||This article may contain original research. (September 2010)|
ISN (London News Network)
|Area served||United Kingdom|
|Key people||Michael Jermey
(ITV director of sport);
ITV Sport is a sport producer and brand name owned by ITV plc. It was formed from the amalgamation of Granada Sport, Carlton's (previously Central's) sports department and ISN, the sports division of London News Network. The company produces Champions League and FA Cup Football, along with coverage of England's national team. ITV Sport also shows live coverage of the British Touring Car Championship and the Tour De France. ITV has carried every Rugby World Cup since 1991.
ITV Sport programmes are broadcast on its main channel (the ITV Network) although outside of football the only sports shown live on the ITV Network (ITV, STV and UTV) are the Rugby World Cup and French Open Tennis as all other live coverage is shown on ITV4 and occasionally ITV3. ITV Sport's main rivals are BBC Sport, Sky Sports and ESPN. Most events air in high definition.
The controller of ITV Sport is Niall Sloane, who reports to ITV's director of news, current affairs and sport Michael Jermey.
ITV used to have a dedicated sports channel on the ITV Digital network, originally broadcasting UEFA Champions League football and ATP Masters Series tennis under the brand ONsport. It was then renamed as the ITV Sport Channel and was responsible for the service's downfall, due to offering unrealistic amounts for the rights to broadcast matches from The Football League, almost bankrupting many league clubs in the process after ITV reneged on its promised payments to clubs. Lasting for just one football season; the ITV Sport Channel launched on Saturday 11 August 2001 with Man City v Watford in the First Division, and closed on Saturday 12 May 2002 with the Division 2 Play Off Final between Brentford and Stoke. There were two spinoff channels, ITV Sport Plus and ITV Sport Select, the latter used to show the on-demand Premier League football matches from Sky Sports. Whilst football was the mainstay of the channel, it showed the ATP Masters Series, British basketball and European Cup rugby union. Previously to the ITV Digital rebrand, the ITV Sport bouquet included ONsport 1 and ONsport 2, which were subject to rebrands themselves after ITV bought up the rights to the tennis Masters Series. Before then, the channel had been branded as Champions on 28, and Champions on 99.
Current ITV Sport coverage
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Football is a significant part of ITV's sporting portfolio. Britain's first-ever televised Football League game was broadcast on ITV in 1960. Billed as The Big Game, it featured Bolton Wanderers' visit to Blackpool's Bloomfield Road on 10 September.
ITV holds joint rights for the 2014 FIFA World Cups, along with the BBC. The network broadcasts football from a range of competitions throughout the football season, with live coverage of one match each Tuesday from the UEFA Champions League. They have shared the rights with Sky Sports since 2003, having televised the competition exclusively prior to that. ITV gets first choice of Tuesday matches, and airs preview and highlights programmes for these matches. Both networks broadcast the final live. ITV has the rights for the UEFA Europa League taking over from Channel 5 as the principle rights holder for this tournament from 2012–13.
ITV had the rights to broadcast the FA Cup exclusively on terrestrial television in 1997, showing each final with Sky from 1998 to 2001. As noted above, ITV then lost terrestrial rights to the FA Cup and England matches to the BBC. In 2008, ITV regained the FA Cup and England rights. ITV shows live coverage of one game from both the first round and second round of the FA Cup, two live games and one replay (if necessary) from the 3rd round to quarter-finals, one semi-final and the final (shared with ESPN, the competition's pay-TV broadcaster), plus highlights of all other games. England coverage includes all home games and away friendlies.
An ITV error during their broadcast of the Everton vs. Liverpool FA Cup replay meant that viewers missed Dan Gosling's crucial winner for Everton late in extra time, except for certain regions where the picture came back just before the goal. Viewers across the country were left bemused when coverage was interrupted by advertisements in a mistake caused by a timed commencer for the commercial break, only to return to see the stadium celebrating. Thousands of complaints flooded in, with viewers questioning ITV's commitment to broadcasting quality football. It was later revealed that the adverts that evening were controlled by the same people who were responsible for a similar incident during the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix. This was not the first mishap during the coverage — genitals were seen and fans' swearing was heard during a previous live match.
