And the winner is … sport.
As we enter the last week of the official ratings year, the list of the top-20 rating shows for the year is all sewn up. While this is clearly bad news for those shows still notionally competing – Big Brother, The Big Adventure and Dancing With The Stars – the results make for more concerning reading for the makers of reality television.
As far as network honours go, it’s fairly even. Seven have top spot, and the only drama in the list. Nine captured two more spots (11-9) in the ratings.
On the face of it, reality television has done well, claiming 10 of the top 20 spots. That is a drop from 13 in 2013, however. Additionally, My Kitchen Rules and The Block dropped from first and second, to second and third place, leap-frogged by the AFL Grand Final, despite the fact that the MCG’s signature event posted only a slight increase in viewers.
Come the final siren on Saturday night for television in 2014, the Sydney vs Hawthorn AFL Grand Final will be declared the champion having drawn 2.8 million viewers across the five Australian capitals used as the key benchmark by the industry.
The total number is 3.5 million once the remaining “regional” audiences are included.
Impressively, that one sporting event also contributed two of the other top 20 shows – the networks’ careful dissection of single big events into multiple programs means there are only 10 different shows in the top 20 – with the AFL’s Presentation ranking sixth with 2.6 million, while the On the Ground programming ranked 14th with 2.2 million. (The Post Match show garnered 1.8 million viewers).
While an impressive result, the final’s winning numbers would have ranked only third in 2013, as that year’s Grand Final did. Twelve months ago two reality television finals had soared above the three-million mark with the five-capital audiences.
The really big improver this year was the Rugby League Grand Final. The fairytale match-up between Souths and Canterbury saw the final jump from 14th last year to fourth this year with almost 2.7 million viewers. Most impressively of all, the number jumps to a whopping 3.95 million when regional audiences are included, which is far higher than the AFL number. It now ranks as the highest-rating NRL game recorded using the present system.
Rugby league also claimed more than one event in the top list, with State of Origin grabbing fifth, seventh and 18th spots.
Perhaps most surprising is the appearance of one drama show – twice – in the top 20. Last year no fully scripted shows troubled the statisticians.
Seven’s decision to kick off the ratings year with INXS: Never Tear Us Apart paid dividends as the two-part biopic claimed 12th and 16th spots for the year. Nine’s rival series – Schapelle – which was shifted in the schedules at the last minute to try and take advantage of events in Bali, managed barely half the audience.
With sport claiming eight spots, and drama two, reality dropped three. The clear absentee was The X-Factor which went from three to zero this year.
Yet the shift is systemic, not just a drop by that one singing show.
My Kitchen Rules’ ‘Winner Announcement’ was down by over half a million five-capital viewers year-on-year. Though the preceding Grand Final had an increased audience, The Block Glasshouse announcement was down almost half a million as well, compared to 2013’s Block Sky High equivalent.
The talent shows were the big victims of ratings decline in 2014 however. The X Factor’s 1.4 million for its winners announcement was the lowest ever for that show on Seven, a million down on the 2.4 million who saw Dami Im win in 2013.
The Voice drew 1.6 million for its Winner Announced program, which was lower than several other episodes from the season, down from 3.1 million in 2012 and 2.3 million in 2013. Then The Voice Kids launched with 1.6 million viewers but stuttered home with a finale under a million.
Perhaps Ten, who attempted to re-enter talent reality television with the revived So You Think You Can Dance Australia disaster (451,000 watched the final) will be glad to once again be out of it? They will be hoping that MasterChef continues its renaissance as its Winner Announced show found 1.7 million and shows healthy signs going forward.
The best ratings for The Bachelor came after the series, as the post-decision fiasco helped shows like The Project find record audiences. Ten were very happy with the in-show ratings however. The Final Decision’s 1.4 million viewers were never going to trouble the end-of-year list, but it was a solid figure.
Reality’s big improver was House Rules with a Winner Announced audience of 2.1 million. This year, the proliferation of music talent shows may have played a factor in the group failure. If so, renovation reality is in danger as House Rules will match The Block with two series each next year, while Seven will add Restaurant Revolution and Nine are rumoured to have another renovation show as one of their two mystery series as well.
TOP TV EVENTS 2014 (FIVE CAPITALS)
1 SEVEN’S AFL: GRAND FINAL: SYDNEY V HAWTHORN (SEVEN) 2,828,000
2 MY KITCHEN RULES — WINNER ANNOUNCED (SEVEN) 2,712,000
3 THE BLOCK GLASSHOUSE — WINNER ANNOUNCED (NINE) 2,687,000
4 RUGBY LEAGUE GRAND FINAL (NINE) 2,621,000
5 STATE OF ORIGIN RUGBY LEAGUE NSW V QLD 2ND — MATCH (NINE) 2,600,000
6 SEVEN’S AFL: GRAND FINAL: PRESENTATIONS (SEVEN) 2,565,000
7 STATE OF ORIGIN RUGBY LEAGUE QLD V NSW 1ST — MATCH (NINE) 2,530,000
8 MY KITCHEN RULES — GRAND FINAL (SEVEN) 2,408,000
9 THE BLOCK GLASSHOUSE — AUCTION (NINE) 2,379,000
10 THE BLOCK: FANS V FAVES — AUCTIONS (NINE) 2,271,000
11 THE BLOCK: FANS V FAVES — WINNER ANNOUNCED (NINE) 2,265,000
12 INXS: NEVER TEAR US APART — PART 1 (SEVEN) 2,243,000
13 THE VOICE — LAUNCH (NINE) 2,229,000
14 SEVEN’S AFL: GRAND FINAL: ON THE GROUND (SEVEN) 2,188,000
15 MELBOURNE CUP — THE RACE (SEVEN) 2,178,000
16 INXS: NEVER TEAR US APART — PART 2 (SEVEN) 2,081,000
17 HOUSE RULES — WINNER ANNOUNCED (SEVEN) 2,070,000
18 STATE OF ORIGIN RUGBY LEAGUE QLD V NSW 3RD — MATCH (NINE) 2,057,000
19 THE BLOCK: FANS V FAVES -GRAND FINAL (NINE) 1,999,000
20 THE VOICE — WEDNESDAY — (NINE) 1,979,000