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Viewers turn away from TV in 2009

Total prime time TV audiences have fallen below 5m in Australia, according to a new analysis of viewing data so far this year. This is despite the arrival of the new Freeview and subscription TV channels to tempt viewers.  

According to the analysis of figures across the prime 6pm to 10.30pm slot, the average audience has fallen from 5,027,868 in 2008 to 4,969,810 in 2009. This marks a decline of around 60,000 prime time viewers per evening – or a fall of just over 1%. This is despite the Australian population growing by more than 2% during the same period.

The comparison of OzTam data from the beginning of this year until October 17 was carried out on behalf of the pay TV industry. It covers both official ratings and non-ratings weeks.

The decline was concentrated in free to air television, which saw a fall of 1.8% in the prime time period.

The fall was greatest for Seven, which has seen an audience decline of 4.3% compared to last year. This can mainly be attributed to the network’s Olympics-driven ratings performance in 2008. The ABC’s prime time audience has fallen by 3.8% so far this year. Nine’s has fallen by 1.4%.

The biggest winner, according to the analysis, is Ten, which saw a peak time audience growth of 6.5%. This was mainly because of the breakout success of Masterchef, which helped the network compete across all audiences rather than the younger demographics it usually focuses on. Subscription TV’s prime time audience grew by 2.7% in the year to date. SBS grew by 1.7%.

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