Which TV network was really number 1 in 2020?


The numbers have been crunched, and if anything things only improved for Nine.

OzTAM have released the top 20 figures and full share information for the 2020 calendar year (not the ratings year!). This takes into account all programming from 1 January to 31 December 2020, as well as all primetime viewing shares from 6pm-12 midnight each day.

This data is the consolidated 28 figures…meaning people with Nielsen ratings boxes that recorded a program and watched it within 28 days of it airing (without muting or fast forwarding) are added into the overall figures for the original broadcast, affecting the ratings and the primetime shares for the networks.

The outcome is that for some programs their overall position has been raised significantly; others not so much. The 2020 AFL Grand Final (game/presentations/on the ground) bolstered its position for Seven in the top three spots for the year as the most watched program – a massive 3,016,000 viewers for the first-ever evening grand final. The 2020 NRL Grand Final (match) and State of Origin Game 3 come in at fourth and fifth respectively, offering a hat-tip to broadcaster Nine.

The top 20 is very one-sided: even with split-coding (where networks list a program in different segments to draw higher numbers, like the AFL/NRL grand finals listed above) Nine have the lion’s share of programs with 13; Seven have 4 (all of them parts of the AFL Grand Final); 10 manage to slide in with 2, including the MasterChef Australia winner announced portion of the finale; and the ABC even rates an entry with a COVID-affected New Year’s Eve midnight fireworks broadcast taking out 10th place overall.

This ensured Nine’s position is secure in first both for primary channel (19.3%) and network (27.8%) shares. Their breadth of programming – light entertainment, such as The Block and Lego Masters Australia, as much as sport – in the top 20 helps solidify Nine’s title.

Seven’s second place in both primary (18.1%) and network (26.9%) shares is as much to what’s not in the top 20 – their news product and other programming, such as Big Brother Australia and Farmer Wants A Wife was stronger than expected in the back half of the year, along with a resurgent-if-delayed AFL.

The ABC land in third for primary (12.9%) and network (18.4%) shares again, reinforcing their strength in programming of interest across the country. Perhaps most surprising was Aunty taking number one spot in multi-channel programming for the year for the ABC News broadcast coverage leading into Coronavirus Pandemic: Melbourne Stage 4 lockdown.

10 are fourth again in primary (11.7%) and network (18%) shares, and thats going to be a real problem as they look to more cuts in 2021. MasterChef Australia no question a high point for them, as was the Melbourne Cup Carnival: Melbourne Cup-race.

SBS round out the year with reasonable primary (5.3%) and network (8.9%) shares.

No surprise every one of the top 20 programs on subscription TV (Foxtel) were sporting fixture-related.

2020 was, in the midst of the pandemic-led chaos, another big year for TV as audiences continue to shrink. All the success they’ve seen is to be applauded given the effort by many to get any TV to air (especially the AFL and NRL), though it’s despite the claims none of the commercial networks chase total people wins – only the all-important demographics.

Trust me – they’ll take the wins where they get them.

All ratings data listed is Five City Metro, Total People, Consolidated 28.

Top 20 Overnight Metro

Top 20 Multi-Channel Shows

Overnight Network Share

Top 20 Foxtel Shows

Data © 2021 OzTAM

Data © OzTAM Pty Limited 2021. The data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy} in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of OzTAM.

Note: Program performance and ranking information subject to change when not based on final program logs. Programs with the same name on one or more primary or multichannel, are aggregated into one network figure.

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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