Ratings: How Campbell Live ended up on the block

With the impending departure of Campbell Live at 7:30pm on TV3 there is much interest in the ratings for the show and why this decision has come about now.

First up, this is a combined graph of the average audiences between Seven Sharp and Campbell Live from when the first went head to head back on the fourth of February 2013 and the end of last week.

Campbell Live vs Seven Sharp Ratings

It is obvious that the average audiences for Campbell Live in 2014 did not enjoy the same levels that they did when the show first went up against TV One’s revamped early evening current affairs program Seven Sharp. In 2015, these numbers have fallen away again at a time when traditionally, due to the end of daylight savings, prime time viewership is increasing.

If we compare the average audiences for the two shows over the same periods, in 2013, the average audience for Seven Sharp was 347,548 viewers per night compared to Campbell Live’s 281,669.  In 2014, Seven Sharp increased their average audience over the same period by 10% to 383,682 viewers per night and then so far this year, the average audiences are up 11% to 426,903.  Compared to 2013, TV One has increased their average audience at 7pm by 23%.  This was after the declining ratings for Close Up when the average audience was 453,104 in 2012.

When it comes to Campbell Live though, the average audience of 281,669 viewers in 2013 was the best they’ve ever been.  During that year, Campbell Live regularly beat Seven Sharp and broke a number of ratings records.  Things were looking great.  TVNZ had opened the door and Mediaworks looked set to capitalise on it.  Unfortunately for them, TVNZ made further changes in 2014 with the introduction of Mike Hosking and Toni Street and with it came the ratings growth and the upward ratings trajectory that the management team had hoped for the year earlier.

In 2014, the average audience for Campbell Live fell 22% to 219,406 viewers per night.  So far in 2015, the average audience is down a further 13% to 191,432.  Overall, this equates to a 32% drop in the average nightly audience.

Further more, there are a number of interesting factors.  On the week that Campbell Live celebrated its 10th anniversary, the show experienced two of it’s worst rating episodes ever.  Granted, those were the same night that the Cricket World Cup semi finals were on but there have been 5 other nights that have rated less than 150,000 in the last month, two of which were after the event was over and were only marginally better than the 116,040 and 118,590 audiences.

The other contributing factor is that the only way to gauge whether on not something else is going to perform better is to put something else on in its place.  Unfortunately, that’s near impossible unless you have the opportunity to do so around a public holiday.  This opportunity arose last Friday as everyone bailed for Easter weekend, giving TV3 the chance to put something else up for viewers.

Typically, holiday weekends rate poorly because people go away and get out of their routines.  In most cases, when Seven Sharp or Campbell Live have remained on air the ratings have been markedly down.  Good Friday, in this case, was not so.

In its place, TV3 put on Road Cops a reality show observing the police in action.  When the overnights came out, compared to the last month of Campbell Live, the average audience was up a staggering 44%.

In 2013, there was a lot of commentary we ran about how Seven Sharp was losing up to half of the lead in from One News.  There is still a good portion of the audience bailing, quite possibly for Shortland Street, but that percentage has decreased as this graph shows.

Seven Sharp vs One News

One of the interesting observations from 2013 was that while TV One were bleeding their lead in, in the majority of cases, Campbell Live were increasing their audience from what 3 News was delivering as is visible in this graph.

Campbell Live vs 3 News

What is also rather evident is that the average audience for 3 News is also down, and declining, just not as fast as Campbell Live.  When we compare it to One News you can see the enormous chasm between the two bulletins.

One News vs 3 News

One interesting thing here is that there are fewer peaks and troughs for 3 News.  Audiences tend to be more consistent across the entire year with out the seasonal rises and falls that TV One seems to experience.

The same could be said of Campbell Live except where Seven Sharp has grown their audience in the winter months, they appear to have retained much of it throughout the summer.  This foundation bodes well as we head into the colder months when viewers tend to spend more time in front of the television.

For Campbell Live however, everything is headed in the wrong direction.

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About the author

Regan is one of the co-founders of Throng Media.
If they're on, I'm usually watching Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, 24, Battlestar Galactica, The X Factor, Survivor, House of Cards, Mad Men and the NRL.
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  • Harry

    From this, it would seem in many ways the misfortunes of Campbell Live could be attributed to the sliding ratings of 3News. It’s not just a problem with Campbell Live per se. It’ll be interesting to see whether the review will consider this as well. I mean, it looks from what I can see from the graphs that the lose of Home and Away seems to have had a significant effect on the whole lineup as this is when the drop begins to happen, and combined with spring starting at that time, they lost audience and haven’t been able to gain it back.

    IMO, they need to fix their 5:30pm problem, not just their 7pm.

    • benpaul12

      Excellent point.

    • Dave Ian Batten

      That sums it up in a nutshell.

  • Shannon Ryan

    I wonder when Campbell and his staff’s contract expires? If they are looking at removing the show this year then I imagine there would be a significant payout for all involved, which would not be worth it for TV3 when the drop is mostly attributed to the loss of Home and Away and 3 News’ decline.

    Now that Prime News falls under Mediaworks, perhaps Campbell Live will further that relationship and move to Prime under a deal with Sky, as mass redundancy is highly unfavourable.

    • Simon Green

      That’s a good point. If Mediaworks do let Campbell and his team go, I would be surprised if Prime don’t pick him up for a television show. Problem is the timing. This is very similar with Channel Ten (Australia) a few years ago where George Negus’s show was ditched because not enough people watched it.

      Alternatively, he might take up a slot with Radio Live (or competing radio station). RNZ National’s Nine to Noon would be a great role for him.

  • benpaul12

    Awesome graphs, very interesting stuff.

    The takeaway is just general decline of the relevance, decisions and popularity of what TV3 makes.

    1. Loss of Home & Away destroyed the 3 news lead in, destroying the lead-in for the whole evening.
    2. 3News has become less and less popular, One News just seems to dominate consistently and doesn’t have to deal with the closer ratings war it did a few years back.
    3. Seven Sharp has won the “style” and also the personality war between JC and MH. Seven Sharp has completely won the timeslot – it’s even starting to take audience off Shortland Street!
    4. They keep toying with Paul Henry, who IMO, is not actually a ratings winner for the larger public or even the younger, sought-after demographic.
    5. Content on TV3 is already on the “race to the bottom” but even then – it doesn’t rate.

    • Dave Ian Batten

      You’re right on the money there mate.

  • Roger Dodger

    Thanks for these graphs, very interesting. Good idea to put in your logo since they are being screen shot and put all over the place 🙂

  • Lesley Young

    Interesting graphs, tells the story. Maybe some of the Campbell fans should take a look at them. I guess none of those sorts of people have ever run a business though…

  • Euan Mason

    Very interesting graphs. Why anyone would want to listen to Mike Hosking’s love affair with the Prime Minister is beyond me.

  • Dave Ian Batten

    Ever since Seven Sharp premiered, I’ve been watching Campbell Live. I have watched one episode ever of Seven Sharp, and laughed with embarrassment. Ever since Kevin Kenrick became CEO of TVNZ, everything has gone down hill for them. I mean, I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but his way of thinking about TV is not my cup of tea. I just don’t understand his vision.

  • Krisda Limpapath

    If Campbell Live axed, BBC , Al Jazeera and ABC Australia are the best option to get real quality journalism for now.

  • Drew

    Where’s 25-54, 18-49 and 18-39 breakdown please.

  • Dave Ian Batten

    Here’s a thought I just had, How legit is that? Because if it’s some made-up statistic, then something else has to be in play. I think the networks, (At least one of them), is rigging the ratings somehow. I might be wrong, but that’s just a thought I had.