No surprises for anyone to read that the Seven Network has come out as the overall winner in the 2011 ratings battle – its fifth annual win in a row.
Seven ends the year (Weeks 7-48, excluding Easter, 6pm-12mn, 5 cities) with a 31.0% share, followed by Nine (26.3%), Ten (21.4%), ABC (15.9%) and SBS (5.4%). For Seven it’s an increase from last year’s share of 28.7% while Nine, ABC and SBS recorded drops compared to 2010, and Ten rose only slightly from 21.2% as it launched its new channel Eleven this year and revamped former sports channel One.
Broken down to individual channels, Seven (23.0%) was ahead of Nine (19.5%), Ten (15.8%), ABC1 (12.4%), SBS One (4.6%), 7TWO (4.6%), GO! (4.0%), Eleven (3.5%), 7mate (3.4%), Gem (2.8%), ABC2 (2.3%), One (2.1%), SBS Two (0.8%), ABC News 24 (0.7%) and ABC3 (0.6%). The growth in the multi-channel audiences has seen all primary channels recording a decline on 2010’s numbers.
7TWO overtook Nine’s GO! as the top-rated multi-channel, while Ten’s new youth-themed channel Eleven ends its first year in third spot.
It was a year where Seven could do little wrong, achieving a clean sweep of 40 overall prime-time wins out of 40 weeks, due to a strong early evening line-up of Seven News, Today Tonight and Home And Away and its reality portfolio – The Amazing Race: Australia, Dancing With The Stars (pictured), My Kitchen Rules, Australia’s Got Talent and a revamped The X Factor – all performing well giving the network a massive lead up to mid-evening. Thursday nights got a boost with Beauty And The Geek, and the long-running Better Homes And Gardens gave Seven a boost on Fridays.
Seven also scored a massive hit on Sunday nights with British series Downton Abbey.
Drama series Packed To The Rafters was still a standout performer but didn’t rate quite as well as in 2010, having lost a number of key cast members in the last year, and with some risky scheduling by Seven that saw the series given a lengthy mid-season break and then winding up the 2011 series prematurely. But the mid-season break for Rafters saw it replaced by the new series Winners And Losers, a strong ratings performer though not a match for Rafters.
In the morning battle, Sunrise is still dominant in the breakfast timeslot nationally but Nine’s Today is performing stronger in Sydney and Melbourne. The Morning Show continues to rule the mid-morning timeslot, claiming victory over Nine’s Kerri-Anne (which was cancelled last week) and The Circle.
But not everything quite went Seven’s way. The network’s new period drama Wild Boys, featuring Daniel MacPherson and former Rafters star Zoe Ventoura, got off to a strong start but failed to maintain an audience and will not return in 2012. Game show Deal Or No Deal, once a dominant performer at 5.30pm, is fading against Hot Seat, and drama series City Homicide went out with a whimper. And last week’s special Kyle And Jackie O’s Night With The Stars was presented with a lead-in of two million viewers (with the “winner announced” on The X Factor) but saw viewers switch off in droves.
New imported series No Ordinary Family, Detroit 187, Teen Wolf, Suits and Law And Order: LA all failed to click with viewers.
For the Nine Network the year started confidently, with promises that the network would be the “home of comedy” in 2011. It was soon apparent, however, that the only ones laughing were the other networks. The supposed flagship of the new comedy line-up, Ben Elton Live From Planet Earth, was a spectacular dud, even leading to a public apology by Elton himself, and was axed after only three weeks. New US shows $#*! My Dad Says and Mike And Molly also failed.
The once dominant US sitcom Two And A Half Men was on the decline on the back of the Charlie Sheen scandal and his subsequent sacking from the series, but The Big Bang Theory – ironically from the same producer as Men – became a strong performer, to the point where Nine has become somewhat over-reliant on its popularity, ended the ratings year with 14 episodes scheduled in prime-time over five nights.
The multi-million dollar deal which saw Hamish Blake and Andy Lee come across from the Ten Network saw their new series Hamish And Andy’s Gap Year start to a strong ratings result but overall popularity waned as the series progressed, although it rated well in younger demographics.
The Joy Of Sets with Tony Martin and Ed Kavalee promised a humourous and affectionate look at the various aspects of television, but viewers didn’t take to it at all with later episodes playing out in a late-night timeslot.
Nine’s first half of the year was also not helped by lack lustre performances by new Eddie McGuire vehicles Million Dollar Drop, Between The Lines and a revival of This Is Your Life.
Nine had some smiles, however, by strong ratings for the ongoing Underbelly franchise, with a series of telemovies and the 1920s-themed series Underbelly: Razor rating well.
