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 NZ on Air.
The funding figures for the four shows (from NZ on Air website) are:
- The Nation $899,000 for 40 hours
- Q + A $845,000 for 40 hours
- Backbenches $606,000 for 20 hours
- Media Take $482,000 for 10 hours
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
- Q&A $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.