When it comes to free-to-air TV, Australians say news and reality shows rule, new research shows.

A study by Roy Morgan found that news is the most watched genre, with 61% of Australians saying they watch it in any given week.

Reality TV was a firm favourite, too. The relatively new format was easily more popular than other entertainment genres, with 41% of respondents to the study saying they tuned in to shows like My Kitchen Rules, MasterChef Australia, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Survivor during an average week.

Around a third (34%) of the 50,000 taking part in the survey watched current affairs shows every week, while the same proportion enjoyed drama and quiz shows; marginally fewer (32%) said they watched sports shows, such as NRL and AFL.

While entertainment options are more numerous than ever, the survey shows that Australians, at least, still see TV as a key leisure-time activity.

The data also revealed some fairly clearly defined gender delineation. Of the top 10 genre categories – news, reality, current affairs, dramas, quiz shows, sport, lifestyle, comedies, documentaries and chat – women are more likely than men to have watched eight of these categories than men are.

The exception to this is current affairs, which is seen by 34% of both men and women in an average week.

The genres with the biggest gender gaps weighted towards women are reality shows, which 45% of women say they watch, compared to 37% of men, and lifestyle, which includes travel and home shows – 34% of women watch these shows in an average week, compared to just 26% of men.

More women also enjoy dramas than men, 37% compared to 30% of men. Chat shows were watched by 23% of women, but only 16% of men.

Commenting on the data, Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said: “The impressive viewership numbers these (reality) shows attract are a key reason why we are likely to see more reality TV shows on our screens in the years ahead as Australia’s commercial TV networks compete with streaming video on demand services such as Netflix – now viewed by more than 11 million Australians.”

Sourced from Roy Morgan; additional content by WARC staff