2020 Oztam ratings survey results: Nine wins, but Seven fighting on

The TV ratings season has come to an end, and despite what can only be described as a difficult year, TV networks are all reporting improvements in audience and ad revenues.

Once again the Nine Network has won the battle for eyeballs. According to Oztam data, the network received 38.3% of all viewers, closely followed by Seven on 36.9% and then Ten on 24.8% (based on calendar year-to-date). Nine also took out the key demographics of 16-39s and 25-54s.

Nine’s chief sales officer, Michael Stephenson, said of the result: “In an extraordinary year, where television production schedules across the board were disrupted by COVID-19 Nine delivered the things we aim for every year.”

He added that the network had “pivoted and found new ways to do things” in light of the pandemic.

Seven’s chief revenue officer Kurt Burnette said that network had shown agility throughout the year, and an ability to deliver, “despite the constraints put in front of us”.

“That agility and the things that we can learn from the way we produced the AFL remotely, the way the commentators called remotely, we can take those into next year into events such as the Olympics,” he said.

Between June and yesterday, Seven added 3.5% additional total audience based on the ratings survey.

The Tigers won the AFL grand final.

While Nine won the viewing overall, Seven claimed the most watched program of the year, the AFL Grand Final between Richmond and Geelong, which achieved 3.864 million viewers.

“Sport and TV have shown to be very resilient throughout the year. Sport, that has proven to be the key driver. Sport is bullet proof,” said Burnette.

Indeed, Nine’s NRL final between Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm was the second most watched program of the year with 2.985 million viewers, while its State of Origin Game III was the third most watched on 2.751 million.

These were closely followed by Game II of Origin and The Australian Open Day 8 on 2.453 million and 2.437 million respectively.

Nine’s The Block finale was also the top entertainment program of the year, sitting at 2.371 million. It was followed by the Lego Masters finale on 2.234 million 9also on Nine) and Ten’s Masterchef Australia winner announcement, on 2.084 million.

TenViacomCBS, head of programming, Daniel Monaghan, said: “In what has been a challenging and unique year, it is great that we have strong momentum as we move into 2021. And the standout success of the year was MasterChef Australia: Back To Win. It was up a massive 46%, achieving its biggest audience since 2016.”

News and Current affairs was led by 7News, which won every week of the survey year. It reported 1.64 million viewers nationally and 1.06 million in the capital cities.

While the ratings season is officially over, networks will continue to squabble over the data. Traditionally the ratings survey does not include the summer period and Easter Holidays, so depending on which network is reviewing the statistics there can be variations in winning programs.

However, according to Natalie Harvey, network sales director at Seven, not one of its customer only buys the survey period.

“News and sport are vital over that [summer] period… we have a platform that goes all the way through. Our approach is to have that daily consistency,” she told Mumbrella.

Indeed, over at Nine the summer is equally important to the network and its advertisers, as if the summer period left out of the traditional survey  this would exclude the Australian Open, which had four out of the top ten most watched sporting events on television during the year.

“The combination of the Australian Open and Married at First Sight at the start of the year… those two things are a marriage made in heaven,” said Stevenson.

The Australian Open will again be on Nine in 2021, but the start date is still under consideration due to COVID-19 quarantine requirements for all international arrivals.

Stevenson said that the network was working with Tennis Australia and the Victorian Government to confirm the event timing and broadcast. He added that he had full confidence in the association finding a suitable solution. As it stands it is likely to begin in February 2021, which would see if firmly within the traditional ratings period.

If the competition was to be delayed even further, Stevenson said the network had 50 hours of new Australian content to show in 2021, and that they had “options” from a programming point of view.

For ratings data going forward all networks will be looking to leverage the launch of Oztam’s VOZ, which was scheduled to have launched already but has hit delays.

“The VOZ launch timetable has been impacted by Covid-19 and the ransomware attack on Nielsen,” an Oztam spokesperson stated. “Despite those challenges, the plan is for VOZ daily test data to be available for broadcasters before the end of 2020 and to be provided to media agencies for testing in January.”

“2021 will be the first year the market starts to look at total consumption across all platforms, and VOZ will be a catalyst for that.” said Stevenson. “It will measure co-viewing for the first time.”

*Tables provided by the Nine Network.


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