On Wednesday night, Belinda MacDonald and Neena Truscott, dubbed the Modern Day Hippies, were crowned the first winners of My Kitchen Rules New Zealand. This moment concluded the battle for New Zealand's latest food porn crown, while simultaneously bringing an end to a ratings battle that has waged since TVNZ first decided to schedule its programme against MediaWorks' The Block NZ.
Throughout the season, The Block NZ has run daily during TV3’s 7.30pm primetime slot between Tuesday and Friday, while MKR NZ aired on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the same time on TV One.
From the outset, TVNZ's general manger of programming John Kelly was prepared for a tussle with its competitor across the free-to-air TV divide.
"Let’s put this so-called head-to-head in perspective," he told StopPress at the time. "This is round one of 30 – and we’re absolutely committed to contesting all time slots for all audiences ... Last year we more or less gave The Block a free pass. That’s not happening this year."
After the first round, TVNZ's show drew the biggest audience while The Block won the 25-54 demographic that's so attractive to advertisers (figures below), and this was a fact that MediaWorks latched onto immediately.
“It’s fantastic to see The Block NZ so convincingly win one of the most competitive time slots on TV," said MediaWorks TV chief executive Paul Maher in a release at the time. "We’re very proud of this year’s series, and it’s great to see New Zealanders embracing the new teams and new challenges.”
As the figures stand at the moment, MKR NZ has managed to attract a bigger overall audience on average, pulling in 69,000 more viewers than its competitor when the median stats are calculated (figures below).
Overall, MKR NZ was the most watched show in its time slot, and TVNZ's head of content Jeff Latch said in a TVNZ release statement that he was "delighted with the overall performance" of the show.
"It’s been the catalyst for a significant year-on-year lift in audience across TV One and TV2 in October. Our production partners, Imagination Television, judges and commissioning team have done a great job in delivering such a high quality series”.
The Block has however maintained its hold on the 25-54 demographic, attracting 29,000 more viewers on average than its competitor. The Block's hold on this audience during the 7.30pm time slot is so strong that the show almost managed to match MKR's audience figures when the cooking show's final was on.
It's also worth noting that the grand final of The Block has not yet aired and, if the previous two editions of the show are anything to go by, then this should bump up the overall viewership average.
The grand final of The Block NZ's first season pulled in 491,600 viewers overall (267,900 in the 25-54 demographic), while last year's final pulled in even better numbers as 683,600 viewers tuned in (346,400 in the 25-54 demographic).
Should the final two episodes of this season repeat similar figures, then the overall gap between MKR NZ and The Block NZ could narrow substantially.
While the TV audience remains the biggest viewership contributor, online streaming statistics are also starting to drive audience numbers higher.
MKR NZ has attracted more than 600,000 streams on TVNZ Ondemand to date, including all episodes and additional content. On average, MKR NZ’s show pages were accessed almost 70,000 times per week, second only to ratings juggernaut Shortland Street.
Given that both shows held relatively strong audiences throughout their respective seasons, its comes as little surprise that both MediaWorks and TVNZ have been optimistic about the results. From a commercial point of view, it must however be said that MediaWorks will be the happier of the pair having held a bigger share of the lucrative 25-54 category throughout the third season of its hit show.
For now, the Kiwi appetite for both food and renovation porn seems intact, but as each season of these hits shows draws to a close it does pose the question: how much more of these formats are Kiwis willing to watch?
Here's a rundown on how the individual episodes of the respective shows went: