Networks spin the ratings data

If you believed the Press Releases that networks sent out this weekend, everyone’s a winner, everyone had a bumper year.

Once you wade through the hyperbole and the smoke and mirrors you quickly learn there are disclaimers that make the reportage a whole lot more complicated.

What is clear is this: Seven has won the year in Total People. Nine has won the year in Demographics.

Both are important and both can be claimed as a win.

It also reflects a change from 2011 when Seven won every week, every city, every demo and Total People. This year Nine has rebounded (despite the mess of Excess Baggage and Tricky Business).

But it has also had the Olympics. Advertisers will tell you that ‘abnormal’ events such as Olympics and Commonwealth Games must be separated from annual results because ad rates need to be set on traditional programming.

In its Press Release yesterday Nine excluded its Olympics and Easter, but the data only included the three commercial networks and left ABC and SBS results unpublished.

Seven’s Press Release correctly included data with and without Olympics (oddly, the official Olympics broadcaster actually didn’t include them). Bizarrely, Seven’s data also factored in Easter non-ratings. Seven has done this for a number of years now. For the record the 2012 Survey year is Wks 7 – 13 & 16 – 48.

TEN’s Press Release also had some stipulations. It did exclude both Easter and Olympics -but yet again it only focusses on 6 – 10:30pm results, not the standard of 6pm – midnight. It also ignored ABC and SBS data and stuck with commercial networks.

ABC also sent a Release on Friday, a day before the Ratings year had ended. As the ABC doesn’t subscribe to a Survey year it included every week of the year (but made a typo in referencing it as “OzTAM Metro Consolidated data Weeks 1-48/2011”). Oops.

SBS will presumably action its own Release once its staff are back at their desks on Monday….

Strictly speaking it is also too soon to be filing winners and losers for the year, because Consolidated data (aka PVR timeshifted numbers) won’t be in for Wk 48 until next week. No surprises that broadcasters, along with audiences, don’t really care to wait for those -and frankly they won’t change final positions anyway.

There are also debates about whether data should focus on Primary Channels, where most of the ad spend occurs, or Network. I’m happy to supply both when I’m satisfied it meets the other criteria. Both are important.

As a result of all this spin, and the difficulty of getting numbers over the weekend, I am holding off publishing numbers which in my view do not confirm to the following rule:

Weeks 7-48 excluding Easter, with and without Olympics, 6pm – midnight for all 5 channels.

As I noted in my opening remarks, none of this will change the final results that Seven has won the year in Total People and Nine has won in Demographics.

Press Release select statements:

In a year of major events including the Olympic Games, Seven continues to dominate the television landscape. Seven is the most-watched network on primary channels and combined audiences of primary and digital channels.

Excluding the Olympic Games, Seven dominates primetime in total viewers, 16-39s, 18-49s and 25-54s on primary channels and is number 1 on primary channels in primetime. This is Seven’s sixth consecutive year of market leadership.

7TWO is the most-watched digital channel in primetime for total viewers and its target people 25+  audience and 7mate in the most-watched digital channel in primetime in its target men 16-54 target audience.

Seven is number 1 in news and public affairs for the eighth consecutive year. Seven is number 1 in  breakfast television for the ninth consecutive year. Seven is number 1 in morning television for the sixth consecutive year.

The Nine Network today ends the official ratings period for 2012 as Australia’s number one primetime network for people 25-54, 18-49 and 16-39 across the 5 Cap City. Delivering more weekly wins for key demographics than any other network, Nine has delivered 14 out of the Top 20 programs, including the highest rating program in primetime – The Voice Winner Announced recording 3.325 million viewers across the 5 Cap City.

Driving this success both on and off the screen has been the overwhelming uptake of Nine’s programs across social media, with unprecedented hits across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, in particular with brands such as The Voice and Big Brother. Nine’s super brands have spawned in excess of half a million fans in 2012 and at their peak generated conversation to the tune of +1,600 tweets per minute and has delivered the largest digital footprint of all the networks – generating 330 million short form television content views via .ninemsn.

