ABC trumpets Aussie flicks, but moves the goalposts.
The Oyster Farmer was seen by "more than 1.3 million people" on TV claims the ABC, but its overnight metro ratings were 899,000.
Creative Press Releases are usually the domain of commercial television networks, but the ABC has today issued a surprisingly enthusiastic Release on the success of their Australian movie season over summer.
While we all applaud the move to showcase quality arthouse films, it isn’t license to blur the numbers.
According to the ABC, “Over four Sunday nights the season of features reached more than three million Australians. That is, more than three million Australians watched at least one of the four films. Across the four weeks the total national audience for the four films was close to 3.8 million people.”
It claims the following audience figures for the films:
The Oyster Farmer: “more than 1.3 million people.”
The Proposition: “close to 900,000”
Lucky Miles / Romulus, My Father: “close to 800,000”
However the overnight, 5 city metro, average figures were:
The Oyster Farmer: 899,000
The Proposition: 577,000
Lucky Miles: 519,000
Romulus, My Father: 513,000
ABC’s Press Release didn’t indicate if it was factoring in regional audiences and timeshifted figures too.
Kim Dalton, Director of ABC TV, said: “These films are strong, well made and diverse examples of the depth of talent of Australian feature filmmakers. However, when released theatrically their box office performance can at best be described as modest, and as a result they were seen by only a small number of Australians. By providing a Sunday night prime-time slot ABC TV has been able to bring these Australian films to a new and greatly expanded audience.”
Admittedly ABC’s investment in Samson and Delilah meant we all got to see the award-winning film in a fast cinema-to-TV turnaround -but only 646,000 watched it last November.
It doesn’t quite fit with the ABC’s claims that “Australians do like Australian feature films. It’s just that in general they prefer to watch them on television rather than going to the cinema.”
Nine also slated Aussie flicks on Saturday nights over summer, as it has done for the last few years. Doing so gets them juicy local quota points, none of which are exclusive to shows aired in the ratings season. December Boys netted Nine an unspectacular 299,000.
While it’s gallant that an ABC audience responds to independent filmmaking more than Nine’s, there is surely still a lot of ground to make up before we should start getting excited about it?