Commercial TV’s disturbing viewing trends. We may
only be three weeks into the 2006 ratings battle but already there are some
dramatic moves happening in viewing patterns among the three commercial
networks. Ten and
Nine are losing audience nationally and in some crucial markets, such as
Sydney. Ten is
making gains in some markets (especially Melbourne) and demographics, while Nine
is picking up share among the over 55s. Seven’s
share is up all over the place, primarily due to better figures for
Seven News, Today Tonight, Dancing With The Stars, Prison Break, Commander in
Chief
and the network’s performance on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights where it has
picked up on last year. For the
first three weeks of survey, Seven’s audience in All People is up 3.7%, Nine’s
down 5.0% and Ten’s off 2.3%. Nine’s sole audience gain is in the over 55s where it’s up
12.5%: ie. Nine is skewing old. Nine’s
younger audiences are deserting the network: the key 16 to 39 has seen
a drop of 16.5%, while in the 25 to 54 age group, Nine’s share has
fallen 13.6% in the first three weeks). The
latter will be a serious blow, as Nine had vowed in its
season launch – and push to ad agencies – late last year to attack the 25 to 54
age group, which is responsible for around 80% of the $2.8 billion or so spent
on metro commercial TV in Australia each
year. In Sydney, though, the biggest problem is the loss of audience for all
networks, Seven included. Nine would say its doing better in Sydney
with its loss in All People at 2.3% compared to Seven’s 2.7%. Sydney
is the single biggest market for advertisers: they are not happy at the loss of
share for commercial TV and that it is continuing into 2006.
Glenn Dyer


Viewers underwhelmed by Oscars.
The Nine Network started its Oscars
broadcast from 7.30pm last night with the Red Carpet special featuring
Richard Wilkins asking inane puzzlers to the likes of Meryl Streep
(Wilkins asked do these awards matter? To which she said yep, these are
the ones that count. Game set and match to Ms Streep). At 8pm it was to
the ceremony proper for the next three or so hours – long hours. So
what did viewers think? Not, much. The Oscars kept Nine in the hunt
last night with an average 1.099 million, up 126,000 on average from
last year, while the red carpet strolling averaged 1.043 million last
night, down 121,000 from last year. But two years ago the Oscars awards
averaged 1.6 million. Each year there has been Australian involvement
and last year Cate Blanchett won. This year only one statuette for
Orstralia and viewers didn’t care. Desperate Housewives, Commander in Chief and The Great
Outdoors
on Seven all went head to head with the Oscars and won, just like last year when Desperate Housewives cleaned
up. Glenn Dyer

Media moves. According to Sydney
media reports, former Nine newsreader and journalist Helen Kapalos finishes up at A Current Affair this Friday – she’s heading for the Ten Network in Melbourne to co-anchor the News at Five. Meanwhile Seven’s Anna Coren,
another former Nine reporter and now host of Seven’s True Stories and the summer
edition of Today Tonight,
is bound for Los Angeles to become the network’s LA correspondent. At
the ABC, former Washington correspondent Leigh Sales has returned to
Sydney to become the bi-media national security correspondent. That
means she will be filing on national security stories for ABC radio and
TV, working out of the Sydney newsroom. It’s a self-generated role and
Sales’ move will no doubt get up the noses of other ABC news and
current affairs types who like chasing spooks, terrorists and such. And
finally, Nine’s longtime London correspondent Michael Usher, who
managed to keep Nine in the hunt at the 2004 Athens Olympics and 2006
Turin Winter Olympics, as well as producing fine reporting on other big
stories, has returned to Sydney. Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV
ratings

The Winners Seven again despite the Oscars on Nine. They should be
terminated with prejudice. We are over them. And that’s not me talking. Just
1.099 million watched the awards last night, 1.043 million the carpet stuff
1.842 million watched Desperate Housewives and 1.338 million watched Commander
in Chief
straight after Housewives. Housewives‘s audience was down from the week
before and down from a year ago and Commander and Chief was down on its
premier a week earlier. But Seven still won. And they were helped by Seven News
(1.512 million) and Today Tonight (1.484 million). Nine News was that network’s
best at No 5 with 1.310 million, then Seven’s Home and Away with 1.255 million,
then Ten’s best was the elimination episode of The Biggest Loser (1.233 million.
Then came Seven’s The Great Outdoors (1.198 million) Nine’s A Current Affair,
languishing with 1.190 million, then the two Oscars broadcasts for Nine.The
Oscars audience are around half a million or so viewers down on the 1.6 million
average of 2004.
The Losers Losers? Well Bert Newton and his Family Feud at 512,000
represents a solidifying of his viewing base, but Wheel of Fortune at 5 pm still
remains more popular with 514,000 and Deal or No Deal is well ahead with
865,000. Bert’s little pick up did nothing for Nine News last night. With the
Oscars, Desperate Housewives and Commander in Chief dominating viewers last
night – not many real losers, except Nine’s A Current Affair. Host Tracy Grimshaw
is looking grim, sounding grim and the ratings are grim. Time to use a lifeline,
I think, Tracy and producers! Nine’s Temptation regained the million mark
(1.009 million) with a new champion closing in on a million bucks who injects
more life into each episode than Ed Phillips does in a
month!
News & CA Seven News and Today Tonight again won well because of
good performances in Sydney and Melbourne and another pasting of Nine in Perth.
Nine News and ACA won Brisbane. Seven News’s wins in Sydney and Melbourne were
solid. There is a solid turn-off from Nine News in Sydney to ACA .The ABC
News was watched by 1.025 million at 7pm and now seems to be withstanding The
Biggest Loser
. The 7.30 Report averaged 862,000. Four Corners, 650,000 and Media
Watch
fell sharply to 526,000. It needs Andrew Denton behind it to help. But it
was up against Desperate Housewives and the Oscars.
The Stats Seven with 32.2%, then Nine with 28.4%, Ten with 19.9%,
the ABC with 13.1% and SBS with 6.4%. Seven won everywhere bar Brisbane where it
drew with Nine.
Glenn Dyer’s comments Seven won, Nine lost and couldn’t even get close
with the Oscars. How much do they pay? The other networks get excluded from the
Red Carpet and yet manage to make hay at Nine’s expense. Tonight, though, is a
real test for some programs. Magda’s Funny Bits on Nine at 7.30pm, up against
Dancing With The Stars. Can it improve? And Rove Live on Ten at 9.30pm. Ten
promised a “liver” and edgier Rove in 2006. Viewers are still waiting. It’s
still derivative and not much changed from 2005. The ABC has the first of an
eight part series on the Australian-created musical on Dusty Springfield. Now,
it’s all well and good supporting a local example of the Yarts, but the musical
is about to start in Sydney (and presumably the producers want it to be a
commercial success). It’s a questionable use of taxpayers money to run this: A
one hour special if warranted, yes, but four hours of prime time TV promotion
over eight weeks? Who organised this?

Peter Fray

Save 50% on a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

The US election is in a little over a month. It seems that there’s a ridiculous twist in the story, almost every day.

Luckily for new Crikey subscribers, we’ve teamed up with one of America’s best publications, The Atlantic for the election race. Subscribe now to make sense of it all, and you’ll get a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year’s digital subscription to The Atlantic (usually $70AUD), BOTH for just $129.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW