Most watched shows on Aussie TV right now
Australians are turning to crime, cooking and comfort TV to get them through lockdown.
With a captive audience like never before, ratings and viewing habits have spiked.
News bulletins have seen figures soar, with a string of COVID-19 programs being rushed to air.
"Networks have done a great job in keeping us informed," TV Tonight's David Knox said. "Ratings for news and current affairs has obviously been up across the board, including for breakfast television, The Project, even Q&A and Sky News. But there is an equally 'hidden' audience that has been screaming for drama and entertainment. You have to serve both."
Channel 10 have seen MasterChef enjoy an isolation-boost in ratings compared to last year, tapping perfectly into the current situation where people are stuck at home and cooking to relieve boredom.
Any fears about relaunching with all new hosts were cast aside as the episode has cracked the magic million mark this week, thanks to clever casting with previous contestants returning and UK chef Gordon Ramsay as special guest.
After ratings juggernaut Married At First Sight ended, MasterChef has become the only non-news program to regularly rate seven figures.
"Launching on Easter Monday was a genius move," Knox said
"The planets have aligned for MasterChef. There's curiosity in the new judges, it's feel-good TV and we were all at home with little else on offer. That will shift when Lego Masters resumes, another show where imagination and a loose host (Hamish Blake) are a very welcome distraction for families."
Netflix's Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness remains the streaming site's most-watched program in Australia this week.
The heavily-hyped true-crime documentary follows the bizarre life and crimes of zoo owner and tiger and marriage enthusiast Joe Exotic, now in jail for his part in a plot to murder his nemesis, animal rights activist Carole Baskin.
The seven hour documentary has been so wildly popular worldwide since its release on March 20 Netflix rush-recorded a bonus episode, which dropped last week. It catches up with the key players (filmed remotely while in lockdown) detailing how their lives has changed since Tiger King infiltrated pop culture.
Australians have already flocked to the latest series of hit spy crime thriller Killing Eve, where detective Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) continues her cat and mouse game trying to capturing psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer).
The acclaimed show's gory body count has continued with the fast-tracked new series, with the first episode registering as the second most-watched program on ABC's iview site (behind the BBC children's hit The Snail and the Whale, based on the Julia Donaldson book).
Dr Janet Hall says binge-watching crime-based programs helps us escape from the misery of being "suspended in time" at home.
"We are escaping to a world where people break laws and have no social justice," Dr Hall said.
"We enjoy the vicarious experience of 'how awful to be a victim" and we try to guess "what would I have done"? We are also fascinated with the victims and how much they endure and are not rescued. We think - thank goodness that's not us but gee it was exciting and now I can go to my bed and sleep with relief."
Comfort TV is a recurring theme in the most popular viewing over the past two weeks.
Australians are rewatching comedies The Office and Community and the iconic Sex and the City, or returning to Game of Thrones and zombie horror drama The Walking Dead. Long-running shows from Home And Away, The Bold and the Beautiful to Keeping Up with the Kardashians remain constant isolation time-killing staples.
"Comfort viewing is all about being immersed in revisiting the known and predictable story and the feeling of being in control - which the pandemic we fear gives us no sense of order or imminent resolution," Dr Hall says.
"It is said that the greatest stress is being out of control. At least when we press the select button we kid ourselves we are in control and it makes us feel good and safe."
Netflix's top movies include people rediscovering Kath and Kimderella, while ironically movies where the characters are in lockdown, like Room and The Breakfast Club, are among the streaming site's most popular choices.
Social media users have even tried to unite people in lockdown like a virtual cinema - Townsville man Ray Martin started the hashtag #FlicksNoChills, picking a classic movie people watch 'together' at home on a Saturday night, synchronising hitting play.
So far he's had people watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Castle and The Blues Brothers, and also posting photos and comments on Twitter. Last night's double feature was Crackerjack and Muriel's Wedding.
"That's an example of people engaging in isolation together," Knox said.
Knox said with no sport and several key releases being moved to their on-demand services, free to air networks have to be careful they don't lose audiences with so many options for entertainment.
"Free to air has kept an eye on news but it has risked signposting that almost everything else can be found on streaming - especially if you want it on time. That's seen Tiger King cut through for Netflix."
Some shows have adapted to the current era - Gogglebox is being filmed to socially distant regulations (older cast members Mick and Di have gone into hiatus) - while unfortunately nearly 120 local productions have now been affected by COVID-19.
Neighbours, Wentworth, The Block, Five Bedrooms, The Voice, The Real Housewives of Melbourne, The Bachelor and The Masked Singer have all had to pause or delay production. Screen Producers Australia estimates the damage to the local industry will be greater than $2 billion, impacting over 30,000 working employees, freelancers and contractors.
This week the Government paused the quota of local comedy, documentaries and children programs Australian networks must produce each year.
Local screenwriter Dan Bennett said while the move was not surprising considering producing TV is difficult at the moment, removing the quota will have lasting impacts.
"This decision could absolutely put some creatives out of business altogether," Bennett said. "Small production companies will struggle to maintain any overheads to stay up and running, and independent producers and writers who work gig to gig will have very few avenues for creating new work for the foreseeable future. Sadly, this could end up being the death knell for many."
Originally published as Most watched shows on Aussie TV right now