What are these stock image kids watching? The answer may surprise you! Photo: Getty.
What are these stock image kids watching? The answer may surprise you! Photo: Getty.

Pop CultureApril 15, 2020

What is New Zealand actually watching in lockdown?

What are these stock image kids watching? The answer may surprise you! Photo: Getty.
What are these stock image kids watching? The answer may surprise you! Photo: Getty.

We all know we’re spending even more time than usual in front of the TV screen, but what free-to-air shows have New Zealanders turned to during these troubled times?

With most New Zealanders stuck at home all day during the lockdown, it makes sense that we’ve turned to ye olde gogglebox in record numbers. The past two weeks have seen a massive increase in broadcast television viewing, with TVNZ reporting a 23% increase in all-day audience numbers during the first week of lockdown. Whether we’re looking for information, inspiration or escape, television has become an important part of our bubble.

But in years to come, when historians look back on this time to find out how New Zealanders responded to the crisis, what will our broadcast TV viewing trends tell them? What are the most popular free-to-air shows that we’ve turned to during our hours of need, and do you know anyone who actually watches Booze Patrol Australia? It’s you, isn’t it? We need to talk.

We bloody love the news

We’ve been swamped with a tsunami of Covid-19 information during the past few weeks, and we’ve soaked it up like a nation of worried sponges. 1 News at 6, 1 Breaking News, 1 News Midday, 1 News Special, Newshub Live at 6pm and Seven Sharp all featured in the top 20 over the past two weeks, with 1 News at 6 ruling supreme. The nightly news bulletin pulled in an average audience of over 930,500 during the first week of lockdown, which is a lot of people staring into Simon Dallow’s eyes, all at once.

Two metres apart, ladies.

Hold the phone, it’s Call the Midwife

The British drama about a team of 1950s midwives was the only scripted drama in the top 20 during the first week of lockdown. Essential workers for the win.

We can’t get enough of factual TV shows

Turns out we bloody love shows that promise to make us better people. Wholesome, easy to watch programmes like The Repair Shop, Eat Well for Less? and Easy Ways to Live Well all landed in the top 20 during the first week of lockdown, and the fact that Kirstie and Phil’s Love it or List it UK pulled in around 367,000 viewers in week one proves we can’t get enough of looking at the insides of houses, even during a national lockdown.

Locally, two iconic shows continued to pull in the big numbers, with Fair Go and Hyundai Country Calendar both sitting comfortably in the top 10 each week.

If we can’t get it in real life, we’ll get it through the screen.

Whatever it is, it’s probably on TVNZ1

Do some TVs only have one channel? TVNZ1 primetime shows dominate the rankings, taking out 18 of the top 20 programmes during week one of lockdown.

We love a stranger in uniform

In times of crisis, we can’t get enough of real-life shows about police, puppies, or police puppies. Around half a million of us tuned into Highway Cops, Dog Squad Puppy School, Surveillance Oz and Border Security during the first week, and even Booze Patrol Australia made it into the top 20. Do we have a secret love affair with authority, or are we hoping to see someone we know arrested on a back country road for having an unroadworthy vehicle?

We can’t go past Lego Masters USA

This family friendly series rated at #7 during the second week of lockdown, and we salute this TV gem for inspiring kids around the nation during these tricky times.

We can’t see our friends, so we’re watching them on the telly

TVNZ OnDemand reported a huge spike in viewing numbers, with 6.7 million streams during the first week of lockdown and 21,000 new user registrations. Friends topped TVNZ OnDemand’s streams during the second week, while the Les Mills: Born to Move exercise shows were the second most watched shows for new subscribers.

Let’s say it again: Booze Patrol Australia


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