German World Cup adventure by the Nine Network’s Footy Shows has turned out to
be a financial disaster.

terms, the program did what Nine wanted it to do: win the
Sunday night ratings by dominating the period 8.30pm to 11.20pm in Sydney and
Melbourne. There
was also the bonus of it getting Eddie McGuire and some of his Footy Show mates
to Germany on an all expenses paid trip to
the World Cup. Collingwood wasn’t playing (it is this weekend) and Eddie was
away from Nine for the angst and anger over the 100 sackings, 85 in Sydney News
and Current Affairs areas.

But the
one real thing this jaunt had to do was deliver to advertisers, and the word from
Eddie is that the Footy
didn’t and advertisers are not too impressed. It
seems the whole thing cost around a million dollars (just under, actually) and
the sponsors who paid for most of this were “promised” an audience of around two
million. Well,
the reality is that it averaged 1.248 million viewers, well short of that
figure. So the chat is Nine will have to show “make
goods” or TV ads run for nothing for the various sponsors: it could be in the
Footy Shows (most likely) or it could be in other programs.

“Make goods” have been run at Nine in the past couple of months to make up for the
shortfall in promised audience numbers for the Commonwealth Games in March.
Average audiences were around 10% under what Nine had promised
sponsors. And
with the ad market so soft, the sponsors get what they are owed, otherwise no
more ads for the offending network.

Following the World Cup Football Show foray, the only way for Nine to “make good” will be by giving up spaces in various programs
so that the losses are worked off in free ads, or cheap ads in very popular
programs (like CSI or 60 Minutes).

It was
an expensive decision to go to Germany; I can appreciate the TV and
ratings logic behind it. But the crass, boorish behaviour, and the Melbourne AFL blokey
culture that was so evident at times, left the audience
underwhelmed. How
underwhelmed? Well, that Roy Morgan poll mentioned
earlier in the week has other information. It
found that 4.133 million (25%) Australians aged 14 and over tuned in to watch
the first ever show from Germany but,
only 671,000 said they watched “all” of the Footy Show.

And of those people
who watched the Footy Show, 20% recalled Crazy John’s being advertised, 15%
Garnier Fructis, and 4%
Qantas. No other products were recalled by more than 1% of those who watched
the Footy Show (full details here). They
were the three main sponsors and will be the ones who will get the make goods
from Nine.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey