Pay TV’s lifeblood:

The
importance of sport to Pay TV has been underlined dramatically by the viewing
levels over the last week when, without any live local sport, audiences
plummeted. The dramatic difference in audience levels shows the importance of the C7 case
in the Federal Court where Seven claims its sports
channel was killed off by competitors.

As US
and UK experience shows, without live
sport, Pay TV loses much of its attractions for TV viewers and becomes just another viewing
option.

Last
week was perhaps the best example so far this year. The AFL
Grand Final attracted more than 3.38 million viewers to the Ten Network, plus a further 911,000 on regional TV
stations. The NRL finals attracted 1.15 million viewers nationally for the
Saturday night game between the Wests Tigers and St
George Illawarra and 1.215 million for the Sunday
afternoon final between Parramatta and North
Queensland.

But on
Pay TV last week, the biggest audience was 94,000 for the Fox Sports NRL show.
That’s just under a third of the size of the best audiences most weeks in winter
when live NRL and AFL games are carried on Foxtel.
Without
live sport, viewing levels in both prime time and in the 6am to midnight period
for Pay TV both dropped, especially in regional areas.

Very
few other non-sport programs appear on the top 40 list each
week. But
last weekend, without any sport (as it was the last three weekends with the AFL
and NRL both in finals) these non sport programs appear heavily on the list of
most watched programs. But no
program cracked the 100,000 viewer level.

The footy finals ratings battle:

A final
word on the weekend football finals with the figures for North
Queensland’s win over Parramatta. The
Brisbane
audience jumped very sharply, to 445,000 people on average compared to the
334,000 that watched the Saturday night game. That
put the NRL well ahead of the AFL Grand Final in Brisbane where the audience was
342,000.

But the
AFL audience in Sydney averaged just over 991,000, compared to
745,000 on average for the Saturday night NRL final and 725,000 for the Sunday
NRL game. This
Sunday evening’s NRL Grand Final will top the AFL figure, but not by as much as last year due to the rise of the Swans.

Meanwhile, the regional
audience for the AFL Grand Final totalled 911,000 viewers. That means around
4.3 million people watched the AFL Grand Final on average, plus hundreds of thousand
more in pubs, clubs and homes across the country.

Last night’s TV
ratings:

The WinnersNine streeted the opposition Sunday night, thanks to the NRL
preliminary final boosting audiences and the solid performance of the
Top 50 Australian shows program celebrating 50 years of TV. Ten did
relatively well and Seven was again scrunched in a bad Sunday night. It
can only look at the 1.2 million viewers Ten got for the first outing
of its version of Australia’s Brainiest Kid and shake
its head, after not renewing the series. Last night Seven’s Home and Away again thumped Nine’s Temptation by
260,000 viewers. Grey’s Anatomy did well second with 1.495 million. Eddie
McGuire’s Millionaire was Nine’s best, with 1.416 million..
The Losers

Seven on Sunday night. Last night, no one really but a
couple of programs are weak. The Alice is dying and Nine won’t be renewing. Its
audience fell under 900,000 people and that’s on the way to being
terminal. Idol did OK for Ten in the 16 to 39 age group, which is what it’s all
about, but it still shed 300,000
viewers from Sunday night’s stronger performance. It ran behind The Great Outdoors on Seven but ahead of The Alice. 24 is
also down in the dying class for Seven with only 852,000 viewers at 9.30pm last night. The concept is a bit old hat
now.

News & CA Nine News on Sunday night had a big night out thanks to the
NRL final in Sydney: just over 2.076 million and 694,000 in Sydney. The glow
continued Monday as Nine News beat Seven nationally but faded in Sydney where
Seven reasserted its usual victory. Despite the story on the mad killer
confession on A Current Affair, Today Tonight won the 6.30pm battle nationally
and in Sydney. The usual big wins in Perth helped Seven again.The ABC News and 7.30
Report
had reasonable nights with 1.123 million and 999,000 viewers
respectively. Australian Story with 1.136 million was the ABC’s best on the
night.
The Stats Sunday night it was Nine with 37.6% from Ten with 23.2%,
Seven with 19.1%, the ABC with 15.8% and SBS with 4.3%. Monday night it was
a draw: Nine and Seven finishing with a share of 27.3% each. Ten had
22.2%, the ABC 15.0% and SBS 8.3% thanks to Mythbusters which was watched by
952,000 people.
Glenn Dyer’s
comments
Sunday night was clearly Nine, thanks to the NRL and the 50
year stunt programming. Back to the trenches Monday night and Nine’s problems
again emerged, with only Eddie McGuire bumping up his audience. The Alice saw a
huge turn-off from Temptation, and then a big turn-on back to Millionaire,
proving once again the audience are not fools, despite some in and outside the
industry believing they are. Tonight is Dancing With The Stars for Seven, which will
win the night. Nine is running new episodes of CSI and CSI New York from 8.30pm to try and soften the blow. Ten will be
scrunched.

Peter Fray

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