What happened to reality
at Ten?
This
was in a release about the start of this year’s Australian Idol talent
search: “In 2005, the Australian Idollive performance shows were
Sunday’s number one program among 16-39s for 11 of the 15 weeks. The total
audience built to 1.56m and averaged 1.33m. Monday’s Live Verdictshows averaged 1.11m viewers
over the series and won 16– 54 timeslot.” Well
yes, but the audiences were down by between 30 to 49 per cent over the series and Idol was consistently beaten (except for the
final) by programs on other networks, unlike 2004 when the later part of the
series and then the finals out rated the combined audiences of all the other
networks. Is
that why Ten and producers Grundys are sweeping the
country in an ever expanding way – going to seven new places – to try and find
performers with the X-Factor (sorry to remind you of the failure of
2005)? And the
reason for the as yet unannounced but hinted at format changes: more
eliminations, mini finals etc perhaps? A sign
of the problems they is that the upper limit for the
performers is now 30, instead of 25. That means they will be looking for older,
more experienced singers with more developed voices – Glenn Dyer


Foxtel brings home the bacon.
The
massive investment in Foxtel looks like it is finally beginning to pay
off. Foxtel has announced that it has
moved into an operating profit after years of losses. There are also improvements
in subscriber numbers, revenue and ratings. According
to Chief Executive Officer Kim Williams, Foxtel had 1,074,000 direct
connected subscribers at the end of last year, an increase of 9% since
31
December 2004. More than 80% of subscribers had chosen the digital
service. The
total subscriber base, including wholesale customers, grew to
1,220,000. But for those watching and trying to guess which technology
will dominate the
future there was an interesting statistic released by Roy Morgan
yesterday
.
For the first time ever, the number of Australians who have a
Broadband Internet connection at home exceeds the number of those that
have Pay
TV. In the year to December 2005 over
4.6 million Australians (28% of the population aged 14 and over) had
Broadband
connected at home while less than 4.1 million (25%) had Pay TV at home.
As the home computer converges with the home television, pay television
providers will effectively face competition from the mass of content –
some of
it free – available online. – Margaret Simons

How ABC Melbourne is setting records and trouncing 3AW. We mentioned yesterday that 774 ABC Melbourne had delivered close to
its highest ever cumulative audience in the first ratings survey of
2006. In fact, it was actually the highest on record and Aunty is
flogging its arch-rival 3AW when using this measure.
Cumulative audience is the total number of different people who listen
to a ratio station for at least 15 minutes a week over a ratings period. This
is different from ratings share which also accounts for how long each
listener tunes in. Like 2GB and 2UE, 3AW has a very old audience and retirees have plenty
of time to listen for hours on end. Therefore, while 3AW’s 12.9% share
in survey one was still ahead of 774’s 12.4%, Aunty’s cumulative
audience is a stunning 240,000 larger. 774’s cumulative audience soared from 739,000 in the final survey
of 2005 to the record 883,000 in the opening survey this year. By way
of contrast, 3AW’s fell from 701,000 to 643,000. Doesn’t it seem odd
that we all report that 3AW won the ratings, when in fact 240,000 more
people actually tuned in to Aunty than 3AW at some point each week over
the past six weeks? So what’s behind this unprecedented success? Unlike its sister
stations in Brisbane and Sydney, which have both slumped to eighth
position, 774 has only had minimal change to its line-up – with
Virginia Trioli’s replacement in Drive, Lindy Burns, the only complete
newcomer. 774 traditionally has a strong opening survey of the year,
but equivalent surveys in 2005, and 2004 didn’t match the latest performance in either share or cumulative audience measures. – Stephen Mayne, regular on ABC Sydney, Melbourne and Tasmania

Eddies mixed message. Thursday’s papers would have us believe Nine is
heading for another round of chopping. But that’s not the “steady as she goes” message CEO
Eddie has been spreading at Willoughby and interstate. In fact
the difference in messages is very striking, leading to some to wonder if Eddie
is being deliberately evasive in saying one thing and allowing the
other (cost cuts) to continue happening. But the
message from the analysts briefing from John Alexander was that PBL managers,
and that includes Eddie, will have to jump when told by head
office. Nine is
looking for flat or lower costs for the second half taking into account the
written down costs of the Commonwealth Games. For example Business Sunday
has been stopped from travelling to places like
Perth because of
the cost of air fares and accommodation and other current affairs programs have
had travel severely curtailed for the same reason. – Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV
ratings:

