The just-concluded 2015 official ratings period has given all three commercial networks something to crow about, despite the continued shrinkage of free-to-air audiences.

New and returning Australian dramas performed strongly for the Seven and Nine Networks while Network Ten had just one fresh drama, the FremantleMedia Australia telemovie Mary: The Making of a Princess.

The Seven Network was No. 1 in primetime for the ninth year running, Seven was the most watched primary channel and 7TWO the most popular digital channel.

My Kitchen Rules (2.473 million) was the top-rating regular program and 800 Words (2.103 million) the most successful new series and new drama.

Seven also scored handsomely with Catching Milat (2.55 million). Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door (2.36 million), The X Factor (1.95 million). House Rules (1.86 million) and Winter (1.57 million).

The Nine Network claimed the crown as No. 1 in the key demographics of 25-54, 18-49 and 16-39 for the fourth successive year.

Measured in total viewers including time-shifting and catch-up, Nine’s top regular shows were House of Hancock (2.62 million), The Voice (2.41 million), Married at First Sight (2.13 million), Love Child (1.76 million) , House Husbands (1.7 million) and The Block season 2 (1.51 million).

Nine’s director of television Michael Healy said, “While Love Child might do 1.2 million in overnight figures, once you factor in time-shifted viewing, encore screenings and catch-up viewing you end up with an average audience well in excess of 1.7 million – a huge increase of 44 per cent on the overnight figures. As an industry we need to work harder to communicate this message.”

Network Ten boasted that it was the only primary channel and commercial broadcaster to increase prime time audiences, ending the year with their highest prime time commercial shares in total people and people 25-54 since 2011 and their biggest overall since 2012.

In 2015 Network Ten posted a 29.1 per cent share in 25 to 54s, up from 26 per cent in 2014. Ten pointed to the successful launches of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, Shark Tank, Gogglebox, The Great Australian Spelling Bee and The Bachelorette Australia, and Mary: The Making of a Princess, which drew 1.1 million capital city viewers.

Video views on tenplay rose by 8 per cent to 171 million while page views improved by 3 per cent to 293 million and the number of unique visitors increased by 13 per cent to 25.2 million.

Despite all the hype, the sobering fact is free-to-air audiences are declining. At the Screen Forever conference ABC director of TV Richard Finlayson echoed the broadcast industry’s claims that FTA viewing hours have only fallen by 4 per cent in the past five years, TV viewing still averages more than 90 hours a month and online video viewing has increased to 18 hours a month.

But Finlayson pointed to the challenges posed by Netflix, which signed more than 1 million subscribers in its first six months, and he observed that 16‐24 year olds now watch more than 50 per cent of their video viewing online – and 14 per cent never watch TV.

Primetime scorecard

            Total     16-39 18-49 25-54s

ABC   13.0%   5.7% 6.7% 7.6%
Seven 20.7%  20.4% 20.6% 20.9%
Nine  19.7%    20.9% 21.1% 21.5%
TEN  13.4%    17.7% 17.2% 16.6%
SBS   4.9%      3.4% 3.9% 4.2%

Weeks 7-48, 2015 (excludes summer, Easter)
Metro 1800-2400
Data: Consolidated (Live + As Live + TSV) prior Week 48, Overnight (Live + As Live) Week 48
Source: Seven Network

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