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In the archive
free-to-air Television

Trends in audience share

The most important audience share ratings period is generally considered to be the evening period between 6 pm and midnight, which is when most people watch television. Each metropolitan and regional market is rated separately but it is the collective ratings performance in the five metropolitan markets (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide) during the evening period that is the most commonly cited measure of network popularity with audiences.

During the 27-year period between 1983 and 2009, the three commercial networks have dominated the audience ratings on free-to-air television with an average share of 82.7 per cent; however, this has fallen to 79.1 per cent in the past ten years and to 77.1 per cent in 2009. Of the two public, non-commercial broadcasters, SBS rose steadily for the third year, while ABC experienced a slight drop from 17.4 per cent to 17 per cent.

For the third consecutive year, Seven has displaced the historically top-performing Nine as the top-rating network, with Ten coming in a distant third.

Ratings in the five metropolitan markets, 6 pm to midnight, 1983–2009

Network1 Last 27 years
Last 10 years
Total 100% 100% 100%
Seven 29.0% 28.0% 28.1%
Nine 31.0% 29.2% 26.6%
Ten 22.7% 21.9% 22.4%
Subtotal 82.7% 79.1% 77.1%
ABC 14.0% 15.9% 17.0%
SBS 3.3% 5.1% 5.9%
Subtotal 17.3% 20.9% 22.9%

Source: 1983 to 1990, McNair Anderson; 1991 to 2000, ACNielsen; and from January 2001, OzTAM. Averages compiled by Screen Australia.

Figures may not total exactly due to rounding.
Figures are per cent shares of free-to-air viewing, excluding subscription television, videos and out-of-market stations. Figures include the Olympics (weeks 38 to 41 in 2000).
Any comparison between data before and after January 2001 should take into account that a different audience measurement system has applied since that date.
1. Figures represent network aggregates. They include all viewing to the broadcasters’ primary channel as well as SD and HD channels. Includes ABC2 (ABC) from 1 June 2008; ONE (Ten) from 12 April 2009; GO! (Nine) and SBS TWO (SBS) from 28 June 2009; and 7TWO (Seven) from 1 November 2009.