The lengthy broadcast has attracted heated debate, much of it for technical flaws which left guests shouting, and some discussion over chemistry, politics and various talking points. Others defended the fresh approach, notably pre-recorded contributions by ABC personalities.
While acknowledging room to improve, ABC Director of Television Richard Finlayson says the ratings success of the event showed viewers voted with their remotes.
According to OzTAM the midnight event averaged 1.27m viewers, up slightly on Nine’s 2012 broadcast at 1.24m. But adding ABC News 24’s simulcast, the figure climbs to 1.37m. The 9pm Family Fireworks averaged 1.04m on two channels, higher than Nine’s 782,000 in 2012.
“Audience figures show that TV viewers preferred the ABC broadcast over the 2012 coverage on commercial television,” he said.
“I think this speaks to popularity of the surrounding family friendly content from our stars of ABC3 and ABC4Kids and our performance across all demographics underlines the broad appeal.
“Our approach was to create a national event, using a breadth of ABC talent, over four hours – rather than just cover the firework displays as has been the previous practice.
“Four hours of live TV is a huge undertaking. While there’s always things to review and improve, we think our team did a terrific job in celebrating an iconic Australian event.”
ABC isn’t the first broadcaster to have attracted criticism for such a flagship event. Previous New Year’s broadcasts, including on Nine, have also landed networks in the spotlight, as well as major sporting and music events such as the ARIA Awards on TEN in 2010.
However, ABC has signalled interest in more Event television this year and the feedback from social media and talkback radio has nonetheless instilled a few lessons about broad audiences sampling the broadcaster.
“Social media is full of a range of opinions, positive and negative. All feedback is useful and our ratings numbers are saying that Australians voted with their remotes in favour of the ABC coverage. We are thrilled to have reached a total national audience of 3.8 million with our New Year’s Eve coverage,” said Finlayson.