A similar incident occurred in England's opening match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup when an advertisement was shown and then returning just after the opening goal of the game was scored. On this occasion, this only happened on ITV1's high definition channel, ITV1 HD and viewers watching the game in standard definition, including on Freeview, were unaffected. Nevertheless, the error still sparked thousands of angry complaints, some even demanding The FA to terminate their live football contract with ITV in case this happened again. As before, ITV apologised for the mistake. This happened again — although only affecting London and south-east England — during the 2011–12 UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg match between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, where the game was interrupted by Mark Austin preparing for the ITV News bulletin during extra time. The channel came under criticism for reporting on events at the England camp in Baden Baden during the 2006 World Cup at half time of all games not involving the team, as this meant less discussion of the game in question.
ITV have shown every World Cup live since 1966, and numerous European Championships. ITV's most significant football moments include the World Cup Final of 1966. Whilst most of nation tuned onto the BBC for live coverage of the final between England and West Germany, ITV broadcast the event as well, with commentator Hugh Johns describing the winning England goal by Geoff Hurst in extra time. Perhaps the biggest ITV football achievement was its live and exclusive coverage of the World Cup 98 second round match between England and Argentina. Argentina won the match on penalties and a record audience of almost 25 million viewers tuned in to ITV's coverage, fronted by Bob Wilson.
Other moments include the Champions League Final of 1999, when Manchester United won it in the dying seconds of the match. The final achieved an audience peaking at around 17 million viewers, but ITV came under fire from Manchester United supporters, as they cut to adverts instead of showing the players celebrating. Ironically German TV channel RTL Television, kept the coverage running which like ITV uses UEFA's live feed. The Champions League Final of 2005 was also won by an English club, and live on ITV. Liverpool beat AC Milan on penalties, with a peak audience of around 15 million tuning in to ITV's coverage. Around 12.5 million tuned in to see Arsenal play Barcelona in the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final, despite the English side losing in the dying minutes of the match. The all English final of the UEFA Champions League between Manchester United and Chelsea in 2008 generated an average of 16 million, gaining a peak of 17.5 million for the penalty shootout finale.
ITV has a long-standing association with European club football, broadcasting the UEFA Champions League every year since its inception in 1992. The broadcaster has held the rights exclusively from 1992 to 2003, before having shared it with Sky Sports since 2003. From 1997, ITV began the habit of broadcasting additional matches from the competition, at first showing one extra match per week on either the Granada Plus or Carlton Select cable channels before, following the launch of On Digital, it showed every key match through special bespoke channels Champions on 28 and Champions on 99, later ONsport 1 and ONsport 2, as well as on ITV2. This practice continued until 2009, when ITV reduced its output to just one live match per set in the competition.
ITV's highest World Cup ratings of 2006 was its live coverage of England versus Sweden, in the group stages, and it achieved a peak audience of 21 million, its highest audience since the England versus Argentina match at World Cup '98.
ITV broadcasted the African Cup of Nations 2012, with highlights of all games, and one game per round including the Final. In 2013 they broadcasted all matches live.
ITV Football presenters
Since 2010 ITV's main football host is Adrian Chiles, who presents the network's coverage of Champions League, FA Cup, and England games. Other ITV football presenters include Matt Smith. Smith presents Champions League highlights, secondary FA Cup games, Europa League matches and African Cup Of Nations matches. Angus Scott has appeared on the network since his departure, presenting the UEFA Super Cup and Europa League games and pre-season matches. Kelly Cates is an occasional presenter and hosted early rounds of the Champions League.
