At the Battle of Waterloo, the turning point many historians agree was when
Bonaparte didn’t commit his Imperial Guard, his best and bravest troops to the
battle, just when Wellington was
under enormous pressure in the afternoon.

Instead Napoleon waited and waited, and the Imperial Guard didn’t launch their
assault until too late in the day. So why this rather brief military analogy?

Well next Tuesday could very well be a very important night in Australian
commercial TV this year. Not as important as Waterloo but after being thoroughly done over by Seven over
the past three weeks, Nine is throwing its version of the Imperial Guard at
Seven, in an attempt to hold the line though, not win the battle.

Nine has flicked the terminal Starstruck to Saturday evening and oblivion (as
forecast in the second sealed section yesterday) and put Survivor: Palau
in its place.

Whether Survivor will be enough is debateable. Dancing with the Stars beat its
predecessor late last year, Survivor: Vanuatu.

And Nine has gone to the cupboard and ordered up the elite unit, the latest of
the CSI genre of programs, CSI New York. Yours, exclusive to Nine on Tuesday at
9.20pm, right after the original
CSI at 8.30pm.

This is the program Nine bid hundreds of thousand of dollars per episode for in
an auction last year. It was an expensive buy, but is now vital to the Network
withstanding the force of Seven’s assault.

Force, according to the industry, Nine doesn’t have in the way of firepower in
the programming locker at the moment.

The series version of The Alice may be available in the second half of the
year, some me-too programs to fight Seven’s Forensic Investigators are in the
pipeline, while The Block and some of the one off successes won’t be around til
mid-winter.

Hence CSI New York next Tuesday night and beyond.


Starstruck
is dead and will die a slow death on Saturday nights, out of sight
and out of mind. No one in the Nine management team watches much TV on Friday
and Saturday nights, unless they are home with the family, and there’s not many
of those at the top of Nine’s or the PBL management team.

After being done so badly by Seven on Tuesday night of this week, especially in
Sydney by strong showings for Seven by Home and Away, Dancing with the Stars,
and All Saints Nine is making a desperate attempt to reverse or at best hold
the line.

By running a program that’s expected to debut well, Nine is hoping to attract
enough people to the 9.30-10.30pm slot that it will offset Seven’s ratings
advantage earlier in the night and then hand on enough viewers to whatever
follows it (Third Watch?) to win enough share to draw or win the night.

Desperate times breed desperate solutions.

If this doesn’t work, then Nine will face a cold autumn and early winter of
battling for first or second place with Seven.

A year ago it was Nine first, daylight second, then Seven or Ten on most
nights, especially earlier in the year.

The most important lesson for Nine from Tuesday nights is that its top rating
regular program of the week has been CSI.

It was done over on Tuesday night (as it was a week earlier). One point six
million viewers for Nine between 8.30pm
and 9.30pm and no help on the
night, only to mitigate the eventual loss to Seven.

It used to win the night for Nine, with Cold Case at 9.30pm raming home the advantage. That’s the lesson for
Nine.

No wonder they are flogging the doubling of programs (Without a Trace on
Wednesday night, for example).

You’d think Nine might have put CSI New York into Monday night after Desperate
Housewives
, instead of Cold Case and switched the latter back to Tuesday night
where it was such a ratings winner in 2004.

On Monday night Seven won very narrowly after a strong performance
by Nine. To beat Seven on such a strong night as Mondays would
surely be smarter than
trying to stop the rot on Tuesday.

Wednesday is Nine’s night, Thursday is Seven’s.

Nine is in trouble, and don’t mention Sydney.
The Network’s woes in the richest TV market in this country are going to be a
problem for Nine and PBL for quite a while. So what answers does the PBL CEO, John Alexander have to this problem?

The PBL share price fell another 25c Wednesday on worries about Nine’s results
and pressures at ACP magazines. It is now almost $2 under the high of $17.50 reached in mid January at the
height of the cross media speculation.

Poor results at Nine might not spell problems for PBL with Burswood Casino
coming into the books, but in terms of bonuses and deferred bonuses for the
CEO, they could very well be an incentive killer.