Ask any producer or any network exec and they will tell you the same thing: ratings are about more than Overnight numbers.
There is increasing frustration amongst the industry that a show’s performance is perceived by its Preliminary, or “Overnight”, number -that number we are all so desperate to see the next morning.
Headlines are written around them. Shows are branded instant flops if they don’t measure up. Everyone moves on.
But what happens when those Consolidated numbers come in 7 days later? How are those same headlines adjusted and how are audience perceptions changed when we add in the numbers of people who have viewed via their PVR?
What about replays on multichannels and online views? And let’s not even get started on factoring in Regional viewers too -everything revolves around Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
When any network exec is looking to renew a show, it is the Consolidated and not the Preliminary number that will drive their decision-making.
TV Tonight has taken a look at some of the numbers for 5 shows that have aired recently on the ABC: Gruen Sweat, Gruen Planet, Rake, Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight and Doctor Who.
Each of these shows had a replay on ABC2 and were available on iview.
In the case of Doctor Who, it was available on iview before being broadcast on ABC1.
Here you will see how the “overnight” number differs dramatically from the final numbers for Consolidated ABC1 and ABC2. iview Program Plays are similar to page views and represent a ‘click’ on a video. As they do not represent individuals they cannot be directly compared to TV audience data, but they still give us an indication of increased audiences.
All the data below is an average across each series:
Gruen Sweat (4 episodes)
ABC1 Overnight: 853,000
ABC1 Consolidated: 142,000
ABC2 Overnight: 111,000
ABC2 Consolidated: 4,000
iview plays: 56,000
Including Regional & Consolidated: 1.56m plus iview (56,000)
So whilst 853,000 is the number that gets reported the day after Gruen Sweat has aired, it has actually risen to 1.11m by the time Consolidated numbers are in, and even higher with Regional and iview plays.
Gruen Planet (10 episodes)
ABC1 Overnight: 948,000
ABC1 Consolidated: 117,000
ABC2 Overnight: 88,000
ABC2 Consolidated: 5,000
iview plays: 55,000
Including Regional & Consolidated: 1.633m plus iview (55,000)
Rake (8 episodes)
ABC1 Overnight: 800,000
ABC1 Consolidated: 157,000
ABC2 Overnight: 57,000
ABC2 Consolidated: 19,000
iview plays: 83,000
Including Regional & Consolidated: 1.405m plus iview (83,000)
Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight (12 episodes)
ABC1 Overnight: 526,000
ABC1 Consolidated: 20,000
ABC2 Overnight: 70,000
ABC2 Consolidated: 1,000
iview plays: 14,000
Including Regional & Consolidated: 893,000 plus iview (14,000)
Doctor Who (5 episodes)
ABC1 Overnight: 565,000
ABC1 Consolidated: 171,000
ABC2 Overnight: 82,000
ABC2 Consolidated: 11,000
iview plays: 178,000
Including Regional & Consolidated: 1.136m plus iview (178,000)
These examples help us understand audience trends for episodes on other networks too. Shows that are played on Seven, Nine, TEN and SBS may also be subject to replays on multichannels and online platforms.
At TEN’s Full Year Financial Results presentation last month CEO James Warburton said, “In the US advertisers and media agencies are paying more attention to Consolidated ratings numbers and as an industry we feel we don’t do enough to monetise or report on those Consolidated numbers and we plan to tackle that issue here.”
These numbers support that argument.
So next time you see a show has “only” attracted 700,000 viewers last night, don’t forget that’s not the full picture. But the media can’t tell you the full picture because the numbers are not yet available, and by the time they do come in everyone has moved on.
It’s a frustrating dilemma for everybody….
In September OzTAM announced it will lift the number of homes in the survey panel from 3,035 to 3,500 homes and begin tracking online viewing of TV programmes in 10% of homes.
Figures based on OzTAM and RegionalTAM data.