Q+A Quits Peak-Hour Beat

After two haphazard years of testing Q+A in primetime, TVNZ 1’s current affairs hour is returning to its Sunday morning roots.

Despite this being an election year, when interest in the programme should be heightened enough to justify a peak-hour slot, TVNZ says the shift back to 9am Sundays from June 28 follows audience feedback and Q+A’s commitment to leading the week’s news agenda.

“New Zealand audiences are deeply engaged with politics and an election year really highlights that,” executive producer Claire Silvester says.

Q+A examines issues and holds our leaders to account. These are important stories and a Sunday morning time slot allows us to break news that then flows into our 1 News programmes throughout the week.

Q+A broadcast its first episodes for 2020 on Sunday mornings. Viewers told us how much they’d missed watching at this time. Their feedback also helped inform this change.”

Another factor may have been the resignation of TVNZ’s news and current affairs chief John Gillespie, who was behind Q+A’s primetime promotion, initially to 9.30 Sundays.

“Viewers turned to TVNZ in record numbers during the 2017 elections and we’re seeing a continued interest in polls, political discussions and stories across our news and current affairs output this year,” he said at the time.

“It will be great to see Q+A reach a primetime audience with its move to Sunday nights.”

Another key influence would have been Q+A’s sub-par primetime ratings.

TVNZ says each episode of the NZ On Air-funded series averages 109,400 viewers, with an average daily reach of 257,600.

I haven’t seen this week’s ratings but the June 8 broadcast averaged only 1.7% of TVNZ 1’s core commercial demographic, 25-54 year-olds, finishing well behind TVNZ 2’s Grey’s Anatomy (2.5%) and Three’s Special Victims Unit (2.6%).

TVNZ 1 will replace the Monday broadcast with re-runs of Autopsy from June 29.

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