OzTam ratings 2021: Seven wins total audience, while Nine takes key demos

Having been edged out by Nine in 2019 and 2020, Seven has reclaimed the title of Australia’s #1 television network and achieved the strongest free-to-air commercial audience share growth of any network this year.

According to OzTam data, Seven finished the 2021 ratings year with a 38.6% share of the commercial audience, ahead of Nine on 37.8%, and Ten on 23.6%. The ratings year excludes the Easter holidays and the Olympic Games. It did however this year include The Australian Open, due to the competition’s delay.

Seven West Media managing director and chief executive officer, James Warburton, tells Mumbrella: “It’s great to be back at #1. Seven has now won 13 of the past 15 years and our digital offering 7Plus is also the #1 BVOD service for the second year in a row.


Source: Nine Network

“I’m extremely proud of the team at Seven. We have momentum, confidence and the shows Australia wants to watch. We are yet to deliver our full programming schedule, as we lost key productions this year due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Despite these setbacks, more people have watched Seven in 2021 than any other network, with or without the Olympics. Bring on 2022. We are just getting started.”

Seven also claimed the most watched program of the year, the AFL Grand Final, which saw 3.006 million metro viewers tune-in to watch the Melbourne Demons defeat the Western Bulldogs by 74 points, ending a 57-year wait for a premiership.

The result gives the AFL grand final its highest ratings since 2016, surpassing last year’s showdown between the Richmond Tigers and Geelong Cats which brought in 2.979 million metro viewers, and 4.0096 million viewers nationally.

The second most-watched program for 2021, was Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games: Opening Ceremony with 3.694 million viewers nationally.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Competition

Seven’s The Voice, was the most-watched entertainment program of 2021, and had an average national audience of 1.85 million.

The #1 regular series of 2021, increased timeslot audience to 95% in total people year-on-year.

The Tokyo Olympic Games has been credited in delivering Seven the biggest television and streaming event in Australian history. Seven’s broadcast was up 71% on the 2016 Rio Olympics nationally, up 80% in the capital cities.

An average of 21 million Australians watched Seven’s coverage of the games across 17 days. In week 32 of the OzTam calendar year, Seven Network recorded the biggest prime time commercial share (62.7%) for any network in total people and 25 to 54s (63.3%) since OzTam ratings started in 2001.

On 25 July, 7Plus delivered the biggest day of streaming in Australian television history with 376 million minutes, shattering the previous record of 86 million (held by a State of Origin rugby league match day this year) and 10 times more than the biggest day recorded for Rio 2016.

Unfortunately, not all Seven’s programs had a successful year, with Big Brother VIP, Holey Moley and The Ultimate Tag struggling to pull in ratings.

Warburton explains: “For us, Q1 2021 was tough. We started the year off with Holey Moley, which didn’t do too well. We were guilty of stripping it and stretching it. Ultimate Tag was just an absolute failure, but that happens. We tried a format which we wanted to stay in the genre, the sporting/ family genre, and it didn’t pan out. For us, Q2 and Q3 were outstanding, and then Q4, we lost content, you don’t know what you can and can’t make, because there were limitations with that second wave of lockdowns from the pandemic.

“We made the decision to scramble and create Big Brother VIP. I think we may have gone a little too old with the casting, it didn’t achieve what we wanted it to achieve in ratings, but margin between the #1 program to its competitors, Parental Guidance, and The Bachelorette, know one else really nailed it either, so it was just a tough time to launch the day that lockdowns ended in Sydney and Melbourne,” he adds.

The 7plus line up for summer will include new collections of content

Seven West Media chief revenue officer, Kurt Burnette, explains: “Our stellar year has delivered exceptional results for our partners in 2021 and next year will be even bigger. By returning to #1, we’ve proved that no other network has the powerful mix of premium sport, entertainment and news content that brings Australia together and connects with viewers through unmissable moments. Our incredible line-up can’t be matched and Seven is here to stay as Australia’s number one network.”

Seven’s director of network programming, Angus Ross, adds: “Our successful schedule of exciting new and proven content across television and 7Plus has captured more viewers and delivered stronger demo share growth than any other network. Next year promises to take Seven to the next level as we bring Australian audiences more must-watch entertainment, news, sport and two of the world’s biggest events: the Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games.”

As for how to network’s advertising bookings are tracking for 2022, Warburton adds: “It’s off the charts. Because we had the Winter Olympics in there, and The Ashes, it’s a very strong market. There will be big growth coming into Q1 next year, in both broadcast and into digital. BVOD will grow in the plus 40%, and there will be growth in television as well. Also, we are leading into an election, so that’s added heat in the marketplace. We’re getting great take-up with The Ashes and the Winter Olympics, The Voice, and all of our tentpole shows.

