Hate To Say I Told You So

Press release time!



The ABC created an Australian first for audiences, serving up the ultimate binge-fest with Chris Lilley’s series JONAH FROM TONGA having its world premiere on ABC iview in a weekend-long event.  With the ABC initiative replicated in the UK by BBC Three, the binge weekend was a global event that created an international buzz on social media. 


ABC iview, Australia’s leading online TV platform, gave superfans the chance to watch every episode of the new six-part series, online and on mobile devices, wherever and whenever they wanted to from 6pm Friday May 2 until 6pm Sunday May 4 AEST.


During the 48 hours there were 551,000 plays of JONAH FROM TONGA making it the most played program on iview over the weekend.


Activity to iview was up 50% over the two days compared to April, peaking on Saturday with a total of 976,000 program plays. And JONAH FROM TONGA delivered 30% of those plays.


“ABC TV is committed to innovation in new platforms to connect audiences with our incredible Australian-made shows and I’m over the moon viewers have embraced our bold initiative to preview the show before its first traditional TV broadcast on Wednesday night,” said ABC Director of Television, Richard Finlayson.


“The Jonah preview binge re-writes the traditional TV rule book but is also creating huge anticipation for the broadcast premiere at 9pm this Wednesday night.”


“Big congratulations go to Chris Lilley and Laura Waters from Princess Pictures, who had the guts and foresight to support this initiative in advance of the series launch on ABC1 and BBC Three this week,” he said.


The ABC was the first into the online video market with iview in 2008. Today, with more than 15 million monthly program plays*, iview is Australia’s most accessible TV on demand service, available on 15 connected platforms including computers, tablets, smart phones, internet-enabled TVs, gaming consoles and set top boxes. ABC audiences need never miss a moment.


Chris Lilley, who’s en route back to Australia to support the Australian premiere on ABC1, adds: “I’m overwhelmed by the positive fan reaction to JONAH FROM TONGA. It seems that people really do like watching a whole series in one hit. I’m really excited for everyone to experience Episode 1 again on Wednesday night on ABC1. It’s the kind of show you can watch multiple times and find the things you didn’t notice the first time.”


JONAH FROM TONGA will screen Wednesday nights from May 7 at 9pm on ABC1, with each episode being made available again on iview after broadcast.

Remember when we said this:

So what this binge session really is – sorry “superfans” – is a naked attempt to rig the ratings: by releasing the whole series in one blurt, they can then claim the initial high ratings figures (that Lilley hopefully still manages to get in week one) are the figures for the entire series.

And then Chris Lilley said this:

“I’m overwhelmed by the positive fan reaction to JONAH FROM TONGA. It seems that people really do like watching a whole series in one hit.

Looks our crystal ball was crystal clear.

We’d love to know exactly how those 551,000 iview plays broke down – did people watch the whole six episodes right through, did they skip around, did they get ten minutes into episode one and quit – but surprisingly it seems the ABC (despite presumably having such information) ain’t talking. Guess they have to keep something in reserve for when the ABC1 ratings come through; we’re sure we’re not the only ones interested to see if the big weekend giveaway proves detrimental to those still-important free-to-air figures.

Of course, the real question is this: if activity on iview was up 50% for the weekend and Jonah only caused 30% of it, where did the other 20% come from? Because if they can get an extra 20% just out of nowhere, that does sound a little like Jonah isn’t quite the awesome draw he’s being touted as.

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  • Bunagaya says:

    I too would love to see the break down of viewing figures. I was one of those that found one ep was more than enough. Used to be a big fan of Lilley when his work was funny-WKBH (crazy concept for a comedy).

    Speaking of which here is another review from The Age praising Lilley’s work. Nothing about finding the show funny or laughing though. Comedy isn’t about being funny though, it’s about giving us “character insights”.


  • Urinal Cake says:

    If you take ‘plays’ as the best case scenario of 551,000 unique viewers (leaving out if they watched one or all six episodes) it’s pretty disappointing considering MAH gets around about that amount of viewers regularly week to week. Now that it’s been ripped and online those who want to see it don’t have to tune in or catch up on iView so I expect ratings to be quite poor there too.

    It’s a reasonable experiment that PLM might try as well.

  • Yeps says:

    Stupid question, perhaps, but is 551,000 views the total of all six episodes merged together?

    Because if so – if it’s really just the numbers for six separate programs all added up, each one no doubt dwindling from the last (160,000; 120,000; 60,000, etc) – then that is a pretty weak turnout isn’t it? You’d probably get the same numbers for the decade old reruns of ‘The Office’.

    Again, I’m probably getting that wrong, or vastly overestimating Australia’s average viewing figures, but as you said, it all seems particularly shifty to me.

  • Ricepicker says:

    Is there any way one can see the iview ratings? I’ve been interested in them for years. You’d think a public broadcaster would make them available.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    Wow, there goes any respect for John Birmingham out the window. It’s just the same old party line we’ve been getting since 2007: “Lilley’s latest effort… will upset and outrage”; “Lilley offends their old world sensibilities, throwing F- and C-bombs around like punctuation marks”; “the arc of Lilley’s humour bends towards tragedy, not cheap shots.”

    Has anyone actually been “outraged” by anything Chris Lilley’s done since Summer Heights High? Has anyone ever been offended by anything he’s done? And “tragedy” means more than “not funny”.

  • BIlly C says:

    You’re spot on. Considering Ja’mie got 810,000 on view for ep 1,2 and 3 how is this not a massive disappointment? I would say the increase would come from it being colder and also people watching Jonah switching off and watching other view shows.
    ABC only ever make iview ratings available to spin their terrestrial ratings. They’re out in front on this one. You can be channel nine will over run the voice on Wednesday. Puberty blues will keep its audience for it’s final ep and Offspring will provide some competition. Spicks and Specks will not give the lead in Jonah needs.