TVNZ and TV3 go head to head to argue about whose new programmes performed better. It’s not often the networks utter the names of their competitor’s programmes out loud in public, but the monthly news releases is one occasion they do. TV3 got in first with its release, but TVNZ’s wasn’t far behind.
Both networks’ releases played to their strengths, as far as they were able to use numbers to support them, with TV3 focusing on Tonight’s performance against its own end of day offering and TVNZ sticking the boot into Sunrise.
Through the middle of the day, there’s little to argue about, however you play the numbers. TVNZ usually outperforms TV3 in lunchtime and evening news numbers comfortably.
3 News claimed a win in its 18-49 demographic 30.6% against 29.7%. One would have thought was not something to shout about as 0.9% is well within the margin of error, given that each viewer surveyed by AGB Nielsen equates to about 3,500 people when extrapolated to the full size of the population.
Campbell Live still hasn’t recovered from Carol Hirschfeld’s departure. It dropped a further 20,000 viewers against its October numbers and was, as TVNZ’s release gleefully points out “beaten on more than a third of the days in November by a late night news programme.” Ouch.
However you present the numbers, TV3 certainly does better at the end of the day than the beginning. Maybe it’s that more youthful audience target thing; they’re not all thinking about Milo come 10 o’clock.
According to TV3, “November has seen Nightline pull away from its competitor Tonight in all key demographics.” However, most of the ‘key demographics’ noted are TV3’s own (18-49) and not TVNZ’s (25-54). Apples for apples comparisons are also made more tricky as TV3 releases always talk share (the percentage figure) as opposed to viewer numbers, which TVNZ prefers.
TV3 does claim to have beaten TVNZ in the 25-54 demographic, taking a 26.9% share against TVNZ’s 19.4%. So maybe TV3 is winning the late news battle, maybe it isn’t. Its release was titled “Nightline Dominates Late Night News Ratings”, although overall (viewers aged 5+) Tonight averaged 179,200 viewers against Nightline’s 161,640.
In the mornings, it’s a very different story. One could be tempted to think that the only people in TV3’s key demographic who get up before lunch – or at least get up and turn on the TV – are the presenters themselves. Not so, says TV3, claiming a year on year increase of 4.4% in 18-49 Sunrise viewers, with a bizarre spike of a 76% increase amongst Waikato viewers.
They’re not known as early adopters down in the Tron territory, so either they’re suddenly catching on or TV3 has initiated a covert programme of installing pre-tuned TVs in milking sheds. Had the programme not dropped a quarter of its viewers against its October figures, its growth might have been stronger.
However, despite headlining its release “Sunrise audience drops 25%”, TVNZ must have felt the job was done and didn’t claim to have picked up those suddenly-absent viewers, although its own numbers rose by almost twice as many as TV3 lost.
5+, Breakfast averaged almost six times the number of Sunrise viewers throughout the month. NZI Business beat ASB Business four to one, although that comparison isn’t completely fair as the programmes don’t screen head to head. There’s also the train-wreck effect to consider with Breakfast which, to its credit if not its benefit, TV3 has not attempted to emulate.
Heading towards the summer break, both morning shows will lose some momentum, which might be good or bad depending on who returns first. Sunrise would be smart to take a shorter holiday than Breakfast, rather than the longer one it took last summer which left it playing an even harder game of catchup. Either way, all concerned will doubtless return ready to massage and manipulate the numbers to their best advantage next year.