Where have all the viewers gone?

Over the last few weeks Throng has presented adhoc analysis of ratings on the Free-to-Air channels.  This has shown a staggering 12 point decline in viewing audiences across the combined TV2 and TV3 channels.  So where has that audience gone?

  • Has it migrated to other Freeview channels such as Maori Television, ChoiceTV and the timeshifted channels (TVOne+1,TV2+1 and TV3+1)?
  • Should advertisers be devoting more analysis to the audience and reach of these other channels?
  • Or has the audience shifted to the, as Throng would have you believe, anachronistic Sky?


This is highly important not just to stimulate discussion in television media in New Zealand but also highly important to the advertising community that essentially funds these channels.  A one point movement in audience share in the $614million spent on television advertising in 2014 means $6.14m impact on profitability and the ability to acquire content in subsequent years.


In summary channel share for TVOne has hovered around 25% varying by a few points on average per annum.



In contrast TV2 has seen a continual and gradual decline in audience share from  ~19.5% to below 15% in 2014 and lower again in 2015.



Similar trends can be observed for TV3 with audience share slipping from around 15% to marginally above 10% over the last five years.


Finally TV4 has seen its format change and its audience wax and wane to be roughly in the same position it was 5 years ago


Viewers have to go somewhere

Audience share, by its very nature, sums to 100%.  So a double digit shift in audience share has to go somewhere.    At this time the data for other channels (and the plus ones) haven’t been presented and this author doesn’t have access to the audience data that the administrators enjoy.


However it would be ironic to think that the audience has migrated to watching more hours of television on the platform that the administrators go to great lengths to harangue and ridicule.


Although the demographic is incorrect publically available data shows that over the 2010-2014 Sky TV and Prime have enjoyed a 4% lift in audience share.  Something that must increase the bitterness of Throng.   It still begs the question – where has 8 percentage points or $50 million worth of advertising share gone?

Sky Share


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  • Shannon Ryan

    FOUR (TV4) hasn’t had a single ident change since its inception four and a half years ago. Since its audience share has gone back to the C4 days it may be time to update their graphics a bit. I’m not advocating for yet another rebranding as such – just a big marketing push advertising a change in programming to bolster their share back up. This could be done through the channel itself, billboards and a larger social media presence that promotes viewers using hashtags to engage.

    Though they are doing better in late afternoons after removing music videos, I’m not sure why they decided to start playing mostly old and repeated movies every night. This approach really ruins the idea of a movie being an event to watch live, so now most nights movies don’t rate as well as they once did, mostly because the same ones show up more frequently.

    Many of the animated comedy shows on FOUR that rated well have since disappeared, so this would be a fantastic corridor to gain audience share if they brought back American Dad, The Cleveland Show, Futurama, South Park and King of the Hill to be played multiple times a week. Start screening The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, who has really stepped up to fill Jon Stewart’s shoes. Basically, it should become a free-to-air Comedy Central.

    • Guestation

      A Big White Sheepie to go with the Big Yellow Duckie?

  • Hugh

    My guess is they’ve abandoned local television altogether. The proliferation of cap-less, adequately-fast broadband is rendering broadcast television redundant.

  • Regan Cunliffe

    Thanks for your analysis. I will get to Sky and Prime in my comparisons 🙂

    You raise a lot of good points. The channel share is an interesting indicator because it shows where those who are still watching TV are spending their time.