Ratings Wrap for 2020 | AFL grand final #1; Nine wins the year


2020 has a lot to answer for, not least of which is a messed up television schedule.

We were meant to have the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and a raft of other programs that got put on hiatus or cancelled thanks to COVID-19. As it became clear both the AFL (Seven) and NRL (Nine) were going to be critical to their success, they arm-wrestled for most of the second half of the year.

Thanks to the Coronavirus BOVD and catch-up services became more valuable than ever and all networks started offering a broader range of content and leaning on these numbers accordingly. Additionally the focus on the key demographics (P 25-54; P 16-29; Grocery Shoppers with Children) have become again the battleground that all networks are fighting for…or for part thereof.

NOTE: All data listed is: Total people, 5 City Metro (BNE-SYD-MEL-ADL-PER), overnights only. Unless explicitly stated it does not include consolidated 7 or consolidated 28, BVOD or catch-up numbers.

Nine in 2020

Hugh Marks weathered his own personal storms toward the end of 2020, and it is absolutely Nine’s loss that he’ll leave…though the company is in a much better position for his leadership. Stan continues to grow, however the loss of the Showtime deal is still to be fully realised, and the inclusion of newspapers and radio into the business post the Fairfax “merger” has diversified Nine to be a true-cross platform market leader.

Nine’s Chief Sales Officer Michael Stephenson offered this when reflecting on Nine’s success in 2020:

Nine delivered the things we aim for every year: consistency across our schedule throughout the full year and clear leadership in the key demographics that matter to advertisers.

Nine have won the 2020 ratings year in all key demos and total people, noting the final weeks of consolidated 28 figures are still to filter in. They had a number of massive shows deliver well for them across the year, including Married At First Sight (finale 1.478m), Lego Masters (winner 1,462,000m), The Block (winner 1,792,000m), and State Of Origin (Game 1 1,598,000; Game 2 1,654,000; Game 3 1,882,000). The NRL Grand Final (2,103,000) landed in the Top 10 shows for the year, as did the 2020 Australian Open D8 (1,874,000). Both The Voice Australia (finale 911,000) and Ninja Warrior Australia (winner 1,199,000) saw year on year declines, the former being picked up by Seven in 2021.

Nine delivered the most-watched drama series this year in Informer 3838 (part 1 644,000), Halifax: Retribution (E07/finale 577,000), and Doctor Doctor (E02 559,000).

The Today Show became competitive in 2020, particularly across the East Coast, and delivered a surge in Brisbane. Nine News missed out on a perfect 40 week win in Sydney due a second place in week 48, winning both Melbourne and Brisbane also.

Nine also stamped their dominance on the BVOD sector, taking out all major segments.

Seven in 2020

No question James Warburton inherited a nightmare. It looked OK until a global pandemic kicked in and then everything changed. He also had to wear under-performing programs he didn’t commission and the missing Olympics. No wonder he was keen to sit down and negotiate hard to get the AFL back on screens. This really helped and is the leverage Seven use to talk about “second-half growth” – easy when you’re coming off a low base year-on-year, and the AFL almost entirely played out in the back end of the year. The lack of a streaming service/partner is an issue Seven will need to resolve in the short-to-medium term to secure the longevity of their business.

Seven West Media Managing Director/CEO James Warburton commented on their year:

Our new content-led strategy of outsourcing proven international formats, coupled with our market-leading news and sport content, has produced strong results this year. We’ve shown only glimpse of our best this year and that got us to about half a percentage point from being the most watched network in the country.

Seven News and Sunrise continue their national domination, though Sunrise’s perfect run of wins bubble was popped by ABC Breakfast on Thursday 5 November – a small blight on an otherwise perfect year.

After 7pm Seven’s primetime fare was, at best, patchy. Farmer Wants A Wife (E10/finale 1,010,000), Big Brother (E01 eviction 930,000), and SAS Australia (E01 834,000) all delivered well enough to get new season calls in 2021. All-New Monty: Guys and Gals (E02 782,000) talked a big game though didn’t deliver. Beat The Chasers (E01 660,000) was rushed to help get Seven to the end of the year and did its job admirably.

The AGL Grand Final (2,979,000) was the highest rating program for the year by nearly one million viewers.

