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In the archive
About the archived ratings data

Free-to-air TV ratings statistics in the archive were generated from a number of sources since 1991: OzTAM, Nielsen and AGB McNair (which sold to Nielsen in the 1980s).

Free-to-air TV ratings from 2001 to 2009

From 2001 to 2009, data was supplied by OzTAM with Screen Australia compiling top-program lists. It covers the whole calendar year (1 January – 31 December), and is an average for metropolitan viewers in five cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth), based on individuals, including guests (which is expressed as ‘all people’). The exception is documentaries, with ratings for Sydney households only until the end of 2004. From 2007, data supplied by OzTAM covers the top 2,000 programs; in 2006 and 2005, it was the top 1,000.

In 2005, changes were made to the way top-program lists were compiled.

Until the end of 2004, for series, only the single highest-rating episode was included. Exceptions are the lists for top-rating drama and comedy series, where the rating given is the series average, with drama and comedy reported together until the end of 2003; and for mini-series, where the rating may be the series average or for an episode, depending on how the program was reported by the broadcaster (if for an episode, the part number is indicated).

After January 2005, multiple episodes may feature in any of the lists, depending on how programs were reported by broadcasters to OzTAM. Although many series are treated as one program, in some cases broadcasters list different episodes (particularly finals and special episodes) as separate programs.

The term ‘program average’ refers to the average audience as distinct from the peak audience during the screening. If the broadcaster has reported a whole series or several episodes as one program, then it is an average for that series or those episodes.

The rating figure given is known as the TARP (Target Audience Rating Point). It is the average viewing audience for the program expressed as a percentage of the potential viewing audience (i.e. the number of Australians with access to free-to-air television). This potential audience is estimated by OzTAM based on data from its establishment survey and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and is known as a ‘Universe Estimate’. See the OzTAM website for more information.

OzTAM began reporting on time-shifted viewing at the end of 2009. All audience and ratings figures currently on Screen Australia’s website are for live viewing only.

The level of detail varies due to the information provided by the broadcasters. Although not identified as such, the screening listed may be a repeat screening of the program. Repeats are indicated when known. In some cases, Screen Australia assigns program types differently. Feature films, for example, are listed separately to telemovies (which are defined as movies made for broadcast rather than theatrical release). Documentaries are categorised according to the ACMA definition (although in OzTAM reports some of these titles may have been categorised as news and current affairs, reality television, infotainment or specials). The lists may be subject to change with the release of the annual Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) Australian content compliance results. Comedies include only those that can be defined as drama (e.g. sitcoms and sketch comedies, but not satirical current affairs programs). Screen Australia assigns country of origin. Australian programs include Australian productions and official and unofficial co-productions with overseas partners.

Free-to-air TV ratings from 1991 to 2000

From 1991 to 2000, ratings data was provided by ACNielsen using a different audience measure system. In most cases, it covers Sydney and Melbourne only and is based on households. In the all-programs lists, which cover all genres, only the highest-rating episode in a sport event (such as a state-of-origin rugby league series or multi-day swimming championship) is included, and for drama and comedy series, the rating given is for the highest-rating episode. In the lists for top-rating drama and comedy series, the rating given is the series average and is a five-city metro average for weeks 1 to 10. For mini-series, the rating is only for the highest-rating part.

Free-to-air TV ratings before 1991

Prior to 1991, ratings data for movies and mini-series was provided by AGB McNair for Sydney and Melbourne households, covering survey periods rather than 52 weeks a year. (‘People meters’ were only introduced in 1991, enabling year-round tracking.) For mini-series, the rating is only for the highest-rating part.

This data is included in the all-time lists of top-rating programs.