Nine’s highly staged revamp of the NRL Footy Show fell flat on its face.

Yep, 304,000 people (around 80,000 more than last week)
tuned in to watch what turned out to be a tame 90 minutes, but in Brisbane the
audience slumped: 14,000, or around 9%, fewer people tuned in last night than a
week earlier to watch the shenanigans.

While Nine will gloat about the 304,000 who watched in Sydney, the true situation is that the program has been in
trouble in Sydney and last night’s fakery with News Ltd
columnist Rebecca Wilson being slipped into the panel (with much publicity
about how hosts Fatty Vautin and Peter Sterling would freeze her out) is not
the answer.

Queensland is the
code’s most important market; it’s where the next club is going to be
based, it’s the other half of next week’s State of Origin, and judging by last night’s
performance, the fans up there are not happy. And deservedly so. Big Brother or the X-Factor have more drama and insight than last night’s Footy Show.

Vautin and Sterling,
who are not backward in speaking their minds (and claimed to be more interested
in the good of the game and the show last night) must have been read the riot
act by someone on high at Nine.

Here’s what Wilson said in her column that so upset Fatty and Sterlo, as reported in Crikey:

Wilson took aim under the heading
“Fatty thin on laughs,” a reference to the host of the NRL Footy Show, Fatty Vautin, a former Queensland, Australian
and Manly player.

Her insults included: “In recent years the program has deteriorated
… Last rites aren’t far away … someone at Nine read this and please, please
make some dramatic changes … the show needs resuscitation. Someone has to
tell Fatty and Sterlo (Peter Sterling a former Parramatta great) they aren’t required until
Friday (when the first NRL game is played on Nine).

Judging by that bagging from Rebecca, Vautin and Sterling
have swallowed their pride. In very stark contrast, the audience for
Eddie’s AFL Footy
in Melbourne
jumped back to a very strong 470,000, equal to the year’s best.

The 304,000 that watched the NRL show was also the year’s
high, but the drop in Brisbane (and the
elimination of any Brisbane link on a regular
basis with the program this year) has obviously soured viewers in the Sunshine State.