Australian TV networks ahead of the ‘flix fix

Written by Sean O'Malley

It’s a brave new world for people who love to watch television and there is a significant amount of evidence that says most of us do. The 2015 Deloitte Media Consumer survey found that the amount of time people spend watching movies and TV shows per week has increased from 16.6 hours in 2014 to 17.2 in 2015, which is an average of two and a half hours a day.

The internet and a large increase in the availability of content is undoubtedly a huge part of this and some might be worried about the effect it’s having on the homegrown Aussie dramas on our own silver screen.

There are dozens if not hundreds of possible ways for Australians to watch television now. When looking for their latest fix, streaming services like Presto, Stan, Netflix and Quickflix are front and center; and shows on free-to-air networks and their obligatory DVD releases are no longer a priority. But there is no way around the fact that people love TV and despite the competition, Australian networks are still very much in the business of making content for the people who want to watch it. So which Networks are leading the pack? And which are falling behind?

Looking specifically at ratings taken from Screen Australia, the leader of the pack is by far Channel 7. More often than not, for the past seven years Channel 7 has aired close to half of the TV dramas that fell into the top 10 highest rated shows. The bad news is for fans of Channel 10. Things are not looking good for the network as it aired only seven per cent of the top 10 shows during this time.

But for those keen to pack up and declare a winner it’s important to know that ratings aren’t everything. This data was taken by focussing on the performance of individual episodes throughout the calendar year and then a series’ average can be worked out. While effective at determining which shows people tune into on the night, it doesn’t take into account the people who catch up or record their favourite series. Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) chairman Leslie Moonves spoke to Vulture last week about how the longevity and success of a television series can no longer be solely judged on overnight ratings. “Overnight ratings are virtually useless now. When I analyse the performance of a show, it is extremely different than it was even five years ago, no less 20 years ago,” he said. This is clear when looking at the Australian content that people have gone back to and bought on DVD.


In the past five years, Channel 10 has aired 20 per cent of the shows that made up the best selling TV dramas on DVD. Channel 7 on the other hand, aired only 15 per cent. This means Channel 10 doesn’t have a problem with its content as much as it does its distribution method. But is this even a problem at all? And could it even aid the network in the long run?

When only 44 per cent of all TV and video content is being viewed traditionally on broadcast television anyway, the network with the most staying power might not be the one we switch on to, but the one we go back to.

About the author

Sean O'Malley