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JUDGE ROB: Is Channel 10 really ‘undisputed in under 50s’?

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It’s a claim which has incensed its rivals, but does Australia’s third-placed network have a case for claiming the Under 50s demo? Judge Rob looks at the evidence and delivers his verdict.

MasterChef Australia judges Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo (image – 10)

When Channel 10 started making the bold claim that it was Undisputed. Under 50s many in the TV industry raised a quizzical eyebrow. Despite repositioning its target audience towards the under 50s a few years back, the network has failed to own that target demo.

Recently though, 10 came out swinging by claiming they are #1 when it comes to viewership under 50. Senior figures at both Seven and Nine reject the claim with Seven CEO James Warburton even telling The Australian Financial Review “That just sounds desperate”.

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And a quick look at the figures would suggest he is right.

TV Blackbox can reveal 10 is third in the Under 50s demo for 2021 when looking at the Free To Air commercial shares for the survey year until w/e 3 July 2021 (Week 27) 6pm-midnight in the 5 cap cities. It is important to note that according to OzTam prime time is 6pm-midnight and official reports calculate shares in this time zone.

10 claims to be ‘Undisputed. Under 50s’

For the official survey year to date, which excludes Easter, the Nine Network is currently in first position with 38.3% share of the under 50s demo, followed by Seven with 34.1% and 10 in third position with a 27.6% share. Year on Year (YoY) Nine has gained 0.7% in the demo, Seven has gained 1.4% and 10 has dropped -2.1%.

10 is the only network to lose audience share in the Under 50s demo YoY.

Even when looking at the full calendar year to include I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! 10 remains in third position with a 29.0% share, beaten by Seven on 33.8% and Nine on 37.1%. A press release from 10 on 27 June acknowledges the Calendar Year figure of a 29.2% share in Under 50s (that figure was correct at the time of their press release).

But in defence of 10, it says its positioning statement is not just based on the 10 Network. Now that it is part of the ViacomCBS family, their claims of Undisputed. Under 50s also includes wider brands. 10 ViacomCBS encapsulates Network 10 (10, 10 Bold, 10 Peach, 10 Shake and 10 Play), MTV (plus all the music channels), Nickelodeon and Nick Jr.

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And it’s an important distinction.

10 says it can claim dominance in the under 50s demo because it owns brands like Nickelodeon

While we can all be forgiven for assuming 10 are referring to the 10 network, they have moved the goalposts by including other brands which don’t compete directly with commercial rivals Nine and Seven. Any time the Undisputed. Under 50s claim is made 10 ViacomCBS is attributed to that claim, not the 10 network.

That’s PR spin for you.

So, to try and justify their positioning statement I have included Subscription TV and grouped the 10 ViacomCBS brands into one.

For a fair comparison to Nine and Seven though, I have kept the reporting method as 6pm – midnight as, once again, that is the official reporting method used by OzTam.

The problem for 10 is even when you include those brands 10 ViacomCBS still ends up in third position as their Subscription TV channels make up a tiny proportion of their Total Audience, let alone the under 50s demo.

All of their STV channels (MTV, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr etc) are only averaging 15k combined in 2021. This equates to just 3% of their total Primetime audience. 97% of the audience is from Free To Air on Network 10

When adding all the 10 ViacomCBS brands under the same conditions as above (i.e Survey year to date, excluding Easter 6pm – midnight, 5 cap cities), Nine remains dominant with 38.0% share of the Under 50s demo. Seven remains in second position on 33.3% and 10 lifts 1.1% points to a 27.5% share.

And when comparing to 2020 the bad news continues for 10 ViacomCBS with the company showing a drop of -2.1% Year on Year for 2021.

To back-up their claims of dominance in under 50s though, 10 says:

  • The average age of a 10 viewer is 5 years younger than our competitors.
  • 47% of 10’s audience are under 50, compared to 37% of Nine’s audience and just 35% of Seven’s audience.
  • In the first half, 10 had 5 of the top 10 programs in 25 to 54s and 16 to 39s.
  • Since 2019, Network 10’s under 50s prime time share has grown more than 5 points from 24.1% to 29.2%.
  • Kids are under 50s too – We have the #1 commercial kids channels, with Nickelodeon, Nick Jr and 10 Shake having a combined commercial share of 81.7% of kids channels in day time.

This disclaimer is important when looking at the information provided above:

Source: OzTAM, 5 City Metro, kids channels 6am-6pm, profile based on primary channels, Top Programs 6pm-midnight minimum 3 episodes, excluding sport, Consolidated 7, Weeks 1-26 2021

That’s one helluva disclaimer!

At one point they’re using 6am – 6pm primary channels and then swap to normal prime time but then exclude anything less than three episodes, meaning sport and special events don’t count.

And if they want to use consolidated figures I’m not sure why they’re not using +28 instead of +7.

Also, there are limited competitors in the commercial kids channels. ABC KIDS is a dominant force but does not count in this commercial focused category and Disney is no longer available on subscription TV since launching its own streaming service.

And how far do we take adding in all associated brands? Nine could add their streaming service Stan into their figures thereby diluting 10’s claims even further.


In the case of the people v 10 ViacomCBS in the claim of ‘Undisputed. Under 50s’ I find 10 ViacomCBS has no basis to make these claims.

The evidence presented shows there is no justification to claim dominance in the under 50s demo, even when factoring in Subscription TV brands like MTV and Nickelodeon.

10 has failed to show how it is Undisputed. Under 50s even with their skewed information, whereas the data presented above paints a clear picture of where each network sits in the Under 50s demo.

And that data shows 10 ViacomCBS is third no matter which way you look at the figures.

I hereby urge 10 ViacomCBS to refrain from using this false sales message moving forward.


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Robert McKnight
Robert McKnighthttps://tvblackbox.com.au/robert-mcknight/
"Leading TV commentator" - The Daily Telegraph | "Known for his impeccable sources in the TV industry" - The Daily Mail | "Always first with the correct info" - Beau Ryan | Robert McKnight is a highly regarded Australian Television Producer having worked at SEVEN, NINE and TEN during his 30 years in the industry. Currently Rob can be seen every fortnight on THE MORNING SHOW (7) and heard on NIGHTS WITH JOHN STANLEY (2GB/4BC). He is also a producer on 7 NEWS SPOTLIGHT.

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