Can you even begin to imagine how big the audience would have been for England beating the Czech Republic in extra time in the final - even though most viewers would have been watching on the BBC? Instead, television audiences for Euro 2004 will be thinning out as rapidly as the England car flags. 'We don't have to watch it any more, do we?' was the reaction of the ladies in our house to the England defeat - bad news for ITV.
The broadcaster was involved in another brutal, drawn-out battle last week, this time with City analysts. Although clearly outnumbered from the start, ITV struggled valiantly and delivered presentation after presentation in an all-day encounter - to very little effect.
Even though ITV had nearly 100% of the possession and months to plan its tactics, the City just kept on stubbornly resisting. As far as anybody can tell, the result turned out to be a scoreless draw. Certainly, the share price scarcely moved, managing only a 3p lift across the week.
A surprising rematch the following day does not seem to have been any more decisive, partly because most of the tactics had already been revealed the previous day.
The talking point, as football commentators would doubtless say, was an off-the-ball incident that saw a journalist ask ITV chief executive Charles Allen the 'D' question, namely: 'Is it true that Greg Dyke is after your job?'
The skirmish was brief and Allen appeared to shrug off the challenge, at least for now, by replying that Dyke may indeed want to be ITV striker, but there was no vacancy at the moment. However, that's not exactly what the back pages are saying.
Naturally, Dyke, who spent last week honing his executive skills in Lisbon, is saying nothing at the moment. But the rumour, completely unsubstantiated, goes like this: the former director-general of the BBC has, in effect, had an offer to move to ITV on a free transfer for some time but didn't want even to consider it until the end of the season. In this case the 'season' means until his book is completed. Obviously a spurned and wronged executive has to get all that bile out of his system before he could contemplate a challenge such as running ITV.
The interesting time is now approaching with great speed. The book is finished, and Dyke faces the prospect of a long, boring, empty period stretching out before him.
You can be sure that he does not have the personality to spend all his time playing golf - even if he does own the golf courses.
On the pitch last week, ITV seems to have done a respectable job. The company has at least the beginnings of a credible multi-channel strategy.
It plans to spend a further £36m on top of the £24m it is already investing in new channels. The aim is to increase multi-channel revenues from £50m a year now to £150m by 2007.
It is clearly a step in the right direction. But life, commercial television and football are not even slightly fair, and loyalty is in short supply.
Charles Allen has performed in a dogged and determined manner, but the wide boys at City are already dreaming of an exciting new striker for next season - and his name is Greg Dyke.
30 SECONDS ON ... ITV RESULTS
- Net advertising revenue for ITV1 has increased by 3.7% over the six months to June 2004. ITV2 has seen a 74% rise over the period, while regional sales are up 23%.
- ITV1's share of adult commercial impacts for the first five months of this year was 41.8%, compared with 42.7% for 2003.
- The channel has appointed ex-Radio Advertising Bureau managing director Justin Sampson to head a new customer relationship management unit which will show advertisers the effectiveness of TV advertising.
- Four months after the Carlton-Granada merger, Allen says ITV is on track to deliver £100m worth of cost savings.
- ITV's autumn line-up includes new series of Rosemary and Thyme and Foyle's War, as well as shows fronted by ITV's new signings Michael Parkinson and Simon Cowell.
This article was first published on Marketing