The TV Week Logie Awards rated well (1,323,000, over four hours) up against the series return of MasterChef Australia (1,569,000, 90 minutes), while the NRL State Of Origin series returned excellent figures with all three games well exceeding the 2 million viewer mark.
But while the first half of the year was not a great one for Nine, its second half was somewhat better and can be largely attributed to adopting the reality genre in the stripped 7.00pm timeslot, starting with a new-look The Block which became a ratings hit. Some strategic coding by Nine in the ratings system has seen The Block – The Winner Announced claim the #1 program of the year – all seven minutes of it.
(Such coding of programs, a tactic employed by all three commercial networks, have made a mess of the Top 20 list – as below – where individual episodes of series and specific segments of special events are singled out to give them higher or multiple positions in the rankings.)
Nine then used the 7.00pm timeslot for its late-year series Celebrity Apprentice, also returning strong results. The popularity in the reality genre for Nine will see it launch an Australian version of singing competition The Voice, and reviving Big Brother in 2012.
But while it was a year that Seven could do little wrong, for Network Ten it was a year where there was little they could get right. The network’s heavy investment in expanding its news and current affairs portfolio saw 6PM With George Negus (later 6.30) fail to maintain any audience traction up against the tabloid opposition, although the network should at least be credited for attempting to lift the bar in the standard of prime-time current affairs reporting and giving the show a fair run before finally axing it in October.
The 6.30pm Ten Evening News failed to click with viewers and was axed after two months, and Ten’s subsequent extension of the 5.00pm bulletin to a 90-minute format saw its numbers drop considerably. The mess of the network’s weekend newscasts, which saw the national 5.00pm newscast dropped and then re-instated and the 6.00pm state-based bulletins launched and then dropped in favour of an extended national news bulletin, has not done it any favours either.
The 7PM Project has now been extended to an hour, and re-named The Project. Its overall average has dropped as a result and it is to be seen if the expanded format can build on its numbers in 2012.
Ten’s reality giant MasterChef Australia was back for a third series this year. Although the program continued to rate well, the mood of the audience was well down on previous years and the show’s finale – split into two shows to ‘force’ viewers to sample The Renovators sandwiched in between – rated well lower than the two previous season finals and its Junior MasterChef spin-off also failed to maintain a strong audience.
The new show The Renovators (pictured) promised to do for home makeovers what MasterChef did with cooking – crank the challenges, production values and the budget to the hilt, and to saturate the schedule. The problem was that viewers didn’t take to The Renovators as they had come to adopt MasterChef, therefore dragging down Ten’s entire schedule. It will also be no coincidence that Nine’s revamped The Block made its debut just prior to The Renovators and hence stole much of its thunder.
Ten’s drama slate has looked somewhat depleted this year, with Neighbours being moved across to Eleven. Ten’s second series of Offspring was a strong performer and will be back next year, but action-packed police drama Rush again failed to gain a decent audience and will not appear in 2012.
Apart from MasterChef’s two-part finale, Ten’s only appearance in the year-end Top 20 was the AFL Grand Final, ending the network’s ten-year association with the league as the free-to-air rights next year go solely to Seven.
Ten’s re-working of comedy show Good News Week into Good News World was a critical and ratings disaster, while the new topical discussion show Can Of Worms got a modest audience response but was not helped by some erratic scheduling. The second series of the Australian version of Undercover Boss also failed to rate with viewers.
The network did have better results with the return of The Biggest Loser and Talkin’ ‘bout Your Generation.
Imported shows Blue Bloods, Hawaii Five-O, The Defenders and Ringer have also returned poor results, while the big-budget series Terra Nova – filmed on location in Australia – started strongly but has failed to maintain viewers’ interest.
Over at ABC ratings are not of primary concern but the ABC1 channel has scored some critical and ratings hits during the year. The two-part series Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo (pictured) was a ratings hit in April, while the eight-part adaptation of the book The Slap was widely acclaimed and received strong Thursday night figures for the broadcaster.
The long-running Spicks And Specks also rated well during the year with its final-ever episode last week scoring over 1.5 million viewers. The Gruen Transfer and its spin-off Gruen Planet were also popular on Wednesday nights.
Highlights for SBS during the year included Cadel Evans’ victory in the Tour de France (704,000), followed by documentary series Go Back To Where You Came From (pictured), where six Australians were taken on a reverse journey of those taken by refugees that have landed at our shores.
In digital multi-channels, the most-watched broadcast was Day 9 of Wimbledon on 7TWO, attracting 737,000 viewers, followed by movies Transformers and 2012 on GO!. Neighbours was a consistent performer for Eleven, often winning nightly digital channel rankings but its average over the year saw it ranked at the 10th most popular program on digital channels for the year.
