Seven wins 2021 ratings year

After Nine dumped The Voice, Seven reworked it and managed to steal back the ratings crown.

  • Seven wins Total People
  • Nine wins Demos
  • AFL Grand Final biggest audience of the year
  • The Block Winner Announced tops entertainment
  • 10 reclaims third place from ABC


Seven has won 2021 ratings in Total People after Nine claimed glory in 2020 and 2019.

Lockdown-impacted 2021 was an unusual year but even without the Olympics, and Nine’s Australian Open pushing into survey, Seven came out on top.

Curiously, it did that by turning Nine’s dumped talent show The Voice into a renewed hit -the only show to draw above 1m metro viewers for every episode (Seven also picked up Nine’s Hey Hey it’s Saturday and walked away with a 50th special). Seven had the biggest audience of the year in the AFL Grand Final -at 4.096m in Total TV numbers. It led in News, Breakfast TV and multichannels.

Nine held onto the advertiser-friendly demos with a string of 7:30 shows which all fired for the network. Despite a softer start, The Block topped the year in entertainment at 2.898m in Total viewers for the Winner Announced. Amongst the other successes were State of Origin, Married at First Sight and Lego Masters.

After finishing behind ABC in 2020, 10 has returned to third place with its Oprah special as their biggest drawcard. In addition to the Melbourne Cup, local successes included I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here#, Have You Been Paying Attention? and Australian Survivor.

Compared to 2020, 10, ABC and SBS all lost some share which was snatched by Seven and Nine.

There is also some conjecture this year over what constitutes the Olympics period. Seven and 10 results both remove 2 x weeks from final numbers but Nine results removed share from all dates 23/7/2021 – 8/8/2021, which includes the opening night of The Voice.

Survey Year

5 City Metro excluding Olympics Weeks 31 & 32.


Seven: 29.1
Nine: 28.4
10: 17.8
ABC: 16.6
SBS: 8.2

Primary channel:

Nine: 20.3
Seven: 20.1
ABC: 11.8
10: 11.1
SBS: 5.0


Nine: 30.7
Seven: 28.0
10: 22.8
ABC: 11.8
SBS: 6.6

18 – 49:
Nine: 30.6
Seven: 28.3
10: 23.5
ABC: 11.4
SBS: 6.3

16 – 39:
Nine: 30.8
Seven: 28.5
10: 22.7
ABC: 11.6
SBS: 6.5

The numbers below reflect the new OzTAM measure of Total TV numbers factoring Metro + Regional / Timeshifted / BVOD. This means numbers can’t be compared with previous years due to a new measure.


  • Wins Total People
  • 19 of the 38 survey weeks
  • Wins multichannel group
  • Biggest audience: AFL Grand Final 4.096m national
  • Hits over 1m: The Voice, Hey Hey it’s 50 Years, SAS Australia, Dancing with the Stars, Big Brother, Home & Away, Holey Moley, Seven News.
  • Sport: Olympic Games, AFL, Supercars.


“We’re back to number one. It’s a good spot to be,” Angus Ross, Seven’s Director of Programming told TV Tonight.

“It’s great for us to have returned to leadership. We are in year two of a three year plan under James (Warburton CEO), and I think when we review the year, we’re honest with ourselves… we had a pretty average start to the year. There were a few oddities like the Australian Open moving into ratings and that sort of thing. Holey Moley premiered well, and ran out of puff quick. Ultimate Tag was a failure. But then in Q2 and Q3 we played a blinder and we just hung on at the end of Q4 to win the match.

“We still believe All People is important. But you’ve got to obviously be competitive in the Demographics as well. So it’s that balance. But ultimately, the most important thing is the revenue that we make,” he adds. “Put it this way, more people this year have watched Seven than any other network.”

Ross also acknowledges the 2021 crown has come via ITV Studios reworking The Voice, promoted through the Olympics and hitting a pitch perfect note when Sydney & Melbourne were enduring lockdowns.

