So are we watching more or less TV than we did a decade ago?
If TV shows are doing half the numbers Blue Heelers used to crack, then we must all be switching off right? Wrong.
You only have to glance at old ratings figures to know that shows like Blue Heelers was up to 2.4m viewers in 1997 (that’s pre-OzTAM) and Dancing with the Stars was regularly getting over 2m in its biggest seasons. Yet now a show is a hit if it breaks the “magic million.” So it means we’re all switching off right?
In my humble opinion the landscape changes every two years. Pay TV began impacting on our primetime viewing. There were DVDs, gaming and internet distractions. Then along came multichannels, timeshifting, online catch-ups and now binge-viewing. It just means the way we watch has changed.
Our tastes may be more niche. We don’t all sit down to watch CSI or Australian Idol as a nation anymore. But we’re all still drawn to content, just in our own individual programming timelines.
Sydney Morning Herald scribe David Dale, who runs the excellent Tribal Mind column, has compared viewing averages in the mainland capitals between 6pm and 10.30pm from 2003 / 2013.
This list is partly impacted by TEN’s downturn. We already know other networks such as the ABC have benefitted from that this year.
Still, it’s good for television overall. It remains healthy, even with a modest 4% rise.
As Dale also notes, while viewing may not have kept up with population lifts, these numbers are for Overnight viewing only (Live / As Live) and don’t include Timeshifting and Catch-Up TV.
“Nearly a quarter of the viewing of most dramas on television now takes place within seven days of the original broadcast, because 60 per cent of homes have recording devices or use the catchup services provided by most networks,” he writes.
“So if you take timeshifting and catchup into account, you find that the same proportion of the populace is watching TV now as was watching in 2003.”
In a July TV Tonight poll here’s the way you voted in the question of the balance of viewing live vs Timeshifted:
75% Timeshifted: 35%
75% live broadcast: 20%
50% live broadcast / Timeshifted: 18%
100% Timeshifted: 15%
100% live: 9%