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.Featured presenters include Adrian Chiles, Matt Smith, Craig Doyle, Jim Rosenthal, Steve Rider and Gary Imlach.
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.
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