SBS numbers just don’t add up for Vikings

By David Knox on August 11, 2013 / Filed Under News 12

Vikings“SBS last night recorded one of its highest audiences of the year for Vikings and its highest rating drama on SBS ONE since Marx and Venus in January 2008, with a total of 1.3million people tuning in to the first two episodes,” claimed an SBS press release.


At those kind of numbers the public broadcaster would be close to toppling The X Factor! If only they were true.

Alas, it’s all spin.

Reading more into the press release we learn:

Episode one attracted a combined metro and regional audience of 744,000 (506,000 metro and 238,000 regional) with a free-to-air share of 12.4% metro and 11.9% regional.

Episode two attracted a combined metro and regional audience of 613,000 (424,000 metro and 189,000 regional) with a free-to-air share of 12.8% metro and 12.4% regional.

So not only are these national numbers, but SBS has actually added two episodes together to create a magical 1.3m viewers, as if to suggest the people watching episode one was a different set of viewers to those watching episode two. In fact the show lost 82,000 metro viewers between episodes.

It’s a shame it needed to spin this way because the numbers for 5 city metro, at 506,000, were actually very good by SBS standards -more than double what Better Man had a week earlier in the same timeslot.

Outside of sport, episode one was the third highest rating program on SBS ONE this year, beaten only by Eurovision and Who Do You Think You Are?

But it still wasn’t 1.3m no matter how you try to fudge it.

Lift your game please…

SBS has issued a second Release now noting in part:
Coming off the back of Better Man, SBS’s first commissioned drama in 3 years, historical drama Vikings had its Australian debut on SBS to a combined average audience of 746k viewers (Metro + Regional), holding a 12.4% Metro FTA share.

SBS treated audiences to two episodes of Vikings back-to-back on Thursday, resulting in a 5 minute consecutive reach of 1.29 million (908k Metro + 381k Regional). The 9 part series continues next Thursday at 21:30, with an encore screening on SBS 2 Tuesday 21:35.


  1. susierids August 12, 2013 at 12:20 pm -

    Oh boy. You just don’t do that! Obviously slipped through the cracks in all the excitement of the very high (indeed anyway) ratings!

  2. newtaste August 11, 2013 at 8:51 pm -

    How do you know that isn’t the cume figure, the total number of people who watched it even for a minute, rather than being an average.

  3. David Knox August 11, 2013 at 8:03 pm -

    I recall a very short romantic drama…

  4. deedeedragons August 11, 2013 at 7:46 pm -

    What the hell was Marx & Venus?

  5. Secret Squirrel August 11, 2013 at 1:03 pm -

    I see what’s happened here. The Vikings used a pentimal numeral system but SBS Marketing has assumed that the numbers were written in decimal notation thus effectively doubling the value. Easy mistake to make.

    Perhaps SBS now stands for Spin & BS? I hope this doesn’t become a thing.

  6. Dayman August 11, 2013 at 12:49 pm -

    Vikings is a really good though.

  7. Zjonn August 11, 2013 at 12:34 pm -

    Perhaps they are assuming a number of people who recorded it (as I did, and watched it and will be back, recording and watching it next week) and that assumed number took it to the great heights that it did?
    I know, not likely, call it a slip in judgement by a network with very limited resources which out does the majors in news as being better presented, more fact based and not restricted to the garbage presented by the commercials but also looking at the rest of the world, not limited to the royal baby or Obama and local drama which, when shown, is invariable a real story instead of some of the crap, like Nine’s underbelly, which doesn’t seem to know if it’s a parody, drama, comedy or comic book type action and does what it does badly.

  8. Gonzo August 11, 2013 at 11:35 am -

    They didn’t need to spin it that way. These are fantastic numbers for SBS and given the A League is soon starting, should they run a strong summer line up, im predicting they’ll have a far higher average audience come Feb 2014!

  9. jimbo k August 11, 2013 at 10:46 am -

    I understand why sbs are trying to say how successful this show is (Vikings did rate really well for sbs). This is their 3rd highest show of the year. Surely that is good enough to show their actual ratings, instead of spinning it

  10. A. August 11, 2013 at 10:10 am -

    P.S. of course it’s the national figure the Metro figure would be (506,000 + 424,000 )/2. 930,000/2. 465,000 viewer average.

  11. A. August 11, 2013 at 9:50 am -

    Mathematically wouldn’t it be 744,000 + 613,000 then you divide by two. Because you average the two episodes. 1,358,000/2. Therefore it averages to 679,000. Still a really good figure for SBS. But not over 1 million.

  12. Craig August 11, 2013 at 7:40 am -

    Its networks maths at it’s best, they must be learning from the big boys!

    I liked the new show, been sitting on the eps for months and just not had the time to watch them.

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