The decline in Seven’s Olympics audience is continuing with Thursday viewer numbers again dipping, as forecast in the second sealed section yesterday.

Some of that’s due to the drop-off in numbers of people watching as the week goes on. Thursday figures are affected by evening and night shopping. Some would also be the three days of comparative drought until early Friday when Jodie Henry picked up our 7th gold medal.

But Friday and Saturday viewing are also low with low sets in use numbers as potential viewers prefer to go out rather than stay home and watch TV. Seven however hopes to combat that by the busiest day of the Games when 34 gold medals will be decided on Saturday, including quite a few possibles for us in rowing and swimming.

Seven says the number of viewers are still strong and that they expect big audiences tomorrow. By the close of prime time Thursday Seven’s share of national viewing (from Sunday to Thursday) had eased to 39.3% from 40.3% on Wednesday and 45.8% last Saturday when the Opening Ceremony replay set the upper level.

In average audience terms, viewing numbers have eased from just over 1.81 million last Saturday to 1.39 million on Thurday. Still not bad over quite a few hours of prime time each night!

Illustrating this decline in viewer interest though, the pre news Olympic coverage from 3.30pm to 6pm did not make the top ten national programs on Thursday for the first time since the games started. With less than a million people, (943,864 average) it was behind Teen Idol (977,866 people).

Again, the Thursday drop off in total viewer numbers was caused by some ‘Olympic fatigue’ and the gold medal drought. But the Seven prime time coverage was still the top national program with 1.50 million (140,000 people down on the Wednesday figure).

Seven news was second (1.498m), then Nine news(1.474m), then A Current Affair (1.440m), then thw two repeats of Law and Order(Special Victims Unit) on Ten which ran 5th and 6th. Frasier was 7th (thanks again to ACA running long past 7pm), Getaway was 8th, Kath and Kim, was 9th for the ABC as the series returned with a repeat first episode and Ten’s Inside Idol was 10th.

In Sydney the result was slightly different and this should be giving Seven some heart. Seven news was again the top program from the prime time coverage. Seven news has battled for the top spot with the prime time coverage in Sydney, a sign that the larger audience for the new look news is more firmly established there than elsewhere. Melbourne for example.

The first of the Law and Order Special Victims Unit repeats was 3rd, then ACA and then Nine news. The second Law and Order repeat was 6th, Getaway was 7th, the 3.30pm to 6pm coverage of the Games was 8th for Seven, Frasier was 9th and Inside Idol was 10th.

Seven’s share on the night was 35.1% from Nine with 23.5% and Ten with 21.6%. The ABC was solid but SBS’s share eased to an average of 6.8%.

Sydney remains the only capital where Seven’s share remains over 40% from Sunday to Thursday, which show the Olympic spirit is alive and well in the country’s biggest television advertising market, which is important to Seven. It’s no doubt a lot to do with the Sydney 2000 Games and the residual interest that remains in the NSW capital.

Meanwhile, there’s some talk about one of the more noticeable advertisers on the coverage, Kerry Stokes private company WesTrac, the Caterpillar dealer. But it’s not the first time the company has extolled the virtues of those big yellow machines to what could only be a slightly bemused audience.

WestTrac ads have popped up on Seven’s Sunday Sunrise. Now that would be a little confronting at 8am on Sundays!

Seven’s golden ratings ease

From the second August 19 subscriber-only sealed section

Another Olympic win to Seven Wednesday but signs of the so-called ‘exhaustion factor’ with audience numbers easing. But that could have also been due to the normal loss of audience as the week progresses.

If that’s the case numbers on Thursday and Friday will be lower than they were earlier in the week. But the absence of any gold medal success yesterday also would have played a factor.

Wednesday Seven share of the audience was 36.7%, down from Tuesday’s figure of 38.4%. In Sydney the share was 39.8% down from 44.3% on Tuesday.

The cumulative national share has slid from 41.4% after Tuesday to 40.3% after Wednesday night.

