I Don’t Rate New Zealand’s Ratings System


To figure out how popular televisions shows are 600 “Peoplemeters” sit atop televisions in as many selected households and monitor what the occupants of those homes (around 1500 people, allegedly) watch each day, with those results updated via internet each night.

That might seem like a reasonable good system. But, give or take, NZ has a population of 4 million people and quite amazingly 2 million televisions. Meaning those 600 meters equate to 0.03 percent of the nation’s televisions and 0.015 percent of New Zealand’s population.

Through the divine scriptures known as “Ratings” that this miniscule sample sized monitoring system puts forth, the deities of New Zealand’s television industry are told / tell us what is popular and what is not.

Last month they told us that TV3’s current affairs show, “Campbell Live” was not being watched by practically anyone and so was “under review”.

There was a “tink” noise as a thread holding the sword of Damocles (or should that be Demographics?) snapped above what is considered by many to be the last remaining bastion of televisual journalism in New Zealand.

The sword wobbled and Campbell Live was a strand nearer to “getting the chop”

According to the “Ratings System”, Campbell Live averages 250,000 viewers per night. Its direct opponent, TVNZ’s Seven Sharp has 400,000 and Shortland Street, somehow, tops them all with 450,000 – 500,000 viewers per night.

Given that 1500 people are supposedly watching what their Peoplemeter is watching, that means:

A mere 300 people still watch Shortland Street in the hope the acting and storylines might finally get better, equating to its “450,000 viewers”.

267 disciples of “The Gospel According to Hosking” (A.K.A. TVNZ’s “Seven Sharp”) miraculously become “400,000 viewers”


Campbell Live’s “250,000 viewers per night” are derived from a miniscule 167 actual people

The figures would seem rather foreboding – if you believed them.

I don’t.

Because somehow Campbell Live’s 167 / “250,000” viewers last year helped raise over $800,000 for KidsCan (a charity set up to help support underprivileged children and earlier this year, when Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu, Campbell Live helped raise around $200,000 for aid to the stricken islands.

And when the news broke that Campbell Live was “Under Review” over 77,000 people put their signatures to online petitions to save the show.

Going by the maths and logic New Zealand’s ratings system uses that equates to 115,500,000 “viewers”, by the way. Just saying.

I know which numbers I’d take more seriously and they aren’t the ratings.

What ratings don’t take into account, AT ALL, is content.

Seven Sharp has been widely derided by public and media alike as “Fluff”. And let’s be honest, Shortland Street hasn’t been any good since “Muffin Man” Lionel Skeggins fell off a cliff in the late 90’s (His body was never found, by the way, so with the show re-hashing so many characters, there’s a pretty good chance he may yet resurface in his hometown Dannevirke after 20 years of amnesia..) .

Campbell Live HELPS people – like those in Vanuatu and organisations like KidsCan and their wards.

It gives a voice to those who have been done wrong, robbed, dismissed, cast aside, “suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” and more often than not the show, along with its “167 viewers” helps those people get out of those situations. It rights wrongs.

I often hear people moaning that the show has done another item on the Christchurch earthquake and those still awaiting insurance pay-outs, repairs to their homes and getting some form of normality returned to their lives.

That doesn’t show Campbell Live losing touch and deserving cancelation – It shows how utterly ABYSMALLY the likes of EQC and insurance companies have treated their own residents and customers that these issues have still not been resolved four years after the quakes!

Without the likes of Campbell live highlighting and fighting for these issues like these, who would?

Sure as hell it won’t be the ratings system.

1 thought on “I Don’t Rate New Zealand’s Ratings System

  1. Andrew, did you not do 7th form statistics? You don’t need a huge sample size to obtain accurate probabilities. In fact if your sample size is too large it can become less accurate. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margin_of_error
    So as TV3 is a commercial venture paid for by advertisers, and the advertisers have access to the same stats, their driver is to get the viewing stats for their channel up. It maybe abhorrent to you that Shortland St has more viewers, but that doesn’t make the numbers wrong. In the same way that my musical tastes are not represented in the top 40 charts….I might not like it but then again, My generation don’t buy enough music to influence the charts. And it sounds like the Campbell generation don’t watch the show often enough to lead the stats, even though they get out and sign petitions. The signature doesn’t represent an actual regular viewer but rather a preference. Let’s put it another way, if you asked those same petition signers “would you be willing to pay to watch Campbell Live” because he has lost his advertisers, how many would still sign? Would you?

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