How Australians entertain themselves

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How Australians entertain themselves

Posted on: July 19th, 2014 by tommyj

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To this .... Clockwise: Hugh Sheridan (top left) as bass guitarist Garry Gary Beers, Luke Arnold as Michael Hutchence, Alex Williams as Kirk Pengilly, newcomer Nicholas Masters plays Tim Farriss, Andy Ryan as Andrew Farriss and Ido Drent as Jon Farriss.
To this …. Clockwise: Hugh Sheridan (top left) as bass guitarist Garry Gary Beers, Luke Arnold as Michael Hutchence, Alex Williams as Kirk Pengilly, newcomer Nicholas Masters plays Tim Farriss, Andy Ryan as Andrew Farriss and Ido Drent as Jon Farriss.

Most watched drama of the year

Around 8 o’clock on a typical Sunday night, 6.5 million Australians in the mainland capitals are watching television (with a further 2 million watching outside the capital cities, but we know more about the city slickers, so we’re going to focus on them).

Most of that 6.5 million may be simultaneously playing with their smartphone, their tablet or their laptop, or turning the pages of their Sunday newspaper, but their primary focus is the big screen on the other side of the room. And 1.5 million of them are aged between 16 and 39.

That data from OzTAM’s people-meter boxes attached to the sets in 3,000 homes seems to refute the oft-made claim that nobody watches mainstream television any more, or that the only people still consuming the box must be geriatrics and children, because cashed-up groovers spend their time stealing entertainment off the net or preening on social media.

"I had to go to some pretty dark places": Marta Dusseldorp.

Triple-threat Dusseldorp Photo: James Brickwood

The audience numbers for the first half of 2014 suggest the commercial networks should stop their whingeing and give back their government support. There’s still money to be made from selling audiences to advertisers, because once you subtract the ABC viewers from the total, you get 5.7 million tuning into programs that promote products. With half a million watching material they’ve previously recorded, so they can fast forward through the ads, that leaves five million city folks vulnerable to prime time manipulation every Sunday.

OK, you say, a 6.5 million total is significant, but it must be a lot smaller than the audience a decade ago, because supposed experts keep saying Australians are drifting away from old media. Sorry, that’s another myth. Go back to 2006 and you find that a mere 6 million were watching the box at 8pm on an average Sunday. So the audience for mainstream TV has actually increased – or, to be perfectly precise, kept up with population growth.

What’s changed over the past eight years is the way we watch. Back in 2006, 1.2 million of us watched Channel Ten at 8pm on a Sunday. This year only 838,000 watched Ten and its mini-mes Eleven and One. Meanwhile Seven’s Sunday audience has soared from 1.08 million in 2006 to 1.75m in 2014 (including 7Two and 7Mate).

Jessica Marais?in <i>Love Child</I>.” src=”×0.jpg”></img><figcaption>Jessica Marais?in <i>Love Child</I>.</figcaption></figure>
<p>Double-threat Marais</p>
<p>Nine is right to claim it is in recovery mode. In 2006 it averaged 1.66m on Sunday at 8pm, but slumped to 1.49m in 2010. Now it’s back to 1.80m.</p>
<p>Pay TV has grown from 752,000 in 2006 to 830,000 this year (although it was doing better in 2010, with 833,000, confirming the theory that subscriptions have stagnated). The ABC, which we thought was having a bumper year, is actually down on 2006 – from 924,000 to 851,000 over its four channels, while SBS is up from 286,000 to 302,000 (and that was achieved without the soccer, which played outside prime time).</p>
<p>Enough with the numbers. What did Australians love on their favourite medium in the first half of this year? The most popular series were talent quests about cooking, singing, and renovating, but in the list of dramas that pulled more than a million in the mainland capitals, the ABC managed six (<em>Doc Martin, Death in Paradise, Midsomer Murders, The Doctor Blake Mysteries</em>, <em>Jack Irish: Dead Point</em>, and <em>Call The Midwife</em>); Nine scored five (<em>Love Child, The Big Bang Theory, Fat Tony & Co,</em> <em>Schappelle</em> and <em>House Husbands</em>) and Ten got two (<em>Modern Family: Australia</em> and <em>Offspring</em>).</p>
<figure><img alt=
Treasurer Joe Hockey.

Double threat Hockey. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Seven led the field with nine million-topping dramas (INXS: Never Tear Us Apart, The Killing Field, Resurrection, Downton Abbey, A Place To Call Home, The Blacklist, Winners and Losers and Revenge).

As you may gather, Seven got the biggest share of the prime time audience over the whole week (25.6 per cent across its three channels). But thanks largely to The Voice, The Block, and The Big Bang Theory, Nine and its minions came in a strong second, with 23.8 per cent.

And while Ten (with 13.8 per cent) was beaten in total audience by the ABC (14.4), it was comforted by the revelation that most of the ABC’s audience is aged over 50 (highly undesirable to commercial stations) while Ten scored with its former target demographic, the 16-39s (pulling 17.7 per cent of them to the ABC’s 7.5 per cent).

The breakout stars of the first half were Jessica Marais (in Love Child and Carlotta), Marta Dusseldorp (in Jack Irish, Janet King and the ill-fated A Place To Call Home); Bali (in Nine’s The Dark Side of Paradise and Seven’s What Really Happens in Bali) and Joe Hockey (in two budget-related specials that pulled more than 900,000 viewers). Give this man his own weekly sketch show.

For details on the most watched programs of all time, go to Australia’s favourite television.

Here’s a summary of the current state of viewing in Australia, from the latest Multi-screen Report produced by OzTAM and Nielsen.

Homes with digital TV sets: 93%

Homes with personal video recorders: 54%

Homes regularly accessing the internet: 80%

Homes with tablets: 42% (up from 23% two years ago)

People over 15 with smartphones: 69%

People who multitask (use other gadgets while watching TV, at least once a month): 67%, with 63% using a laptop, 50% using a smartphone, 36% using a tablet.

Hours per month the average individual spends watching TV at home: 93 minutes and 16 seconds (but 45.14 for people aged 18-24, and 150.36 for people over 65)

Hours per month spent watching playback TV (recorded programs): 7.15

Hours per month spent online: 38.41 (but 42.16 for people 25-34 and 28.48 for people over 65)

Hours per month spent watching video material on the internet: 7.48 (but 16.28 for people 18-24 and 2.42 for people over 65)

Here’s what else Australians consume at least once a year(Source: ABS):

Cinema: 67% (but 53% of people go more than five times a year, and 93% of people aged 15-17 go at least once). For the most-seen movies of all time, go to Australia’s favourite flicks.

Zoos and aquariums: 37%

Music concerts: 30%

Libraries: 41% for women, 26% for men

Musicals and operas: 21% for women, 12% for men

Art galleries and museums: 22%

Theatre performances: 16%

Here’s what Australians say they read at least once a week:

A newspaper: 77% (but 68% for people aged 15-29)

A magazine: 58%

A book: 48%

The Tribal Mind column, by David Dale, appears in a printed form every Sunday in The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age, and also as a forum on this website, where it welcomes your comments.

David Dale teaches communications at UTS, Sydney. He is the author of The Little Book of Australia – A snapshot of who we are (Allen and Unwin). For daily updates on Australian attitudes, bookmark The Tribal Mind.

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