Seven’s prime time coverage was the most watched program with an average national audience of 1.646 million people, followed Seven News with 1.617 million.

Nine’s News was next with 1.56 million, then A Current Affair with 1.518 million. Good numbers and a sign that people want more than the Olympics. ACA’s strong figures this week also suggest that the Seven decision to rest Today Tonight was probably wrong.

Frasier was helped into 5th spot by ACA once again, while a repeat of CSI Miami was 6th. Seven’s afternoon Olympics Coverage was 7th, Ten’s The Simpsons was 8th, Nine’s Without a Trace repeat was 9th, and Ten’s The All TIme Greatest Simpsons was 10th.

In Sydney Seven News was first followed by the prime time coverage. Then Nine News and ACA then the afternoon coverage of the Olympics was 5th, CSI was 6th, Without a Trace 7th and Frasier was 8th. The 7.30 report slipped into 9th for the ABC and Law and Order repeat on Ten was 10th.

Looking at how Nine’s audience share has gone in the past two days, its grown from 22% at the end of Tuesday (Sunday to Tuesday) to 22.6% at the end of prime time Wednesday.

Ten’s audience has barely moved from around 17.7% per cent but they don’t care much about that, pointing out they had a 31% share in the 16 to 39 age group and seven of the top ten programs in that demographic.

The ABC’s share has not moved from 12% while SBS is the big gainer, up from 6.8% at the end of Tuesday to 7.2% at the end of prime time Wednesday.

532,000 tuned in for Thorpe’s “race of the century”

From the second August 18 subscriber-only sealed section

More than half a million people watched Ian Thorpe win the men’s 200 metres freestyle gold medal in Athens in the early hours of Tuesday morning, pretty good figures given the time.

The Seven Network said a total of 532,334 people watched Thorpe, but in a curious outcome, people in sports-mad Melbourne were more interested watching his dramatic swim to fame than in his home city of Sydney.

Seven said figures from Oztam showed 133,511 people watched in Sydney, 150,886 in Melbourne, 102,644 in Brisbane, 44,942 in Adelaide and a huge 100,349 people watched the event in Perth. The low figure for Adelaide is another sign the games don’t appear to be gripping the South Australian capital as strongly at times as other parts of Australia, while the Perth figure can be explained by being a good sports city, but also the time difference. When Ian Thorpe swam early Tuesday it was between 12.30 and 1am in Perth, which makes it easier for people to stay up.

Seven said that the women’s 100 metres breaststroke final featuring Australians Brooke Hansen (silver meda) and Leisel Jones (bronze) was watched by 445,788 people.

Seven again won Tuesday’s ratings with another solid performance, although the prime time share was lower than Monday.

The Oztam figures showed Seven News was the most watched program with 2.194 million people (734,647 in Sydney and first). Seven’s Day four prime time viewing was second with 1.817 million nationally and 527,942 people in Sydney.

Third nationally was Nine News with 1.581 million people, then a repeat of its Tuesday evening powerhouse, CSI, then A Current Affair. Seven’s Day four afternoon coverage was 6th nationally, followed by Frasier, Everybody Loves Raymond on Ten, The Bill on the ABC and 10th was Nine’s Renovation Rescue.

In Sydney after Seven News and its evening Olympic coverage, CSI was third. The afternoon coverage of the Games was 4th, then Nine News and ACA. Everybody Loves Raymond was 7th, Frasier 8th, Renovation Rescue was 9th and The Bill on the ABC, was 10th.

Prime time share saw Seven win with 38.4%, down on the 40% plus figures of the first three days. Nine was a good second with 26.2% (thanks to the News, ACA, Renovation Rescue and CSI) while Ten was crunched to a low 15.6%, but still cheerfully telling the world that the network had a majority of the Top 10 programs for viewers in the 16 to 39 year age group.

SBS’s share continues to rise, hitting 8.1% on Tuesday night, thanks to its Olympic Coverage.

