The Idol telecast was a ratings winner watched by millions, but it ran heavily over time, leaving Terry Television the difficult task of sorting out just which ratings figures applied to which time slot?

There is only one story Sunday night from Tele land. Idol. Australian Idol – a triumph for the Ten Network.

Everybody was swept aside, although the Nine Network’s vain attempt to block the juggernaut by burning off new episodes of CSI and Cold Case sort of helped stop Ten from a much more complete victory.

Ten grabbed a win in all demographics, and they won’t be throwing back the victory in total people, despite their professed strategy of concentrating on the 16 to 39 (where their share was more than 79% national).

Ten won with a 44.8% share. As good, if not better than State of Origin Games in Sydney for Nine, or the Olympics for Seven.

Ten’s share in Sydney was a huge 49%, thanks to the prospect of a winner from that city (which happened) and the fact that the final was held in Sydney at the Opera House.

Ten was almost 20 percentage points ahead of Nine on 25.7% across the network, with Seven slammed to a 15.3% share and the ABC squashed to a 11.4%. Even SBS was hammered, with a share of only 2.9%.

In Sydney, the country’s most important market, Ten won by an even bigger margin, almost 26 percentage points from Nine on 23.2%, Seven down on 14.3%, and the ABC on 10.3% and SBS on 3.2%. Ten’s lowest share recorded was in Perth on 41%.

Nine did reasonably well in Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

More than 3.22 million people on average watched the Idol telecast, that ran heavily over time. It was scheduled to finish at 9.45pm. Ten says the ratings for the program on its press release were to 2256, or 10.56pm.

That was a nice counter to the strength of the new programs Nine was running, especially Cold Case that started around 9.30pm and would have attracted viewers away from Ten had Idol been finishing anywhere around 9.30pm to 10pm.

That actually makes the figures a little hard to work out with any accuracy. The actual figures used are from Oztam and they are based on the times (for program start and finish) that Ten provided to them ahead of the telecast (as all networks do). Ten will have to change the running times sometime in the next day to more accurately reflect the real audience sizes.

Here’s why. The third most watched program was the repeat of Law and Order. It was supposed to start at 9.45pm. It didn’t start to 11pm. And yet the figures show it was watched by 2.316 million. Another network reckons the real audience was around 1.5 million viewers more than it actually had because Idol ran over. The last hour of Idol was watched, unofficially (that’s from around 10pm to 11pm) by around 3.4 million people.

In the early Oztam figures it shows up as Law and Order.

This is not saying all these millions of people were not watching Ten, it’s just in the early figures for last night they were not watching Law and Order and were actually watching Idol because of the huge time overrun.

The first figures from the networks show The Idol Verdict with 3.322 million people, up from the first part of the program with 1.802 million and then Law and Order with 2.316 million.

National Nine News was the fourth most watched show across the network, then Backyard Blitz in its hour long season’s finale, then CSI and Cold Case, Seven News was eighth, 60 Minutes was ninth and “Idolised” and ABC 7pm News was tenth.

In Sydney it was Idol the Verdict with 1.1 million people, a big audience, followed by the first part of Idol on 911,0000. Law and Order was third (on first figures) , then Backyard Blitz, Nine News and CSI. Seven’s The World Around Us was seventh, Ten’s Newlyweds was eighth, 60 Minutes was ninth and ABC News was tenth.

There are some in Nine who will tell you that they were smart to have run the fresh episodes of CSI and Cold Case on Sunday night. The figures were respectable, but not as good as they would have been on Tuesday nights, nor even in repeat on Tuesday nights.

It is important to show the capacity for a fight and not run dead on every occasion (as the commercial networks tend to do on many Friday and Saturday evenings), but perhaps Nine should have realised that with Idol gone, the rest of the week is there for Ten to lose.

I reckon there’s more than an even chance that Nine will win the week, especially with the last bit of ‘ordinariness on Australian TV’, Burke’s Backyard on Friday evening.

If Nine doesn’t win that night because of Don Burke’s goodbye, plus good showing by the News, A Current Affair and Frasier, then they have lost the plot. And that hasn’t happened yet.

Especially as Ten’s great programming idea on Friday night is to have Seinfeld marathon introduced by Kramer.

Yep, all the repeats you’ve seen before.