Uh oh. Are these the Ratings of the future?

Strategic coding of TV shows, starting late to distort the figures, running overtime ….do audiences have any faith that the Overnight ratings they are reading in news stories reflect what actually went to air?

Things have been getting out of hand.

Nine has been coding The Celebrity Apprentice as Celebrity Apprentice: Challenge and Celebrity Apprentice: Boardroom as two titles with ratings provider OzTAM. Seven’s AFL game is coded into Afternoon Football plus Pre-Match and Post-Match figures. And TEN codes The Biggest Loser Sunday, Monday, Tuesday eps just as The Block, My Kitchen Rules and House Rules does. Last year it coded The Project as two titles. Even the ABC gets a separate figure for its News Update.

The only apparent benefit from such practice is to distort the numbers in press reportage to avoid stories about lower averages.

In 2011 OzTAM CEO Doug Peiffer told TV Tonight he was concerned about modifications to coding:

“People are raising it, media buyers, people inside Programming, and the ones who are really raising it are the users –the ones who run the software who try to come up with a sensible average for a programme, and they’re the ones who seem to be doing the hard leg-work trying to put it back together,” he said.

“So we’ll discuss it and see if we can come with an industry agreement on it.”

But after nearly 18 months there has been no change -in fact it’s getting worse and industry sources say they are frustrated with inaccurate data and a lack of action.

Yesterday an OzTAM spokesperson told TV Tonight, “OzTAM advises that program coding practices are on the agenda. OzTAM is encouraging discussion among all industry stakeholders in hopes they can agree on a solution.”

But if there is no agreement is this what our ratings might soon look like…..?

Report: Top 20 Programs
Channels:All Free-to-Air
Market:5 City Metro (aggregate figure), Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide & Perth
Demographics:Total People
Day-part:02:00 – 26:00
Day:
Monday
Date:18/05/2015
Deliverable:Overnight

Rank

Description (grouped)Channel\Market

(r) 5 City Metro

Sydney

Melbourne

Brisbane

Adelaide

Perth

1

CELEBRITY APPRENTICE: APPRENTICE FIREDNetwork 9

1,327,000

384,000

446,000

287,000

97,000

112,000

2

MY KITCHEN RULES: MAIN COURSENetwork 7

1,300,000

319,000

364,000

258,000

151,000

209,000

3

THE VOICE LIVE: THE BIT THAT RAN OVERTIMENetwork 9

1,255,000

320,000

413,000

223,000

143,000

157,000

4

HOUSE HUSBANDS: THE BIT THAT WAS REALLY THE VOICE RUNNING OVERTIMENetwork 9

1,196,000

318,000

439,000

251,000

105,000

82,000

5

CELEBRITY APPRENTICE: DIVIDING THE TEAMSNetwork 9

1,146,000

299,000

287,000

242,000

135,000

183,000

6

MY KITCHEN RULES: DESSERTNetwork 7

1,019,000

259,000

377,000

217,000

78,000

88,000

7

ABC NEWS UPDATE: NEWSNetwork ABC1

1,001,000

278,000

327,000

164,000

97,000

135,000

8

ABC NEWS UPDATE: WEATHERNetwork ABC1

987,000

267,000

292,000

177,000

114,000

137,000

9

CELEBRITY APPRENTICE: FIRST TANTRUMNetwork 9

954,000

226,000

273,000

183,000

123,000

148,000

10

MASTERCHEF: MYSTERY BOX REVEALEDNetwork 10

843,000

245,000

249,000

123,000

101,000

125,000

11

THE BLOCK: THE BIT WHERE EVERYBODY TUNED IN FOR THE VOICENetwork 9

822,000

254,000

259,000

143,000

71,000

95,000

12

A CURRENT AFFAIR: MONDAYNetwork 9

812,000

271,000

288,000

134,000

59,000

61,000

13

TODAY TONIGHT: MONDAYNetwork 7

768,000

224,000

263,000

141,000

64,000

76,000

14

HOME AND AWAY: MONDAYNetwork 7

754,000

241,000

283,000

120,000

53,000

57,000

15

SEVEN’S AFL: FIRST QUARTERNetwork 7

724,000

197,000

268,000

111,000

72,000

75,000

16

TEN NEWS UPDATE: MORTGAGE CHOICE SPONSORNetwork 10

714,000

191,000

232,000

182,000

47,000

61,000

17

CELEBRITY APPRENTICE: SECOND TANTRUMNetwork 9

706,000

192,000

236,000

101,000

92,000

85,000

18

Q&A: FIRST GAY MARRIAGE QUESTIONNetwork ABC1

699,000

198,000

205,000

125,000

66,000

104,000

19

Q&A: SECOND GAY MARRIAGE QUESTIONNetwork ABC1

690,000

202,000

192,000

145,000

64,000

87,000

20

THE BIGGEST LOSER: FIRST WEIGH-INNetwork TEN

663,000

169,000

200,000

112,000

76,000

104,000

The above “Overnight figures” have been manufactured for dramatic effect.

31 Comments:

  1. over two years on, and looks like nothing has changed in the way networks are sending out ratings.

    Everyday programs that are still split into 2 (or more) coding’s for their shows include:
    Sunrise and Today (or 3?); the three morning shows; Seven and Nine afternoon News; The 6pm Weekday News but not their Weekend News…. yet; The Project; etc.

    Reality shows still split their daily shows into Sunday, Monday, Tuesday etc rather than an average of their shows (like drama).

    Home and Away air single episodes Mon-Wed, while Thurs airs double (or triple in various times) episodes, yet that doesn’t get code-splitting. Mind boggles.

    Just thought id bump this up and let you know (well, It has been mentioned many many times since this article was made) that the code splitting continues. Sigh! lol

  2. I hope OzTAM get a grip on this soon cause all the FTA Channels are really abusing this just to try and get ratings. get some sanity back into the way this is done OzTAM!

  3. Is a ‘First Look’ the same as a ‘sneak peak’ ? which is what they are usually titled on my pvr’s epg.

    Agree with most criticisms of the system raised here, especially what tricks said about dramas being time shifted, most people wouldn’t want to timeshift something like the MKR finals for example only to hear someone at work reveal who the winner is. Whereas other non live/reality shows can always be timeshifted without as much chance of the plot being revealed. Dramas aren’t ‘event’ tv anymore like 30 yrs ago when people would talk about who shot JR on Dalllas or Grace dying on the Sullivans, the final Mash episode etc.

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