Looking at Seven’s Tuesday audience besides the news – Roy and HG’s The Dream was watched by an average audience of more than 904,000 people, with a peak of 1.234 million. The prime time coverage peak audience was a very tasty 2.865 million, down on the average of Monday, while the peak for the afternoon (3.30 to six) was 2.2 million.

Sunrise was watched by an average audience of 662,741 (peak 913,202) between 7 am and 9 am. The day time audience ranged from an average of just over 451,000 for the 10.30am News to around half a million people for the 9.30am to 10.30 am and the 11am to noon slot on Tuesday. Coverage during the early hours of this morning (from midnight to 2am) was watched by 340,475 people, with a peak of 786,149.

Where are the Olympic tragics?

So after the first three days of the Games, which city is the biggest sports nut?

After looking at those figures for Ian Thorpe’s swim with 100,000 people staying up in Perth in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the West Australian capital would be tops.

Nope. Oztam figures show that for prime time viewing from Sunday to Tuesday, Sydney remains the clear leader, which is what Seven wants to see, seeing as it’s the city with the biggest audience, the biggest and richest advertising market and therefore the biggest reach can be obtained. (Reach is an individual watching for five consecutive minutes).

Oztam said that Seven had a 44.3% share from Sunday to Tuesday in Sydney, with a 40.1% in Melbourne and 41.8% in Brisbane (which likes the swimming). In Perth, Seven had a 39.5%, while in Adelaide Seven’s share was the lowest share of the five major capital cities with a 38.5%.

Seven said that the reach figures for Day four showed the highest reach in the evening prime time with 5.80 million people tuning in in total across the period 6 pm to 10.30 pm. Its average was 1.8 million with a peak of 2.87 million.

Nine’s ACA fights back against the Olympics

From the August 17 subscriber-only sealed section

Nine’s reluctance to issue ratings reports during the Olympics lasted a day, with the channel releasing bare figures this morning. They showed good figures for Nine’s news at 6pm and A Current Affair.

Nine’s news coverage led by Michael Usher has shown up the other networks, including Seven. Usher is an old Olympics hand and knows the fastest and most profitable to do stories, pieces to cameras and linking items. Equally the reports are crisper and better put together. Ideal wraps for time poor viewers not normally big on Olympic sports like swimming.

But the program I would like to give a wrap to is A Current Affair and host Ray Martin. Their Olympic effort on Monday night was a model of how to do a lot with not much at all. After the paid for exclusive with the parents of the Queensland quins, ACA did a very nice package with women’s road race champion Sara Carrigan and her parents outside the Olympic area. That was because of the Australian version of the IOC’s restrictions on non-rights holder use of Olympic vision.

Nine keeps telling everyone that it’s Seven’s rules, but they are the rules of the IOC, and are more liberal here (three minutes three times a day) than anywhere else where it is two minutes of vision twice a day for non-rights holders.

But the ACA effort with Carrigan was human and non-sporting, with the obvious affection of her parents and herself coming through strongly. A good follow-up to the impact of the win on Seven a few hours earlier.

It’s good to see that ACA hasn’t given up, nor has the news, a point some others in the Nine empire could take a lesson from. After the Carrigan story we have a pleasant interview by Ray with some of the parents of the women’s 4×100 metres freestyle relay gold medallists.
With a stunning backdrop of a well-known Athens landmark, it was a personal interview from the point of view of the invisible people. Those who drive the stars to training and carnivals: the parents. A point also made this morning on Seven’s Sunrise by the parents of Australian swimmer Jennifer Riley.

Elsewhere in the media this morning, News Ltd papers in Sydney dusted Fairfax’s Sydney Morning Herald. Seeing the 200 metres freestyle race was done and dusted by 2.50am, the SMH could have covered it, but obviously Fred Hilmer and the beancounters at Fairfax think it’s not worth it.

Both The Daily Telegraph and The Australian splashed with Thorpie’s win in the ‘race of the century’, although at the Crikey bunker in Melbourne it was only The Australian that had the story.

The SMH and The Age though must have been ‘snoring’ or counting the cents, we checked at our newsagent this afternoon and only The Australian had the story.