Former ITV Football Hosts
Former ITV football hosts include Steve Rider, who replaced Gabby Logan as the presenter of the UEFA Champions League matches in 2006. Logan herself took over as the main presenter after Des Lynam's departure in July 2004. However, she received some harsh criticism from the British press after her performance fronting the network's Champions League final coverage between Barcelona and Arsenal at the Stade de France. ITV Sport bosses made the decision to replace her with Rider, a former BBC Sport host, for the main presenter role at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Logan left the network for the BBC in December 2006. Rider presented ITV's Champions League and FA Cup coverage until April 2010 after he quit the network, following the arrival of Adrian Chiles.
Previous ITV football presenters include Dickie Davies, Brian Moore, Elton Welsby (late 1980s to 1992), Matt Lorenzo (1993 to 1994), Bob Wilson (1994 to 1999) and Des Lynam (1999 to 2004). Jim Rosenthal was until recently the main football presenter on Channel 5, however he continues to front the FA Cup draw and has made appearances on other sports broadcasters.
ITV's current lead commentator is Clive Tyldesley (also one the voices of the FIFA Series since 2006), who has won several RTS sports awards for best commentator. Tyldesley is ITV's first choice commentator coverage and the voice of ITV's biggest games. He shares ITV's other big games from the FA Cup, Champions League, Europa League, and England internationals with ITV's other staff commentators, Peter Drury, Andy Townsend and Jim Beglin. Jon Champion can be heard during World Cups and European Championships where he is loaned to ITV from ESPN.
ITV Sport's commentators are supplemented by a number of freelancers. Tom Skippings, Andy Bodfish, Ian Crocker and Steve Bower are among that have been used for FA Cup, Europa League, and World Cup games. More recently, Sam Matterface, Joe Speight and Jim Proudfoot have appeared on the network commentating on FA Cup, Champions League and Europa League games. Dominic Johnson and Derek Rae have also supplied recent commentaries, alongside regional staff such as Roger Tames and Seth Conway.
Brian Moore was the voice of ITV's football coverage from 1968 through to the 1998 World Cup final in France. He presented and commentated on football for the network in four different decades. He died on 1 September 2001, on the day England beat Germany in Munich 5-1. Former ITV commentators include Guy Mowbray (now with BBC Sport) and Jon Champion (who moved to ESPN).
ITV's main co-commentator is Andy Townsend. With Jim Beglin as the 2nd co-commentator. Clarke Carlisle is also used. Previous co-commentators include Kevin Gallacher, Matt Holland (now more usually seen on the BBC's Championship football coverage, including presenting Late Kick Off for BBC East) and Iain Dowie. David Pleat was ITV's lead co-commentator for a number of years until he was dropped in 2009.
ITV's three regular pundits are Roy Keane, Lee Dixon and Gareth Southgate. Additional pundits are used when and if they are needed. These have included ex Dutch international and former Chelsea manager Ruud Gullit, Patrick Viera, Sam Allardyce, Stuart Pearce and Alan Curbishley. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Terry Venables and Ally McCoist were all regular pundits before quitting to take other jobs involved with football. Robbie Earle was a regular pundit on ITV for over 10 years, until his contract was terminated during the 2010 World Cup due to Earle failing to abide by ticket allocation rules.
ITV's reporters are Gabriel Clarke, Ned Boulting and Andy Kerr. Freelance reporters such as Dave Beckett, Richard Henwood, Tom Skippings, Jed Pitman, Chris Hall, Gareth Owen, Roger Tames and Trevor Harris are among those to have featured on ITV's football coverage.
