Last night’s Leaders’ Debate was exactly what a flat beer taste’s like the morning after the night before: a disappointment than only grows and grows and in the end leaves a bad taste in your mouth (and mind). And viewers reacted in a similar fashion to the debate last night. In fact, as a guide to viewer/voter engagement the audience sizes last night were very indicative. The first three weeks have been horizontal, last night’s effort was likewise from the PM and Opposition Leader and neither seemed inclined to change their approach.

The debate had 888,000 national viewers on ABC and News 24: 628,000 in the metros and 259,000 in the regions. And everyone of those need a bravery medal for persistence under snore. How weak was that figure? Well, Insiders at 9am had a total of 538,000 viewers on ABC and News 24. Given that the number of viewers was much lower between 9 and 10 am than from 7.30 to 8.30pm, Insiders had a much larger audience share than the debate. The PM and Opposition leader probably would have more impact appearing on Insiders than up against The Voice, Masterchef and House Rules last night. In fact, there is another way of looking at the audience last night for the Leaders Debate: a total of 4.595 million people ignored the debate last night and chose entertainment over boredom. And they got it right. It was just as dull as the Sky news debate at the end of week one of the campaign, but had a much bigger audience, even when adjusted for Sky’s lower penetration of the Australian TV market.

60 Minutes apology for the Beirut misadventure came closer to 10pm than 8.30pm when the program was supposed to start according to the media print guides. The Voice droned on until 8.50pm, which is not good enough. 60 Minutes had 1.133 million viewers, after The Voice had 1.787 million. But those figures were skewed by the later start and 60 Minutes figures will be much lower.

Midsomer Murders, which followed the debate on ABC just after 8.30pm proved to be popular with viewers — what you might call some light relief despite another round of serial killings in Midsomer, which managed 984,000 national viewers.

Nine won total people in both the metros and the regionals, Nine and Seven shared the main channels, and Seven was a narrow winner in the regions. The Voice helped Nine dominate the demos. My Kitchen Rules’ house reveal had a very solid Sunday night with 1.899 million national viewers (the best so far this season), The Voice also had a solid night (but ran 20 minutes over time so the figures for it and 60 Minutes have not been adjusted). The Voice had 1.787 million unadjusted viewers nationally. Masterchef surprisingly had a very weak night by recent levels and had less than a million metro viewers when it has been topping that level. Its national audience was a very weak 1.109 million, which was a big surprise given the way it has been gathering strength in recent weeks.

In regional markets House Rules was the most watched program with a very high 658,000 viewers. Seven News was next with 571,000, then Nine News with 527,000, The Voice had 484,000 and the 7pm ABC News was fifth with 367,000.

Network channel share:

  1. Nine (30.2%)
  2. Seven (28.3%)
  3. Ten (18.8%)
  4. ABC (15.8%)
  5. SBS (6.9%)

Network main channels:

  1. Seven (22.0%)
  2. Nine (22.0%)
  3. Ten (13.6%)
  4. ABC (11.1%)
  5. SBS ONE (5.2%)

Top 5 digital channels: 

  1. Eleven (3.4%)
  2. Gem (3.1%)
  3. 7TWO (2.7%)
  4. 7mate, 9Life (2.6%)

Top 10 national programs:

  1. Seven News — 1.995 million
  2. House Rules (Seven) — 1.899 million
  3. The Voice (Nine) — 1.787 million
  4. Nine News — 1.763 million
  5. ABC News — 1.159 million
  6. 60 Minutes (Nine) — 1.133 million
  7. Masterchef Australia (Ten) — 1.109 million
  8. Midsomer Murders (ABC) — 984,000
  9. Sunday Night (Seven) — 926,000
  10. Leaders Debate (ABC, News 24) — 888,000

Top metro programs:

  1. Seven News — 1.424 million
  2. The Voice (Nine) — 1.303 million
  3. House Rules (Seven) — 1.240 million
  4. Nine News — 1.237 million

Losers: Viewers who stayed with the Leaders Debate. Many reportedly over dosed on strong coffee this morning to end their ennui. One small positive- no worm in last night’s debate.

Metro news and current affairs:

  1. Seven News — 1.424 million
  2. Nine News — 1.237 million
  3. ABC News – 792,000
  4. 60 Minutes (Nine) — 778,000
  5. Sunday Night (Seven) — 613,000
  6. Leaders Debate (ABC) — 529,000
  7. Ten Eyewitness News — 335,000
  8. SBS World News — 199,000

Morning TV:

  1. Insiders (ABC, 291,000,97,000 on News 24) — 388,000
  2. Weekend Today (Nine) –  292,000
  3. Weekend Sunrise (Seven) –  270,000
  4. Landline (ABC) — 219,000
  5. Offsiders (ABC) — 167,000

Top five pay TV channels:

  1. Fox Footy  (4.7%)
  2. Fox Sports 3 (2.8%)
  3. Fox Sports 5 (2.6%)
  4. Fox Sports 1 (2.2%)
  5. Foxtel Movies Premiere (2.1%)

Top five pay TV programs:

  1. AFL: Carlton v Geelong (Fox Footy) –  229,000
  2. AFL: Collingwood v Footscray (Fox Footy) — 202,000
  3. F1: Monaco Grand Prix (Fox Sports 5) — 190,000
  4. NRL: Canberra v Canterbury (Fox Sports 1) —  185,000
  5. AFL: West Coast v Gold Coast (Fox Footy) —  109,000

*Data © OzTAM Pty Limited 2016. The data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of OzTAM. (All shares on the basis of combined overnight 6pm to midnight all people.) and network reports.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey