Ratings Behaving Madly: Danish TV Drama's Fortuitous Success in Australia

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This paper investigates the surprising success of Danish TV drama in Australia via a quantitative study of audience ratings.
Method and theory
We use OzTAM’s metropolitan TV ratings data to explore the characteristics of the audience for Danish drama programs in Australia. Using the larger metropolitan sample provides the advantages associated with a large sample size. We purchased OzTAM audience and universe estimates by gender, age and educational attainment for Danish drama series broadcast in Australia since 2005 and for a sample of similar-genre Australian and foreign-language drama series. We compiled the data to calculate average audience and share per episode for each series, and tested for differences between demographic groups. As OzTAM ratings data is provided pre-aggregated rather than at respondent level and we did not have access to variance estimates, we used statistical inference tests for aggregated proportions to test the differences in estimated share across demographic groups, using z tests for gender as it is binomial and the Marascuillo procedure for the multinomial categories age and education.
Findings
Since the turn of the millennium, Danish drama programming has occupied increasing amounts of screen time on Australian SBS’s television broadcast service, and attracted a growing audience, making Danish drama a vibrant offering in mainstream television in Australia. Australia and SBS thus stand out as the only country/broadcaster outside of Denmark’s wider geo-linguistic region of the Nordic and Central European markets to acquire Danish TV series prior to the relative success of Forbrydelsen in the UK. Rejseholdet, Ørnen, Nynne and Anna Pihl for example were all broadcast on SBS prior to the broadcast of Forbrydelsen, which again was scheduled on SBS one year prior to its broadcast on BBC4. The explanation for this seemingly great openness to non-English-language content is partly found in the remit of SBS. SBS was founded in the 1970s to provide a place for ‘special’ broadcasting content, in particular multicultural programming in both television and radio, and the broadcaster thus provides a cultural link for migrant communities in Australia as well as a window on the world for all Australians. However, as the Danes are by no means a significant migrant community in Australia (as opposed to for example the English, Italian, Greek, Lebanese or Chinese communities living in Australia), the most important reason why Danish series in particular are occupying increasing amounts of screen time is the simple fact that SBS’ viewers seem to really like them.
This appreciation has seen continuous growth in the hours of Danish content programmed by SBS throughout the 2000s. Total hours of Danish language programming broadcast by SBS, for example, has increased from 20 hours per year in 2001-02 to a high of 157 hours in 2009-10, settling to around 100 hours a year from 2011-12—an overall average increase of 15 per cent per annum. The increase in hours of Danish language programming on SBS coincides with growth in the audience for Danish drama series. Between 2005 and 2016, for example, both the average audience per episode for the first run of a Danish drama series and its average share have grown by an average of 3.3 per cent per annum. This rate of growth is more than eight times that of SBS’s total annual share for people aged 16 years and over, which grew at an average 0.4 per cent over the same time period. As well as attracting a growing audience, Danish dramas also tend to attract larger audiences than other foreign language dramas on SBS although they do not, of course, come close to out-competing English language dramas of a similar genre.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year5 Jul 2017
Number of pages17
StatePublished - 5 Jul 2017
EventANZCA - Australian and New Zealand Communication Association Annual Conference - Sydney University - Sydney University, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 4 Jul 20177 Jul 2017
http://anzca2017.com

Conference

ConferenceANZCA - Australian and New Zealand Communication Association Annual Conference - Sydney University
LocationSydney University
CountryAustralia
CitySydney
Period04/07/201707/07/2017
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