The British Touring Car Championship is another series ITV won away from the BBC, doing so in 2002. Coverage was initially hosted by Vicki Butler-Henderson and Ben Edwards, with Edwards joined in the commentary box by various guest colour commentators during the 2002 season. These included Will Hoy, Chris Goodwin and Kelvin Burt. Tim Harvey was introduced as a permanent co-commentator for the 2003 season and has only missed one programme since. In 2004, ITV introduced live coverage of the British Touring Car Championship for the first time on network television. Previously the BBC had shown occasional races live, but not to this extent. All meetings have been broadcast live by ITV Sport since. Angus Scott joined as a second presenter for the 2006 season, but both he and Vicki Butler-Henderson were replaced for 2007 by Louise Goodman and Ted Kravitz. Kravitz took up the role as lead host for 2008 although Steve Rider and Jane Omorogbe were known to cover. The races are now shown live on ITV4 and highlights are shown on ITV1 on Tuesday early morning on the corresponding weekend. 2009 saw Steve Rider anchor coverage, with Louise Goodman doing the pitlane reports (as she did on the F1 Coverage) and Ben Edwards commentating
The support races to the BTCC are broadcast by ITV Sport in a separate programme called Motorsport UK, typically shown in the channel's early morning schedules. This also launched in 2002, when it featured the Porsche Cup, Clio Cup, Formula Ford and Formula Renault championships. It was presented in the first year by Rachel Whatley with commentary from Richard John Neil. Diana Binks was used as a reporter, before she took over as presenter for the 2003 season, remaining until the end of 2005. Fran Robinson presented in 2006, while Louise Goodman took over in 2007. Ben Edwards was commentator in 2004. In 2005, he was joined by Simon Hill as co-commentator. For the 2006 and 2007 seasons the commentators were John Hindhaugh and Simon Hill. The SEAT Cupra Championship and Formula BMW UK were added to the series covered by Motorsport UK in 2004, replacing Formula Ford. The Porsche Carrera Cup was not shown in 2003 or 2004, but had its own programming on Channel 4. It returned to Motorsport UK in 2005. John Hindaugh was then lead commentator for a while and then Richard John Neil returned as lead commentator with Ben Edwards again in 2010.
In 2004, ITV broadcast a brand new magazine show for motorsport fans called Speed Sunday. The show was mainly presented by Matt Smith and Vicki Butler-Henderson. Other presenters included Lee McKenzie, Angus Scott and Jason Plato. It include a mix of news and features from the world of motorsport, in front of a live studio audience, for 1 hour on Sunday afternoons, on alternate weekends to F1. Special programmes included live coverage of the Le Mans 24 Hours and the BTCC Masters race. Whilst the concept of the show was appreciated by motorsport fans, the programme struggled ratings wise and the budget was tight, meaning that the shows were cut 45 minutes and filmed on location instead of the studio. The show was axed at the end of the season.
ITV used to broadcast the World Rally Championship between 2004 and 2007, the rights to which it picked up from Channel 4 (who, in turn, had picked them up from the BBC in 2001). Coverage was hosted by Angus Scott, with Jon Desborough (of Sky News) and Robbie Head in 2004 and 2005. However as a cost cutting measure, ITV decided in 2006 to take the international WRC programmes produced by ISC, therefore removing the ITV presenters. For the 2007 season, coverage was moved away from the main ITV channel onto the digital channel ITV4, available only via Freeview or satellite. Subsequently, Angus Scott left ITV to join Setanta Sports, and Jon Desborough returned to present sports round-ups on Sky News. The rights to the WRC for 2008 were poached from ITV by Dave. In 2013, ITV re-acquired the rights.
In 2006, ITV replaced Channel 4 as the terrestrial broadcaster of the British Superbike Championship, increasing both the quantity and quality of the coverage. Channel 4 had previously shown highlights early in the morning a week after the event. ITV started with live coverage of most rounds, although some Bank Holiday Monday races were shown as highlights. Angus Scott and Jane Omorogbe were the presenters in 2006. Scott was replaced by James Cracknell for 2007. Barry Nutley and James Whitham were the commentators in 2006. Nutley was replaced by Jack Burnicle for 2007. However, ITV decided to pull out of this event and British Eurosport took over live coverage with Channel 4 signing a deal for highlights. ITV regained the rights for highlights from 2009 onwards. In 2011, coverage was presented by James Haydon while commentary (shared with Eurosport) came from Jack Burnicle and James Whitham.