But the biggest TV event of the year is one that fell outside of the official ratings survey. The April wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, with coverage across four free-to-air networks and a number of pay-TV channels, was watched by millions but took place during the two-week ratings break taken around Easter so its numbers are not included in the year-end tally.
From today networks go into summer non-ratings mode, though viewing data is still collected and reported to networks over the non-ratings period.
The 2012 ratings year begins on 12 February and continues through to 1 December, with a two-week Easter break in April.
Free-To-Air Top 20 Programs (Rank, Title, Network, Duration, Audience (five cities)):
1 THE BLOCK -WINNER ANNOUNCED (Nine) 0:07:06 3,370,000
2 AUSTRALIA'S GOT TALENT-THE WINNER ANNOUNCED (Seven) 0:10:06 2,980,000
3 UNDERBELLY: RAZOR -EP1 (Nine) 1:01:21 2,794,000
4 MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA - THE WINNER ANNOUNCED (Ten) 0:16:00 2,745,000
5 THE BLOCK -AUCTION (Nine) 0:45:50 2,736,000
6 THE 2011 MELBOURNE CUP CARNIVAL: MELBOURNE CUP-THE RACE (Seven) 0:06:05 2,667,000
7 TEN'S AFL FINALS 2011: GRAND FINAL COLLINGWOOD V GEELONG (Ten) 3:02:30 2,641,000
8 STATE OF ORIGIN RUGBY LEAGUE QLD V NSW 3RD - MATCH (Nine) 1:50:58 2,492,000
9 MASTERCHEF AUSTRALIA - FINALE NIGHT (Ten) 1:01:34 2,402,000
10 UNDERBELLY: RAZOR -EP2 (Nine) 1:01:16 2,352,000
11 THE BLOCK -GRAND FINAL (Nine) 1:07:10 2,309,000
12 STATE OF ORIGIN RUGBY LEAGUE QLD V NSW 1ST - MATCH (Nine) 1:41:24 2,245,000
13 RUGBY LEAGUE GRAND FINAL (Nine) 1:51:01 2,172,000
14 STATE OF ORIGIN RUGBY LEAGUE NSW V QLD 2ND - MATCH (Nine) 1:44:00 2,165,000
15 MY KITCHEN RULES-WINNER ANNOUNCED (Seven) 0:10:00 2,127,000
16 THE X FACTOR - THE WINNER ANNOUNCED (Seven) 7 0:08:00 2,026,000
17 THE 2011 MELBOURNE CUP CARNIVAL: MELBOURNE CUP-RACE PRESENTATIO (Seven) 0:33:27 1,967,000
18 AUSTRALIA'S GOT TALENT-TUE (Seven) 1:34:32 1,936,000
19 THE 2011 GRAND FINAL PRE GAME (Ten) 0:20:58 1,914,000
20 DOWNTON ABBEY (Seven) 1:11:48 1,906,000
Free-To-Air Digital Multi Channel Top 20 Programs (Rank, Title, Channel, Duration, Audience (five cities)):
1 WIMBLEDON 2011 - DAY 9 (7TWO) 1:37:11 737,000
2 TRANSFORMERS -EV (GO!) 3:00:14 486,000
3 2012 -EV (GO!) 3:14:57 441,000
4 AUST FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 2011 - RACE (One)2:00:00 428,000
5 WIMBLEDON 2011 - DAY 7 (7TWO) 2:46:45 408,000
6 SURVIVOR: REDEMPTION ISLAND -EV TX1 (GO!) 0:58:00 371,000
7 HEARTBEAT-SAT (R) (7TWO) 1:07:09 350,000
8 JONATHAN CREEK (7TWO) 1:07:32 349,000
9 SURVIVOR: REDEMPTION ISLAND -EV (GO!) 1:36:15 344,000
10 NEIGHBOURS (Eleven) 0:30:35 343,000
11 M-FIRST BLOOD (7mate) 2:00:51 338,000
12 PAUL BLART: MALL COP -EV (GO!) 1:56:36 337,000
13 HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE -EV (GO!) 3:20:46 337,000
14 DOC MARTIN-EP.2 (7TWO) 1:02:01 335,000
15 HEARTBEAT (R) (7TWO) 1:06:18 330,000
16 HEARTBEAT-EP.2 (R) (7TWO) 1:05:31 325,000
17 THE VICAR OF DIBLEY-TUE (R) (7TWO) 0:49:38 322,000
18 HEARTBEAT-SAT EP.2 (R) (7TWO) 1:02:40 315,000
19 HEARTBEAT-WED (R) (7TWO) 1:08:04 314,000
20 DOC MARTIN (7TWO) 1:03:09 308,000
Data © OzTAM Pty Limited 2011. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) without the prior written consent of OzTAM.