Baffling ratings at 7pm

20:00, Jan 28 2013

Last Monday, Campbell Live managed to attract 239,950 viewers - a decent number for the current affairs show, though perhaps lower than they would have been hoping for in their first episode back. Meanwhile, a repeat of Border Patrol, the fly-on-the-wall airport reality series, grabbed 503,120 viewers, twice the number of its competitor on TV3.*

Tuesday's results were worse: both shows had a dropoff, with Border Patrol attracting 458,180 viewers and Campbell Live dipping to 174,000. The airport show had 446,580 viewers on Wednesday, while Mr Campbell enjoyed an uptick to 186,830. On Thursday, Border Patrol dropped further to 430,840, while Campbell Live increased to 203,550. Friday was the worst day of the week for both Border Patrol and Campbell Live, drawing 406,010 and 147,750 viewers respectively.**

The local television ratings - and, by extension, the viewing choices of New Zealanders - are questionable at the best of times. But for some reason, the fact that Campbell Live rated half as many viewers as repeat episodes - repeats - of Border Patrol, a lame reality show with an uninteresting setting and the most repetitive formula on television, is baffling to me. I do not understand why this is happening.

If Campbell Live were up against former competitor Close Up or future competitor Seven Sharp, I would at least assume that viewers had chosen one over the other. But why wouldn't viewers accustomed to some semblance of current affairs at 7pm, who would normally watch TV One, switch to Campbell Live when their preferred show is off the air?

Or perhaps viewers check out the start of Campbell Live to see what stories the show is covering, before deciding it's not for them, and switching back to Border Patrol, or something else? Yet, despite the absence of the biggest 7pm show in the country, none of the other channels seem to be doing any better than they were in December last year.

Or maybe I'm just baffled because I think Border Patrol is so bad. I've watched a handful of episodes, and I would be comfortable in saying it is among the biggest time-wasters on television. There is entertainment to be had in these fly-on-the-wall shows, sure: TV2's Neighbours at War is at least funny, even bordering on parody. But nothing interesting happens on Border Patrol. Every episode is exactly the same. It's not a rewarding half hour on any level.


I haven't even mentioned that The Crowd Goes Wild is back at 7pm, too. They've struggled for ratings, with a high of 45,410 viewers on Tuesday - a shame, given how good CGW is. Shortland Street and The Simpsons (Four) fluctuate through the week, but I feel they have a totally different audience from that of the shows on One, TV3 and Prime.

I guess I'm just baffled that viewers who would normally watch Close Up (and who will presumably watch Seven Sharp when it starts next Monday) are happier to sit through a repeat episode of Border Patrol than take a chance on Campbell Live or The Crowd Goes Wild, which are the two best 7pm shows in my opinion.

And in a way, this is an extension of One's dominance in the ratings: the top-rating shows each day, and each week, are usually all from TV One. Viewers seem to have a problem switching around and seeing what else is on at night.

Maybe one day those people will learn what the "channel up" button on their remote does.

Why do you think people have stayed away from Campbell Live while Close Up/Seven Sharp is off the air? Do you find last week's ratings as baffling as I do? And do you know anyone who has been watching Border Patrol religiously?

(*) Border Patrol also had more viewers than Shortland Street (491,480 viewers).

(**) All numbers quoted are all viewers aged 5+, and taken from

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