The Ten network would probably get the gong for being the most
calculating programmed TV Network of the year. By concentrating on the
16 to 39 age group demographic and then the 25 to 54 group, Ten has
lifted its share of revenue this year and viewing audiences.

But twice in the past couple of weeks it has ‘choked’ in using its AFL coverage to drive its market positioning.

The first ‘choke’ was the failure to program the Brisbane-Geelong game into Sydney live on the Saturday night it was played.

That’s on top of quite odd programming decisions by the year of
screening non-Brisbane and non-Sydney games into the late evening of
Friday and Saturday nights.

It is perhaps why the AFL is really struggling in Sydney and its lowest
audience (not peak as many sports writers get confused about, fed by a
smart Ten PR outfit) since 2001 in the NSW capital.

But the biggest blunder was not covering the post match events after
the AFL in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth (and Tasmania) and keeping it
going in southern Australia for as far into the evening as possible,
say to 7.30pm.

Ten bailed at 6pm and went to the News, then an episode of Charmed, then a hodge podge of ‘crime’ shows that sank as the night went on.

Foxtel showed the post game press conferences and shower scenes etc
from the dressing rooms and while it looked and sounded chaotic, it was
good viewing and what the AFL should want its fans to see. (Also the
crosses during the game to Adelaide and Brisbane fans were poorly
executed cutaways with no reporters present. Just boring vision that
could have come from anywhere.

Ten would argue that people in their 16 to 39 demographic didn’t want to see much football.

Ten News
and Sports Tonight had 1.226 million viewers, but by the time Sports Tonight started at 6pm, Nine’s Funniest Home Videos was ahead and Ten’s audience sank from then on, Charmed, Monk, The Handler and The Shield were all among the great unwatched on Saturday night and Nine ended up winning the night.

For all the season, except the finals, Ten has been running a program
after the football looking at post match events and other games. Ten
would argue that would have been hard on a day when everyone watching
would have seen the game that mattered.

But it smacks of easy programming to bail to the News. If Ten had have kept the Fifth Quarter show concept going with crosses etc ( or called it a long Sports Tonight) they could have prolonged ratings especially in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

That didn’t help what was another failure to build on a tremendous
start to the week. And in all reality Ten should have done a lot
better last week. It should have been pushing Nine for a win (not only
in its favoured demographics, but in overall people), such was the
strength of its programming.

Nine won the week (and Saturday) thanks to the ARL preliminary final
which dominated Saturday night viewing in Sydney and Brisbane. Nine won
Sydney with a 42% share on Saturday, from Seven with a good 23.2%, but
Ten was crushed. Its audience share in Sydney was 12.4%.

In Brisbane Nine won with 36.5% from Seven and Ten on 21.6%.In Melbourne Nine won, the same in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Overall Nine won Saturday night quite easily on 33/8% from Seven on 23.1% and Ten down on 18.9% Ten died after the end of Sports Tonight
and the Network became a viewing wasteland. So any extension of the
audience from the AFL would have done better in the Southern states. In
Sydney, nothing would have helped, Ten was crushed by the League final.

Over the week, Ten’s slide is seen more clearly. Ten won Sunday and Monday nights, crunching the opposition, thanks to Australian Idol,The Brownlow football broadcast and Law and Order: Criminal Intent.

Sunday, Ten had a share of 21.%, Nine, 25.6% and Ten sat on top 33.5%.
By Saturday Seven’s share had grown to 24.3%, Nine to 29.9% (and
a win) but Ten’s had fallen by around a quarter4 to 24.9%. And this
coming week there will be no Brownlow and now flow on into the first
hour of Saturday evening from the AFL.

And one further point. With the impact of its stronger programming on
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, plus the impact of the League
final in Sydney and Brisbane. Nine should have done a bit better than
finish with an audience share of 29.9%.

I know Nine will again say a win is a win and Nine grew its audience
Sunday to Saturday a bit faster than Seven, and so what, but all that
programming oomph from CSI, Cold Case, McLeod’s Daughters, Getaway, should have done better.

And last night, another big win to Ten thanks to Idol, Law and Order: Criminal Intent and Sensing Murder.
And possibly a reasonable effort tonight and Thursday. It should
continue to win its demographic but there’s a growing chance that Seven
will finish the year stronger and reclaim second.

And you can forget some of the focus Ten has on its demographic. When
it wins or finishes second in all people, its not backward in boasting
of that fact!

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey