Pay TV
must be desperate. Why else would it make the rubbery claim that subscription TV out-rated free-to-air in Sydney last

Foxtel insists that last week in Sydney it got a
22% share, higher than the free-to-air networks, from 6am to midnight.
Very odd indeed: One hundred or more pay TV channels out-rating
five free networks? On that basis, the free-to-air networks captured
78%. So who’s the winner? In
metro markets last week free-to-air TV got an 87.4% share and pay 12.6%, while in
regional Australia the share was 87.5% and
12.5%, respectively.

But the
crucial point is that the 18-hour period from 6am to midnight is a time interval not
considered relevant by anyone in the media – except the increasingly desperate
lot at Foxtel and some of its channels. In the all-important 6pm to midnight prime time period, the pay TV
share is far lower simply because the free-to-air audience is much larger.
The best share figures for pay TV channels in this time slot were 1%
for Fox Sports 1 and 1% for Fox Sports 2.

The real story from last week’s ratings is that
pay TV’s biggest audience (295,000 people) was once again for a rugby
league game. In fact the top ten programs were all NRL-related programs
or AFL games. The males own the remotes in Pay TV homes!

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey