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News Analysis

Demand generation: TV spikes, radio remains upbeat, publishing takes off

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

23 March 2020 4min read

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

23 March 2020 4min read

Audience demand for news and current affairs is booming with TV networks reporting significant uplift in viewing, Commercial Radio Australia remains confident and publishing is booming. Here's where it's at, as of today. 

What you need to know:

  • TV networks are reporting significant spikes in viewing as people begin working from home
  • News bulletins, breakfast TV and broadcast video on demand are among those with the strongest growth
  • Nine's publishing arm is reporting a lift in the month of March, with readership and subscribers both on the rise
  • While to early to tell, Commercial Radio Australia boss Joan Warner remains confident in the medium's value


TV sees a spike

The major TV networks have all begun to see spikes in audiences, mainly driven by large sums of people now working from home, as well as an increased interest in news and current affairs updates on COVID-19.

Nine by the numbers:

  • There has been significant uplift across TV viewing, particularly with news programs. Week-on-week we have seen an 18.54% uplift in its weekday 9News 6pm bulletins as viewers tuned in for the latest updates on the situation.
  • On Monday night, Nine News had its highest rating weekday bulletin of the year with a national average audience of 1.378m (Metro: 1.066 Reg: 311,000).
  • A Current Affair also achieved its highest audience of 2020 on Monday night with a national average audience of 1.162 million (Metro: 848,000 Reg: 314,000).
  • Breakfast news has also seen a lift with The Today Show hitting its highest audience since 2018 on Wednesday, with a national average audience of 366,000 (Metro: 251,000 Reg: 115,000).
  • On 9Now minutes consumed increased +10% week on week.  Live streams also increased +15% week on week.  This is likely to be due to a combination of the following: the launch of the NRL, the continued popularity of MAFS and increased consumption of 9News due to COVID-19.

“We recognise the impact of the COVID-19 situation for our clients and are working with them to try and ensure they have flexibility in their marketing campaigns over the coming weeks, where it is required," Nine spokesperson said.

"While it is an uncertain economic climate, the overwhelming majority of marketers are conscious of the need to continue to stimulate demand and we are working with them, across our TV, digital, publishing and radio assets, to do just that.”


Ten by the numbers:

  • Network 10 is up 30% compared to the same week in 2019 while Channel 10 is up 33%
  • The Project is up 10% week on week. 
  • 10 News First is up 21% week on week. 
  • Survivor up 11% week on week
  • Dancing with the Stars up 43% week on week.

“For advertisers, the benefits of TV remain the same. TV offers a brand-safe environment. It is trusted and can reach audiences at scale. During these uncertain times, TV becomes one of the most effective mediums to communicate critical messages, particularly as the appetite for entertainment, news and information increases. We’re seeing this with the Government’s COVID-19 safety campaign, large retailers and many major Australian corporations," ViacomCBS and Network 10 chief sales officer Rod Prosser said.

“As a broadcaster, for us, it continues to be business as usual as we continue to help brands communicate their messages to mass audiences. We are working closely with our advertising partners on building the most effective marketing campaigns, and being adaptable as possible to their needs.”


Seven by the numbers:

For Seven, the boost in audience has been heavily geared towards its BVOD offering 7Plus:

  • 7Plus broke its own records as last week became the biggest streaming week ever and heading for another record this week
  • Seven is seeing strong growth in live streaming with last Thursday among its top five days for highest live streaming minutes (outside of events)
  • More unique users are coming to 7plus live throughout the whole day; +32% more users during commute times (6-9am), +30% during office hours (10-3), +23% during evening commute time (4-7pm)
  • Biggest growth is to its news programming.  News reported its highest week of all time last week (Wk 11).  Week to date vs same time last week;  NEWS up + 44%, Sunrise +41%, The Morning Show +50%

The ABC News channel recorded a week-on-week uplift of 44% and 31% growth across BVOD minutes viewed (live and on-demand). The SBS main channel also recorded an uplift of 16% in total people week-on-week.


