On the face of it, another Thursday night, another win to Seven, but that wasn’t quite the story as audience figures and share figures show that Nine was surprisingly weak on the night, while overall viewing levels being down.

Despite what was a good rebound by Nine News, Nine actually had its worst performance of the year so far when it finished third in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth (and second to Seven in Sydney and Brisbane).

Lost was the most watched program, but with a lower audience of 1.88 million people, Seven won the battle of the networks, but Nine News in Sydney and A Current Affair beat Seven News nationally and in Sydney.

On the face of it, a goodish night for Seven and a somewhat stronger night for Nine, but Seven actually had its biggest win of the week: more than 9 points. Seven’s share was 33.4%, to Nine’s 24.2%. Ten was close up in third on 23.7%, the ABC was on 14.3% and SBS on 4.4%. In Sydney Nine (25.2%) was a bit better, but still lost to Seven (33.8%) but in Melbourne, Nine was relegated to third place! Seven won with a 33.0% share to Ten on 25.1% and Nine with 24.1%.

Now that’s a turn-up, Nine finishing third in one of its strongest market (after Brisbane). Nine finished second to Seven in Brisbane. Nine has finished third in Adelaide and Perth before, but Melbourne? Both Seven and Nine’s audience shares were down on the previous Thursday.

Nine said in its ratings release Friday that “Seven loses viewers,” which it did, but so did Nine, apart from the News and ACA (Nine’s mid evening programs, ER, Getaway and Wife Swap were lower).

So why that rare victory for ACA and Nine News? The huge monster showcase going off on The Price Is Right was the official explanation. It lifted viewer numbers. More than $600,000 worth of prizes are good for ratings – bad for the budget – but not too hard if it’s a one-off. However, a look at the figures showed not much change in the audience for The Price is Right, around 439,000, which is in the ballpark of its figures with the new showcase. So it would seem the monster showcase was a waste!

Seven’s Deal or No Deal saw its audience fall back under 700,000 to 690,000 or so, but viewer did not switch to Nine, preferring instead to turn their TV sets off altogether.

Audience levels seemed a bit lower, especially in Melbourne where the Grand Prix festivities attracted big crowds (and will do again today, tomorrow and of course Sunday afternoon). The Ten Network will be happy with that and its better performance last night, one its the best this year.

Ten’s Medical Investigation finished fourth with 1.286 million has certainly gained traction. Lost was first with 1.885 million, The Amazing Race was second, Nine News was third, My Restaurant Rules was 5th, ACA, 6th, Law and Order SVU was 7th, Raymond, 8th Home and Away 9th and Seven News was 10th.

Not helping Nine were less than brilliant performances from Getaway, ER (just under the crucial one million on 989,000), Wife Swap and Extreme Makeover (a repeat).

Seven’s Sunrise is now a regular top 40 entry in the most watched shows each day, finishing 39th with 357,000 people. Rival Today finished 58th with just over 242,000 people.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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