Viewers per dollar for current affairs shows

Have been looking at how many people watch various current affairs shows on television, and how much of a subsidy they get from taxpayers through .

The funding figures for the four shows (from NZ on Air website) are:

Cost per hour:

  • Media Take $48,200
  • Backbenches $30,300
  • The Nation $22,475
  • Q + A $21,125

Average viewers per episode (based on Nielsen data):

  • Q+A 99,000
  • The Nation 49,000
  • Backbenches 25,400
  • Media Take 1,900

So the cost per viewer hour is:

  • Media Take $12.68
  • Backbenches $1.19
  • The Nation $0.46
  • $0.21

It is hard to believe we are spending close to half a million dollars a year on a show watched by fewer than 2,000 people a week. In fact the taxpayer subsidy may be even greater than that as it shows on Maori TV, and they also get $55 million a year.

Q&A is the most watched show, and the one you can justify the easiest. The Nation has half the audience for a slightly larger budget. Would we be better served by having just one show, and giving it more resources so it can do more in depth?

I’m a big fan of Backbenches but an audience of 25,000 is pretty small for a cost of over $600,000.

NZ on Air funding should not just be about ratings, but on the other hand funding shows that fewer than 1% of NZ watches (or for Media Take fewer than 0.05%) suggests a problem.

Comments (40)

Login to comment or vote