The network has broadcast every Rugby World Cup live since 1991, being host broadcaster in 1991 and 1999. The only tournament that ITV has not shown has been the inaugural tournament held in 1987. In 2003, England finally triumphed in the final against Australia, at the Telstra Stadium in Sydney. ITV broadcast the event live, with a peak audience of around 12-14 million viewers, a record for any rugby match broadcast to a UK audience (and almost certainly a record audience figure for the time of day - around 9am UK time). The action was anchored by Jim Rosenthal, Angus Scott and Gabby Logan with pundits including Francois Pienaar and Will Carling. The network received some criticism for relegating coverage of England's pool match against Uruguay and the New Zealand v South Africa quarter final to ITV2, then a channel which the majority of UK households did not receive.
ITV held joint UK rights to the 2007 Rugby World Cup along with S4C and showed all games live on either the ITV Network or ITV4, with two games - Scotland v Romania and Wales v Japan - on ITV3 due to UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup football coverage on both ITV and ITV4 on the same night. While all of England's matches were broadcast live on ITV (English regions), many of the other home nations' matches were "relegated" to ITV's digital services (though they were simulcast on ITV1 Wales/STV/UTV in their respective nation).
Jim Rosenthal and Martin Bayfield were the main studio presenters for the 2007 World Cup in France, although they hosted some coverage from a studio in London. Sky Sports commentators Miles Harrison and Stuart Barnes were 'loaned' out to ITV for the duration of the tournament and teamed up for major matches, including the final. They returned to Sky Sports once the tournament had finished. Other commentators included veteran ITV commentators John Taylor (who covered the Finals from 1991, to 2003) and Bob Symonds (former editor of rugby for HTV), Jon Champion and Murray Mexted. Reporters included veteran ITV Sport reporters Gabriel Clarke and Ned Boulting, who were joined by ITV News sports correspondent Geraint Vincent and Will Greenwood, World Cup winner with England in 2003.
The 2011 Rugby World Cup was presented by Steve Rider and Craig Doyle. Studio analysts came from Michael Lynagh, Sean Fitzpatrick, Francois Pienaar, Lawrence Dallaglio, Girvan Dempsey and Gareth Thomas as well as injured players Danny Care and Thom Evans. Martyn Williams was an analyst for Wales' semi final against France and the third place playoff match against Australia. Commentators were Nick Mullins, Martin Gillingham, Simon Ward and Bob Symonds. Co-commentators were Phil Vickery, Andy Gomarsall, Alan Quinlan, Scott Hastings and Michael Owen. Reporters were Gabriel Clarke and Martin Bayfield.
ITV will broadcast the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Previously, ITV had broadcast highlights of England's home internationals at Twickenham in the Six Nations (during a period when Sky Sports held the live rights to England's home Six Nations tests) and the Autumn International test matches. ITV also held the rights to the IRB Sevens tournament from 2001 to 2006. These rights were obtained by BBC Sport for the 2006/7 season.
ITV also shows Guinness Premiership club rugby highlights and has done so since the 2008-9 season. A one hour-highlights show presented by Craig Doyle airs on ITV4 on Sunday nights at 8pm, with a repeat on ITV1 later the same evening and again on ITV4 on Mondays at 6pm. Martin Bayfield returned as the pundit and fill in presenters. In 2011, the channel has also shown a highlights package of the Heineken Cup and the LV Cup.
Highlights of the 2010/11 Ashes series, which saw England retain The Ashes, were shown on free-to-air on digital ITV4. ITV announced they had agreed terms with Cricket Australia and IMG Media to show the 2010-11 series on their digital channel, on 17 November 2010. However, the highlights were not shown until late in the evening when the following day's live action was about to get under way.
The same channel - which ITV say is available "to 93% of homes" - also showed highlights of the Twenty20 and one-day series which ran in January and February.
ITV controller of sport, Niall Sloane said: "There is huge demand to see England defend the Ashes and I'm delighted that we have secured highlights, free-to-air for UK viewers."
Encouraged by the success of having aired the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2010, on a one-year contract, UK broadcaster ITV has signed a new four-year deal with Nimbus Communications for the UK broadcast rights to the IPL. Under the new agreement, live coverage of IPL matches will be broadcast free-to-air on ITV4 and simulcast live on ITV.com. The fourth season of the IPL runs from 8 April over 74 matches to 28 May. ITV4 coverage will be produced by ITV Sport with the presenting team due to be announced shortly.
