Friday, April 4, 2008

Australian and New Zealand ratings

Friends debuted on Australian television in 1996, on the Seven Network. For the first season, it averaged 1,788,000 viewers per episode, and was the 8th most watched regular programme that year. The second season aired on the Nine Network in 1997, and took the number 2 position and averaged 2,291,000 viewers per episode. The third season aired in 1998 and saw an increase in its position and viewers, being the most watched regular programme, averaging 2,543,000 viewers per episode. Repeats were also averaging 1,918,000 viewers, and they were the 6th most watched regular programme of the year. The fourth season aired in 1999, and continued to increase in ratings, averaging 2,586,000 viewers. The fifth season aired in 2000 but saw a slight drop in viewers, averaging 2,340,000 viewers per episode, but still managed to retain its number one position.

The sixth season, aired in 2001, fell into a contentious year for TV ratings in Australia. Previously, ratings had been calculated by Nielsen Media Research, but OzTAM took over. OzTAM showed slight differences in ratings for most shows broadcast on Nine Network, and saw a significant drop in total viewers across all networks. Oztam had Friends averaging 1,816,000 viewers nationally, and ranked it as the 3rd most watched programme of the year. Nielsen Media Research Australia, however, had Friends averaging 2,340,000 viewers per episode, and ranked it as the most watched program.

The eight season, aired in 2003, saw erratic scheduling of Friends on the Nine Network, and as a result saw a major drop in viewers. It ranked as the 10th most watched regular program that year, averaging 1,629,000 viewers. As a reult of the Athens Olympic, Friends saw a decrease in its ratings. It was put on hiatus twice, being four and seven months long respectively. The tenth season averaged 1,716,000 viewers per episode, and was ranked as the 6th most watched program of the year. It was also ranked as the third most watched scripted program. The finale averaged 2,273,000 viewers, though it was not the highest rated episode of Friends ever.

While Cable TV channel Arena (a Foxtel and Optus channel) aired Friends repeats daily, channel Nine did not air Friends repeats like it did with another popular US sitcom, Frasier. In November 2007, it was announced that Network Ten has bought the rights to the show, and that it would air it seven nights a week from December 2nd screening at 7:00p.m., replacing Futurama repeats. It was also a part of the 2007/2008 summer schedule, meaning that the show has aired on all of Australia's "Big Three" television networks. In February 2008, Friends was moved to the 6pm Monday-Friday timeslot, and replaced long-running 6pm repeats of The Simpsons in Network Ten's regular schedule. Due to sexual content and low level course language, many episodes were edited to fit the G ratings, and the first two episodes of the fifth season were cut altogether due to Monica and Chandlers relationship acts.

In New Zealand, Friends first debuted on TV2 during the middle of 1995. The show typically screened around 7:30pm on Wednesday nights but some seasons were screened on Sunday nights. Repeats were screened at 7:00pm during December and January between 1996 and 1998 when Shortland Street went off the air for the Summer break. TV2 began screening repeats at 6:30pm from 2000 onwards running constant repeats of all seasons made to date. Currently the show has gone off the air and is now replaced by repeats of Joey, with the channel calling it Friends: The Joey Years.

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