Would networks prefer national ratings over metro?

EXCLUSIVE: TV shows live and die according to daily ratings, but in a fragmented world of viewing, is there any consensus to present a better story for Free to Air, by reporting national audience numbers, instead of a 5 city metro?

A new ‘Total TV’ reporting standard known as Virtual Australia (‘VOZ’) was delayed in 2020 but is due in 2021. VOZ data will be in addition to existing reports including Overnight, Consolidated / Timeshifting and BVOD.

TV Tonight recently asked networks if they would prefer to ditch 5 city metro numbers in favour of a national figure?

Angus Ross, Seven Network Director of Programming
Yes. You’d still be able to see a metro figure if you wanted to, but in terms of the first set of numbers published the numbers would be bigger, so it makes a better story. And VOZ would be an even better story on top of that.

Michael Carrington, ABC Director Entertainment & Specialist,
It makes sense to me that we understand what all Australians are doing across the board… what they’re attracted to, what they’re not attracted to, their behaviours between networks and streamers and all that kind of stuff. So from our perspective, we do look at it from a national level and it makes sense to us.

Ben Nguyen, SBS Channel Programmer
It feels anachronistic to measure them in two in this day and age. There’s obviously historic reasons for the commercial affiliates in regional areas that needed to be measured separately. But obviously the public broadcasters have never been in that position anyway. So we end up playing a sort of ‘adding game’ with the lines of limitations around that. But we’re all in the position that when you have a big hit on television, I think it’s good for everyone. If you’re only talking about a metro overnight number, you’re only talking about part of the story. What gets reported to the public does have an impact, and it would be better to be a little bit less complicated in that message.

Hamish Turner, Nine Programming Director
It doesn’t make sense. We don’t monetise regional revenue, so from our perspective, we report on those metrics that generate revenue for us. It doesn’t mean those numbers can’t be reported. But ours focus will continue to be on metro numbers. Whereas on 9Now it’s a bit different because you monetise the entire audience.

Daniel Monaghan, 10 Director of Programming
Network 10 is five metro stations so we talk about that number first and foremost, but we do care about WIN’s numbers as well. …. (Free to Air networks) are all different businesses with their relationships in regional, so I think it’s individual. Our answers all may differ on that. I think Seven’s probably thinking about national numbers and Nine’s probably thinking more metro at the moment.

Should TV ratings switch to national?

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  1. Interesting seeing the differing points of view across the networks…Seven preferring national since they always do so well regionally (look at the boost that regional viewers give to Holey Moley)l for example), then 9 and 7 still preferring the status quo since they don’t do so well regionally.

  2. This is interesting. Remember when they reported share (I think)? So if news or whatever rated 30 or above that was great. Then they went to people, suggested by some as an ostrich move, avoiding the truth of declining overall audiences. So there’s lies, damned lies and statistics at play again. All appears to deny what’s happening with viewing numbers. Arguments about a definition, whilst so many other things are changing.

  3. The problem is that not all 5 FTA networks are in Canberra, Darwin or Tasmania. So shows and channels will vary. How will it work also if there are different networks such as NBN & WIN.

    • Eh? Go to yourtv.com.au/guide/hobart – for example. All 5 networks are present. Some of the ‘secondary’ channels are not but Hobart, Darwin and Canberra definitely have all key channels. NBN is a Nine affiliate, WIN is affiliated with 7, 9 & 10 (Griffith etc) so the primary channel of each network in each area would be counted.

  4. We call ourselves a nation but we’re really a bunch of tribes that want to see “our” news and watch “our” sports. Even the “National” broadcaster has tribal based news bulletins. National ratings for individual shows or time zones may be possible but there are too many variances for 24×7.

  5. I wonder if Nine’s talking down of a national standard has anything to do with the fact that Prime/7Qld beats Nine (Southern Cross) in most aggregated markets. (Northern NSW being an exception where NBN wins)

    And, “It doesn’t make sense. We don’t monetise regional revenue,” Well, yes they do, a lot. They get a massive chunk of regional revenue from their affiliation partner. To say there’s no money in it for them is misleading.

  6. Aside from national ratings, having national LCN numbers would be a good idea too. Every time we’re in the country, I have to explain that 50’s are Nine programming, 60’s are Seven’s known as Prime and 80’s are Ten – but called WIN and you don’t get all of the digital channels…

    • Don’t think that’d be possible, for example.

      If you’re on the Gold Coast and you tune in to your local channel number, are you getting the channel on QLD or NSW time from Tweed Heads?

      Also if you have slightly different programming regionally (eg news), and you’re located on the cusp between the nearest capital, which programme are you receiving?

      There is logic to different channel numbers.

      • Yes, Gold Coast and Central Coast are unique in that regard.

        Most TV’s these days – if they find two channels with the same LCN, they’ assign a channel to the second one they find – like 350, 351, etc… Usually you can chose.

        When I lived on the Central Coast, I would always chose the Sydney channels over the regionals other than NBN for local news.

  7. I thought it was still the case that some of the regional ratings system was still on the old system where it would not be possible to give overnight figures in the morning, therefore a national figure would not be accurate?

  8. Its obvious Nine and 10 don’t care about anything outside of metro areas. Its no surprise though. Thats where they make their money although Nine did buy NBN so its a weird explanation from them honestly. We really need a national system and will be interesting when its introduced. They really don’t care about us honestly.

  9. Good article, look for ABC and SBS they can have a national standard because they run nationally, however the three commercials only run in the five capital cities so Turner is right it doesn’t make sense. It is for the affiliates to program their schedules likewise.

    Monaghan is also right in that it is important for the affiliates to be making good numbers as that flows through to contract negotiations but again until a commercial network has national reach (direct, not through a separate affiliate), I don’t think you are going to get movement on this.

  10. Is there much difference between the regional and metro audience – are the top programmes/channels for last year essentially the same, or do the separate ratings show a difference in tastes?

    • Largely the same but some networks fare better in specific markets (as they do in metro). It’s enough to get people worked up. I agree national would make a better FTA story at a time when it has been fragmenting.

  11. There’s an adage in business that you measure what you care about. The money is in cap. cities, particularly Sydney and Melbourne, so that’s the focus.

  12. I wholeheartedly agree that ratings should become a National issue. What if there are 50,000 more viewers of the show in Darwin and Canberra, that could make a huge difference to a show with 500,000 viewers in the brig capital cities!

  13. 100% national figures.

    Odd comments from 9 and 10. The program still airs nationally. Wouldn’t you want to see how a national audience responds?

    Australia is weird with the capital city obsession. There’s other big cities in the country but they’re not considered important.

  14. I don’t understand Nine’s response “ It doesn’t make sense. We don’t monetise regional revenue, so from our perspective, we report on those metrics that generate revenue for us”

    Nine owns NBN. That’s a huge market bigger than both Adelaide and Perth in population.

    Nine also collects 50% of revenue from all SCA affiliates, plus Darwin too

    So they do indeed monetize regional markets

  15. Interesting comments from 10 and 9.

    They don’t care about the regional viewer. Well guess what as a “regional” viewer who lives in Canberra, I don’t care about you either.

    Good to see that two national broadcasters have a better grip on reality.

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