On Nine’s performance, Andrew Backwell, Director of Programming and Production said “Nine’s commitment to deliver more stories that connect with Australians both on and off the screen has never been more apparent. 2012 has seen us deliver a great result and we look forward to building on this strength in 2013.”

“As our measurement of success continues to move away from pure television ratings and focus more on how our brands are consumed, regardless of the device, so too does our programming strategy. We aim to deliver a seamless brand experience from screen to device and it is brands such as Nine News, The Voice, and The Block that are a testament to this strategy.”

Local programming on TEN and ELEVEN, plus strong audience growth at ONE, under-pinned Network Ten’s results in the 2012 television ratings year.

MasterChef Australia, The Biggest Loser and Offspring remained among the most-loved and most-watched local programs on Australian television. They were joined by new local hits from TEN such as Puberty Blues, Bikie Wars: Brothers In Arms and Underground – The Julian Assange Story.

TEN News At Five continued to dominate its timeslot, The Project remained the most innovative current affairs show on television, and the return of TEN Late News was embraced by viewers.

Network Ten Chief Programming Officer, Beverley McGarvey, said: “Australian content is, and will always be, at the heart of Network Ten.

“Big brands such as MasterChef Australia and The Biggest Loser continue to resonate with viewers, with both among the top five reality series of the year.

“TEN maintained its reputation as the home of quality Australian drama, with smart, different and authentic series such as Offspring, Puberty Blues and Bikie Wars: Brothers In Arms,” she said.

“But it wasn’t just local shows that scored with viewers in 2012. Modern Family, NCIS, Homeland and New Girl ranked among the most popular overseas shows of the year.

2012 was a great year for Australian dramas, documentaries and children’s programming on ABC TV and a strong year for news and current affairs coverage on ABC1 and ABC News 24.

Director of Television, Kim Dalton said “We have been brave and bold with our drama slate this year and audiences have embraced the diversity. We have screened 51.5 hours of drama covering major issues (Devil’s Dust and Dangerous Remedy), ground breaking topics (Mabo and Redfern Now), crime (Rake and Jack Irish); period drama/crime (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and The Mystery of a Hansom Cab) and literary work such as Patrick White’s Eye of the Storm.

“Australian documentaries struck a chord with our viewers, including Great Southern Land, Australia: Time Traveller’s Guide and Sporting Nation.

“Many of ABC1’s flagship News and Current Affairs programs have increased their audiences in 2012, including 7pm News, 7.30, Australian Story, Four Corners, Foreign Correspondent, Insiders and The Business,” he said.

“ABC TV’s public affairs programs Q&A and Media Watch had another strong year and remain ’must watch’ TV.


  1. 53% of all statistics, and 76% of all ratings are meaningless 38% of the time, except for every fifth Thursday (which should never be counted).

    Didn’t I read somewhere that TV viewership was actually declining? Not that any of this spin is going to wash with advertisers.

  2. HardcorePrawn

    “In its Press Release yesterday Nine excluded its Olympics…”
    I’m not surprised, while it may have won them viewers their coverage was an unmitigated disaster!

  3. “Australian content is, and will always be, at the heart of Network Ten.”

    As long as you’re not Breakfast, the Circle, Everybody Dance Now, Young Talent Time, It’s a Knockout or a news program of any description.

  4. The “demographics” only count people aged 16-54, which is why it’s a crock.
    There are many more viewers under 16 and over 54.
    “Seven dominates primetime in total viewers, 16-39s, 18-49s and 25-54s on primary channels”.
    “The Nine Network…Australia’s number one primetime network for people 25-54, 18-49 and 16-39”.
    So I’m guessing “Seven” is 7, whereas “Nine Network” is 9+GEM+GO! ?
    As my old accountant used to say “I can make your bottom line whatever you want it to be. Gimme a number”.

  5. The demographics only count people between the ages of 16-54. If you are under 16 or over 54 then you are not counted in the demographics. This is why the ABC and 7 can get very high ratings for certain programmes but not show up in the demos because the audience is much older or much younger.

  6. scruffnkelsmum

    I still fail to comprehend how Seven can win total people if Nine win all the demographics??? don’t all the demographics add up to being all the people???? so How can Nine win all the demos, but not the total people? confused 😉

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