Radio awaits numbers, remains confident

Speaking to Mi3, CRA CEO Joan Warner says at this stage it’s too early to comment on the impact, if any, that COVID-19 has had on commercial radio listening habits.

Currently, the industry is in the middle of the second metropolitan radio ratings survey period for the year, with results for survey two due to be released by GfK in mid-April.

"Radio reaches millions of people every day across the country, reports live and local to local communities and works closely with key Government organisations, not only during a crisis but during recovery. Similar to what we saw during the bushfire crisis and every other emergency, our 260 local commercial radio stations across the country are stepping up," Warner says.

"In terms of content and individual stations, we have seen excellent business continuity planning from commercial radio networks in the face of these difficult and uncertain times, as well as our usual commitment to providing factual, accurate and timely information. This will continue in coming weeks and months."

Addressing the conversation around misinformation, Warner says commercial radio has taken steps to make sure that networks have in place the proper procedures to fact-check and obtain the most up-to-date and accurate information, and then convey that in a way that is easy to understand for audiences.

She says radio is a medium that is well-equipped to continue to broadcast long after mobile networks and the internet may become compromised and the fact is that Australia's networks have broadcast and playout systems that will allow remote and off-site broadcasting where that becomes necessary.

"What the full impact of COVID-19 will be on all advertising and ad spend, and the flow-on effect to the industry is uncertain. What is certain though is that radio has the technological resilience to provide a trusted, reliable and robust communications channel for all businesses," Warner says.

"It will be even more essential for governments and organisations to communicate with the community and radio remains an effective channel to do so with its extensive reach and proven ability to relay messages directly to audiences – in workplaces, supermarkets, cars, homes and other locations all around the country."


Pertaining to publishing

Nine Publishing by the numbers:

  • last posted a two-year readership high and 9Now hit new live stream limits, led by news programming.
  • SMH/Age audience - In the first 19 days of March 2020, the Metro mastheads saw a 38% increase in total page views, a 15% increase in total article page views (this includes homepage, index page), an 18% increase in total sessions and 30% increase in Homepage landers when compared with the same period last year. The AFR saw a 77% spike in total page views, a 56% spike in total article page views, a 60% spike in total sessions and a 44% rise in total homepage landers.
  • Subscribers - When compared to the same period, subscriber page views for the Metro mastheads have seen a 28% uplift, subscriber article page views have increased by 20%, subscriber sessions are up by 22% and subscriber homepage landers are up by 24%.
  • For the AFR, subscriber page views are up 67%, subscriber article page views have increased by 70%, subscriber sessions by 73% and subscriber homepage landers by 86%.

News Corp Australasia chairman Michael Miller used the opportunity to remind audiences that "trusted news is not provided by the digital platforms".

"People are showing they want news that you can trust, that is written and researched by journalists who put their names and reputations to their articles, are checked and edited, they sign up to professional codes and have proven themselves to serve the local communities they live and work in," Miller says.

News Corp by the numbers:


  • News Corp’s total audience is up 48% in the past week with subscriptions 21 per cent higher across its metro and regional mastheads and The Australian.
  • has had very strong traffic - with daily average audiences of more than 2 million.
  •'s coronavirus coverage has generated more than double the number of page views its bushfire coverage generated over summer with more than 1200 articles published since the virus came to light about 70 days ago.
  • The Daily Telegraph last week saw the largest number of new subscribers across News' main mastheads.

"We've also noticed a strong pickup in financial information and business news and people wanting guidance on how to best manage their money. This undoubtedly reflects genuine fears about job security and the enormous pressures small businesses are under to survive," Miller says.

"Subscriptions are strong, so too are print sales, especially in supermarkets where we’ve increased volumes to meet demand while home deliveries are enjoying a renaissance."

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By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

23 March 2020 4min read

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