Popular ITV1 drama Downton Abbey will see significant changes when it returns next year for its third series.
Due to the growing demand for its Sunday night time slot the turn of the century drama will see the emphasis move away from the big house and lavish costumes.
The move comes after weeks of speculation that there is too much of the programme in between the adverts. ITV insiders were quick to defend this.
'9pm on Sunday night is now seen as the most lucrative time to get products seen. Advertisers have informed us of a sharp rise in sales of their products and if we can increase the drama we see that as a winner' said ITV1’s Head of Drama, Laura Mackie.
With the current run due to end this Sunday ITV1 say they are willing to accept the inevitable loss of advertising revenue while Downton Abbey is off air.
'Without the sponsorship of Aviva or the other advertisers we would have to shut down production on the programme altogether’. She insisted this was the furthest thing from her mind. ‘We don’t envisage bringing the most popular period drama on television to an end anytime soon' and she stated quite clearly 'All we want is to incorporate the programme into the adverts. That way we will have little need to insert breaks'
Statistics show that viewers are tuning into the ad-breaks and showing less interest in the show. Viewers with Hard Drive Recorders are significantly more likely to ‘skip’ through portions of the broadcasts.
Having been questioned about their viewing habits an astonishing 90% of ITV's viewers confirmed that they much prefer to fast forward through the programme and watch the adverts. It would seem this is fast becoming a trend amongst avid watchers. By completion of a questionnaire the consensus was that the adverts contained more drama than any plot Downton Abbey could muster.
Laura Mackie concluded that 'with the consistently high ratings and the advertising revenue going hand in hand, we have decided to rename Downton Abbey to Downton Ad-Break'