Shrinking comedy appetite no laughing matter
Interest in comedy is waning, according to new data, and it even depends on where you live.
Fewer Australians are after something funny to watch, read or listen to during the week, according to data from Roy Morgan Research.
50% of Australians aged 14 and over cite ‘something funny’ as their top media content preference at least once during the week -leaving another 50% who don’t consider a single time when comedy is their ideal type of content across the week.
According to Roy Morgan ‘Comedy’ as a genre preference has been declining consistently by around 1% point a year since 2011, when 54% said there was at least one point during the week when something funny was their preferred type of content.
In 2011 58% of Queenslanders sought something funny on occasion—but it’s now down to 52%.
In Victoria and NSW / ACT it is a neat 50/50 split between seeking funny and not, while in South Australia and Tasmania those seeking humour trails those who don’t.
53% of Western Australians remain unchanged in desiring Comedy -most amused state of all.
“For a nation that prides itself on its unique sense of humour, it’s interesting that only half of us ever explicitly want comedic content at particular times during the week,” said Tim Martin, General Manager – Media, Roy Morgan Research.
“The recent decline is being driven by fewer Australians wanting comedy after dinner. At other times of day, the proportion of us seeking a bit of comedy is steady or has even increased—however the after dinner timeslot has long been comedy’s prime time, so its decline here has had a big impact on the overall full-week rate.
“This is perhaps a bit of a chicken vs egg scenario, with viewers’ changing preferences both driving and being driven by the amount (and quality) of shows that networks schedule. Most comedy has long been supplanted by reality competition shows on commercial TV after dinner. Whether Nine’s Here Come the Habibs! serves to reinvigorate or obliterate our appetite for after-dinner laughs remains to be seen, but with over one in four people still saying they prefer comedy after dinner, networks may find viewers are turning to Pay TV or subscription video on-demand service like Netflix and Stan to get their fix.
“The proportion of people who want something to laugh at declines dramatically with age: from around two in three 14-24 year-olds down to only 37% of those aged 50 and over. 25-34 year-olds are the only ones who today are (slightly) more likely to cite something as a media preference at least once during the week, with the sharpest drop among 35-49 year-olds.
“Last year, the US sitcom Big Bang Theory was again the most widely beloved free-to-air show on Australian TV, with 14% of people citing it as something they really love to watch. But maybe that’s less for the laughs and more for the educational scientific insights.”
Also ranking in the Free to Air Top Ten shows people “love to watch” were Modern Family (4th on list with 7.2%) and Mrs Brown’s Boys (7th, with 7.1%).
Elsewhere, QI was at number 20 (5.8% love), Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell was 28th, Simpsons at 31 (5.1%) and Vicar of Dibley at 32 (5.0%). Utopia was a show people ‘really love to watch’ by 2.9% of people, Please Like Me by 1.1%, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine by 1.8%.
The survey of 50,000 people took place from October 2014 to Sept 2015 but did not include Pay TV or SVOD shows.