7 News v 9 News: Why a win isn't a win on the Gold Coast

The 7 Gold Coast News team

PHOTO: Seven

An internal e-mail from Seven’s news boss says their Gold Coast News has won 21 weeks which would mean they win the year… BUT all is NOT what it seems.

Television is a funny game and there’s definitely more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to the dark art of spinning ratings results.

In an e-mail obtained by TV Tonight Seven News boss Craig McPherson has congratulated staff on securing 21 weeks for the local Gold Coast News.

“Well done on what has so far been an exceptional year for 7News on the Gold Coast, reflected on the all-important ratings scoreboard,” he wrote.

“I’m sure you’re aware we’ve now secured 21 ratings weeks to the other mob’s 1 week.

“While there’s never a full-time whistle blown on what we do, what has been achieved by you all is significant.

“With an opposition who’ve had the rule of the land for almost 2 decades, to move ahead within 18 months of start-up is something you can all be very proud of.

“Look forward to getting up your way for a celebration soon.

“Keep it going and well done.”

7 News boss Craig McPherson

PHOTO: Mediaweek

As there are 40 weeks of ‘official’ ratings, many within the industry use the ‘21 week rule’ to declare a win, the idea being that if you win 21 weeks out of 40 you can’t be beaten.

Of course, others argue you can’t declare a winner until the end of the year when average audiences can be determined.

And then there’s Sunrise who were prepared to go to court in a bid to include regional data alongside metro results.

For my mind, I’m a fan of the 21 week metro rule as it is a clear indication of how weekly wins and losses have played out (and advertising revenue for the metro networks is based on metro ratings).

So, Seven celebrating 21 weeks would be fair enough… if we were comparing apples with apples.

But we’re not.

9 air their local Gold Coast news on their SD AND HD channels. Seven’s Gold Coast News only airs on the SD channel while The Chase airs on the HD channel.

Why is this important?

The figures 7 News is using when calculating a 21 week victory include viewers watching The Chase on the HD channel. Ratings supplied by OzTam do not split up HD and SD channels, so the two figures are combined.

The Chase has become a powerhouse often beating many prime time shows, so it’s inclusion possibly gives Seven an unfair advantage.

The ratings charts supplied by OzTam to the networks do split up into regions, but as you can see they do not differentiate between the SD channel and HD channel.

It’s worth noting The Chase was also included in Seven’s ratings when Nine was in front last year, but can you really claim a win when one of the biggest shows on TV is included in the result? I’m not convinced.

For more of my views on this, listen to this weeks TV Backbox podcast which you can find here (skip to 23.30)