SMH coverage of Susie Balogh’s shooting gold medal and a fascinating story on how the Australian women’s road racing team plotted to win the gold medal were both well done. But a big hole was not waiting for Thorpie’s win.

Tonight Ray and ACA have an interview with the ‘author’ Norma Khouri. Nine says no money had changed hands, but given Khouri’s multiple statements and original hoax, Nine should put some sort of warning up on the screen to viewers.

And a point about the Seven coverage. It’s great to see the events, especially in the swimming and to hear the crowd and not have someone screaming.

But being a solid viewer I wouldn’t mind seeing every few hours a little Olympic update about what else is happening, with some news, a medal tally and vision of other sports and other teams. A mini-news. And there should be a few more updates of non-Olympic news, plus a coming up graphic.

And finally, the way ACA has tackled its coverage of the games, with the restrictions on the use of vision is showing up Seven’s decision to rest Today Tonight.

With its access it could have crunched the Nine effort and shown viewers that there is often more to the winners than the events from the various venues. It would have helped cement the emerging strength of TT, but for whatever reason, it has been wasted.

Now Seven will say that there were events to cover from 6.30 pm. Well, not really because 6.30pm our time isn’t finals time in the swimming or in the athletics where many of the gold medal events are in the evening in Athens. And besides TT’s broadcast time could always be adjusted to fit in with events. As Seven has been adjusting the news (Sunday evening for example). Not continuing with Today Tonight and having it come out of Athens is a mistake.

Day three of the Games, and, oh, Seven wins

Another big win for Seven Network, thanks to the Olympics with the network having four programs in the Top 10 nationally. The prime time coverage Monday night again delivered an audience of more than two million people: 2.037 million and a peak of 3.420 million – the highest peak so far.

That helped give Seven a big win for the night with an average share of 41.7%, down a fraction on the Sunday evening number of 44% but still double Ten and Nine’s audience, which was to be expected.

And the Seven Network claimed that using the audience ‘reach’ method (individuals watching television for five consecutive minutes) a total of 6.3 million people watched the prime time coverage Monday night from 6.30pm to 11pm.

However, thanks to an Oztam error there were quite a few litters of kittens across TV networks today, especially at Seven. An incorrect code for Perth by Oztam saw an understatement of Seven’s prime time performance of a quarter of a million people in figures issued this morning. Seven challenged it and Oztam checked, found the problem and issued a new set of numbers early this afternoon.The original figure had been an average audience of 1.786 million people.

Quite a difference and no wonder Seven went a little spare. But that was the only period affected.

Second after the prime time coverage was Seven News with 1.869 million people watching on average and a peak of 2.061 million. The coverage from 3.30pm to 6pm Monday was watched by an average of 1.168 million and a peak of 1.916 million.

Roy and HG’s The Dream was the 8th most watched program with 1.043 million viewers on average and a peak of 1.416 million. Good numbers and emphasising the worth of having a program of this type at the end of long coverage. A bit of humour and taking the p*ss never goes astray with Australian viewers.

Midnight to 7am Monday saw an average 393,901 people watching and a peak of 636,223. And Sunrise hit a peak of 971,216 on Monday morning, with average viewers totalling 720,560.

>From 9am Monday to 10.30am an average 496,922 people watched (676,396 peak). The 10.30am news had an audience of 493,751 people (599,247 peak). Monday from 11am to 12 noon had an average audience of 627,785 (729,472 peak); Noon to 3.30pm, 775,518 (peak 983,933) and this morning from midnight to 2am, 393,901 (921,879 peak).

But Australians also liked Australian Idol: Live Verdict on Monday evening, cheering Ten which pointed out that it was the top program again for its 16 to 39 age group target demographic. And formerly shy Nine would have been very pleased by the strong showing of the News and A Current Affair which were both Top 10 finishers, as was Frasier, but it was pulled over the line again by ACA running over.

The ABC lost ground, but after a slow start, SBS’s numbers rose noticeably with a 6.2% share Monday night, from 5.1% Sunday, as more people realised that its coverage was different to Seven’s with non mainstream sports and games involving other countries being covered.

