Rio Olympics success helps Seven score ratings PB

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 22 August 2016
Image credit: Seven Olympics website

Seven's coverage of the Rio Olympic Games has helped the network achieve its largest metro audience lead over Nine at this stage of any ratings year.

However, the success of the games extends beyond the weekly OzTam scorecard - Seven has broken new ground in digital sports broadcasting in this country and provided fans with more Olympics content than ever before.

But let's deal with ratings first, of which the Olympics have provided a late shot in the arm of what was already a dominant year for Seven. In weeks 7 to 34 of ratings season, those which networks count towards the 40-week ratings year, Seven has amassed an 40.7% audience share compared to Nine's 34.3% (6.4 percentage points) and Ten's 25.1%, smashing it's personal best lead over its rival.

The previous best was in 2011, when Seven had amassed 6 percentage point lead, although in 2003, Nine was even more dominant with a 6.9 point lead over its rival.

Seven ratings graph

Across key demos: 16-39, Seven is 5.3 percentage points ahead, 25-54, and the lead drops to 3.8 points, with Ten gaining market share across the younger age groups. During this period Seven has gained an almost unassailable number of weekly wins in the ratings calendar year.

This has been helped in past two weeks by Seven's excellent coverage of the Rio Olympic Games, where it has dominated most days in spite of the Australian Olympic team under-performing in several events.

In week 34, Seven's main channel dominated primetime for week 34 with 26.5% of the audience share to Nine's 15% and Ten's 11.7%. Seven's other linear channels showing the games, 7Two (5.1%) and 7Mate (4.3), also rated strongly.

The top live event in the past week was the final night of swimming. This featured Australia winning silver and bronze in the women's and men's 4x100m medley relays, delivering a peak audience of 2.2 million.

This was followed by athletics, with 2 million tuning in to watch Jamaica's Elaine Thompson win the women's 100m final and a similar amount watching Great Britain middle distance runner Mo Farah become the second man in history to retain the 5,000m and 10,000m gold medals.

Setting new records

The TV reach across the games has been 18 million, but linear ratings have not always rated as well as the London Games.

Comparing the two on a like-for-like basis is futile for various reasons. Firstly, both events had different global time zone challenges, Australia has a stronger cultural and sporting affinity with London than Rio, and Australia's Olympic hopefuls generate different expectations and interest levels every four years.

What will please Seven's executives is the sheer number of digital streams clocked up, around 37 million on Seven's Olympics on 7 website and app. On social media, Seven has reported 45.2 million streams on Facebook, 13.3 million on YouTube, 6.3 milion on Twitter and 5 million on Snapchat.

This indicates the Olympics are as popular as ever, it's just that audiences are choosing to watch events differently, on various devices and at different times.

As Seven has smashed previous records on sponsors and advertising, the past two weeks have been broadly successful on an audience, technology (minus the occasional minor glitch) and commercial front.

Whether Seven is able to recoup its $170 million investment across three Olympic Games remains to be seen, but the benfits of running a successful global sports event often extend beyond the raw numbers. And in this country, at least, Seven is setting a new benchmark.

Rio Olympics - top 10 individual events by metro audience


Program Event Category + Unit




Swimming, Women's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay Final with Australian Gold Medal win




Swimming, Women's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay Medals with Australian Medal




Swimming, Men's 100m Backstroke Semi Final




Swimming, Men's 400m Freestyle Medals with Australian Medal




Swimming, Men's 1500m Freestyle Final




Swimming, Men's 4 x 100 Medley Relay Final with Australian Silver Medal




Swimming, Women's 400m Individual Medley Final




Swimming, Women's 4 x 100m Medley Relay Final with Australian Silver




Swimming, Men's 400m Freestyle Final with Australian Gold Medal win




Swimming, Men's 400m Individual Medley Medals



Souce: Seven

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