The Block remains a ratings champ, one of the richest TV prize shows in the world

The Block

Rich guys again save the auctions, Major brands stake out slots in 2023 series final

As it wrapped its 2023 series, The Block again proved to be the hottest show on TV. Any way you measure it the series continues to fire, even after its 19th season. It’s a track record that is unequalled in Australian TV and makes co-creators and executive producers Julian Cress and David Barbour the most successful producers on TV. Their production company Cavalier Television only has one show these days, but what a show it is.

The show has found a new multiple buyer of properties too. Last year Adrian Portelli bought one property, this year he purchased three.

Host Scott Cam ready to go on auction day

How The Block rules


The overnight figures for the 2023 final night were 2.4m. Expect them to creep higher when the Total TV and consolidated numbers are collated.

The average Consolidated 7 number for the show over the Sundays in September and October was 1.546m. (Two of those nights were Monday numbers when Nine moved the episode for the NRL Grand Final and Australia at the Cricket World Cup.)

The Block was the highest rating non-news/sport show again in 2022 with 2.664m for the Winner Announced and a series average of 1.607m per episode.

See also: The Block 2023: Winners Steph and Gian break the all-time sale record

The Block as brand magnet

Ten brands returned this year as major commercial partners – Aldi, BlueScope Steel, Disney+, Domain, Ford, hipages, McCafé, Mitre 10, Lite n’ Easy and Xero.

New brands wanting a piece of The Block audience were Arnott’s, CommBank, Youi and Aussie Broadband.

The Block has really become the poster child for commercial integration. Something Nine pioneered when the series was given a lifeline in 2010 when it returned after a hiatus.

“So many of the show’s sponsors we have had for a really long time,” Julian Cress told Mediaweek earlier this year. “People like McDonald’s and Mitre 10 come back year after year which is very flattering to us. This year there are a few new partners including Commonwealth Bank.

“When there are new opportunities they don’t last long. There always seems to be somebody waiting in the wings to take on a major sponsorship.”

All the commercial partners secure spots in the final as part of their packages. There was no shortage of opportunities for brands – across the two hours, there were eight ad breaks running between nine and 10 spots in each break.

If you are marketing a ute and you weren’t in The Block you might be getting some calls this morning. Despite having Ford as a partner (with promotions of Ranger and Everest), the auto brand didn’t have an exclusive in the category for the final episode. Also wanting to reach potential drivers were Volkswagen, Isuzu, Toyota and Honda.

One of the most-advertised products on The Block final was Nine Ad Manager with a spot telling potential advertisers they could get started with $550 including a video ad. The ad appeared in the first three ad breaks.

Nine took all the first ad in break slots across the two hours as it promoted My Mum Your Dad (twice), Travel Guides, A Current Affair, Planet Earth III, ARIA Awards, Today, and 60 Minutes.

Controversial home buyer Adrian Portelli


The Block continues to offer some of the highest prize money on TV…anywhere in the world. Total winnings this year were $2,995,000 while total prize winnings in the 19 seasons so far are $35,587,807.

For the second successive year, the biggest single prize was over $1.6m. Steph and Gian won $1.75m, eclipsing the 1.68m won by Omar and Oz last year. For three of the past four years, the main prize has been more than $1m.

The show remains the single source of the biggest winnings on TV in Australia. The only other show to have given away more single prizemoney over $1m is Who Wants to be a Millionaire with a total of four $1m prizes across the original format and the spin-off Millionaire Hot Seat. Network Ten offered $2m for the winner of The Hothouse in 2004. The first season of Big Brother Australia had a prize of $1m as did short runs of Million Dollar Minute and The Big Adventure.

In terms of total prize money, The Block is close to the highest in the world with $35m across 19 seasons. Others who have given away huge amounts include the US series of Survivor with US$1m for the winner over 45 seasons. (One year that was boosted to US$2m). The US version of The Amazing Race has completed 35 seasons, each one with prize money of US$1m.

Steph and Gian celebrate after their $5m sale

What’s happening with the auctions?

For the past few years, the auctions on The Block have been dominated by rich men opening their wallets. Several years ago it was IT entrepreneur Danny Wallis. He’s bought a total of nine Block properties over the years. Last night he made a few bids but left empty-handed.

More recently “Lambo man” Adrian Portelli has emerged as a major player. He picked up the property of Omar and Oz last year for $5m and last night he picked up three properties for a total of $12.4m.

The Herald Sun reported last month that Portelli’s business LMCT+ operates a “trade promotion”, a loosely regulated type of lottery originally designed to allow businesses to attract trade by rewarding customers with prizes, under a license issued in New South Wales.

The product LMCT+ has been called a subscription to a buyers club that offers discounts on products bought from other companies.

LMCT+ operates legally using a loophole in the law, but gambling regulators in Victoria and South Australia have launched investigations into the business.

The houses must be a key part of LMCT+ as his auction strategy was unusual, to say the least. At one stage Portelli increased his bid for the first property by $1m. Later on in the episode he outbid himself twice.

Things didn’t go so well for Kristy and Brett who unloaded big time on their agent

What’s next for The Block

Executive producer and co-creator Julian Cress and his team are underway with plans for next year when the series heads to Philip Island, two hours southeast of Melbourne.

Speaking to Mediaweek about the show’s success, Cress said: “Part of the secret success of The Block, and why we are still going 20 years later, is that we have never done the same thing twice. We are always looking for something that is a little bit different to engage us and to deliver something that is interesting and exotic for the audience.”

The Block is reported to have spent $9.5m on Island Cove Villas which currently has nine dwellings on the one hectare.

While it’s on Phillip Island, this property is a long walk from the beach. There will also be challenges for Blockheads wanting tradies and the associated costs of accommodating everyone on the island for the duration of the build.

But will the series attract a huge audience? You wouldn’t bet against and it’s likely most of the 2023 commercial partners will return too.

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