As Nielsen changes kick in, major broadcasters show off

Nielsen has now implemented its new Unitam model, which takes into account both overnight viewing and time-shifted viewing and also features an expanded panel, so it marks a new step in the way TV ratings are gathered in New Zealand. Added to that, the two major broadcasters are both back into full swing and many of the big new and returning shows that were trumpeted at the vastly different new season launches last year are now on the box. So how is New Zealand watching? And how are the new season ratings stacking up?

Based on the new Nielsen figures, Think TV’s Rick Friesen told us just three percent of the panel’s total viewing last week was time-shifted and 97 percent was watched live. Interestingly, in homes with personal video recorders, time-shifted programming made up about nine percent of total viewing and people with PVRs watched about seven percent more TV in peak time than those in homes without.

  • Check out Nielsen’s Top Programmes Jan 1 to Feb 9 201 here.

We asked both broadcasters to provide ratings figures for their new and returning shows and, as expected, it’s a bit of a gloat fest. But perhaps these increases are a continuation of recent ThinkTV figures that show 55,000 more people tuned in to the TV last year, resulting in a two percent increase in total hours viewed.

TV One (where possible, overnight and time-shifted ratings are given)

  • Criminal Minds new season launched on 16 January, returning with higher audiences YOY. 2012 season debut delivered 12.3 rating vs. 11.4 rating for 2011 debut, against AP25-54 (consolidated ratings)
  • Packed to the Rafters proved an audience favourite in a new timeslot on Sunday at 8.30pm. The season premiere delivered 11.3 rating (28.2% share) against AP 25-54. This is higher than the 2011 season average rating of 10.9 (25.8% share) which aired Wednesday 8.30pm (consolidated).
  • Frozen Planet remains the top rating new show for 2012 against AP 25-54 audience, achieving 15.6 rating (consolidated).


  • Shortland Street’s new season launch was the highest in three years. AP 18-39 average audience 19.3 vs. 16.2 in 2011 and 15.4 in 2010 (consolidated ratings, first week on first week).
  • The return (and introduction of Ashton Kutcher) on Two and a Half Men didn’t disappoint. Wednesday night’s new season launch was the highest ever in the show’s nine year history, delivering 20.5 rating (63.2% share) against AP 18-39 (overnight only).
  • TV2’s new Comedy ‘2 Broke Girls’ was the highest debut share of a comedy in five years—53.1% against AP 18-39 (overnight only)
  • The Big Bang Theory returned with 31% growth YOY (AP 18-39, overnight ratings only).


Four finished its first year on air with a stellar January performance, growing its share of the 18-49 peak audience by 67 percent when compared with C4’s performance in January 2010. And, as a nice birthday present, the channel enjoyed 41 percent year-on-year growth in the 18-49 peak share in the Nov-Jan quarter.

MediaWorks attempted something of an experiment for one of its big new shows for 2012, New Girl, by premiering it online before it was shown on TV. Unlike Fox in the US, which was happy to report that it clocked up two million views when it did the same thing last year, MediaWorks wouldn’t release the numbers of views the show had on its Ondemand channel due to commercial sensitivity, but publicity manager Rachel Lorimer did say that over the week the episode was made available online, it was a top three Video On Demand show, with numbers typical of an established hit show like X Factor USA.

“It is by far the biggest Video On Demand show for FOUR. The previous record was less than half of that and was held by the Glee Project.”

As for the overnight ratings when it did screen, it recorded a 9.6 percent share in the target demo of 18-49, which was well above the channel’s average peak share (5.4 percent), and the 18-49 rating was 3.7.

“What’s interesting is that in the younger and more urban parts of the demo, it did even better, and was second choice for those viewers after TV2,” she says.

In the 18-49 Auckland Urban demographic, New Girl did a 6.4 rating and 19.1 percent share, and in 18-39, it did a 4.4 rating and a 12.4 percent share.

“The Auckland demographic [one third of its almost 100,000 Facebook fans are from the region]is where we’d expect a lot of the awareness we created through the online screenings to be focused, so that’s an especially pleasing result.”


The TV3 shows launched on Tuesday night, including the second season of The Secret Lives of Dancers, had solid performances, Lorimer says. “But it’s too early to get a real sense of new season, especially because we’re currently running X Factor Australia Wed-Sat until the final on Feb 18. We have a staggered new season on TV3 that runs across four weeks.”


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