And as the Fin Review reported today, SBS has struggled to attract sponsors for its Olympic coverage after paying Seven an estimated $5 million for complimentary rights. It’s only sold around $2 million in advertising so far, well below its $5 million target.

Nine News was the 3rd most popular program nationally, with 1.610 million viewers, ACA had 1.43 million, Frasier 1.237 million and Friends 1.02 million.

Australian Idol was 4th nationally with 1.42 million viewers and The Sketch Show was 10th with 1.02 million people. So people are watching programs other than the games even though much of it is repeats on Nine, Ten and to a lesser extent, the ABC. In Sydney Nine News was 5th, ACA 6th and its ‘twin’, Frasier was 7th.

Seven’s prime time coverage in Sydney was watched by more than 655,400 people, with Seven News second and Australian Idol 3rd. Seven’s afternoon Olympics coverage was fourth, The Dream was 10th. Ten’s Sketch Show was 8th and a surprise 9th was ABC’s Media Watch.

Seven of course won across the country and leads the week easily. But this is event programming and Seven knows that as the games go on and into week two when “Olympic Exhaustion” sets in, especially as wins become few and far between for Australia – the athletics being a prime example.
Seven’s Games win forces Nine to clam upFrom the second August 16 subscriber-only sealed section

As expected good numbers for Seven’s coverage of day two of the Olympics. Seven’s prime time audience share on Sunday evening was a massive 44%, double the combined figures of Ten, 20.9% and Nine, 20.6%.

Ten says it did well, with its Australian Idol semi-final topping the games to win the 16 to 39 age group, and Nine? Running dead. No figures until the games are over. But the highest rating program wasn’t actual Olympic coverage, but Seven’s Sunday evening news, watched by an average of 2.556 million people and a peak of 2.954 million.

That topped the figures for the Opening Ceremony replay on Saturday of 2.294 million people average and a peak of 2.545 million. That was the biggest sporting audience of the year so far.

The Seven coverage of the late Sunday afternoon of the live action from Athens averaged 1.783 million and a peak of 2.787 million. That was after an average 283,190 people had watched Seven from midnight to 7 am Sunday (peak 683,848). From 7am to midday the Games were watched by just over 1 million (1.595 million peak) and from midday to 3.30pm, an average of 1.653 million people watched (1.991 million average.)

>From 6.30pm to 11pm an average of 2.212 million people watched, the biggest audience so far for games action. It peaked at 3.22 million people, the highest peak so far.

Roy and HG’s The Dream was watched by an average of 975,290 people and a peak of 1.344 million. While the peak was higher for The Dream than on Saturday night, the average was around 26,000 fewer, probably because it was a Sunday night. From midnight to 2 am Monday Seven said 341,534 people watched the live coverage, with a peak of 743,476.

Now here’s a claim that will grab the attention of people and raise the eyebrows at other networks. Using the TV industry’s definition of ‘reach’: that is, individuals watching television for at least five consecutive minutes, as measured by the Oztam meters, Seven says that “more than 9.5 million Australians have watched Seven’s coverage of the games over the past two days”.

Using the reach method Seven claimed 4.4 million watched the replay of the opening, 4.1 million watched the live coverage on Saturday afternoon, 5.6 million Saturday night prime time coverage, 1.6 million The Dream on Saturday nigh and 1.4 million people watched the live coverage of the opening ceremony in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Sunday Seven claims 1.1 million watched the morning coverage, 3.8 million watched the early afternoon broadcast, 4.2 million the live afternoon coverage, 6.5 million prime time Sunday evening and 1.6 million Roy and HG’s The Dream.

Obviously this doesn’t eliminate double counting or people who watched over the day at different times, which would probably be a popular way of catching the Games. Nor does it cover pubs and clubs and other live venues.

Now the other Networks will slam Seven for using these figures based on the ‘reach’ of the program. But seeing they all use it when selling their programs to advertisers, then I suppose fair is fair. But its a sign of how Seven is determined to tell everybody of the advantages to it of the Games.

