and Horses spin-off about Boycie) is no Only Fools and Horses, and at 10pm there is a Two Ronnies Special.

ITV1 looks to have the beating of BBC1 at peak time, which is good news for all the retailers with their Boxing Day sale ads.

Channel 4 is continuing its tradition of giving an alternative to the mainstream fare. This year, it's from Jamie Oliver, presumably giving us his views of food again, just as we all sit down to start a week-long food marathon.

C4's peak on Christmas night is dominated by a documentary on the tsunami. Brave TV, brave scheduling, terrible ratings.

And other than National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation at 10pm on Christmas Night, viewers wouldn't know it was Christmas at all on Five. But why waste money sticking on all your best shows, when you know everyone is going to watch the other sides?

The multichannel offerings on Christmas Day are very strong. All the big guys are showing special shows about their years' greatest hits. E4 on Big Brother, ITV2 on X-Factor. One bit of clever scheduling is on UK Gold. On Christmas Night, it is having an Only Fools and Horses marathon, with four episodes.

So overall, what do I think? For advertisers this year is one of the best it has ever been. A weaker BBC and a strong commercial offering means loads of eyeballs to catch those sale ads before the shops re-open on Boxing Day.

However, as a viewer, the best bit of viewing on Christmas has always been specials of great shows like Only Fools and Horses or The Office and this year they are just not about.

- Neil Johnston, head of Television, OMD UK. - Christmas day television.

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