Maori TV has in many ways been a success story. They have managed to avoid the culture of excess that their predecessor Aotearoa TV had. They have managed to capture ANZAC Day in a way no other broadcaster has. They had some of the best debates in the election campaign, and I understand their election night coverage was very good. Native Affairs is a must watch show for those interested in politics, and they had great Rugby World Cup coverage.
But there is one big elephant in the room. The elephant is that almost nobody is watching them. And when we invest $50 million a year into them, it is an elephant that should not be ignored.
Generally broadcasters who have very small audiences use figures such as weekly cumulative, monthly cumulative or even annual cumulative. This means that if you watch one show for 10 minutes in a month, you are counted as a viewer. I do not find these stats very useful or informative.
There are two stats which give a far better idea of how a channel and how a programme is doing. The first is the AUD% which is how many people out of the approx 4 million 5+ NZers watched a show. From that AUD% figure you can work out how many people were tuned in at a particular time.
The RWC Final against France in October had the highest AUD% ever – around 50%. One News typically is at around 13% and Shortland Street around 12%. The Prime Evening News is around 4%.
The other figure is SHR%. This is the percentage of people watching television (including Sky) at that pont in time – so effectively the market share. So outside of prime time, the AUD% will be lower, but the SHR% may stay the same.
Now I have an extract of the Neilsen data for earlier this week. Here is the AUD% and SHR% data for Maori TV for prime time for the half hour spots starting at the times shown:
- 6.30 pm – 0.0% and 0.0%
- 7.00 pm – 0.0% and 0.1%
- 7.30 pm – 0.1% and 0.2%
- 8.00 pm – 0.0% and 0.0%
- 8.30 pm – 0.0% and 0.1%
- 9.00 pm – 0.0% and 0.1%
- 9.30 pm – 0.0% and 0.0%
- 10.00 pm – 0.1% and 0.5%
A 0.1% AUD means around 4,000 people were tuned in. A 0.1% SHR means only 1 in 1,000 people watching TV during that half hour, were watching Maori TV.
This was Wednesday this week. Yesterday was a but better with one show getting a 0.7% audience at its peak and a 0.5% audience overall, which was 19,100 viewers.
But in my opinion that isn’t good enough, for the investment that the taxpayer puts in. Especially when you consider 15% of New Zealanders are Maori (not that it is for Maori only – I watch several shows on it).
This post isn’t to knock Maori TV. As I said at the beginning I think they do some great stuff, and they should be applauded for it. But they do need to do something about their viewer stats, rather than rely on the false comfort of cumulative stats.
I was hoping that after the RWC, Maori TV would rate better. Part of the idea of their hosting bid, was to get people used to tuning into Maori TV. And it did work for the RWC. Since then though, people have gone back to not tuning in.
I don’t have the magic solution for increasing ratings. If I did, I’d be rich. But it is a shame to see $50 million being spent on a channel which produces some really good programmes, but gets viewed by so few people. It is good to have a quality public broadcaster, but it would be better to have one that was watched regularly by more than 0.1% of the population.