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First midweek episode of ITV's Peston beats BBC Newsnight in late-night current affairs ratings battle

The first midweek episode of Peston on ITV won the late-night ratings battle against Newsnight on Wednesday, with the editor of the rival BBC show saying she “welcomes the competition”.

ITV political editor Robert Peston’s current affairs show Peston on Sunday has moved to midweek after ratings its Sunday evening repeat were regularly double than those for its live broadcast at 10am.

The evening repeat would reach about 600,000 viewers.

On Wednesday, airing midweek for the first time, Peston averaged 508,000 viewers, with a peak of 786,000, and a 6.8 per cent audience share.

The BBC’s long-running flagship current affairs show Newsnight had an average audience of 344,000, rising to a peak of 600,000.

Newsnight editor Esme Wren reacted on Twitter by saying: “It’s apples and pears”.

She said: “ITV1 v BBC2 is far from a level playing field. Peston inherited an audience of 1.2m, Newsnight inherited 0.3m.

“Much of the ‘battle’ is down to the scheduling/inheritance. That said we welcome the competition.”

The shows overlap for 25 minutes – Peston runs for an hour long from 10.45pm, while Newsnight airs between 10.30pm and 11.10pm.

Newsnight is broadcast live, whereas Peston is filmed at 8pm when it is streamed live on Twitter ahead of the TV broadcast.

This meant both shows were able to feature the same guest – Shadow Minister Barry Gardiner – at almost the same time.

Other guests on Peston included Health Secretary Matt Hancock, former Home Secretary Amber Rudd and #MeToo activist Rose McGowan, while Newsnight featured journalists Polly Toynbee and Paul Mason.

Peston did see some troubles with its first episode, however, as its Twitter livestream – billed as a UK terrestrial TV first – saw its audio and video out of sync for the first half of the show.

After recording finished, Peston apologised on Twitter for the technical problems and promised they would not be repeated next week when the show would again air on the social media platform.

He said: “So I owe all of you a big apology. The livestream of Peston here on Twitter at @itvpeston didn’t work properly for first 20 minutes. Very sorry.

“I am told the problem has been sorted and next week will be fine. Please forgive.”

Picture: ITV

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