Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Thu 8 June 2006

In defence of the Football fan...

OK, let's get this out of the way right now. Some time during the next four weeks - probably during the next two days in all probability - you will hear the following whining moan coming from certain sections of society:
"Every time you turn on the TV these days it's 'football, football, football'. I'm sick of it..."

Far be it for me to generalise, but more often than not it's women who utter the above statement. Not all women, of course, but quite a few. And what is their preferred choice of television programming? Soap operas. Some like to watch EastEnders, some like to watch Emmerdale and some like to watch Coronation Street. Oh and some poor souls like to watch all three, but they're beyond salvation, quite frankly.

So just how true is it - can it really be the case that Football is always on the telly, or at least more so than the soaps? In an attempt to clear the name of us Football fans, I've spent literally minutes trying to work out how much time is devoted to both the World Cup and to soap operas.

First of all, let's deal with the World Cup. It happens every four years, and as ever, the bulk of the matches are being shown live on ITV1 and BBC1. According to my calculations, the total amount of time that both channels will spend showing live matches is somewhere in the region of 140 hours.

And now, let's pick one of the three main soaps at random. Let's see... ummm... how about EastEnders. It's on four times a week for half an hour at a time, so that makes 2 hours per week. Or to put it another way, 104 hours per year. But the World Cup only happens once every FOUR years, so let's apply the same time period to Eastenders... 416 hours. Yes folks, over a four-year period, the World Cup accounts for 140 hours of TV and Eastenders accounts for 416.

But what's that, I hear you cry - "I watch Coronation Street"?? Well that gets shown five times a week in half-hour instalments, so over a four-year period that equates to 520 hours of primetime Northern drudgery.

And hey, let's not leave out Emmerdale. Everyone's favourite slice of life from the hills and dales of Yorkshire [yawn] gets shown six times a week, so in between World Cups you can expect to cram in around 625 hours worth, and not a cowpat in sight, mark you.

So have I made all that perfectly clear for you? Any discerning voices, please take note once and for all: the amount of time devoted to live World Cup matches is only a fraction of that spent showing EastEnders, Emmerdale or Coronation Street.

Funny that - no-one ever complains that there are too many soaps on TV...

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