Peoplemeter Is Swinging The Axe

Have you ever gone to watch the latest television series you’ve invested your life into for the past 4 episodes only to find it has been cancelled? Well you can thank its lack of ratings for that.

The Oxford Dictionary online defines ratings as an estimation of a television programmes audience size (2010). Australia’s main source of television audience measurement is OzTAM. Created in 1999, OzTAM collects data for over 100 Australian channels. This information is then analysed by media industries to understand viewer behaviour, plan advertising, and measure the performance of television programmes.

OzTAM relies on Nielsen a service provider, to collect these measurements. Through a large-scale survey, various households are chosen that represent the population being measured. The televisions in these homes are then connected to a ‘Peoplemeter’, a small black box, which records the electronic transmission signals being received by the TV. The ‘Peoplemeter’ can identify the programmes watched on the television, how long it is being watched for, if it is fast-forwarded, and who is watching it. This information is stored and collated for a daily report.

Recently Channel 10 axed morning breakfast show Wake Up after a fast decline in ratings. According to blogging team Mammamia, “[The show]…struggled in ratings against breakfast regulars Today and Sunrise. It’s had about one tenth of Channels 9 and 7′s audience.” Comparing numbers, Wake Up was receiving 35,000 viewers a day, while Sunrise attracts approximately 350,000 viewers and Today about 300,000 (Mammamia, 2014).

While some people argue TV ratings isn’t an accurate measurement of television audiences, companies such as Nielsen and OzTAM are continuously expanding, using social media to collect more ratings than ever before. Television networks and advertisers rely on these numbers to be successful therefore it would be unlikely to see ratings go. So if you love a TV show you better find someone with a Peoplemeter and be very nice to them as they control the fate of your programme in the palm of their hand.


2014, Australian Breakfast Show Axes, Mammamia, weblog post, 21 May, viewed 16 August 2014, <;.


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