As we've seen with the Campbell Live debate, fans believe the importance of the show can't be reduced to ratings because it also serves an important social function. And broadcasters seem to be saying something similar when quantifying the success of reality shows that include a high level of sponsorship integration because they are leading to commercial results for advertisers. So is that also the case for the inaugural season of Our First Home, which wrapped up earlier this week after three live auctions?
At the end of the first season, the Schreuder family took out the grand prize after adding a total of $190,400 to the initial purchase price of their Titirangi house, a gain of 35.88 percent. And, as a result, they won the additional $100,000 and the parents won a $20,000 trip to Africa. Jeff Latch, head of content at TVNZ, says Our First Home has been a "ratings winner" and, despite being up against X Factor NZ, it had an average audience of more than 375,000 viewers throughout the series in the 5+ rating segment.
In the more commercial 25-54 demo, the show had an average audience of 125,500. And, as a point of comparison, The Great Food Race, which was largely regarded as a flop and doesn't appear to be returning this year, averaged 100,050 in the 25-54 demo. The third season of The Block NZ averaged 190,500.
For the final auction, Our First Home gained 144,500 viewers in 25-54. In comparison, the final episode of the The Block NZ had an average audience of 196,100, while the final episode of My Kitchen Rules New Zealand had 154,300.
“Our First Home has performed very well in a highly competitive timeslot, especially considering it was a new series with a brand new format," said Latch in a release. "The show really went from strength to strength which is a credit to our production company Eyeworks. It was great to see the families have such successful auctions and with over half a million viewers watching each auction episode, the TV One audience has also been right behind them. Kiwis obviously like good, hard-working people and seeing good things happen to them. We’d like to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of all three families. They have been a pleasure to watch on our screens."
In the case of Purina Pound Pups to Dog Stars, one of TVNZ's big branded content plays last year season, TVNZ's head of sales and marketing Jeremy O'Brien told StopPress quantifying success was now a mixture of ratings and commercial performance for sponsors.
"Ratings are important, they're the foundation, because you want the mass awareness, and that's ultimately what it got. But the true value is taking that equity and leveraging it into their own marketing programmes ... [Purina] were trying to activate their core value, which is about truly caring for the welfare of pets and pet owners. And if you look at what they’ve been able to establish through their Facebook page and three animals that became ambassadors within the Purina family, then that value is more than just the ratings."
Similarly, O'Brien says when you have the chairman of Genesis saying at a board meeting that one of the key factors that influenced customer acquisition was its slightly controversial involvement in MKR NZ, "that’s probably the biggest endorsement you can get for a partnership like that".
MediaWorks' head of revenue Liz Fraser agreed with that assertion when she spoke with StopPress last year and said while the Great Food Race didn’t perform as well in the ratings as it would have liked, it was successful for premier sponsors Countdown and Air New Zealand.
"The way we integrated them into the show and the performance metrics were all delivered and it was the same with Cadbury Dream Factory. The sales that Cadbury got out of that and the increase in brand health was huge. Yes, you take risks with these new formats and yes they didn’t rate. The ideal of course is to get both working. The Block and X Factor NZ do that really well. And the known formats have a higher chance of success."
BNZ, Fly Buys and Toyota were tier one sponsors of the first season of Our First Home and they all certainly tied it in to their marketing campaigns. Resene, Noel Leeming, Harrisons Carpet, Barfoot & Thompson and The New Zealand Woman’s Weekly were also involved.
Latch says feedback from partners on the integration has been very positive, not only in-show, but within the Our First Home renovation game that was created by Blacksand and attracted over 27,000 unique users, and 'out of show’ activities.
"They’ve really seen the value in all of the offerings we were able to extend to them," he says.
Interestingly, a story in today's Herald criticised shows like Our First Home and The Block NZ for creating inflated expectations about profits from renovations.