Reports of Coronation Street’s ratings “crisis” have been greatly exaggerated

Is the nation's favourite soap really ready for the scrapheap?

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According to the final edition of “the world’s greatest newspaper”, Coronation Street is undergoing a ratings crisis. 

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In one final Screws exclusive, the News of the World’s TV editor, Tom Latchem, revealed on Sunday that ITV’s flagship soap has lost “more than a quarter of their viewers in less than a month”.

Wow! That’s how to go out with a bang.

So, why has this happened? Well, according to “insiders”, the arrival of Michelle Collins (Cindy Beale from EastEnders) and a whole raft of gay characters has led the show away from its “traditional” roots and “viewers have voted with their remotes”.

Indeed, the figures speak for themselves… On Monday 30 May Corrie was riding high, pulling in 10.42 million viewers, but by “the end of June” only 7.18 million welcomed Weatherfield into their homes. Using my online percentage decrease calculator of choice, I’d call that a 31 per cent decline in Street viewing in a month – that’s more than a quarter of viewers – the story stands up, publish!

But wait… let’s look a little closer at those numbers – what do the statistics say?

First, that dizzying 10.42 million high at the end of May. It just so happens that this episode of Corrie was on a bank holiday at 9pm. And what the NotW fails to mention is that the edition was sandwiched between the first live episode of Britain’s Got Talent (featuring the return of Simon Cowell – and the much hyped Ronan Parke) and the results show for the programme, both ratings juggernauts.

You could put Paint Drying: Live™ on in this slot and it’d get ten million viewers.

Also, the episode was the first of a much trailed five-night week of Corrie specials that saw a number of huge storylines resolved, including the John Stape/Colin Fishwick fiasco, the Graeme-Xin-Tina love triangle and the return of young Max to care.

And so to that 7.18 million “low” at the end of June. Glancing through my numbers, I can’t find an episode of Corrie that scored that exact figure.  However, an extensive trawl of the Barb website later, it looks like the number refers to the 8:30pm episode of Corrie on 24 June. 

Now, there was no Britain’s Got Talent that evening, but – and there is a but – Andy Murray was playing Ivan Ljubicic on BBC1. In fact, when Corrie began, more than six million were watching the young Scot at Wimbledon, slightly more competition than usual for the Street, a programme accustomed to battling it out with Fake Britain or similarly unwatched consumer-tainment.  

There is no doubt, there has been a drop in Coronation Street viewing in the past month or so. In late May (before the BGT boost) the show was hovering around the 9 million mark – last Friday it attracted 7.7 million and 7.4 million viewers in its two outings.

However, in that same period, EastEnders has dropped from 9 million to 7.1 million viewers. Why is no one shouting about a ratings crisis in Walford? 

The reality of this situation is that soap ratings are cyclical. They’re determined by a number of factors, including season (as we approach summer all TV ratings drop off), the number of “big storylines” nearing a conclusion, and scheduling (ie what the programme is up against, and what it is preceded and followed by on its own channel).

So, as the other tabs swoop in to demand the head of Phil Collinson (the show’s producer) for destroying Corrie’s appeal, and the broadsheets begin to deconstruct the demise of the nation’s favourite soap, remember one thing…

You can’t believe everything you read in the papers…

Thank you and goodbye.  

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