Good news for Malcolm Turnbull. While most commentators thought Bill Shorten had won last Friday’s “People’s Forum” debate on Sky News, at least not many people were watching.

The Sky News People’s Forum averaged 54,200 people on Friday evening, the 13th most watched program on the night for pay television, but easily beaten by the Geelong-Adelaide game on Fox Footy, with 352,000 viewers. And on free to air, there were far more people watching Eurovision, by a factor of 12. The first semi-final of Eurovision started at 7.30pm and averaged 636,000 viewers across the country.

It’s possible a few more thousand watched the debate online. The debate was aired by Sky News on its Facebook page. The station also offered it free of charge to other media to run, but only the news websites (The Daily Telegraph, which co-hosted the debate, and The Age and Sydney Morning Herald) took up the offer. The ABC did not — to the consternation of Tony Abbott, who told Chris Kenny on Sky News last night that the ABC was “playing politics” by not showing it.

More broadly in election TV ratings, the nightly commercial TV news programs had a slight boost in the first week of the campaign. Nine News had average ratings of 1,455,000 in the five capital cities — up on the 1,423,000 it had the week before, while Seven also had a bump on its nightly bulletin: 1,699,000, up from 1,360,000 the week before. Surprisingly, the ABC hasn’t done as well — the 7pm ABC News averaged 1,125,000 across the five capital cities, compared to 1,159,000. 7.30 however was up — it averaged 869,000 viewers, compared to 830,000 the week before.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey