“I’d forgotten so much about that episode because I was just a ball of anxiety,” she said. “I didn’t absorb much of what happened so it was great to watch it back.”

Monday night’s “winner announcement” segment was watched by an average of 2 million Australians nationally, while the remainder of the episode averaged 1.64 million. The full season averaged 1.35 million viewers, with 10 claiming it was MasterChef’s best-rating season since 2016 and the most popular reality TV show this quarter – beating Nine’s The Voice (1.29 million) and Seven’s Big Brother reboot (an average 1.13 million viewers so far). Nine is the owner of this masthead.

MasterChef 2020 winner Emelia Jackson (right) embraces runner-up Laura Sharrad.

MasterChef 2020 winner Emelia Jackson (right) embraces runner-up Laura Sharrad.Credit:Network 10

While The Voice can claim second place overall, Big Brother so far has bested Nine’s singing competition in the 16-39 and 25-54 age groups. As of Tuesday, Big Brother has recorded an average 603,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic per episode. The Voice, which concluded on Sunday night, netted an average 490,000 viewers in the same age group per episode, while MasterChef averaged 659,000.

Media analyst Ian Warner said Seven would see these results as a win despite Big Brother landing in third place overall, because advertisers chase specific demographics.

“For the last nine, 10 years Seven has struggled to get that under-40 audience,” Warner said. “Advertisers don’t care who’s number one. It’s about ‘where can I buy the most amount of eyeballs for the most cost-efficient price?'”

Nine’s program director, Hamish Turner, said he was very happy with The Voice’s 2020 performance.

“It is a proven and consistent performer and the team at ITV did a brilliant job of overcoming the challenges for the show posed by COVID-19,” he said. “[Sunday] night saw more than 1.2 million people nationally tune in to see Chris Sebastian announced as the winner and we are confident that we will strengthen our position in the back half as we move into Ninja Warrior, The Block, NRL Grand Final and the State of Origin.”

Jackson intends to use to her $250,000 prize money to expand her baking business.

Jackson intends to use to her $250,000 prize money to expand her baking business.Credit:Network 10

Asked how she felt during the pointy end of MasterChef’s “back to win” season – in which former contestants returned for a second chance at victory – Jackson said she noticed a significant mental shift.

“Until then, I’d been going into every challenge telling myself, ‘Don’t be the worst’,” she said. “Then something clicked and I realised I’d been overthinking everything … I found a new wave of confidence that I didn’t know existed. I learned to own my skills and I’m really proud of the way I conducted myself.”

Jackon’s one regret is that during the chaos of filming, she didn’t immediately notice Sharrad had burned her hand.

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“I felt like a terrible friend,” she said. “Laura didn’t scream or anything and there were a lot of crew members in between the two benches … but Loz and I are friends for life. She’s an amazing human being and I can’t talk highly enough about her.”

The two finalists were tasked with cooking a three-course meal for judges Melissa Leong, Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen, in addition to this season’s previously-eliminated contestants. In the end, it was Jackson’s dessert – a pistachio financier with Davidson plums and raspberry sorbet – that gave her the winning edge.

Holding her trophy aloft while being cheered by the judges and contestants, she said, felt surreal. And she’s still coming to terms with her $250,000 jackpot.

“I already had my cake business [Emelia Jackson Cake Design] which is amazing,” she said. “But the problem was that I was so hands-on, I had no ability to step back and think about how I might grow the business – and this money has given me the opportunity to do that.

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“My ultimate dream is to open a patisserie but with the COVID-19 lockdown, that won’t be happening for a while … so the first thing I’ve done is launch a range of cake mixes because I want packet mixes to be truly delicious. That money truly is life-changing.”

Recent data suggests Nine booked the largest share of advertising in June, closely followed by Seven and with Network 10 coming in third. All networks have been rocked by an advertising slump over the past few months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Network 10 has announced it will plate up a fresh season of Junior MasterChef Australia later this year. Seven has already confirmed it will bring back Big Brother in 2021, with this year’s finale due to air on Wednesday.

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