Top 10 television programmes 2018

With streaming services disrupting the television game and New Zealanders increasingly having an appetite for high-quality international dramas, the top 10 television programmes for 2018 may come as a surprise for some.

News, sports and Hyundai Country Calendar remain at the top of New Zealanders’ television viewing schedules – but the Royal Wedding in May wasn’t far behind.

Based on Nielsen Television Audience Measurement data of all people aged five and over, the results only show the calendar year until the end of October. Aside from one-off specials and big-ticket events, Monday and Sunday night shows ranked the highest, with half of the top 10 programmes screening on those two nights – and all the top programmes for 2018 screened on TVNZ 1.

1. 1 News

The jewel in TVNZ’s crown, 1 News, continues to fly high as the nation’s most-watched programme with a 14.7 percent audience share over the 304 episodes from January to October 2018. Presented by Simon Dallow and Wendy Petrie, 1 News at Six boasts nearly one million viewers every night.

2. Commonwealth Games 2018 Gold Men’s Rugby7s: NZL v Fiji

Despite TVNZ’s teething troubles with returning the Commonwealth Games to free-to-air television, the coverage was an overwhelming success. According to Nielsen data, the Commonwealth Games coverage reached more than 2.7 million people – beating the 2016 Rio Olympics shown by rival broadcaster Sky TV. For many, the highlight of the schedule was the men’s rugby sevens final that screened on a Sunday evening – ending with a very comfortable 14-0 defeat. The game had a 13.5 percent audience share for its live screening. The win for the New Zealand men’s team means the All Black Sevens have now claimed five out of six gold medals since the event began back in the 1998 Games. 

3. Hyundai Country Calendar

Having been aired on TVNZ 1 since 1966, Hyundai Country Calendar hasn’t lost any ground. The show now reaches 800,000 people per episode, up from 580,000 viewers in 2015. During the show’s first 32 shows of its 40 show season it had a 13.5 percent audience share.

4. Royal Wedding Prince Harry and Meghan

Parties were hosted around the country on a Saturday night in May and New Zealanders’ tuned in to watch the wedding event of the year: Prince Harry marrying ‘commoner’ (American actress) Meghan Markle in Windsor. The wedding had a 13.1 percent audience share, with New Zealanders’s also eating up TVNZ’s extensive extra coverage of the occasion. Additional programmes included documentaries about the bride and groom, wedding cake specials and analysis from ‘experts’.

5. Commonwealth Games 2018 Gold women’s Rugby 7s: NZL v AUS

Disappointingly a few spots further down the top spots than its men’s counterpart, the inaugural women’s rugby sevens final took out an 11.9 percent audience share when in screened during the April Commonwealth Games. The New Zealand team made history when they beat fierce rivals and host nation Australia 17-12 in extra time to win the gold medals. The nail-biting event secured the women’s team’s place as New Zealand’s heroes at the event.

6. Fair Go

Another long-time New Zealand television show that remains in the top 10 for viewing figures after more than 40 years on New Zealand’s screens is Fair Go – the nation’s go-to platform for airing consumer gripes and broken trading promises. Hosted by Pippa Wetzell and Hadyn Jones, the show scored an 11.2 percent audience share during its first 35 episodes of the year. 

7. The Royal Variety Performance

It seems the New Year celebrations turned the country into couch potatoes – with the seventh most popular programme for 2018 screening at 7pm on January 1 on TVNZ 1. The show had an audience share of 11.1 percent. Actually recorded at the London Palladium in November 2017, the Royal Variety Performance is always a television highlight. Held in the presence of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, the 2017 iteration of the institution starred the casts of 42nd Street and Annie, as well as James Blunt, The Killers and Paloma Faith. The performance also made history, as it was hosted by comedian Miranda Hart – the first woman to ever host the show.

8. Coast New Zealand

NZ On Air supported show, Coast New Zealand, had a healthy 11.1 percent audience share for its six-episode season exploring New Zealand’s wild coastline. 

9. Highway Cops

During the midwinter season of Highway Cops the show came in with a 10.5 percent audience share. With New Zealand’s road toll already at 200 for 2018 when the first episode of the new season aired in June, the show remains topical and sobering viewing.

10. Border Patrol

Now in its tenth season, Border Patrol had a 10.5 percent audience share this year. Featuring customs and immigration ports up and down the country, the show is a fascinating insight into the weird, wonderful and dangerous things people try to smuggle into New Zealand. 

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