Australia’s three commercial TV networks have each claimed victory as the 2016 ratings year drew to a close over the weekend.
A late ratings surge helped Nine win some key demos in prime time metropolitan ratings, Ten has had impressive gains on rivals between 6pm to 10.30pm, while Seven has won combined metro and regional ratings across just about everything.
Although TV metrics are independently measured and audited by OzTam and it's regional affiliate, TV networks use the figures in different ways to promote success, which makes it difficult to compare like-for-like but cutting through the spin and a few trends emerge.
“Clearly we are all very competitive as we should be and everybody is looking for a point of differentiation,” Nine chief sales officer Michael Stephenson pointed out to AdNews.
“From my perspective, I think that we should get judged from the 1st of January to the 31st of December, across all four channels from the minute we start broadcasting to the minute we stop every single day against the key three demographics advertisers buy.
“Whether we win a morning or afternoon or Monday or Tuesday is not that relevant to advertisers. I think advertisers are interested in whether we can deliver the biggest audience in the right demographic for the full year across all of our channels and day parts.”
Seven wins Australia-wide ratings
Seven has claimed victory in total viewers, wrapping up its tenth consecutive year as Australia’s most-watched network. This is undisputable when you combine metropolitan viewers and regional viewers, which are priced differently when selling inventory to advertisers.
Including Olympic coverage, Seven’s main channel won a 20.7% share of total viewers in prime time to Nine’s 18.3% and Ten’s 13.5%, which also includes ABC 12.6% and SBS 4.8% and secondary digital channels. Without the Olympics, it sill comes out on top with 20.4% to Nine's 18.5% and Ten's 13.6%.
Combining metro and regional, Seven has also secured the largest audience across all key demos (16-39, 18,49, 25-54). Using these parameters, Seven Network has the largest audience share (29.7%), ahead of Nine Network (26.9%) and Network Ten (18.8%).
Seven's success is down to tent pole shows My Kitchen Rules, which is easily the most watched show on Australian TV, strong drama series like Wanted and the nationwide popularity of the AFL – which is the highest rating sports competition in Australia.
In a press release, Seven’s director of programming Angus Ross said: “Twelve months ago we promised to be a more dominant number one in 2016 – and we are more dominant than ever, in this our tenth year of leadership. Seven is not only number one in all people. We are number one in all the key demographics. And, we are the only commercial network to grow share in all people and every demographic, widening our leadership over Nine and Ten.”
Nine's metro success
Nine measures success by focusing only on network metropolitan viewers across key demographics. It has stripped out the Olympic Games ratings block, because it is an unusual event that distorts the overall comparison.
Nine has also only compared ratings with commercial TV rivals Seven Network and Ten Network, excluding public broadcasters ABC and SBS.
With this in mind, Nine Network has claimed the largest prime time audience share of people 25-54 with 35.8% to Seven (35.5%) and Ten (28.7%).
It has also claims the largest share in 18-49 and grocery buyer with a child and equal largest share of 25-54 with rival Seven. Seven wins the 16-39 demo.
Nine's success, which looked doubtful mid-year, is partly due to post-Olympics dominance, where it has won all key demos ahead of Seven, such as 25-54 (37.8% vs 34.6%) 18-49 (37.4 vs 34.1%) and 16-39 (36.% vs 33.7%). Part of this is down to the stellar performance of The Block while Seven's X-Factor has suffered a huge decline on last year's figures and is likely to be axed.
Nine's ratings report also highlights calendar year metropolitan figures, which would help it also claim the coveted 25-54 demographic, edging out Seven 35.8% to 35.5%.
Calendar year figures from 6am to midnight using Nine's parameters have Nine Network winning all key demos from Seven and Ten.
“We were strong from April through to July, clearly there's an Olympic Games in there and then post-Olympics The Block has proven it's an absolute hit with Australian audiences,: Nine's chief sales officer Michael Stephenson tells AdNews.
“We are only focused on selling and delivering audiences in the demos, 16-39, 25-54 and GB with kids. And we focus on doing the 1 January to 31st of December every year.
“On those metrics, which we sell and everything advertisers buy, we're leading the way for the fifth consecutive year in a row.”
In terms of programming, Stephenson says this year The Block “has been our gem, but moving forward we are going to have a whole heap of friends starting with Married at First Sight, which I think is going to be the biggest show on TV next year.
He adds: “On the back of Married, you go straight into The Voice, you've then got Ninja Warrior, which is going to be huge, the new food format and then into The Block – you compare that as a content line up compared to this year and we expect better momentum and consistency.”
Ten makes solid gains
Ten marks its ratings scorecard by measuring metropolitan prime time audiences between 6pm to 10.30pm.
Using these parameters in a commercial TV comparison, its main channel was the only one to grow audience share across 25 to 54 (21.1%), Under 55s (21%) and total people (18.5%). Between 6pm and 10.30pm, market leader Seven also grew total people to 27.8%.
This was the highest commercial share Ten in 25 to 54 and total people Ten has had since 2011.
Network Ten also grew total people 25.3%, up from 24.0% last year.
The growth was fuelled by hit shows MasterChef Australia – which accounted for three of the top 10 non-sport programs of the year among people 25 to 54 – KFC Big Bash League, The Bachelor Australia, I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and Australian Survivor.
“2016 has delivered another year of momentum, consistency and growth across all platforms for Ten. Our strategy of investing in differentiated and innovative content, plus the strong performance of our domestic 7.30pm franchises, is delivering,” Ten chief executive officer Paul Anderson said in a press release.
“We have finished 2016 with our biggest main channel prime time commercial share in 25 to 54s and total people since 2011, and our biggest network total people commercial share since 2011.”
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