The Winners

Seven, easily for the second night in a row in what was
probnably a more convincing win than Tuesday night when Dancing With The Stars
did the numbers. Ten did well, coming within a whisker of second on what is its
strongest night of the week. Seven’s most popular was Prison Break (1.499
million) and settling around 1.4 to 1.5 million. Today Tonight was second with
1.475 million, Seven News third, 1.474 million, House on Ten fourth with 1.432
million and Home and Away fifth with 1.389 million. Nine’s best was next,
McLeod’s Daughters with 1.389 million. But the clincher for Seven was the Winter
Games, 1.273 million from after Prison Break till midnight and beyond. those
numbers swamp the opposition completely.
The Losers Nine, with Bert’s Family Feud is now in danger
territory: its audience slid under half a million last night to 496,000 the
lowest ever. All the oomph from last week expended. Deal or No Deal comfortably
ahead with 878,000 on Seven. Nine facing a familiar headache. Temptation was
again held to less than a million with 908,000. Its making no headway
whatsoever. Ten’s The Biggest Loser still held above a million on 1.105 million
at 7 pm, while the Jamie Oliver cooking thingie at 7.30 (Italian Escape) did
1.159 million and beat Seven’s Beyond Tomorrow (1.150 million) and not firing as
well as last year. Ten’s Bondi rescue with 1.02 million added viewers from the
week before, meaning Ten had a good night with its 16 to 39 age
group.
News & CA Seven News and Today Tonight won across the board in
quite a crushing night. Nine’s losses were underscored by the slump in
Melbourne’s audience at 6 pm. Nine lost Melbourne by 83,000 viewers, quite a
thumping. In Sydney the loss was 36,000. Yes you can blame Bert and Family Feud,
but that’s not the whole answer. Seven were closing the gap in Melbourne late
last year and during summer (when some TV writers put their brains in deep
freeze). ACA continues to pay for the summer holiday, even though the audience
is a little better in Sydney, thanks to the pick up Sydney news audiences. If
that falls below the 300,000 mark tonight or Friday, then Nine’s rebound might
have ended.The ABC remained under the million mark its accustomed to (976,000)
and Ten news was again solid on 824,000.
The Stats Seven with 32.3% to Nine with 24.7%, Ten with 24.4%, ABC
with 14.9% and SBS with 3.7%. Seven won everywhere and Nine finished third in
Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
Glenn Dyer’s comments Although the margin was smaller than Tuesday night
in many ways it was a better quality win for Seven and once again exposed the
paucity of Nine’s inventory. Nine just doesn’t have the firepower and talk of
giving up the rattings battle for profit is a furphy because to make a profit
you have to have programs people want to watch. Nine has problems in that it
has some programs that are attractive, (and a few to come). Last night saw the
danger signals flash bright amber for Bert’s Family Feud, Temptation and ER.
Its is in an Emergency Room of its own at 9.30 pm Wednesdays. When the boredom
of Winter Olympics beats a quality (but predictable) drama like ER, you know its
past its useby date with viewers. Tonight its Lost and Seven’s night. Nine has
thrown in the towel by scheduling the very turgid Midsummer Murders (surely the
worst UK police drama ever) at 8.30 pm to 10.40pm.Viewers will be elsewhere.
Seven will win week two of official ratings tonight. And finally the West Wing
returns to Australian TV on the ABC tonight. In a reasonable timeslot of 9.30 pm
and not buried as it was by Nine in the depths of the evening. To me the
program on before it Bomber Crew might help West Wing by providing a good lead
in. Bomber Crew is a sequel to last year’s series on flying a Spitfire. Next, I
suppose we will have dropping a bomb and a closest to the factory competition to
revive all the nostalgia about World War Two? It is becoming a bit
offensive!

Peter Fray

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