Free-to-air TV turn-off

16 December, 2013 by Don Groves

Here are some sobering statistics that were diplomatically omitted when the Seven and Nine Networks trumpeted their victories in all-people and key demographics in the 2013 ratings.

All three commercial FTA networks experienced drops in viewers. There was a net loss of nearly 9% among people aged 16-54 in the metro markets who watched the 20 most popular prime time programs versus 2012.


Around 23% of viewers are watching digital channels, resulting in a net loss of around 20% in viewers for the FTA networks’ primary channels.

Those stats are revealed in an analysis of the 2013 ratings by Fusion Strategy. Nine’s audiences in the top 20 programs fell by 7.25% on last year, Seven was down by nearly 9% and Ten’s plunged by 18.75%.

Ten has suffered “very strong double-digit declines every year (since 2011),” the report says. “Seven and Nine are more erratic but not as severe in the past year. “

Illustrating a worrying trend for the commercial FTA broadcasters, Fusion Media says a hit show drew an average audience of 1 million-plus in all people and 600,000-700,000 in 16-54 three years ago. Since then the bar has been reset at 700,000-800,000 in viewers of all ages and 450,000-550,000 in 16-54.

“One clear trend and strategy, is that the big established shows are receiving more telecast hours, and sometimes, with increased audiences,” it says. “Nine won in everything but All People (and) increased group audience in all major demographics.

“However Nine's primary channel lost audiences marginally in the same demographics and generally won by a margin of 6%. Whilst Seven was beaten, its breadth and depth of inventory make it advertiser and media agencies’ favourite.

“Everyone had their share of bad luck and stumbles, none more than Network Ten. At times Ten’s share of revenue was around 20%. Ten has to write a 22% share just to break even. ”