Millionaire set for a risky hiatus.
Now
this is strange. Fresh from lamenting the error in taking A Current Affair off
air over Christmas-New Year, Nine CEO Eddie McGuire and his programming team
are resting Millionaire over the so-called non-rating Easter-school holidays
fortnight.

The
news coincides with suggestions that Eddie and his
team are finding it tough to select a replacement for him (why doesn’t
he just continue doing the program – he’s very successful?). The
expectation was for a decision to be made this week because Eddie’s last show hosting
goes to air next Monday. Nine
has tested a growing cast of hopefuls, including James Brayshaw, Kerry Anne Kennerley, Deborah
Hutton, Richard Wilkins and Mark Nicholas. But I
reckon they should have a squiz at that Clever actor, Georgie Parker. Her
biggest talent is that she’s a highly polished actor (which Eddie was, in all
reality) and knows how to turn on the charm and use her voice. The way she’s
trying to hold together the floundering Clever, which returns this Sunday at
6.30pm is very impressive. Dropping programs from
the schedule can be dangerous if not explained properly. Late last year Nine surprisingly dropped its 4.30pm news for two days,
causing at least half the audience to desert to Seven or Ten or nowhere. They
haven’t returned, even after several months. Continuity
is everything in TV. Millionaire is out of
the schedule for two Mondays, to be replaced by new episodes of Cold Case at
8.30pm, while Nine runs the first two parts of a 9.30pm adult soap called Hotel Babylon. Glenn Dyer

Logies hosts. Adam Hills (Spicks and Specks) will reveal the Logie nominees
next Monday in Sydney at a function for TV Week.
It will be the first of a number of big TV functions next week as part
of an exhibition to celebrate 50 years of local TV at the Powerhouse
Museum. Look for names to appear in the weekend newspaper TV pages and gossip columns as
the Nine Network
seeds interest for the broadcast ahead of Monday’s
hosting announcements. Jessica Rowe,
Jules Lund and Megan Gale will be announced as
those hosting and strolling the red carpet for Nine and it is known that Bert Newton will appear at the start
and end of the May Logies broadcast. It’s also known
that Andrew O’Keefe, Seven’s representative among the trio of hosts
last year, won’t be there this year. Given
the poor ratings for Today since Jessica Rowe starting fronting it with Karl
Stefanovic, it’s a big vote of confidence by Nine. The Red
Carpet usually generates a higher audience than the Logies broadcast, which is longer. Rowe
generates a lot of adverse viewer reaction according to Nine’s viewer comment
logs. The
Logies are supposed to be for the industry and not based on network rivalry… yes… really! Glenn Dyer

More commercial share shenanigans. Just as
the Ten Network pointed out yesterday that it had a winning night on Wednesday
in the commercial networks battle between 6pm and 10.30pm,
the so-called heart of prime time, there’s another view of last night’s win by
the Nine Network. Seven points out that: “Seven
wins 6.00-10.30pm across Australia: Seven 30.2%, Nine 30.0%,
Ten 22.1%, ABC 13.3%, SBS 4.4%.” But
if you take out the ABC and SBS and look at the commercial shares in the 6pm
to 10.30pm timeslot, then Seven is also a narrow
winner from Nine, 36.7% to 36.5%. Ten brings up the rear with a 26.1%
share. Seven
also won the 16 to 39 (40.7%, 30.0% for Nine and 29.3% for Ten) and the 25 to 54
age group (38.8% to 32.9% and 28.3% for Ten). – Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV
ratings

