All the news on who’s watching Australian Idol, those spookie people from space in The 4400, the fast cars from Bathurst and the rest:

Terry Television flicked past the Ten Network last night and discovered something amazing.

There is life in The Beatles after all. They are all alive! Has the Spaceship returned a couple of them home? In fact it was as though they were never gone, with only the music changed to protect their true identities and abilities.

But spookily after Idol was over, 4400 people who have been taken from the Earth by aliens over the past 50 years reappeared near Seattle and learned how to operate Windows and avoid the Blue Screen of Death, such was the power of the skills they’d acquired in space. Eerie!

I jest of course. Whatever they were on Idol and the first part of The 4400, it was good entertainment and just what viewers wanted last night after the witnessing the terrifying sight of John Howard smirking from rear to ear the previous night.

You might gather from what I am trying to say that it was a very, very big night for Ten last night.

In fact Ten’s best night of the year so far. A Monster with the reincarnation of all those Beatles and their ‘clones’ plus the missing 4400 people (and has anyone seen that little girl I liked in 6th class? Was She there? She was taken by non-humans, I thought they were her parents!)

How big for Ten? Well, try a 41% share in the five major metro markets, 42.6% in Sydney and a low of 37.2% in Brisbane (Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth saw 40-plus figures.

That’s closing in on the sort of boost Nine usually gets from a special event broadcast like the rugby league State of Origins.

It disrupted the night for the other networks.

Australian Idol was watched by an average of 2.345 million across the five major markets with the first part of The 4400 attracting 2.063 million.

So from 7pm to just before 11pm, Ten’s audience averaged more than two million people and from 7am to 6pm more than a million people watched the Bathurst car race, the Ten News and Sports Tonight.

Amazing figures and they confirm that the Ten programmers are the best in the country at the moment at giving viewers what they want. It’s not that they win all the time (in their target demographic they are ahead this year, the 16 to 39 age group), it’s just they come up with cheapish rating bombshells that belt the opposition. And they can use them to build so-called ‘franchise programs’, like Idol and Big Brother (even though Big Brother is now expansive, it was a cheap get when Ten first acquired it)

Nine ran second with a national share of 23.4% ( 21.6% in Sydney) Seven was third with 19.1% nationally and 18.9% in Sydney. The ABC finished with 12.8% and 12.3% in Sydney and SBS ended up with a 3.7% share and 4.7% in Sydney.

So what is The 4400 to all those Crikeyettes who didn’t watch, like Terry Television? Well, the best description would have to be (from a TV industry friend) that it’s a cross between The X Files and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I suppose you could call it Close Encounters, the Sequel?

The second and final bit is tonight. It was a six part series made for US cable TV and Ten cut it up into two equal parts, like a min-series. Whatever they did, it was certainly a ratings booster.

And Ten handled the promotion well, plugging it and the Idol special through the Bathurst Car race telecast yesterday which attracted 1.229 million people on average. That provided a big platform for the night for Ten.

So with the second part of The 4400 and the verdict episode of the current round of Idol on tonight, another big win is in store for Ten, which will hurt Nine which was hoping for a big kick from the first of the new and final run of Friends (it is a 40 minute long episode).

Idol will hurt it.

So after Idol and the first part of The 4400 what else made the top ten nationally?

Nine News was third with 1.599 million (a bit low given that it’s been as high as 1.9 million this year). Backyard Blitz was fourth, then 60 Minutes was fifth with 1.274 million, down and being ‘Idolised’ by Idol on Ten.

The cars were next, then the first of the new series on Nine from Britain called You are What You Eat, which is just what you want to see while having dinner on Sunday nights, isn’t it?

ABC 7pm News was eighth, Seven News was nineth and the shark special (yes, another one) episode of Seven’s The World Around Us was tenth.

In Sydney it was Idol first with more than three quarters of a million people tuning in, an amazing figure. The 4400 was next with over 655,000 people (no wonder Ten streeted it!). Backyard Blitz was third, well ahead of Nine News, with the Eat program fifth. The Bathurst cars was sixth and that hauled Ten News/Sports Tonight at 5pm up to seventh. 60 Minutes struggled into eighth spot ahead of the ABC 7pm News and The World Around Us on Seven was tenth.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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