Australians continue to be glued to the box as reports show television viewing has increased over all platforms for the first half of the year.

The success of the new free-to-air digital multi-channels has contributed to steady growth of free-to-air television this year.

Analysis of OzTAM ratings figures for the 2010 year-to-date revealed strong and steady growth for free-to-air television in comparison with subscription television. It hit its best share figures in four years with a 76.9% share of all-day television viewing (6am to midnight) and an 83.6% share of primetime viewing (6pm to midnight) in June.

However Multi Channel Network was quick to rebut these figures. It stated in a press release last week, Seven, Nine and Ten’s main channels continue to suffer dramatic declines in 2010 as the digital channels cannibalise their viewing. OzTAM figures show the main channels are down a combined average of 9% year-on-year across the January to June period in the All People demographic.

On the subscription television front, according to television ratings results for the first half of 2010, audiences continue to grow – up 5% year-on-year in the core 16-54 year old demographic and up 1% across all viewers.

According to Multi Channel Network CEO Anthony Fitzgerald, the recent World Cup has been a key catalyst for the increase in viewers.

“There’s no doubt June was a spectacular month for television – thanks to the World Cup viewing levels. Overall, TV audiences are up 6% this June in advertiser’s core 16-54 year old demographic. This is driven by theWorld Cup which tends to reduce other channels shares and heighten the SBS shares. The truth is our subscription television ratings are up 2% in June and this was the strongest June in 10 years for in people 16-54 and the third highest on record for total people.”