TV measurement in Australia: Market investigation of top titles, genres, networks and platforms

7 February, 2018

Image: Stranger Things, Netflix

Ask anyone what the most popular show in Australia was last year and you’re bound to hear a litany of titles that dominated the headlines and graced the screens of phones, tablets, laptops and television screens across the length and breadth of the country. The issue at the heart of what the most in-demand shows were and are in Australia is becoming an increasingly more complex one to answer.


A New Era of TV Measurement Across All Platforms

As the media industry continues to undergo digital transformation at an unprecedented rate, where the top international tv shows are now available to watch anywhere, on any screen at any time – thanks to services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video and STAN – audience allegiance to conventional advertising-laced broadcast television is waning. The shift across to video on demand (VOD) and streaming video on demand (SVOD) is fragmenting audiences in a way that is unparalleled anywhere in the history of broadcast media.

So, how can Australians reliably gauge what the most in-demand shows – across all platforms – truly are? Parrot Analytics, through the application of its Demand Expressions metric, is now able to capture TV content consumption and engagement from billions of fans around the world providing unprecedented insights into global cross-platform, country-specific audience demand for television content.

Here is our data on which shows, sub-genres, and Digital Original service providers led the fray in the last half of 2017 in Australia.


Dragons destroy Zombies as Game of Thrones beats out The Walking Dead to retain the title of the most in-demand show on Australian television.

Two global fantasy behemoths which continue to enjoy sustained popularity globally over multiple seasons were also the undisputed rulers of Aussie television entertainment last year. With nearly 7 million average daily Demand Expressions over the last 6 months of 2017, the fantasy epic Game of Thrones (GOT) reigned over Aussie audiences as their most sought-after TV show of the year.

Close on its heels the gripping zombie apocalyptic drama, AMC’s The Walking Dead, seems to have really resonated with the Australian market. Overall, it comfortably holds the number 2 spot for most popular series over the same time period with 3,730,524 average daily Demand Expressions – double that of the next most popular show Netflix’s Stranger Things.

Very little differentiates the gap in popularity between the last three shows in the Top 5. The suave and scintillating legal drama Suits, which will likely have enjoyed a boost in popularity thanks to the royal Engagement between Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle just managed to edge out Pretty Little Liars for fourth place.


The Upside Down dominates Down Under as Stranger Things takes top honors for most in-demand Digital Original.

When we narrow the focus to strictly Digital Originals over the same period, the clear standout for most popular Digital Original Series is Netflix’s Stranger Things. The show’s nostalgic appeal and fascinating story progression has clearly hit its mark among Australian audiences.

Critically acclaimed Dystopian drama, Hulu’s The Handmaids Tale, comes in a distant second with Netflix’s women’s prison drama Orange Is The New Black and the intriguing FBI serial killer profiler origin series, Mindhunter, coming in third and fourth respectively. CBS All Access’ Star Trek Discovery seems to have found respectable success amongst Australian digital consumers as it garnered 749,423 daily Demand Expressions to end up in 5th place.


Sitcoms laugh their way to the top of the most in-demand subgenres.

Moving to a more general overview of demand trends amongst Australian television audiences, two subgenres were clearly the dominant trend throughout the last 6 months of 2017 – Sitcom and Crime Drama.

Both subgenres were the only two to climb above the 800 million total Demand Expressions mark. This, undoubtedly due to the continued popularity of sitcom superhits The Big Bang Theory, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Modern Family.

Australia’s very own Wentworth – the women’s prison drama that has captivated Aussie audiences since its initial airing on SOHO on May 1st 2013 – leads the drive in the Crime Drama subgenre with Netflix’s gritty pre-Batman series Gotham and the widely acclaimed Mindhunter distinguishing themselves in this highly competitive and crowded sub-genre already studded with a plethora of highly acclaimed shows.

Fantasy Drama, Sci-Fi Drama, and Comedy Drama trended lower despite the fact that the lead show in the Fantasy Drama – Game of Thrones – dominated as the most in-demand tv show overall. The two remaining top shows in this subgenre – Preacher and the ever-resilient Supernatural series still managed to garner a respectable 1.8 million daily average Demand Expressions combined. However, when compared to the daily average of 5,979,315 generated by Game of Thrones, it becomes clear just how dominant a phenomenon the GOT juggernaut is amongst Aussie audiences.

Stranger Things, Westworld and The Handmaids Tale were the most popular shows in their subgenre, Sci-Fi Drama, which trended fourth overall for the last half of 2017. The Comedy Drama subgenre was spearheaded by This Is US, Orange Is The New Black and Ballers – whose 4th season will premiere this year.


Netflix and Hulu closed out 2017 as the strongest providers of Digital Originals in Australia.

In terms of service providers for Digital Original shows, Netflix trended consistently higher throughout the 6-month period. Hulu had a great run in the last quarter of 2017: The service maintained its lead over Amazon Video until the end of the year when its lead narrowed considerably in the last week of the year.


Netflix continued to gain ground on Showcase domestically

Foxtel’s Showcase Network ranked highest throughout the 6-month period for average daily per-title demand – of which only the top 20% of shows were considered for this analysis. However, the overall trend for Showcase appears to be one where demand is diminishing – though it is important to note that this analysis is only showing the second half of the year.

Netflix, in comparison, has made consistent although incremental headway as the year came to a close. Similarly Amazon Video has made consistent gains, especially so in the fourth quarter.

As we turn the corner into 2018 Aussie audiences can look forward to a veritable buffet of highly anticipated televisions shows to grace their screens in the weeks and months to come. VOD and SVOD providers like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video and Australia’s own Stan will undoubtedly continue to invest aggressively in acquiring and producing the best digital content for their subscribers in a bid to grow their market share. So, stay tuned as 2018 gets underway and Parrot Analytics continues to offer up the most holistic data-driven insights in cross-platform television audience demand both in Australia and globally.

For more information, check out the most up-to-date Australia television industry overview.

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