Just how obsessed were we with MAFS this year?

Troubled relationships, alcohol-fuelled rants and televised cheating scandals. Ever since it sauntered onto our screens in 2015, Married at First Sight has been the show Australians love to hate, or hate to love.

This year was no different. But exactly how many of us will be unpacking the controversial reality program over the water cooler today, while others simply shake their heads?

MAFS contestant Booka Nile reacts to the antics of Sunday’s finale.Credit:Nine

Sunday night’s finale episode was watched by an average 1.4 million people across the major cities, making it the least-watched MAFS finale since 2017. However that didn’t stop Nine’s self-styled marriage experiment from blitzing the competition. (Nine is the owner of this masthead.)

The season eight finale has become the highest-rating program of 2021 to date, narrowly beating Oprah Winfrey’s bombshell interview with Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Network Ten’s special, which went to air last month, nabbed 1.37 million metropolitan viewers.

Sunday’s MAFS episode bested both Seven and Nine’s evening news bulletins and beat the ABC’s Spicks and Specks (665,000 metropolitan viewers), as well as Seven’s primetime entertainment offering Dancing with the Stars: All Stars (621,000 metropolitan viewers).

Viewership for the reunion-style special was boosted by a tumultuous season that resulted in Nine denying one of the relationships portrayed on screen was “characterised by domestic violence”. The episode also aired footage of one of the contestants cheating on her on-screen ‘husband’. The woman at the centre of the grainy gotcha footage initially claimed the man in the video was her brother, before admitting she had hooked up with a former flame while at home caring for her sick dog.

While the episode was down slightly on 2020’s finale (1.4 million metro viewers compared 1.48 million), the drop is likely explained by the broader audience shift towards streaming services.

Last year, Ten’s MasterChef netted 1.52 million metro viewers during its finale while Seven’s Farmer Wants a Wife scored 923,000.

Nine’s program director, Hamish Turner, said there had also been strong interest in MAFS on Nine’s streaming platform, with more than half a million additional viewers watching some episodes on 9Now.

Seven will continue airing Dancing with the Stars this quarter, along with Highway Patrol and regulars Home and Away and Better Homes and Gardens. Ten will debut its new season of MasterChef on Monday and will screen its magazine-style show The Living Room on Friday evenings.

MAFS’ overnight finale ratings over the years

  • Season one: 1.29 million metropolitan viewers
  • Season two: 1.11 million metropolitan viewers
  • Season three: 1.08 million metropolitan viewers
  • Season four: 1.39 million metropolitan viewers
  • Season five: 1.76 million metropolitan viewers
  • Season six: 1.97 million metropolitan viewers
  • Season seven: 1.48 million metropolitan viewers
  • Season eight: 1.4 million metropolitan viewers

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