These ‘reach’ figures do show there is a different class of viewer. The ‘Olympic Grazer’ or the ‘sampler’, as opposed to the ‘tragic’ sports nut.

Anyway over at Ten they kept on message by pointing out that in its key demographic Australian Idol out-rated the Olympics in the 16 to 39 age group. It beat Seven news into second place IN THAT demographic, which is what Ten is all about.

And despite Ten doing the numbers, Nine says it’s not putting out figures because they can’t be bothered. Why, well it’s the difference in programming. The Games on Seven and mostly repeats of old warhorses and new colts on Nine, which is waiting until the games end. Event television versus standard programming.

You could argue that the State of Origin and the NRL Grand Finals are ‘events’, one-off broadcasts up against standard programming on other channels. And, of course in 2006 Nine won’t be issuing ratings during the Commonwealth Games will it? Seeing as how the Games will be an ‘event’ broadcast!

No, I reckon Nine will be as consistent in its inconsistency as all the networks usually are when they have an advantage to boast about. But Nine wasn’t about NOT putting out a release Sunday about week 33, which it won. Nine boasted that it won ‘gold’ despite Seven having the Games’ opening ceremony and events on Saturday.

Obviously one rule for when you win, another for when you lose!

Eddie rested – along with Kath and Kim, Friends and co

To ease the pain of the Olympics Nine has rested Eddie McGuire’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire and the first run episodes of the blockbuster, CSI, plus CSI Miami, Without a Trace and, of course, we are still waiting for Friends, Malcolm in the Middle, Frasier and several other shows to re-appear.

Ten is repeating the Law and Order series on Sunday and Thursday evenings, but the episode of NCIS last night was new. So too the episodes of the comedy programs this week on Nine and Ten and Burke’s Backyard is also new.

Even the ABC is getting into the swing of running dead. The hit series Kath and Kim returns this Thursday, but with a repeat!

Olympics start strongly for Seven

From the first August 16 sealed section

As expected, the Olympics has rated its socks off, and as expected the Nine Network showed no shame in claiming it had won gold in winning the week’s ratings last week. It was so far ahead it couldn’t lose, despite the good figures for the first day of the Olympics for Seven. This week will be different.

So what happened? The repeat of the Opening Ceremony on Saturday daytime (11.30am to 3.30pm) was watched by 2.294 million people (peak 2.545 million). As expected that was the biggest sporting audience of the year so far. Seven’s live coverage of the Opening Ceremony in the early hours of Saturday morning attracted a total audience of 483,188 people and a peak of 848,800 (that’s between 3.30am to 7.30am). The audience grew as the morning went on, so most people didn’t do what Crikey’s crazy editor tried and stayed up until 4am and then threw in the towel.

On Saturday night Seven’s coverage from 6.15pm to 11pm was watched by a total of just over two million people average and a peak of 2.33 million.

Seven News at 6pm benefited and was watched by a total of 2.21 million people around the country. It only lasted 15 minutes. The Dream with Roy Slaven and HG Nelson was watched by an average of 1.02 million in the hour from 11 pm to midnight and a peak of 1.25 million.

From midnight to 2am Sunday however the audience still dropped but 553,000 people were still watching on average and a peak of 767,800. The only figures to count however for the ratings battle would have been 6pm to midnight on Saturday when Seven swept the pool with national shares ranging from a peak of 67% in Sydney to a low of 48% in Adelaide up to 11 pm. For The Dream, the share was a low of 55% in Brisbane to a high in Adelaide of 65%.

The top four programs nationally on Saturday were Seven’s Olympic telecasts, with National Nine News at 5th the first non-Seven program. The Dream made the top ten at seven. The live broadcast of the Opening ceremony was 20th!

The other networks will start producing figures to compare with Sydney and previous Olympics and try and undermine Seven’s claims for good audience numbers. But that’s the day to day tensions of network television. Flak jackets everyone!