Everyone’s a winner in the ratings war



Television networks traditionally program programs over a 40-week audience year. This year begins in February and ends in November, with a small break during the Easter period.

It was done this way because traditionally people don’t watch much TV during the summer. This is also the reason why the networks have always spent a lot of money to secure summer sports – such as cricket or tennis – which make it possible to increase audiences before the “official” audience year. .

But that has changed over time. The networks are now thinking of a 52 week year. For consistency, this article will reflect a 52 week year.

Total number of people

The easiest way to measure who wins the year is to base it on the total number of people watching a network.

This can be done by measuring the percentage of people who watch one network – or channel – compared to another. Seven is currently the number one network and says it will remain so based on survey and calendar year data.

While Seven started the year off slowly with mediocre odds for Holey moley and Ultimate Label, it has regained ground with programs like The voice, the farmer wants a woman and the AFL. He also broke audience records at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (over 2.2 million people watched Australia’s Peter Bol compete for an Olympic medal in the 800m final), which was supported by prolonged blockages in NSW and Victoria.

Being number one overall is important for Seven West Media CEO James Warburton, as the network had lost the crown for the first time in 12 years when he arrived in 2019. It is also important for advertising – this allows Seven to use words like “we’re number one in marketing the network to viewers.”

“Be number one account,” says James Warburton, CEO of Seven West Media. “Trust, conviction, market leadership – there is a whole range of things that make it count.

“The other reason it matters is because of the income. Each revenue share point is $ 21 million.

Seven is criticized for using the above-mentioned metrics as other TV networks do not count odds generated by one-off events, including the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Nine’s sales manager Michael Stephenson said this was because it didn’t allow for a fair year-to-year comparison.

“This is the reason why – forever – one-off events have always been excluded from the analysis. It is important that you have an apples-to-apples comparison. The Summer Olympics did not take place last year and will not take place next year, ”he said.


Based on calendar year data to date, Seven currently has 40.1% of the total audience in the five capitals. Nine has an audience share of 36.3 percent while Ten has an audience share of 23.6 percent.

But it’s a tighter battle when the Olympics are ruled out. Seven leads with 38.1% audience share, ahead of Nine with 37.5% audience share. Ten programs such as Masterchef Australia, The single person and The masked singer, which has struggled to attract large audiences, has so far given it a 24.4 percent share for the year.

What is the most important way to judge success?

Becoming the network with the most total viewers may give it bragging rights, but that number doesn’t really matter to advertisers.

Advertisers buy TV niches based on specific demographics as they seek to target a particular group of people. When a TV show targets a specific demographic, it may be more suited to an advertiser than a highly rated show.

The three segments most used by advertisers are segments 16-39, “the grocer and child” and the 25-54 in the five metropolitan capitals. The 25-54 age group is arguably the largest because it includes those most likely to spend money.

“[Total people] is such an old fashioned way of thinking, ”says Stephenson. “At the end of the day, advertisers have a lot of different options. They want to know who is the leader and who is the best partner. Part of that is being able to deliver the broadest audience in the demographics that interest them.

“In as long as I have been doing this, I have never received a brief for all the people.”

Nine’s other gripe is that Seven has a lot of viewers over the age of 65, which will give her the numbers needed to win over a total number of people.


Based on calendar year data, including the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Seven Network is the most popular among 25-54, 16-39 and “grocery shoppers with children” segment. Seven has a 36.2 percent share of 25-54 year olds, compared to Nine’s 35.8 percent. He has a 37.3 percent share of the 16-39 audience, compared to 33.7 percent for Nine. But Nine thinks it’s unfair.

If the Olympics are excluded, then Nine Network leads the 25-54 with a 37.2% share, as well as the 16-39 and grocery stores with children.

Network Ten does not have the Nine and Seven audience scale. And its programs like The single person, Australian survivor and Masterchef Australia fight to compete with the programs of other channels.

“We are happy with the performance, we had a lot of very good results,” said Beverley McGarvey, co-manager of 10 ViacomCBS. “We are convinced that we are going to have a very good home race. “


Performance was good by Ten standards, but their biggest show currently on the air, The bachelorette, had its worst first hearing in history. The network has also suffered audience declines for programs, including Masterchef Australia, the masked singer and The single person, despite these ongoing programs during peak lockdown periods in NSW and Victoria.

For its part, the network does not try to compete on the total number of viewers and rather presents itself as the broadcaster of “under 50”. He says of the total proportion of people who watch through the ViacomCBS stable, which also runs Nickelodeon and MTV, a large number are under 50. But his rivals have said the network is deceptive and have publicly criticized Ten for marketing himself as such. Ten claims that 81% of all advertising campaigns run on their network target audiences under the age of 55.

“Ten are drunk,” says Mr. Warburton of Seven, who previously ran Ten. “They are now a streaming company. The fact that they never bothered to try to bid on the NRL shows exactly where their priorities are.

“10 ViacomCBS continues to make very significant investments in all content on all of our platforms. Our track record allows us to take advantage of short-term tactical opportunities while maintaining a long-term view, ”said a spokesperson for Ten. “While we are disappointed to hear senior industry executives disrespect our company, we wish all of our competitors the best of luck.”


What about ratings for apps and smart TV?

When people started to watch television over the Internet, networks developed applications to broadcast their programs online. These are known as 10Play, 7Plus, and 9Now.

Smart TV devices have transformed the way some people watch TV. But until recently, it was difficult to keep up with viewers streaming live TV over the internet. This has been problematic when programs like Nine’s Island of love, which attract a large online audience (The island of love the audience goes from 171,000 linear viewers in metropolitan France to 542,000). Keeping up with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which broke streaming records with 46 billion minutes watched during games, would also have been historically difficult.

The networks recently developed a comprehensive TV report – known as Virtual Oz – that can give them a better indication of where their audience is and who is watching TV online.

When considering live streaming and catch-up viewing, and excluding the Olympics, 9Now is the dominant player with a 46.1% share, ahead of 7Plus and 10Play.

Seven becomes the leader in including the Olympics, due to the record number of live broadcast minutes. 7Plus has a share of 46.6%, ahead of 9Now at 39.9% and 10Play at 13.5% for the calendar year based on these metrics.

Where is this taking us?

Nine and Seven both have great stories to tell, depending on how the numbers are cut. But at the end of the day, TV ratings only matter if they translate into as much revenue as possible.

There is no doubt that Seven has improved her grades since Mr. Warburton took over, and that will allow her to position herself as the leading network next year. It will be a close race to clinch a victory among the main advertising demographics, but Nine is confident he will win for the fifth year in a row.

What is certain is that there will be no one-off major events next year. The Winter Olympics are unlikely to gain in appeal than the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and the networks will also be without the benefits they have gained from the protracted lockdowns linked to COVID-19.

It will level the playing field. But you can be sure it won’t make the battle any easier.

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