About TV Ratings and MediaWorks’ options

Tim Murphy
Auckland, August 27, 2018

TVNZ had a good year financially, reporting costs down and revenues stable for the first time in six years to achieve a lift in earnings to $25 million, up $9 million.
It also reported a gain in its advertising market share, to what it called an eight-year high, which had to be at the expense of MediaWorks and Sky’s Prime.
The company said that its audience performance had also strengthened and that is evident in its ratings contest for the flagship One News at 6 pm against Three’s Newshub.
Dominance over Newshub
Nielsen audience figures for the past fortnight show that even while its total viewership ebbed slightly, One News’ dominance over Newshub has increased since August last year.
One News pulled an average 648,000 viewers aged 5+ and an audience share of around 52.0 in the past two weeks, against 198,000 for Newshub, at around a 16.0 share.
A year ago, the equivalent numbers were 657,000 for One News and 243,000 for Newshub and share numbers of 53 against around 18.
In the sought-after 25-54 demographic, which Newshub targets intently, its 6 pm offering averaged 91,000 viewers over this August fortnight, down from 118,000 a year ago. One News drew 175,000, down from 181,000.
This battle not too many years ago had the two news bulletins vying closely, with the networks contesting audience shares sometimes in the close 30s, or an early 30s to a late 20s in favour of TVNZ.
Now the audience share at 6 pm is close to 40 for TVNZ to around 21 for Newshub.
Pressure mounts
The pressure is all on Three at those kinds of numbers. Where it once measured a good night’s audience at close to 200,000 viewers aged 25-54, it is now less than half that number.
The ratings are not a whole lot sweeter for Three at 7 pm, where TVNZ’s Seven Sharp led The Project in audience share for the 25-54 age group by 23.3 to 15.3 over the past two weeks.
In audience terms, that is something like 113,000 to 77,000 people watching, with MediaWorks still not really making a dent in Seven Sharp’s lead, despite massive investment in The Project.
For the whole 5+ audience, Seven Sharp flexes its muscles to pull in about 435,000 viewers on average over the period, compared with 175,000 for the Project.
As TVNZ’s reported advertising share growth indicates, the prime time audiences are helping lift its relative revenues.
MediaWorks’ corporate options
The MediaWorks Chief Executive Michael Anderson was in Australia doing a round of media interviews this month as two big players across the Tasman move to merge. Nine Entertainment wants to merge (swallow) Fairfax Media.
The Australian newspaper noted speculation in the market, first reported in this MediaRoom column, that the Australian merger could result in Fairfax Media’s New Zealand subsidiary Stuff Ltd, being lined up for a tie-up with MediaWorks.
Stuff has a live merger application with local newspaper, radio and digital publisher NZME before the Court of Appeal, but should that be turned down, some believe that Stuff’s best home might be to join MediaWorks to form a conglomerate with the country’s biggest news website Stuff.co.nz, a television station, commercial radio and metropolitan and regional newspapers.
‘Logical Speculation’
Anderson would not be drawn by the Australian journalist into discussing the possibility, but did little to hose it down either.
The paper reported: “Anderson says he can see why there is ‘logical speculation’ about MediaWorks buying [Stuff] but says there is no current process and won’t comment further.”
The Australian noted MediaWorks had publicly remarked last year that “the High Court’s blocking of the StuffMe merger ‘opens the door for other opportunities’ for New Zealand media partnerships.”
Anderson told the paper that meant: “In a world where every single moving part is moving at speed and in directions you can’t always anticipate, what we need is complete optionality. It wasn’t because we have something in mind.”
The process would, of course, be something for MediaWorks owner, Oaktree Capital and for Nine and Fairfax, once their own merger plans are decided by the Australian regulator.
Tim Murphy is Co-Editor and Co-Founder of Newsroom. He writes about politics, foreign affairs, Auckland, and Media. The above article, which appeared under the column Media Room on August 27, 2018, has been reproduced by Indian Newslink under a Special Arrangement.
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Photo Caption:
The TVNZ Building, on Victoria Street in Auckland City, has since been upgraded
(Photo for Newsroom by Russell Street)

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