The ratings battle turned on its head this weekend as Campbell Live surged while free-falling rival Seven Sharp hit a new low.
According to Nielsen ratings, TV One's Seven Sharp on Friday attracted fewer than half the people who watched the show 11 days earlier. The audience plunged to a new low of 242,400 viewers aged over 5. Campbell Live had 56,000 more viewers on Friday.
University of Auckland political scientist and media researcher Dr Joe Atkinson said the ratings had serious impacts on shows which screen afterwards. "Fair Go will be delivered an audience which is half of what Close Up used to deliver, or less than half."
Atkinson said Seven Sharp was alienating a huge audience of middle-aged and older viewers. The team of Ali Mau, Greg Boyed and Jesse Mulligan wasn't working. "Ali is a terrific journalist but is diminished by the threesome, so they'll have to get rid of one of the men."
Atkinson said the show could be saved if it was made more serious.
More than half of One News viewers changed channels rather than watch Seven Sharp, the Throng website reported.
TVNZ dismissed the ratings. "Over such a short period they may be of interest but they are not necessarily of significance," spokeswoman Megan Richards said. "Seven Sharp is a long-term proposition that recognises the fact traditional current affairs - on any channel - is not thriving in a media environment where the primary competitor these days is actually YouTube."
Mark Jennings, head of 3 News and current affairs, said it was unusual for viewers to switch news or current affairs programmes.