Working Dog does it again: The Ten
Network’s experiment with unscripted ensemble TV comedy, Thank God You’re Here,
has rapidly emerged as the new hit show of 2006, surpassing Ten’s other
experiment in The Biggest Loser, Seven’s Where Are They Now and new US shows Prison Break and Commander in Chief. Last
night TGYH averaged 1.744 million viewers at 7.30pm – a turn on of almost 400,000 from The
Biggest Loser
at 7pm, a sign of the new program’s appeal to viewers after just its
third program. Over
those three programs it’s averaged just over 1.5 million viewers. Nine is
missing from that list of hit new shows – its most successful new shows have been Missing Persons
Unit
and Hotel Babylon:
both are averaging just over one million viewers. That goes a long way
to explaining the tough time Nine is having in the ratings battle and
the revenue pressures that it’s under as a result. The longer these new
shows (and existing ones) keep delivering viewers to Ten and Seven, the
harder 2007 is going to be for Eddie McGuire and the folk at Nine. TV
producers are now wondering whether sitcoms, especially live or live to
tape sitcoms, might make a comeback next year following the success of Thank God You’re Here. It’s
essentially an ensemble comedy program broken up into various skits with a
commentary from Tom Gleisner and hosted by Shane
Bourne. These skits could quite easily be expanded into a sitcom, but getting the
required comedy writing talent would be the key. Ten has
also been running The Ronny Johns Half Hour late on Sunday nights – it’s a less
polished ensemble comedy and attracts around 300,000-400,000
viewers. Seven
and Nine haven’t gone down the local sitcom route for some time:
perhaps TGYH‘s success means that venerable TV form’s time has come
again. – Glenn Dyer

The Hypothetical set to return to Sunday: Sunday
is the first day of the post-Easter official ratings period and from what the
networks have scheduled, the game is back on … well sort of. First up a bit of nostalgia on the Sunday program with
the return of Geoffrey Robertson and the Hypothetical. It’s
a pity the TV schedules in many papers haven’t highlighted the return
of the Hypothetical, viewers will have to be regulars
to find out that it’s on, though readers of The Bulletin
will have some idea – there’s an ad tie-in between the two PBL media
outlets. The program will probably air just after the news at 9am and
finish just after 10am, which will compete with the last half hour of
Seven’s Weekend Sunrise, which is the most
watched program on Sunday mornings. Also,
running the Hypothetical this way will give Sunday the time for a Laurie Oakes interview, another story, plus a film
review in the second hour, which has a higher audience after Sunrise finishes at
9.30am.Glenn Dyer

And Backyard Blitz is back but Ten’s got a big surprise: The
more interesting return will be at 6.30pm on Sunday night when a bold as brass Nine
returns Backyard Blitz to its rightful timeslot, one which it had dominated
until the start of ratings in February when it was sent to 7.30pm on Friday
nights to allow the introduction of Clever. Clever stunned us with its average and derivative nature, being a rip
off of Mythbusters (SBS and pay-TV) and Brainiac on Ten and it was “rested”
by Nine after failing to attract an audience above the
1.1 million mark. Certainly it never matched Backyard Blitz‘s audience
levels, making the decision to move Backyard Blitz to Friday nights even harder to
understand. And Nine might battle on Sunday night: At 6.30pm Ten has a special episode of The Biggest Loser called The Biggest Surprise, with one
former contestant visited at home to be told they are back in the
game! That is
being used to warm up the audience for the two hour return of Big Brother at
7.30pm, which will also reveal a new twist… viewers will be able to vote out
contestants and vote to keep people in… what a
wonderful revenue driver for the company handling the calls: Ten, Southern Star,
Endemol and Southern Cross
Broadcasting. – Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV
ratings