These events had been the first cricket coverage on ITV since the broadcaster showed highlights of England's overseas tour of New Zealand in 1988.
ITV obtained the rights to the prestigious Tour de France in 2002, replacing Channel 4 as the UK terrestrial broadcaster. The coverage is shown on ITV4, having aired in previous years on ITV2 and ITV3. Initially, live coverage was only broadcast at the weekend but since the 2010 Tour de France, ITV4 has broadcast daily live coverage of every stage, as well as the nightly highlights show. A new contract will see the event remain on the channel until 2015 Coverage is fronted by Gary Imlach, who is normally accompanied by a former competitor as a pundit (such as Chris Boardman). Commentary comes from Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen (who also broadcast for other English-language channels around the world), thus re-uniting the former Channel 4 broadcast team. Eurosport also broadcasts the event, covering every stage live.
In March 2007, ITV Sport announced they would be covering an all new darts tournament, the Grand Slam of Darts, comprising champions of both the BDO and PDC tournaments. This was the first time that ITV had shown darts since 1988. ITV covered the event between 2007 and 2010. In 2010 Sky Sports announced they would be covering the Grand Slam of Darts in a new contract with the PDC.
ITV Sport had also aired the inaugural PDC European Championships.
ITV's darts presenter was Matt Smith, pundits included Steve Beaton (who did the first two Grand Slam of Darts and the European Championship), Chris Mason and Alan Warriner-Little. ITV Sport's Darts commentators were boxing and football commentator John Rawling, Sky darts commentator Stuart Pyke and football commentator Peter Drury. Nigel Pearson initially freelanced, but is now working exclusively for Sky Sports. Reports came from Ned Boulting and Janie Omorogbe, who had featured on ITV Sport's coverage of the British Superbike Championship.
ITV signed a new contract with the PDC in 2011 to show the European Darts Championship in July. Following on from this, the PDC announced that the Second Players Championship Finals of 2011 will be televised on ITV4, having been shown on the channel in 2009 and 2010.
In November 2008, ITV Sport acquired the rights to the Black Rock Tennis Masters. Live coverage and highlights of the tournament air on ITV4 and ITV.com. Originally, Craig Doyle presented the coverage with commentary from John Lloyd and Simon Reed but in 2010, Matt Smith was the presenter with commentary from Simon Reed and Annabel Croft.
ITV Sport holds broadcasting rights to show the French Open tennis tournaments from 2012 to 2014. The bulk of the daily coverage is broadcast on ITV4 although both singles finals plus other weekend matches are shown on ITV1.John Inverdale hosts the coverage. Commentators include Jim Courier, Amelie Mauresmo, Sam Smith, Nick Mullins and Fabrice Santoro.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, ITV broadcast up to four Major Snooker Tournaments per season including The World Doubles Championships, The World Matchplay, The Mercantile Credit Classic and The British Open. Daytime action was sometimes shown on Channel 4. However, ITV decided to axe all of its snooker after the 1993 British Open.
ITV briefly returned to the green baize 2000 and 2001 and since 2010 has shown a single weekend of a new format of the sport called Power Snooker. In February 2013 ITV4 is showing the World Open and is the first showing of a ranking tournament on ITV for 20 years. Hosted by Jill Douglas, the commentary team comprised Clive Everton, Neil Foulds and Peter Drury.
Previous ITV Sport coverage
In 1985, ITV won the rights to show British Athletics from the BBC. As well as broadcasting UK athletics, the channel also showed many of the major European evening meetings whereby ITV showed the first hour with the second hour broadcast on Channel 4. ITV also broadcast the 1983 and 1987 World Championships and the European Athletics Championships during the 1980s and in 1990. Again, some of the coverage was broadcast on Channel 4. Jim Rosenthal presented the coverage with commentary from Alan Parry, Peter Matthews and Steve Ovett. ITV scaled back its coverage of the sport in the early 1990s and decided to axe all remaining athletics coverage in 1997 and the sport has subsequently never been seen on the channel. Channel 4 briefly took the baton from ITV, showing UK meetings in 1997 and 1998, before coverage reverted back to the BBC in 1999.
