US network set to trial free online streaming. There’s
been a lot of talk from Australia’s commercial TV networks about the threat posed
by the internet, but in the US things are being tried that our local networks are
years away from tackling. America’s ABC Network is about to start a two month trial
streaming some of its top shows for free. ABC already sells some
of its top shows for $US1.99 through Apple’s iTunes, but during the
months of May and June it will also stream programs like Desperate Housewives,
Commander in Chief
and Lost
only 24 hours after they have first gone to air. There is a catch: viewers
will not be able to spool through the ads and the programs will not be
downloadable. The ads will be embedded in the programs, some will be
video, others will be sponsorships of the programs themselves. Viewers
will be able to spool between different bits of content, but not the
ads. According to US reports, ten leading advertisers such as AT&T,
Ford and Proctor and Gamble (the world’s biggest advertiser), have
signed up for the trial. In Australia, the networks host some video
segments from programs like the news, ACA, 60 Minutes, Today Tonight, Sunrise and highlights of popular overseas
programs on their websites. But the
big issue for many of their popular programs is the question of
rights. All the networks buy so many programs from the
US and the
UK and licence formats from other parts of the world that they are
restricted in what they can actually make available online. Glenn Dyer

Why does Nine bother with the golf? If the
Nine Network needed any more confirmation that free to air broadcasts of
American golfing majors are a waste of time, effort and money, it got it yesterday
morning. Seven’s Weekend
Sunrise

got a big boost on Sunday morning averaging 410,000 viewers compared
with Nine’s golf broadcast from 5am to 9am with 145,000. But the news
was even worse yesterday: Just 116,000 people on average watched the
final round from 5am to around 9am. In contrast, Seven’s Sunrise had a near record audience, a massive
564,000 people from 6am to 9am. Why
Nine persists with the telecast of the Masters is
perplexing. Its troubles with the Today show are well
documented, so why give viewers an extra chance to sample Sunrise? It’s a free kick
for Seven. Sunrise‘s audience
last Friday morning was even larger (586,000), while the golf attracted just
131,000 people on average. Saturday was the golf’s best day with 176,000 people
watching, but in terms of TV that’s not a very real figure. When
faced with solid competition, Australians opt for programs like Sunrise rather than
watching a white ball being belted up and down lawns. – Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV
ratings

The Winners Nine, on a night where viewers wanted a bit of fresh, up
to date TV and read their TV programs very closely. Nine won because Cold Case
at 8.30pm and Hotel Babylon were new episodes (although Babylon lost 170,000
or so viewers from Sunday night to finished with an average of 1.017 million).
Cold Case averaged 1.536 million as viewers left the pastiche episode of
Desperate Housewives on Seven which averaged just 1.193 million people (down around 600,000 on the previous
Monday and a million down on its peak this year). The
advertised “juicy details” were not so succulent that viewers wanted to
watch. Nine repeated 20 to 1 at 7.30pm and it picked up 1.283 million – that’s a solid figure for a repeat. But the
star of the evening was Ten’s The Biggest Loser. It’s elimination episode
averaged a huge 1.599 million people and it easily beat Home
and Away
(1.267 million).
The LosersBert with 564,000 viewers: a bit of life from last Friday but
down a touch from last Monday (Deal averaged 841,000). Temptation (961,000) is still
struggling from the combined weights of The Biggest Loser and Home and Away.
Will it hang on until Loser ends and Big Brother starts? Hotel Babylon wasn’t a failure but viewers preferred the return of Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope, which averaged 1.062 million
from 9.35pm. Maggie Taberer, Lano and Woodley and then a show and tell segment
with a Sudanese man who endured appalling hardship before coming to Australia
made it a low key but rewarding first up effort.
News & CA Seven News (1.492 million to 1.264 million) won easily as did Today Tonight (1.536 million to 1.134 million). And it
wasn’t just the Perth factor, although it played a big part as STW 9’s efforts
let the rest of the Network down. Seven News won Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth but lost Brisbane. Today Tonight won all markets. The
ABC 7pm News averaged 1.008 million and The 7.30 Report had 813,000. Four Corners averaged 849,000
with the first part of its investigation into the AWB scandal, while Media Watch
(794,000) was helped by the return of Enough
Rope
.
The Stats Nine with 27.4% (26.7% last week) from Seven with 26.7% (30.2%), Ten
with 22.5% (23.6%), the ABC with 17.7% (13.8%) and SBS with 5.7% (5.7%). Nine won
Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, tied with Seven in Melbourne and finished
third in Perth behind Seven and Ten.
Glenn Dyer’s comments Running a fresh episode of Cold Case and Hotel Babylon
paid off for Nine but the big winner last night was the ABC, which doesn’t chase
ratings. The return of Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope added significantly to the national broadcaster’s share, as did the Four Corners program on
the AWB scandal. Ten also did very well with The Biggest Loser (which is going to be
the most successful new program of 2006). Tonight there’s Survivor Panama on
Nine, a highlights episode of Dancing and new episodes of CSI and CSI New York,
so Nine should win. But why burn up fresh episodes of the best
performing US programs in the schedule at Nine in a non ratings week. I
know it’s the mantra of “keeping faith with the viewers” but Nine was
quick to drop repeats into the schedule last year to eke out the new CSI run. Can Nine be so short of product that it doesn’t have anything else to run on a Tuesday night between 8.30pm to 10.30pm?

Peter Fray

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