The Winners Nine for the second night in a row, thanks to the
St Kilda-West Coast game doing well, especially in Melbourne and Perth. Only
853,000 watched the AFL season opener, but the 487,000 in Melbourne was easily
the biggest audience in that city and nationally last night. The 228,000 who
watched in Perth was the biggest there and the 138,000 in
Adelaide was equal sixth. The Melbourne audience was bigger than any city for Lost (1.472
million), the country’s most watched program last night. Today Tonight and Seven
News were second and third, then Home and Away (1.249 million) beat The Biggest
Loser
(1.155 million) in the 7pm battle. Seven’s glittery Las Vegas, with 1.238
million, surprisingly beat Nine’s stalwart, Getaway (1.143 million) at 7.30pm.
Law and Order on Ten averaged 1.007 million at 8.30pm and Medium, 1.161 million
at 8.30pm. Seven’s The Amazing Race fell below a million to 992,000 in a
surprise result after opening strongly before the games with audiences well
above a million.
The Losers Losers? Family Feud with Bert Newton, 469,000 – that half
a million viewer mark topped before the Games looks a bit tough at the moment.
Deal or No Deal fell to 739,000, its lowest of the week but still won clearly.
Ten news won the 5pm to 6pm hour. Temptation eased to 867,000, also a low for
the week. Time to get back to ordinary competition and finding another
champeen… they pull viewers. Amazing Medical Stories on Nine at 8.30pm only
ran in Sydney and Melbourne till 9.30pm because of the AFL in the south. It
averaged 521,000 in both cities. So Nine had around 1.3 million people watching
it and the AFL from 8.30 to 9.30 pm which meant it ran a close second to Lost.
When the NRL Footy Show started, the audience dipped.
News & CA The real fight is between 6pm and 7pm not in any other
timeslot. And that’s not because it’s where Seven is winning. Seven’s recovery in
this timeslot from late 2004 in Sydney and late last year in Melbourne IS the
difference to good share and winning performances. Housewives, Dancing With The
Stars
and a sagging Lost do help, but there’s nothing like starting the night
with an average audience above 1.3 million between 6pm and 7pm as Seven did
last night, and 1.2 million for Nine. Seven News (1.338 million, Nine News 1.192
million) won everywhere bar Brisbane. Today Tonight (1.421 million) beat A Current
Affair
(1.059 million) everywhere. And there was again a noticeable switch off
from Nine News to ACA, especially in Sydney. The 7pm ABC News averaged 1.006
million, the 7.30 Report, 803,000.Ten News at 5pm averaged 833,000. Sunrise
again beat Today in the morning battle.
The Stats Nine with 31.3% from 29.5% for Seven, 21.8% for Ten,
12.8% for the ABC and 4.6% for SBS. Nine lost Sydney 32.7% to 24.7%, a similar
result to three weeks ago, but the AFL powered Nine to a clear win in Melbourne
with a 36.0% share to 25.9% for Seven. Seven won Brisbane, Nine won Adelaide
but the presence of the Eagles saw the share in Perth jump to 35.2% and a clear
win from Seven with 29.5%.
Glenn Dyer’s comments There’s AFL tonight and it will do the biz for Nine, along with the NRL in Sydney and Brisbane. Tomorrow is the season
opener for Ten with the AFL in the afternoon and evening. Will the Swans pull a
good audience on Saturday night? Anyway, what the figures for last night and the
rest of the season show is that this will be a solid winter for Nine in the
Southern States, with the NRL helping in the north. But 2007 will be miserable
for Nine when the AFL switches to Seven. So that’s why you can’t discount
another attempt by Nine, News and Foxtel to try and frustrate Seven and Ten. PBL
has management control over Foxtel now News Corp has gone and owns half of Fox
Sports (Premier Media), which is where the real money is made from the AFL and
sport on Pay TV. Nine CEO, Eddie McGuire understands all of this and the AFL
will be a prime focus this year for him. But as good as Nine’s win last night was,
advertisers won’t be too enthused. Nine was well beaten in Sydney and Brisbane
without the AFL and Nine’s News and ACA suffered another bad result. Retaining
the AFL in some way might offer hope, fixing the 6pm to 7pm hour, especially
ACA at 6.30pm remains Eddie’s biggest and most immediate
task.

Peter Fray

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