“That’s also a really good indicator of the strength of the market. So, it’s a great place to be in as we head into 2022. We have been in the market with Kickstart packages to kick off the new year, because brands want to have a big strong start to the year. After some intense research we can categorically say now that the Winter Olympics next year will be the most viewed event of 2022 across broadcast and digital.”

Meanwhile, over at Nine, the network has said its retained its coveted status as Australia’s #1 network within key advertising demographics.

At the conclusion of the 2021 ratings survey period (excluding the Olympics), Nine ranked #1 for people 25-54, 16-39 and grocery shopper + child.

Nine’s primary channel is also Australia’s No. 1 with all key demographics, as well as with total people across the ratings survey period (excluding the Tokyo Olympics).

The NRL grand final day match saw 3,656 million viewers nationally tune in to watch the Penrith Panthers win against South Sydney Rabbitohs

Nine’s chief sales officer, Michael Stephenson, says of the result: “Nine is number one again in the thing that matters most – the demographics that advertisers buy.

“When you remove the Olympics, Nine is number one in 25-54s, 16-39s, and grocery shoppers with children. We have had a strategy which is focused on delivering the audiences that our clients buy. That is what we have done again this year and what we will do again in 2022.”

Nine’s most watched episode was this year’s NRL grand final day match, which saw 3.656 million viewers nationally tune in to watch the Penrith Panthers win against South Sydney Rabbitohs.

The Block winner announcement in the grand final episode was the most watched entertainment program this year, with 2.659 million viewers nationally.

“We’re continuing to put new things into our schedule that add colour and shade to the content that we provide,” Stephenson says. “It’s been another cracker of a year for us. We’re seeing growth across all of the demos which is great news, in terms of commercial share, The real growth story that we’re seeing is the growth of live streaming. This whole notion of Total Television, which is no doubt the future of TV, when advertisers look at a combination of live linear TV, plus live streaming, and on-demand, the real superstar at the beginning of 2021 was our live streaming within our 9Now app. It’s growing at over 50%, and growing at double the rate of on-demand growth.”

Gogglebox Australia gained over 60% more audience with the inclusion of on demand, live stream and regional viewing

Over at Ten, the network took a 28.8% share in under 50s, 30.3% in 16 to 39s and 28.9% share in 25 to 54s.

Ten’s share has grown since 2019, up 1.2 points in total people, 2.9 points in 16 to 39s and 2.4 points in 25 to 54s.

Over 58% of Ten’s audience under 55, giving it an audience five years younger than that of its commercial competitors.

The 2021 Lexus Melbourne Cup Race crossed the finish line with a national total audience of 1.88 million. It was #1 in its timeslot with an 83.4% commercial share and also boasted its biggest ever live stream audience on 10 Play, up 17%.

The 2021 Lexus Melbourne Cup Race saw 1.88 million viewers nationally tune in to watch the race that stops the nation this year

Ten’s digital audiences grew this year, with 10 Play reporting an 11% increase year-on-year. Its growth can be attributed to additional exclusive premium content and locally commissioned programs being added to the platform, as well as record BVOD audiences for Ten’s shows.

ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand chief content officer and executive vice president, Beverley McGarvey, explains: “Our content across all platforms in 2021 provided us with growth and strong shares in the key advertising 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.

“We reached more than 15 million Australians every month. Not only is 10 Play having its biggest year ever, up 11%, but 2021 also saw the successful launch of our SVOD platform – Paramount+ which surpassed all expectations. We continue to provide unique, innovative and seamless integration opportunities across all our platforms.

“And, we will continue to make very significant investments in all content across all our platforms. Our balance sheet allows us to take advantage of short-term tactical opportunities while maintaining a long-term vision. We are interested in serving our audiences and clients today and into the future across all distribution platforms and are very well placed to do so.”

Ten ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand chief sales officer, Rod Prosser, adds: “2021 saw several of our tentpole programs across both linear and BVOD gain share in our key demographic of under 50s. VOZ has revealed the hidden audience – the incremental reach that brings back the viewers we never lost.

“Our ability to efficiently and effectively target our key demographic of under 50s, has ensured that not only is our total premium revenue across our key prime-time franchises up on 2020, but our revenue share has continued to grow in 2021.

“Clients, wanting to target the key advertising demographics in a consistent and brand-safe environment, have activated more integrated partnerships than ever before, more efficiently with less wastage.

“In 2022, we will be back with a schedule that is confident and consistent boasting another 50 weeks of programming entertainment strategy, which will all kick off with Julia Morris and Chris Brown putting celebrities through their paces when I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! premieres on Monday, 3 January.”


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