After drawing last week with Seven and losing the two previous weeks, also to Seven, Nine reckons it has a chance of snaring its second victory for the year this week. So far this year Nine has won only one week compared to all four last year, a poor start to 2005 by the Kerry Packer-owned Network.

Seven and Nine drew 28.4% all after Nine won Saturday night and Seven won Friday night. Ten was a distant third as usual, with the ABC and SBS following.

Seven won Sydney again. It has beaten Nine in Sydney in all four weeks so far and it got closer in Melbourne to Nine. Nine also won Brisbane easily, but Seven won Adelaide and Perth.

There was actually a sense of relief at Nine at the news because they didn’t lose three in a row. But then they didn’t win either, a circumstance they believe they can reverse this week with the AFL and NRL Footy Shows back this Thursday night around the country and the NRL Friday night football returning to strengthen Nine in Sydney and Brisbane with the 2005 season kicking off that night.

Stronger performances on both nights could very well produce enough extra viewers to get Nine over the line in a close race. Seven has realised the greater competition on Thursday night and “done a Nine” by delaying the start of its blockbuster Lost and then the very surprising success, The Amazing Race.

Instead of Lost starting at 8.30pm and Race at 9.30pm, Seven has delayed the start to 8.40pm, forcing viewers of Lost to stay watching until well after The Footy Shows start on Nine at 9.30pm.

Seven has added the extra time to My Restaurant Rules at 7.30pm, which on last week’s effort, could do with a bit of extra time. Nine added 10 minutes to the first program of Starstruck when it started at 7.30pm on Mondays to try and hold viewers and stop them heading for the debuting episode of Desperate Housewives on Seven.

Seven was quick to point out the failure of that ploy, so will it be repeated this week? Starstruck is now propping up Nine’s Saturday nights until it dies.

Seeing Lost is up against the faltering ER at 8.30pm, that shouldn’t be too much of a worry, but Ten’s Medical Investigation at 9.30pm is building audience and The FootyShows are popular, so the extra 10 minutes ploy could be a waste of time.

Lost’s audience fell by more than 200,000 last week, the first time it has experienced a sharp weakness. The same happened to Desperate Housewives on Valentine’s Day but it returned above the 2 million mark the following Monday.

Viewing levels were down a bit last Thursday night, especially in Melbourne. Seven is hoping that was a one-off event!

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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