Fact-checking Tony Jones on SKY News ratings

Last week on Q&A host Tony Jones made a statement that SKY News “After Dark” ratings were about 5000 viewers, but last night issued a clarification.

“Last week I speculated the audience for SKY News After Dark was perhaps 5000,” he said this week.

“I asked SKY to fact check that, and of course they did, so they claim that more than 60,000 tune in at night.

“So I hereby turn over the issue to other fact checkers.”

Challenge accepted…

Pay TV ratings are national not 5 city metro, but that doesn’t deny that the 60,000 number is still an accurate reflection.

Last night The Bolt Report was the top rating show on Subscription television at 69,000, with Paul Murray Live and Credlin at 54,000 each.

These are fairly typical Monday numbers for each. “After Dark” opinion shows are usually only beaten by Sport or flagship titles such as Game of Thrones, Gogglebox, Grand Designs Australia, or Wentworth.

It’s clear SKY News has found an audience sympathetic to the opinions of its After Dark shows, which differs from the programming strategy of continued rolling news.

What’s worth remembering is that the shifts that have occurred in Free to Air have also occurred in Pay TV: News & Sport are viewed mostly Live, while Drama and other genres are Timeshifted.

This is especially more true for Foxtel viewers who have an iQ and streaming capacity. Foxtel have been very vocal about the amount of Drama that is streamed On Demand and it is fast becoming the norm…

The combination of finding a sympathetic audience -which has undoubtedly built in recent years- together with far more Timeshifted in Drama means that SKY News is reflected well in Overnight numbers. What’s lost in that conversation is that other shows pick up much more steam in the subsequent week.

60,000 is nevertheless an accurate snapshot of its After Dark shows.


  1. Pretty pathetic that Tony Jones didn’t offer an apology for her error which again demonstrated how biased he has become. He doesn’t even try to hide it anymore.

    Why ask others to fact check the 60k figure? It’s public information. I would suggest it was to avoid an apology. Time for Tony to pack it up and head to China.

    Q&A has become a parody. Both the EP and host are leaving. Scrap it and start again.

  2. Does the 60,000 include people who watch the channel:
    – On WIN, which you can also get in Sydney if you have the right arial and I know a lot of people who do
    – On Foxtel Now
    – On Foxtel Go

  3. I thought Jones was being a bit facetious. Of course he knows the audience would be greater than 5000. It was harmless exaggeration.

    The fact that this becomes a matter of offence and fact checking says so much about our culture wars and how public discourse continues to plunge to new depths.

  4. Not that it would add much, but Sky News on WIN ratings would add to those Foxtel figures as well. Though in regional areas I believe they get Fox Sports News from 10pm rather than the second hour of Paul Murray Live.

  5. Divided up across Australia and concluding that the major cities like Sydney and Melbourne represent the Lions share of whatever viewers might be attracted to Sky News late night commentators the numbers per state and territory are very small indeed.
    Sky News would struggle to exist outside of its protected pay TV bubble.

    • Be interesting to see whether there is any evidence of where the ‘Lions share’ of their viewers are. Sky News is on FTA on the WIN network. No idea what ratings they get, but I’m sure that info is out there. I’d assume WIN would know the market where they operate, so they’d probably not think Sky would struggle.

      Never understood the carry on over whatever it is they broadcast on the opinion shows given the small audience (off topic, I wonder the same about talk back radio).

  6. 60,000 still seems like a small audience, even allowing for the limited overall pay TV audience versus the general viewership-those would be comparable for an SBS show let alone ABC ‘Q ‘n A’ or ‘The Drum’.

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