New year, new ratings, new hosts, new news

With the new news year unofficially restarting today and the A-list hosts from both networks back punching the clock, it’s the perfect time to delve into the murky depths of 2009’s news ratings data.

In the overall peak-time standings for 2009, ONE News cleaned up at 6pm, attracting an average of 600,760 viewers a night compared to 354,480 for 3 News.

Close Up followed suit, averaging 495,660 total viewers every night in 2009, more than double Campbell Live’s average nightly audience of 225,620.

But TVNZ’s head of news and current affairs, Anthony Flannery says the most significant audience increase in news and current affairs last year was for Breakfast.

“It increased its audience by almost 50 percent last year. That’s an achievement I’m enormously proud of. All the credit goes to the Breakfast team for their commitment and huge effort they put in morning after morning for their viewers.”

Breakfast began 2009 with 108,150 viewers watching every morning on average in January, increasing to an average of 157,210 in December. According to TVNZ, Sunrise started 2009 with an average of 29,910 viewers every morning and finished the year in December with an average of 20,510.

But TV3 are trumpeting, as usual, demographic victory, claiming to have ended 2009 in a strong position “with significant year-on-year growth for Sunrise and Nightline and a clear win for 3 News in the all important 18-49 demographic”.

With the 18-49ers, Sunrise went from a 6.4 share in 2008 to a 10.0 share in 2009, showing growth year-on-year of 55.5 percent. The Auckland Urban 18-49 demographic also saw Sunrise lift its share from 8.5 in 2008, to 14.8 in 2009, a rise of 74.2 percent.

Mark Jennings, director of news and current affairs, says 3 News continues to win its demographic and is very close to beating ONE News in its key 25-54 demographic.

“Having very experienced journalists Mike McRoberts and Hilary Barry anchoring the programme is a key factor in the programme’s success,” he says.

Nightline, the strange jewel in TV3’s news crown, slightly increased its share in the 18-49 demographic in 2009 and edged out Tonight, which ended the year down 17.8 percent in that section. Nightline also beat Tonight in the 25-54 demographic, ending the year with a 23 percent share, compared with Tonight’s 19.1 percent.

“Nightline has had a stellar year. Not only has it grown its overall audience but it has also taken share off its TVNZ rival,” says Jennings.  “The demand for quality late evening news seems to be growing and Nightline is uniquely placed to capitalise on the trend.”

In other, newsreader-related news, as one mother leaves the ONE news desk, another mother returns to take her place, with Bernadine Oliver-Kerby set to join Simon Dallow as co-host on ONE News at 6pm. Regular news anchor Wendy Petrie is expecting her third child in early February and is on maternity leave.

“Bernadine is a very experienced, professional and well-liked presenter and I have no doubt she can seamlessly slot into this key position for us in Wendy’s absence”, says Flannery.

Oliver-Kerby has been on maternity leave from her weekend news presenting role since July after giving birth to her second daughter Scarlett in August.

Pippa Wetzell also kicked off Breakfast for 2010 today with US correspondent Tim Wilson as her co-host. A host of TVNZ hosts will be joining her before Paul Henry returns to offend/captivate the masses in March.

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