Has Simon Cowell blinked? With BBC One’s The Voice UK steadily gaining on Cowell’s Britain’s Got Talent over on ITV, the latter network will step out of the line of fire for upcoming episodes. Beginning April 21, BGT will kick off 30 minutes later than it has for the past several weeks, and 10 minutes after The Voice ends. ITV originally set a challenge to The Voice when it moved BGT ahead several weeks so the two shows would debut on the same night. This had followed an earlier bidding war in which both networks were vying for broadcast rights to The Voice. BGT also brought back Cowell as a judge this year in a widely touted move.
As I reported on Tuesday, although BGT’s ratings were originally ahead of The Voice, the BBC One show beat BGT in the overall ratings for the first time this past Saturday and has been steadily adding viewers over its three frames. Key however is the fact that the shows only overlapped for a 20-minute period with The Voice airing from 7-8:20pm and BGT from 8-9:20pm. It’s that 20-minute space where The Voice has soared past BGT each week, most recently averaging 10 million viewers against 6.2 million for BGT. Of the scheduling shift, an ITV spokesman said: “At its peak, 11.9 million people watched Britain’s Got Talent this weekend; the highest recorded audience figure on any channel so far this month,” adding, “By moving to 20:30 BST, we are ensuring that as many people as possible have the opportunity to watch the show in full.”