Five News debut was 'a fantastic start for Natasha'

The Five News relaunch has made inroads into the youth market with audience share in the 16-34 age group growing by 100 per cent on its debut night, according to unofficial overnight figures released by the broadcaster.

The launch of Five News…with Natasha Kaplinsky on Monday attracted more viewers, helped by the one hour of Australian soaps scheduled in between the bulletins.

The 5pm slot showed a 100 per cent growth among 16-34 year-olds, while at 7pm its 16-34 performance more than doubled the slot average in 2007 – according to the unofficial figures.

The new 5pm slot drew a debut audience of 957,000, up 43 per cent from its average viewing figures and garnering a 7.5 per cent share of the available audience. The 7pm half-hour slot proved tougher and was watched by 431,000, up by 28 per cent, with a 1.9 per cent audience share.

Previously, the 5.30pm programme averaged 544,000 viewers – an audience share of 3.8 per cent – and the 7pm programme clinched 279,000 – a 1.4 per cent audience share.

The 5pm slot moved from 5.30pm to make room for the addition of Australian soap Neighbours, which Five won the rights to over the BBC.

Five News editor David Kermode, who joined from BBC Breakfast last year, said the programme did expect the figures to settle down but said the debut night was ‘a fantastic start for Natasha”.

Channel 4 News at 7pm beat Five with a viewing figure of 774,000. The BBC’s The One Show in the same time slot enjoyed a 22.3 per cent audience share, averaging 5.1 million across the 30-minute period.

Adrian Monck, former Five News managing editor – now head of journalism at City University – said a change in slot and marketing had helped the programme to a ratings bounce, but that the 7pm slot would, in the long term, prove tough.

Monck, who helped launch the channel’s groundbreaking bulletins in 1997 with presenter Kirsty Young, said: ‘If you look at some of the competition at 7pm, The One Show is lighter and does factual on the couch, and Channel 4 does news with more depth and seriousness. Positioning yourself between those two could also mean getting shot from both sides.”

Five News…with Natasha Kaplinsky was part of an early evening shake-up at the channel. Kaplinsky was lured from the BBC for a reported £1m a year to front Five’s two bulletins.

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