For marketers trying to decide where the majority of their future ad spend will be, new figures from OzTAM seem to undermine the recent decision by Channel TEN to downgrade their full-year earnings outlook for their core business.

The OzTAM figures (see image at the bottom of this article) show growth in the overall television audience, with
subscription television (STV) leading the ratings race in the first half of
2008 – securing a record 22.2 percent share of viewing in the core television
viewing period six am to midnight. Network 7 follows on 21.6 percent, Network
9 holds a 20.3 percent share, and Network 10 has a 17.1 percent share of viewing.
(Source: OzTAM Wks 1-26 2008, 6am to midnight).

Previously, TEN executive chairman Nick Falloon said of the decision to downgrade their earnings outlook, Recent further deterioration in external economic conditions is now
adversely impacting the free-to-air television advertising market in
Australia.But Australias largest media buyer, Mitchell Communications Group,
said there are no signs of external economic conditions impacting
free-to-air networks. Harold Mitchell said he didnt expect programming to be effected because he hadnt seen any signs of a downturn, adding I dont know what Nick Falloon thought he was up to.

STV also leads the commercial networks in television audience growth – with OzTAM ratings data revealing a five percent growth in the number of viewers watching STV during weeks 1 – 26 2008, when compared to the corresponding first half of 2007.

MCN CEO, Anthony Fitzgerald, said subscription television continues to be a growth lever for Australian television. Once again, STV is driving up overall television audiences, Fitzgerald said. The latest OzTAM data shows STV’s audience growth of five percent drove overall television audience growth up two percent in 2008. The overall results demonstrate that television is in a healthy position, with Australians continuing to choose this medium in their leisure time in the increasingly competitive media market.

Fitzgerald added, however, that while STV has experienced significant growth, some of the free-to-air networks have not had such a strong period.

“The Multi Channel Network’s audience in traditional primetime has seen audience growth of 11 percent – well ahead of all the other networks which have largely seen negative growth this year,” Fitzgerald said.