With many old favourites coming to an end, TV stations are under pressure to hold their audiences in 2005.

Sex and the City, gone, Friends, gone, The Sopranos, question mark, ditto The West Wing. Six Feet Under? Well it’s going as well after five seasons of the hit show (see more on Six Feet Underhere).

Suddenly the Nine Network has something of a problem on Monday nights
that it needs to plug pretty quickly in 2005. And it has problems
elsewhere in it 2005 schedule.

Friday night, Don Burke has gone (or goes after this Friday night). The
pressure is on for Rugby League and AFL to fill the spot from Sydney
and Melbourne respectively.

There are more question marks than ever for Nine this year and more
important decisions than for the competition. Why, because these
are decisions Nine must get substantially right to stay on top.

Seven’s decisions just have to be right, otherwise it’s the plank for
many senior executives. There are no more excuses allowed at Kerry
Stokes’s network.

And for Ten, the decisions are easy. More of 2004 please, but there has
to be a sneaking worry about there being too many Big Events next year
to continue to make them special.

But Ten looks like having another strong year . It will be “Bigness” and Big Events – a lot of relying on the big winners like Idol, Big Brother, Law and Order, with the X Factor thrown in.

And Seven will do better than they have this year. More like the
network has performed in the past five weeks. But Nine is the
market leader and has the share that others, such as Seven, want.

After promising to lift that share this year, Seven knows 2004’s
failure will count heavily if there are signs of a similar trend next
year. Instant oblivion for those responsible.

That’s why Nine spinners and programmers are constantly comparing and
bagging Seven. Seven doesn’t fixate as much on Nine or Ten. Ten just
runs its own race, ploughing ahead, confident of doing better each year.

Besides Burke’s Backyard, This is Your Life will be lucky to be renewed after a short, but pretty boring existence these past few weeks. RPA is looking tired, but might still have to go round again. Getaway is being revamped to try and give it renewed strength, McLeod‘s is moseying a long with no growth in its audience.

CSI, CSI Miami and Without a Trace are still doing well. Cold Case looks good. The big imponderable is CSI New York, doing well in the US, but an expensive buy after a bidding way with Seven earlier this year.

ER is down more than 12% in US viewers this season. Meanwhile, Joey is no match for Friends and will struggle to fully fill the shoes of the fab six next year.

The Apprentice’s third series will be at Nine by the end of
January, early February, an under performer in its second series, it
will not set the world on fire next year.

Nine News and A Current Affair are struggling in Sydney,
as Nine and Seven take 40 wacks a night out of each other. They do well
in Melbourne and Brisbane, but Seven’s more than occasional wins
nationally in the 6.30pm slot are having a toll.

60 Minutes has been Idolised, and next year will be up against the X Factor, Idol, American Idol and Big Brother.
That’s a tough year for the mob from tick tick tick, but what is the
overseer, John Westacott to do. He has to keep his eye on the main game
which is the battle between ACA and TT. To the finish? Viewers are underwhelmed by both programs.

Backyard Blitz has looked a bit repetitive and tired in format (how many more gardens can it do for disabled children?)

And if The World Around Us can push it, what will happen next year when the show comes back for more back yard renovations. Will it be “Burked”?

Frasier will be seen in its final series next year, so what then? More repeats? (It reminds me of the way that Ten used to repeat MASH, before it was snapped up by Seven).

Ten’s reality type programs will probably pull a few more people next year, but the big interest is X Factor and whether Nine runs Starstruck up against it.

Nine might have an afternoon talk program, but that won’t solve the holes in the evening time slots.

Sport will probably intrude earlier into Friday evenings in winter with NRL and AFL going live or near live.

Scotty’s Place will probably replace Burke’s Backyard in some way. Renovation Rescue will be there and the Today Show, breakfast news and ACA will be in a new studio.

The tiredness seen in the original Law and Order has spread to Criminal Intent. SVU looks good in new episodes, but both will have to be run heavily repeated next year. The new series, Trial By Jury won’t be seen until after mid year.

Ten’s lack of success in dramas will be another test in 2005. How many more Cooks can be made to spoil that broth.

Mary Bryant is supposed to be a local production, but it has lots of UK money in it, so its really and ‘international’ co-production.

For Seven the questions are many. Will Desperate Housewives and Lost from the US translate well into the Australian domestic viewing audience? Will Dancing with the Stars maintain its Tuesday night success?

Seven has Campus and Last Man Standing next year. Higher hopes for them than from local drama from Ten or Nine, after the successful revamping of All Saints and Blue Heelers.

Boston Legal
will be another US program Seven has hopes for.

But unfortunately the Seven Network has a history of badly positioning successful programs sometimes.

But the network and the others know next year there will be no more chances if there’s a repeat of this year’s underperformance.

That’s why you find there will be few promises from Seven, except to
say they know 2005 is time to perform and to execute the strategy
better than others.

Otherwise the execution will be their own. And Kerry Stokes won’t miss.