The Boat Race
In 2004, ITV won the rights to the annual Varsity Boat Race from the BBC. The contract ran to 2009. Hosts of the coverage were initially Gabby Logan and Mark Durden Smith. Craig Doyle took over as presenter, while Peter Drury commentated. James Cracknell acted as a co presenter and pundit.
The opening titles, commissioned by Paul McNamara and directed by Victor Martinez, won a Royal Television Society award in 2006 for best Sport based titles, whilst the overall race coverage directed by John Watts, was nominated for two BAFTAs and also won at the RTS Awards.
ITV Sport did not renew its contract for The Boat Race after its contract ended due to wanting to concentrate on football. The rights reverted back to the BBC.
In 2005, the network obtained the main share of Frank Warren's Sports Network fights (that, for the last decade, had previously been aired by Sky Sports) and as a result broadcasts fights involving Amir Khan, Joe Calzaghe, Danny Williams, Audley Harrison, Dereck Chisora and others. Former high-profile fighters on ITV included Naseem Hamed, Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank.
In May 2005, ITV returned to the ring, with live coverage of Amir Khan's last fight before becoming professional against Mario Kindelan. It achieved a peak audience of 6.3 million viewers, encouraging ITV to reach a long-term agreement to show future Sports Network boxing promotions.
Other highlights since ITV returned to the sport have included the Joe Calzaghe's emphatic victory over Jeff Lacy for the WBO and IBF super-middleweight world title at the Manchester MEN Arena in March 2006. Despite being a poor fight, the first contest between Audley Harrison and Danny Williams in December 2005 achieved an audience of eight million viewers - giving credence to the fact there is large potential audience for top class boxing in the UK.
The main host of ITV Boxing was Jim Rosenthal, with analysis from Barry McGuigan and commentary from John Rawling and Duke McKenzie. Gabriel Clarke provided reports and also presented and co-produced a recent documentary on Joe Calzaghe - No Average Joe, shown on ITV4.
On 6 September 2008, Amir Khan switched to Sky from ITV, signalling the end of ITV's contract with Frank Warren's Sports Network promotion (Khan suffered a shock first round knockout by Breidis Prescott in his first fight screened by Sky Box Office). Later that month, ITV announced a 2 year, 26 fight deal with Hennessy Sports. The majority of fights was screened on ITV4 and was once again hosted by Jim Rosenthal, who made an unexpected return to ITV having previously been axed in early 2008. ITV Sport will broadcast more boxing in the future.
Previously, ITV held the rights to English top flight football highlights (both in its current iteration as the Premier League and as the old Football League First Division). It acquired the Premiership highlights in 2000 for the 2001-02, 2002–03 and 2003-04 seasons, surprising the BBC, the previous holders, and ending Match of the Day as a weekly programme (it continued on an ad-hoc basis during FA Cup and England weekends, which coincidentally switched to the BBC at the same time). The ITV Premiership programme was titled 'The Premiership' and was presented by Des Lynam (himself formerly a presenter for Match of the Day). The show originally went out at 7pm, but this ended up being unpopular with viewers and advertisers. As such, the show was moved to 10.30pm only a few months later. During this period, The Goal Rush was aired on Saturday during the football matches taking place on that day to provide live scores and match reports. It used a similar format to Gillette Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports but never achieved good ratings. The programme ended in 2003. ITV held the Premiership rights for one three-year contract - the rights returned to the BBC for the start of the 2004-05 season.
ITV covered Formula One from 1997 to 2008, after the BBC lost the rights. The deal, worth £60 million, offered extended pre and post race analysis and complete live coverage of qualifying, thanks to a deal negotiated with FOM's Bernie Ecclestone. ITV chose to bid for the rights due to constantly being beaten at weekends while the Grand Prix coverage was on.
