A media take

Phil Wallington, Producer of writes:

I don’t suppose that you folks are at all keen to rectify mistakes or to publish retractions of factual errors.

That is the practice I have followed in my half-century as a professional journalist.

If you were so inclined, you might consider the attachment which might enlighten the readers of this benighted blog.

I suspect you will do nothing…

Start off with an insult and finish with one also. How to win friends and influence people.

It is my observation that blogs have been far far more willing to publish corrections or allow rights of reply, than traditional media outlets. I can’t recall ever refusing.

Anyway to the substance:

As usual Kiwiblog has the facts wrong.

Average viewers per episode (based on Nielsen data):

  • Q+A 99,000 – No It’s 70,600 average viewers for the first play and a further 20,500 for the second play so 91,100 over the two plays.
  • The Nation 49,000 – No it’s 22,900 average viewers for the first play on the Saturday and a further 34,400 for the second play on Sunday so 57,300 total over the two plays.
  • Backbenches 25,400 – No it’s 17,500 average viewers per episode for the first play and a further 2,200 for the second play so 19,700 total over the two plays.
  • Media Take 1,900 – No it’s 5,000 average viewers per episode (20 episodes) for the first run and a further 2,400 (13 episodes). As the last season wasn’t repeated in full you can’t really add these two figures together.

My figures are from Neilsen data for late November/early December. I presume Mr Wallington has data for the entire year. It would be great if this was publicly available. I tried to get annual data off NZ on Air but they refused. I am of the view that they should publish average ratings for ever show they fund.

The differences between my data and Mr Wallington’s is minor for the first three shows. There is a larger difference with Media Take. But I am happy to accept these figures as accurate, but would welcome anyone with access to the data for the full year being able to independently verify it.

So the cost per viewer hour is out in every case.

Using Mr Wallington’s data, the cost per viewer hour would be:

So the cost per viewer hour is:

  • Media Take $6.51
  • Backbenches $1.54
  • The Nation $0.39
  • Q&A $0.23

I don’t think it impacts my conclusion.

In 2015 Media Take averaged 5,000 viewers across 20 episodes in a 10 pm slot or later most weeks. Shows on MTS often draw numbers like these so why single out Media Take? 

I wasn’t looking at the channel it was on. I was looking from a taxpayer perspective about value for money. NZ on Air has a limited budget. I support their role in funding good current affairs shows. However spending almost half a million dollars on a show with such tiny viewer numbers is hard to justify. Maybe we’d be better off giving that money to one of the existing shows so they can do more in depth reporting, or to a show that missed out of being funded. There is an opportunity cost to funding shows with such small numbers of viewers.

It’s rare that series are funded by NZOA for MTS (the network favours one-off docs) but in comparison here are some other numbers for other MTS NZOA series (first run only).

I’m unsure that MTS should get any funding from NZ on Air for shows. The reason for this is thar MTS is already completed state funded. The entire channel gets (off memory) $50 million a year or so. They already have the ability to put on shows that are not commercially viable because they are not commercially funded.

Behind the Brush (8 pm) average viewers per episode 4,700

Songs from the Inside (9:30 pm) average viewers 28,000

Te Araroa Tales From The Trails (8:30 pm) average viewers 25,500

Haka Warriors (8 pm) average viewers 4,100

As I said I don’t think the comparison is with other shows on MTS. The comparison is opportunity cost is whether you could get a better impact by spending $500,000 a year elsewhere.

I have no issue with the quality of Media Take. But having said that I have not watched it on MTS. But when it was on other channels I did, and liked it. But I do have an issue with spending almost $500,000 a year on a show that has less viewers than a large blog gets by lunchtime every day.

I’m also a fan of Backbenches, but their numbers are pretty dismal also. I’m not sure that is providing great value for money either. Ratings should not be the only measure of success for shows. In fact the reasons we have NZ on Air is to allow funding of non-commercial shows. But if you are funding a show only around 1 in 1000 people are watching, then it is unlikely it is having the desired impact.

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