ITV encouraged by first day after audience peaks at 1.1 million
ITV started its first Cheltenham Festival with a peak audience of 1.1m for the Champion Hurdle.
The average number viewing the programme hosted by Ed Chamberlin with Sir Anthony McCoy and Mick Fitzgerald was 800,000, with both figures a healthy increase on the Channel 4 figures earlier this decade.
ITV was particularly encouraged by the share of the television audience these figures represented as well as the upward surge from Channel 4's numbers.
An ITV source claimed: "The share of the audience was 12 per cent which is higher than Channel 4 got on the first day throughout their time."
The 800,000 average was up over 100,000 on Channel 4's last festival opening day of 675,000 last year.
Channel 4's average audience on the first day before last year had been much lower with 527,000 in 2015 and 586,000 in 2014.
ITV racing hit the screens at Cheltenham on January 1 when viewing figures were an average 676,000 and a 5.4 per cent audience share with a peak of 831,000.
That was also up around 100,000 on Channel 4's 2016 figures of 558,000 average.
ITV enjoyed 14.5 per cent of the national audience share in 2016, compared to Channel 4's 4.8 per cent, according to figures from the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB).