2006 ratings battle under way

The 2006 ratings battle has already started with Nine and Seven circling each other and suddenly going a touch coy on the timing of some important program switches in January. Nine’s decision to send A Current Affair on a month long summer holiday from December 16 has been the catalyst.

Seven’s Today Tonight sees Naomi Robson on holidays as of Friday night after her most successful year in the chair, to be replaced from tonight by Anna Coren, who will host until mid-January.

Over at Nine’s A Current Affair, Ellen Fanning takes over from Monday night and will host until December 16 when the program goes on a summer holiday, to return on January 16. Ray Martin made no mention of his future on Friday night in his sign-off for the year, except to say that he will be back for the Christmas Eve Carols from Melbourne, a Nine tradition. In fact the phrase “see you next year” or “in the New Year” was absent from Ray’s sign-off.

There are also strong hints that the new Nine look for 2006 will be revealed in the now traditional long promo associated with the broadcast of the New Year’s Eve celebrations on Sydney Harbour. Seven is being guarded because it believes Nine will come back with a new look ACA and there have even been suggestions that it could be a News and Current Affairs hour, but that would be too radical.

But while ACA will be on holidays, all the golf, cricket, tennis, Christmas Carols and New Year’s Eve celebrations will all be just a smokescreen for the intensity of preparation for next year. There are too many egos, too many bonuses and too many careers on the line in 2006 to be able to have a month long break this summer.

Summer TV in full swing
TV viewing hit a low point on Saturday night with viewers just not connecting with what was on offer. Seven won the night (with a share of 28.8% to Nine with 25.5%), while Nine won the first week of summer ratings with a share of 27.4% to Seven with 25.7%, Ten on 21.7%, the ABC on 18.1% and SBS on 7.1%.

The best example of the ordinariness of the Saturday night offering was the size of the audience for the second part of the Airbus/Qantas plug for the A380 cattle carrier. It was the only program to gather more than a million viewers and it was taken from pay TV.

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners Week two of summer and an easy win to Nine thanks to Renovation Rescue (1.221 million for a ratings reject), Nine News (1.190 million), a repeat of Backyard Blitz (957,000) and Christmas With The Women’s Weekly (979,000). The ABC’s My Favourite Film finished third with 1.072 million and was entertaining, even if the viewer choices were distinctly odd. Lord of the Rings first; Amelie, second? Gawd. But it was viewer choice and it says much about what current viewing interest is rather than the intrinsic worth of the movies. But why couldn’t this be turned into a six part program that looked at a longer list with different panels, with the odd quiz thrown in a sort of Flicks and Flecks modelled on Spicks and Specks? A good idea wasted and out of ratings as well.
The Losers It’s summer, no losers, just tragic shows that when you look at them you can see why they didn’t work in ratings proper. Smallville on Ten with 827,000. Brainiac also on Ten with 650,000. And the animated series, Family Guy only had 599,000 from 8pm to 8.30pm. But I wonder how many complaints Seven received because parts of it were a touch on the Big Brother Uncut side. Very risque for that time of a Sunday night, even in a non-ratings period.
News & CA Sunday night and even with audiences low, Nine is a favourite of many viewers. Nine News (1.190 million) was a clear winner from Seven (1.061 million). ABC News was close behind with 1.034 million. Ten News at 5pm was watched by 668,000.
The Stats Nine with a solid 33.3%, Seven with 25.0% ,Ten with 19.3% just ahead of the ABC with 18.8% and SBS with 6.7%. Nine won everywhere bar Perth where Seven won, of course.
Glenn Dyer’s comments Nine’s win was probably more due to viewing habits than the attraction of any program. My Favourite Movie was clearly the best new program last night and was a good idea wasted I think. Tonight the progress of Headland on Seven will be the main blood sport.