There’s a simple equation that will make sure the millions spent on Nine’s miners coup will be a one-off.

Nine spent $2.6 million on the exclusive deal with Todd Russell and Brant Webb (reduced by contributions from ACP Magazines), plus the added costs for the news and current affairs budgets, the charity version of the Footy Shows and Sunday night’s special – so the real cost was around $3.5 million.

The Great Escape special pre-empted Nine’s showing of a new episode of CSI. That costs a fee of around $60,000, so with broadcast costs you would get a total transmission cost of around $100,000 (being conservative). Nine would rake in ad revenues of around $1.5 million (being conservative) and after factoring in the sharing of overheads and other charges, Nine makes a nice round million dollars on that episode of CSI.

The miners special probably generated around $4 million in revenue at most. After factoring in all the transmission and overheads there probably was a small accounting profit, but nothing as big as for CSI (or Cold Case on Monday nights).

The special attracted 2.584 million viewers on average up to 10.30pm. Being generous, that’s around $1 a viewer based on the $2.6 million. Expensive when CSI costs less than 10 cents a viewer with its audience averaging between 1.5 million – 1.8 million on some nights.

That’s why the special will be just that. No network can afford to spend that sort of money more than once a year, if at all. Peter Meakin, Seven’s News and Current Affairs boss, boasted at the weekend that Seven hasn’t paid for a story for a year or so and had “saved one million dollars”.

Now that’s money to do more stories or to share with shareholders. And that’s the bottom line.

Peter Fray

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