This Sunday the ABC’s Insiders and Inside Business, Business Sunday and Sunday on Nine, Ten’s Meet the Press and Seven’s Sunday Sunrise will all have much higher than normal ratings as people tune in to get the latest on the poll, see who has won and if they appear for an interview and where.
Well, the pre-poll punditry is over for the Sunday morning political and business shows. This Sunday it will be trying to explain why the various experts were right or wrong or just didn’t know, who were the winners and losers in the political parties and who made a big fool of themselves by sawing off the limb they were on.
You get the drift, a bit of post poll pontificating by a group of bleary-eyed, coffee-filled hacks and hackettes who will try to make sense of yet another poll, whoever wins (or if it is TOO CLOSE TO CALL).
And when they have finished frightening the horses and others contentedly chewing on their cornies, and watching the box, the hacks and hackettes will charge off to a barbie or a beer and yet more coffee somewhere to continue the argument, with a touch more truth than you will hear on the morning.
But all the programs, the ABC’s Insiders and Inside Business, Business Sunday and Sunday on Nine, Ten Meet the Press and Seven’s Sunday Sunrise will all have much higher than normal ratings as people tune in to get the latest on the poll, see who has won and if they appear for an interview and where.
That’s why television is rooting for a quick clean kill that sees either Howard or Latham winning about 10 o’clock Saturday night.
The ratings for Saturday night will be fixed up if it’s a slow but decisive result, and then there’ll be plenty of time for the Sphere, chuckling Mark Riley, Paulo the Bongo player on Ten and Bazza the Insider, plus their producers, to try to score the winner-loser interviews on the Sunday morning.
That’s the plot. But in reality Howard and Latham tolerate (as do most pollies with experience) the Sunday morning Tele talk shows as a necessary evil to be avoided at all costs when there is no political imperative to appear.
Tony Abbott would be a good get though, with a first question along the lines, “Congratulations/commiserations Minister, what did Cardinal Pell think of the result?”
And to ‘rat’ Ruddock (ask the Sphere about that nickname for our Attorney General). If there’s a Liberal loss, Government overboard, Minister?
And I dare someone to ask Ross Cameron, Well, Ross, your r—-ted whatever the result.” Or, Ross, tough being in a swinging seat?
We could go on.
But during campaigns like the one we have just endured, the talk shows on Sunday morning are very influential, more than usual in fact. For the producers, it’s usually a case of who do we choose And what’s the issue of the week or the week ahead?
Of course the campaign dictators and their spinners try to ration the appearances, or even suggest who will appear!
But that’s just a try on.
In fact the importance of the programs is way out of wack to the actual viewing audiences.
Individually they are small for the six Sunday morning programs that total five and three quarter hours of Television, starting at 8am and ending around 11 am.
Collectively last Sunday they were watched by just over 860,000 people, at the bottom of the range of audiences that tune in regularly to watch Red Kerry on the 7.30 Report Monday to Thursday. Audiences for The Great Red One sometimes top a million people a night, Monday to Thursday, which is clout.
But unlike Red Kerry, the Sundays work on the quietness of God’s day as a news day and the fact that transcripts are available in the late morning and early afternoon. Spooning feeding!
The ABC, AAP and some commercial radio stations monitor the programs and start writing news stories based on what the pollies (and the business people interviewed as well) by 9am, and off it goes, a self perpetuating cycle of news and news and news, culminating with the grabs on the Sunday evening news programs, and then the mentions in the Monday morning newspapers and current affairs programs seeking to follow up stories from the day before.
That is a well-understood cycle now. Plenty of political hacks have to get up early (or tape) and tune in to watch the shows, get the transcripts and follow up the hated (or envied) TV stars, led by the Sphere.
So in the campaign that was announced on August 29 when the nation was still in a post-Olympics golden haze, how have the shows done?
Well, starting at 8am, Business Sunday, on the Nine network’s audience on August 29 was 145,242 people across the network (five major metro markets).
It peaked on the next Sunday, September 5 on 226,801, before finishing at 158,344 people last Sunday. A smallish gain, but with business issues such as high oil prices, and a strong stock market, those factors could have boosted the audience size.
Also at 8am, Seven’s Sunday Sunrise saw its audience open at 139,419, peak at 161,903 the next Sunday (same as Business Sunday), and the finish a touch lower last Sunday on 139,056. No political impact there overall, you could say.
Meet the Press goes to air on Ten at 8.30 and its half an hour. It opened with 96,343 people, peaked at 106,007 on September 19, and then eased to 71,929 last Sunday. A net loss during the campaign.
At 9am Sunday and the Insiders go head to head on Nine and the ABC respectively. Sunday is the pack leader, with the Sphere the big selling point in politics. If he was to leave Nine, Sunday and The Bulletin at ACP would have their biggest franchise removed!
Sunday opened the campaign at 241,748 people, peaked the next Sunday on 332,348, had a couple of more 300,000 plus mornings, and then sagged badly last Sunday to finish on 267,789 people. A small gain over the campaign overall.
The ABC’s Insiders is really for Insiders, but it does well and is now number three on Sunday mornings Behind Sunday and Business Sunday (in terms of audiences). Bazza and his team opened with a 140,344, peaked at 149,968 on September 12 and finished at 148,921 last Sunday. Clearly the Insiders are second in politics and have an impact on Sunday.
The last place is held by the predominantly business-orientated Inside Business on the ABC. It opened with a 55,005 audience on August 29, peaked at 102,520 on September 19, and then eased to 73,994 last Sunday, the biggest gain of all but from a small base.
To get an idea of the differences in the respective audiences, Red Kerry’s 7.30 Report was watched by a network(five major metro markets) audience of 897,019 people last Monday, 774,902 on Tuesday, 872,024 on Wednesday and 918,243 on Thursday.