The Winners Now even though it is not official ratings, each
network’s performance still matters. So it won’t be a happy bunch of campers at
Club Eddie at Willoughby, while over at Ultimo there’ll be quite a few nods and
grins as Seven beat off a tough challenge from Ten, which has the luxury of yet
another hit new show being confirmed. Nine’s third place, but a solid margin was
due to its collection of repeats and un competitive programs. Next Wednesday
when ratings are official, Nine’s Wednesday line up will be more competitive.
But so will Ten and Sevens.The top program was the third episode of Ten’s Thank
God You’re Here
with 1.744 million viewers. It’s successful for the same reason
Spicks and Specks on the ABC 8.30 pm is doing well (1.166 million viewers last
night) because viewers find both programs entertaining and not a cause for
concern. Escapist? Yes! But so what, TV is a number of different program forms:
it’s not all confrontational dramas, documentaries or news and current affairs.
Seven won the night despite being beaten by Nine in the news battles in Sydney,
Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide and depending on Perth to win nationally. Seven
news averaged 1.414 million, Nine News, 1.362 million. However, Nine’s A Current
Affair
(1.276 million) was again weaker than Nine News and lost clearly to
Seven’s Today Tonight (1.494 million). Ten’s Wednesday episode of The Biggest
Loser
averaged 1.363 million, (then came Nine News and ACA). Eighth was Seven’s
Home and Away with 1.266 million, a repeat of House on Ten was 9th with 1.254
million while Spicks and Specks was 10th. Seven’s 7.30 repeat of Beyond Tomorrow
averaged 1.058 million and a repeat of NCIS on Ten averaged 1.056
million.
The Losers Losers? Well, Bert weakened from Monday’s high of
679,000 viewers to average 569,000 last night, while Deal or No Deal on Seven
averaged 859,000 down from its million plus audience on Monday. Ten’s News at
Five rose to 973,000, higher than Monday and Tuesday. Even though there are
still school holidays, the fact that more people were at work yesterday can be
seen in the lower figures for Bert, Antiques Roadshow on Nine at 5 pm with
371,000, compared more than half a million on Monday. Audiences for the 6 pm to
7 pm timeslots were also lower last night than earlier in the week.
News & CA Seven News lost Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and
Adelaide to Nine. But Seven for the third time this week, depended on its usual
big audience lead in Perth over Nine (more than 130,000 last night) to win the
network battle. Nine will take heart from that performance, but the gaps are
narrowing. Will Seven move back in front next week when normal transmissions are
resumed and holiday viewing ends? Today Tonight though scored a big win over a
lacklustre ACA. After two solid nights, ACA just faded. TT added 80,000 viewers
from Seven News, ACA shed 99,000 viewers from Nine News. Hurting would have been
losses to TT in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The 7 pm ABC News with 973,000
viewers and the 7.30 report with 934,000 (which featured a very good report on
dioxin poisoning of Sydney harbour fishing people and families). Nine’s
Temptation (990,000) fell below the million mark for the first time this week
but still ran third.
The Stats Seven with 29.4% (26.4% a week ago), from Ten with 28.2%
(27.5%), and Nine with 22.4% (25.5%), the ABC was next with 15.9% (16.1%) and
SBS with 4.1% (4.4%). Ten won Sydney and Melbourne from Seven, Seven won
Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Nine was third
everywhere.
Glenn Dyer’s comments Now Nine and its apologists will argue the
non-official ratings line. And they are right. And they will point to Nine’s
stronger line-up next week, which again is right. But Ten will have its line-up
last night with Big Brother instead of The Biggest Loser and a new ep of House:
Seven will have a new ep of Beyond Tomorrow and the other programs from last
night. So Nine will do better but will struggle to reach second next Wednesday.
Last night after Temptation, Nine actually ran fourth at 7.30 pm. The 7.30
Report
beat Survivor Panama (a new program with 882,000 people) which finished
fourth. At 8.30 pm Spicks and Specks on the ABC relegated Without a Trace to
fourth for 30 minutes. Nine then ran third. It wasn’t a good night and even
Nine’s good performers such as Without a Trace and ER are fading, either in
repeat (compare the performance of CSI on repeat, many more viewers) or new, as
ER was last night with 847,000 viewers from 9.30 pm. Tonight its Lost on Seven,
and the NRL and AFL Footy Shows on Nine from 9.30 pm. Getaway will anchor Nine’s
night and how will the 5.30 pm to 7 pm battle
go?

Peter Fray

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