Coverage was originally presented by Jim Rosenthal from 1997 to 2005 with Tony Jardine as analyst until 2001 when he shared the role with Mark Blundell. Jardine and Rosenthal both left ITV's coverage at the end of the 2005 season, with ex-BBC Sport presenter Steve Rider replacing the latter as the presenter of the coverage. ITV also managed to secure Murray Walker to continue commentating as he had done with the BBC, his new co-commentator was ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle, who would act as a summariser, similar to the position James Hunt and Jonathan Palmer had when the BBC televised the sport. On several occasions, different people would stand in for Brundle on commentary, including Derek Warwick, Jody Scheckter, Anthony Davidson and 1996 Drivers' Champion Damon Hill.
The 2001 United States Grand Prix was Walker's last in the ITV commentary booth, having missed four other races that season.James Allen moved up from his former role as pitlane reporter to replace Walker in the commentary box with Brundle still commentating as usual and Ted Kravitz inheriting Allen's old role. ITV also introduced Martin Brundle's hugely popular gridwalk (a role he still continues on Sky Sports F1), where roughly 10–15 minutes before the start of the race Brundle would walk around the grid interviewing drivers, team personnel, celebrities and whoever else he could find. One such interview was with the King of Spain.
ITV drew criticism for airing advertisement breaks during the races - they were obliged to take five three-minute commercial breaks during each race. In 2005 the network angered fans by running adverts during the tense conclusion to the San Marino Grand Prix. ITV repeated the last three laps after the race but were inundated with complaints from angry viewers. As a result of these complaints, the server on their website crashed and they were fined by regulator Ofcom. An on-air apology was made by Rosenthal before the start of the next race in Spain two weeks later.
However, ITV were also recognised positively for their coverage of Formula 1, and won several awards including several BAFTA nominations and RTS awards. Jim Rosenthal won an award for best sports presenter, and Brundle won an award for best sports analyst. ITV Sport won a British Academy Television Award in 2007 for its coverage of the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix, where Jenson Button won for the first time.
On 13 March 2008, ITV announced that they would be for the first time ever streaming live-coverage of practice sessions, with qualifying, race coverage, and extra features also broadcast on their website for UK-based users. However, they later announced that they had enacted a clause within their contract enabling them to leave F1 coverage after the 2008 season. It is believed this was done for commercial reasons and to allow more money to be spent on securing coverage of the UEFA Champions League. The BBC retained coverage from 2009 onwards. Ironically, ITV F1's highest ever broadcast rating came in its final race, the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix (the first season in which ITV had aired a British Championship victory), which attracted 8.8 million viewers, peaking at 12.5 million viewers. On 17 November 2008, BBC announced that Martin Brundle would continue his commentary role alongside Jonathan Legard during the 2009 season, while Ted Kravitz would continue his pit-lane reporter role alongside Lee McKenzie.
As part of the F1 contract, the network showed the GP2 Series, the feeder series to F1. These programmes were broadcast a week after the event (until 2007). From 2008, live coverage was shown on ITV4, presented by Charlotte Webster with commentary from BBC Radio 5 Lives' David Croft. ITV lost coverage of the GP2 Series from 2009 following the loss of the F1 contract to the BBC.
ITV covered the summer Olympic Games 1968, 1972, 1980 and 1988. Costs associated with staff working overseas prevented coverage of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics but the Games returned to ITV screens for one last time in 1988, sharing the coverage with Channel 4 - Channel 4 showing the overnight and breakfast coverage with ITV covering the daytime action as well as broadcasting early evening highlights programmes.
ITV has never broadcast the Winter Olympics.
Was shown as part of ITV's flagship sports programme World of Sport until the programme was cancelled in 1985. After that, wrestling was shown as a programme in its own right, moving to a lunchtime slot. This continued until 1988. Its many stars included Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks and used to get viewing figures of 8 million every week.
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