Pay TV gets wiser and cheaper. Foxtel revealed cheaper Pay TV
prices today for new and
intending subscribers that will cut the entry cost by around 30% from
the
existing starter price its million or so subscribers are paying. The
reasons for the price cuts are not too hard to work out – at nearly
$51 a month to $99 a month Pay TV is becoming expensive, despite all
the glorious viewing and other benefits spruiked by Foxtel, Austar and
Optus. But with around 1.7 million pay TV subscribers across all
three groups in Australia, Foxtel risks alienating existing customers
with price cuts to new subscribers. It also risks upsetting its steady
move to profits. The cheaper packages follow extensive market research
late
last year in which Foxtel discovered that there were quite a few
potential new
subscribers out there who were put off by things like location, cost,
availability of relevant
packages and a general unease with paying for something you can get for
nothing on the Free To Air Networks. It
trialled a cheap starter offer and was surprised at the uptake. This
came as Foxtel (and Austar) moved into the black for
the first time on a consistent basis (but not on an after tax basis,
yet). Earlier this year Austar started trialling a cheap starter
pack for $29.95 a month compared to the basic package cost of $46.95 a
month.
The idea was to try and get the “dollar a day” idea in consumers minds.
Sales rose strongly in a test market, as they did for
another offer – a two month trial period for new subscribers.
Since then, Austar has been having difficulty convincing
suppliers to cut their charges to allow these starter packs to
be offered, a point made earlier this week when Austar released its
first quarter results showing a $10 million pre tax profit. Austar CEO
John Porter
complained that negotiating with suppliers was proving tough and he
accused
them of a lack of vision. – Glenn Dyer

Commsec jumps to Nine.
In a
decision that’s raised eyebrows in TV and inside the bank, Commonwealth
Securities has jumped ship from the Ten Network to
Nine, with the first new link-up to be seen as early as next Monday on the
Today show.

Commsec had been providing finance
links into Ten news programs. The network is
reluctant to talk but CBA sources say the decision to shift hasn’t been wholly
supported within Commsec. Ten and
Commsec had a non financial relationship in that the
broker supplied information and someone to comment on financial matters, markets
etc, on the basis of getting good exposure. It’s
not known if Nine and Commsec have changed this to a
financial relationship, but if they have, will whatever Commsec supplies to Nine be disclosed as a form of
product placement? Will
there be a Commsec sign in any financial reports
presented on Today, the various Nine news, the 6pm broadcast or
Nightline? Glenn Dyer

Commander in Chief struggling in the US. The
Seven Network has suffered a small blow with its much hyped US program, Commander in Chief being “rested” for a second time in the
US, leaving it highly
doubtful to be renewed for the 2006-07 season. Seven
is showing Commander in Chief on Monday nights after Desperate Housewives and the
audiences for both programs have declined in recent weeks; C-in-C is
off more than 40% from its opening with last Monday night’s audience around a
million viewers. There
are three C-in-C episodes to go in the US and about six
for Seven to show here. But Seven has half a dozen other well performing
US programs to replace it, with Bones
and Criminal Minds two likely candidates. Grey’s Anatomy is yet to return – it did
very well after Housewives finished last year in that 8.30pm Monday night
timeslot. Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV
ratings

The Winners Just as Tuesday has been (and will be next Tuesday)
Seven’s night, so is Wednesday developing into the strongest night of the week
for Ten, thanks to the emergence of Thank God You’re Here at 7.30pm, the
Melbourne based comedy ensemble program with a touch of sitcom. Last night it
again topped the 1.7 million viewer mark (for the third time) Seven News was
second with 1.577 million, powered by a strong effort in Melbourne (501,000
viewers last night). Ten’s House at 8.30pm was third with 1.560 million, Today
Tonight
was fourth with 1.505 million, Prison Break on Seven was watched by
1.467 million, McLeod’s Daughters on Nine was 6th with 1.410 million, Nine News
was 7th with 1.370 million, NCIS (Ten) was next with 1.307 million, ACA was 9th
with 1.268 million and Big Brother (Ten, 7 pm) was 10th with 1.227 million, just
in front of Temptation with 1.211 million and Seven’s Home and Away with 1.210
million. So very close at 7pm to 7.30pm. Without a Trace on Nine averaged
1.191 million for 13th spot and the ABC’s Spicks and Specks was its best with
1.033 million viewers.
The Losers Losers? Bert’s Family Feud down to 527,000. There really
is a weekly cycle for the program: high Monday and Tuesday evenings and then a
fall off and sometimes a spurt upwards on Friday evenings. Seven’s Deal or No
Deal
averaged 915,000. That was part of the difference for the strength of Seven
News last night.
News & CA Seven News and Today Tonight won nationally and in every
market bar Brisbane which Nine won. Seven News has solid wins in the key Sydney
and Melbourne markets, Today Tonight‘s were a bit closer to A Current Affair.
The 7pm ABC news averaged 947,000 people while the 7.30 Report averaged
758,000. Ten News at Five averaged 968,000 people from 5pm to 6pm and did
better than the ABC News at 7pm. Both Seven and Nine Melbourne News are
battling it out from Beaconsfield in Melbourne (and ACA and TT are doing the
same at 6.30pm) Seven is clearly winning both battles. Nine’s Today dropped out
of the top 50 list, Sunrise averaged 464,000 people in 35 th
slot.
The Stats Ten won with a 29.3% share (28.8% a week ago)from Seven
with 26.8% (26.4%), Nine third with 26.3% (27.0%), the ABC with 13.7%
(14.2%) and SBS with 3.9% (3.6%). Ten won Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and
Adelaide. Seven won Perth. Seven finished third in Sydney, second in Melbourne,
third in Brisbane and second in Perth.
Glenn Dyer’s comments Ten’s night and rightly so because of the risk
taken to commission Thank God You’re Here has paid off in a way that not even
the network could have believed. Like The Biggest Loser, Thank God has lifted
Ten’s share outside its target 16 to 39 group, which is adding pressure to Seven
and Nine. Seven is clearly winning the Beaconsfield news battle, especially in
Melbourne. Tonight though, Seven has Lost, which is looking lost and not the
super hit it once was. Nor is The Amazing Race which has also dropped off. Ten
has Big Brother, Nine has Getaway and then the two Footy Shows. Another close
night. Seven is leading the week from Nine, 29.3% to 28.8%, with Ten third with
24.1%. Nine should win because of the AFL and NRL tomorrow
night.