“We obviously made changes to the show tonally and with the coaches. We had a great launch pad for it. All those things help you get a show off the deck. With the Olympics, you can get people to a show, but if the show’s crap, they’re not going to stick around. In this case, The Voice was different to all other Voices in that there wasn’t that drop-off that occurred at the end of the Blind Auditions. So I think a number of things like lined up for us. But would I have had enough hubris to say, ‘It’ll be the number one show on television’ when we commissioned it? Of course I wouldn’t!” he continues.

“So it’s certainly worked out very well. It’s pretty sweet. That show has enabled us to retake the number one network mantle for 2021.”


  • Wins Demos 16-39, 18-49 and 25-54
  • Wins primary channel
  • Biggest audience: NRL Grand Final 3.656m national
  • Hits over 1m: Married at First Sight, Lego Masters, The Block, Australian Ninja Warrior, Under Investigation, Beauty & the Geek, Travel Guides, Celebrity Apprentice, Parental Guidance, Nine News, A Current Affair.
  • Sport: State of Origin, NRL, Wimbledon, Australian Open, Rugby League.


Michael Healy, Nine’s Director of Television, said: “I couldn’t be prouder of the achievements of the Nine team in delivering a slate that has reaffirmed our leadership position across both linear and digital. Once again, our shows have dominated the key demographics as well as the national conversation throughout the year. Channel 9 is also the number one channel in Total People (ex. Olympics). We’re extremely proud of our shows and have worked with our production partners to deliver content that has engaged, informed and entertained us throughout another challenging year.”


  • Reclaims third place from ABC
  • Biggest audience: Oprah with Meghan & Harry 2.369m
  • Hits over 1m: I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here#, Have You Been Paying Attention?, Australian Survivor.
  • Sport: Melbourne Cup, Socceroos.


Beverley McGarvey, Chief Content Officer and Executive Vice President, ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand, said: “Our content across all platforms in 2021 provided us with growth and strong shares in the key advertising demographics. From I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! to Australian Survivor, Have You Been Paying Attention?, The Dog House Australia and Celebrity MasterChef Australia saw our tentpole programs all deliver strong audiences in those key demographics. We are extremely proud of our programming across our platforms. It is premium, bold, courageous, engaging and innovative. We take risks and we will continue to do so, because for us as a business, it is integral we continue to reflect all Australians, both in front of and behind the camera. Our position as leaders in escapist entrainment was further strengthened this year as we delivered a consistent 50-week schedule. Our content continued to resonate with viewers. Content that is familiar, brand-friendly, celebrates and rewards talent and achievement, and taps into the under 50s.”

2021’s Biggest Audiences

Survey Year, ranked by Total TV audience, excluding Tokyo Olympics. Supplied by Seven.


* Linear and timeshifted numbers


  • Opening Ceremony: 3.694m
  • Day 9: Night: 3.070m
  • Closing Ceremony: 1.9 million total viewers
  • Biggest prime time commercial share (62.7%) in total people and 25 to 54s (63.3%) since OzTAM ratings start in 2001
  • 7plus: Biggest digital event in Australian history


# outside survey year.

Infograph supplied by Nine (Calendar year):


13 Responses

    1. Probably – most countries broadcasters have upped their game in the threat of competition from streamers but the Aussie commercial networks seemed to have waved a white flag.

      In the UK for example in October 6 of the top 10 shows were scripted drama, with 9 of those shows from traditional broadcasters ahead of Squid Gane in 10th.

  1. Seven got lucky honestly. It could have been a disaster. Q1 and 4 were terrible. The thing is though, they took risks with shows and some paid off, some didn’t. Thats what networks should do. So sick of seeing this “safe” tv and now it looks like 2022 is going to be the year of the dating shows.
    As for the Olympics, i’ve always said, there is no reason why it should be excluded from the ratings. Every other event or once off special is included, as an example, the Adele concert. That was a once off event. Sorry but it should all be included. Time to change that.

  2. Considering they had a disastrous Q1 and Q4 with high profile flops it shows that even though The Voice did some heavy lifting in primetime it’s ultimately the bread and butter of the station that gets them over the line. And yet all attention remains on that 7.30pm slot and building each night, and therefore often each week, largely around one single programme.

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