Seven had a series of diabolical failures particularly in the first half of the year, including My Kitchen Rules (finale 553,000) (which has seen the end of the franchise), Pooch Perfect (E01 624,000), House Rules (E21 674,000), and Plate of Origin (E01 667,000) more than lived up to its acronym. The return of the AFL absolutely helped lift what has otherwise become a tradition of poor figures for Seven in Q3 and Q4.

10 in 2020

It’s been another year of upheaval at 10, with their American owners ViacomCBS enforcing cuts that are now more like amputations. Paul Anderson announced he was stepping down in Q1, possibly because he knew what was coming. The closure of the Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane News bulletins (now centred in Melbourne and Sydney respectively), and large-scale layoffs presided over by Bev McGarvey and Rod Prosser has left the network that once asked us to take it seriously crawling to the line. Touting commercial growth share is easy when you’re coming off such a low base from the year before.

MasterChef Australia (winner 1,523,000) landing with a new judging/hosting panel led a short list of bright spot across the year for 10, followed by The Masked Singer Australia (final reveal 1,191,000). I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! (winner 884,000) again suffered diminishing returns, as did what was possibly the best season of Survivor Australia (winner 944,000) yet. The Bachelor Australia (final decision 879,000) fared far better than its siblings. Junior MasterChef Australia (winner 881,000) also underperformed (criminally so, in my opinion), though the finale did reasonable business.

Claiming newest addition to their multi-channel family 10 Shake was “#1 commercial multi-channel in daytime in under 13s” in November only is, honestly, the fastest spinning piece of bullshit offered in this year’s end of ratings releases.

Dancing With The Stars (winner 635,000) was the first really affected by COVID-19, and Bachelor In Paradise (E08 600,000), The Bachelorette Australia (E01 628,000) and Todd Sampson’s BodyHack (E01 346,000) really struggled, failing to fire viewer interest.

Week 48 – Analysis

As for the final week of ratings for 2020 it kicked off with the second-lowest ratings results for The Block (see table below) that delivered a huge win for Nine on the night, and was enough for it to win the week off the back of both in primary (18.9%) and network (28.3%) average share.

The Block finaleThe Block winnerThe Block average

Seven delivered the SAS Australia finale (737,000 5CM; 299,000 Reg; National 1,036,000) Tuesday, and while it comfortably won the night it didn’t eclipse the numbers from the opening week. 7mate pulled a massive 6.6% share on Saturday.

The Have You Been Paying Attention? (665,000 5CM; 201,000 Reg; 866,000 National) finale was 10’s best by a long shot, with everything else trailing into nothingness after 7:30pm. 10 Bold the most consistent multi-channel, averaging 4.0% across the week.

The Leigh Sales interview with former PM Paul Keating on Monday’s 7:30 (700,000) was the ABC’s best, though almost crowded out by Gruen (678,000) and Hard Quiz (670,000) on Wednesday. Reputation Rehab (381,000) enjoyed the bubble and slid up week-on-week.

Week 48 – Key data

Seven Network – 27.8%

  • Seven – 18.2%
  • 7TWO – 3.7%
  • 7mate – 3.8%
  • 7flix – 2.1%

Nine Network – 28.3%

  • Nine – 18.9%
  • 9Go – 2.9%
  • 9Gem – 2.9%
  • 9Life – 2.2%
  • 9Rush – 1.3%

10 Network – 17%

  • 10 – 9.6%
  • 10 Bold – 4%
  • 10 Peach – 2.9%
  • 10 Shake – 0.5%

ABC Network – 18.3%

  • ABC – 13.1%
  • ABC Kids/Comedy – 2.9%
  • ABC Me – 0.6%
  • ABC News – 1.8%

SBS Network – 5%

  • SBS – 5%
  • Viceland – 1.3%
  • SBS Food – 1.0%
  • NITV – 0.2%
  • World Movies 1.1%
Steve Molk
Steve Molk is sharply focused on the business of TV in Australia across all its formats - FTA broadcast, commercial, subscription, catch up & SVOD. Based on the Central Coast of NSW he's a passionate advocate for Australian-made programming, particularly drama and comedy. He loves podcasting, gaming & watching too much TV. For all media enquiries please call or text 0401-709-405



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