Seven won’t clone 60 Minutes

Blaring
all over the back page of the Sydney Sunday Telegraph
was a story suggesting that former Nine Network newsreader in Sydney,
Jim Waley, was talking to Seven. But if you read the column piece by
Sandra Lee carefully you would have
realised the headline said more than the story – Waley did have a
brief conversation with Seven at the time of his legal victory over
Nine several months ago.

As part
of his settlement Waley can’t talk to anyone else
other than Nine for several more months and you’d think that Seven is quite happy with its current newsreading roster.

Ian Ross has a couple of years to go tormenting Nine in the Sydney 6pm
news timeslot and others are in the wings, including Anna Coren and the
talented young reporter, Sam Armytage. In Melbourne, Seven has just
re-signed its newsreader, Peter Mitchell, for another four years. His
6pm news has pinched viewers for Seven this year and narrowed the gap
behind Nine to less than 100,000 on average from 150,000 a night a year
ago.

But the
most intriguing comment in the Waley story was the
suggestion that the Seven network was eyeing a 60
Minutes
-style current affairs program. Well,
it’s not. While such a program is the dream of some at Seven, it isn’t the dream of News and Public Affairs boss,
Peter Meakin.

He’s of
the belief that after the abortive attempt to match Nine with the program known as Witness (Witless to many in
the industry) Seven would be mad to go down that route. There are the added costs and lack of a timeslot, plus
the uncertainty of being able to match 60 Minutes in an economic
fashion.

After
all, the big story in TV in 2006 will be cost control and maximising soft revenues, even on Seven. The Network
is already raising eyebrows in the investment community with its
spending at a time when revenue gains have been meagre
for the past two months.

A high cost, low revenue, low
rating 60 Minutes clone would be the last thing Seven would be wanting to flog
to advertisers and investors in 2006.

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners Nine won narrowly, no thanks to the return of Super Nanny.
More due to Cold Case at 9.30pm which easily won its
timeslot with an average of 1.182 million viewers, while 24
was again all but ignored by viewers with 800,000 people. Ten’s fat program, The
Biggest Loser
also beat 24. Seven will again look at the night and wonder, how
did we lose it? Seven’s Grey’s Anatomy was the most watched program with 1.654
million, followed by Today Tonight (1.563 million) and Home and Away (1.562 million) and then
Seven News (1.411 million). Eddie’s Millionaire was Nine’s most
watched program with 1.402 million. Super Nanny with 1.194 million people from
7.30pm was beaten by Seven’s The Great Outdoors (1.237
million).
The Losers

Ten, with a less than impressive night even in its target 16-39 demographic. The verdict episode of Idol was watched by 1.047 million,
down 300,000 on the Sunday evening performance episode and down 150,000 on the
previous Monday, but still Ten’s best performing program on the night. Numb3rs
continues to lose count, this time the audience averaged 909,000, down 160,000
on a week earlier. Ten’s The Biggest Loser was watched by 879,000 people at
9.30pm, but that was better than 24 on
Seven.

News & CA Monday night and there’s no habitual ties to Nine, especially
in Sydney where the network had its worst Monday night from 6-7pm for
months. Seven News was watched by 425,000, boosted by the exclusive bought-in
interview with Bali jail inmate and alleged druggie, Michelle Leslie. The Seven
audience was a massive 139,000 ahead of Nine which was watched by just 286,000
people on average. The audience for A Current Affair wasn’t much better, just
299,000 compared to 432,000 for Today Tonight. In Melbourne though a different
story, as usual, Nine won. Nine won the news battle in Brisbane but TT beat ACA.
Adelaide saw wins to both Seven programs and there was the usual win
for Seven in Perth. That mean wins nationally for Seven News and Today Tonight.
The ABC 7pm News saw its audience bounce back above the one million mark to
1.121 million as Juanita Phillips returned from maternity leave. And the 7.30 Report
also rose from last week, hitting 960,000 people with “Red” Kerry back from
leave.
The Stats Nine won 28.1% to Seven with 27.6%, Ten way back on
19.5%, the ABC with 16.9% and SBS on 7.9% (thanks to Mythbusters). Seven won
Sydney narrowly, 27.8% to 27.1%, lost Melbourne and Adelaide convincingly to Nine, but won
Brisbane and Perth
easily.
Glenn Dyer’s
comments
So with three of the five
markets going with Seven, including two of the big three East Coast markets,
Seven will be wondering, what happened? A bit of head scratching will help them
to see that the old bugbear of Seven’s late evening programming hurt them. Tonight though no such worries. Dancing With The Stars will run from
7.30pm to 9.15pm when All Saints starts. There’s a
repeat of CSI against Dancing from 8.30pm and also three episodes (one
new) of Frasier to fill in some gaps. Seven will
win.

Peter Fray

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