Has the AFL Footy Show taken over Nine? The
picture on page two of the Sydney Morning Herald this morning said it all. There
was Nine boss, Eddie McGuire, (after appearing
on page one cuddling Jessica Rowe, the battling Today Show
co-host) at the launch of the network’s summer cricket
coverage with the beige-coated master,
Ritchie Benaud… and AFL Footy Show
regulars Trevor Marmalade and Gary Lyon. What were they doing there?
They’re not involved in the cricket – or will they be?. Their presence
confirms the growing feeling among Nine Network employees that the AFL Footy Show has taken over the Nine
Network. There’s
Eddie McGuire (former host) as CEO, his mate Jeff Browne (former AFL contracts
boy) as Network number two and Cos Cardone (former EP
of Nine’s AFL coverage and the Footy
) as head of Network Light Entertainment. That’s
worrying the National Rugby League (and News Ltd, which owns half the

Ponting’s not-so-exclusive Nine deal. Will Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting’s contract with the Nine
Network – revealed yesterday at Nine’s launch of its summer cricket
coverage – hinder or prevent him from being available to talk to other
media outlets this summer? Judging from the feral response by Cricket
Australia late yesterday, Ricky will make himself available – Nine deal
or not – to everyone. Eddie said at the launch that Ponting had signed
to appear on Nine programs during the cricket season and would be a
regular on Today, Nine News and A Current Affair, giving an
insider’s view of the Ashes series against England,
beginning on 23 November. The
suggestion was that Ponting would be available
exclusively to Nine during the season and especially
the Ashes battle. But
The Australian quoted Cricket Australia spokesman, Peter Young as
saying “he can’t do that”. And
“the approval for all these things (player media
deals) is that they are non-exclusive.” And
so they should be, but has Eddie blundered by trying to tie up Ponting exclusively? If
so, it’s embarrassing to the Australian cricket captain and not what Cricket
Australia would want to see after the botched allocation of tickets to the Ashes Tests
left its reputation for good management damaged. – Glenn Dyer

Nine talks up its increasing bare programming cupboard. The big
sell at yesterday’s launch was the Ashes cricket series this summer (out of official ratings)
and the programming that Nine hopes will lift it out of its present rut. This includes spin-offs from the 20 to 1 series and the Rome series from the US, which has already been promised
three times – perhaps
it’s the gore, sex scenes and “adult themes” that has kept it from our
screens. It would have a MA15+
rating, even after a bit of cutting, which would limit its audience appeal. Nine also
has a new series of The Sopranos, but considering it showed the previous series
after 10.30pm, it’s unlikely to be a big contributor (and the fact that Nine
used it to promote its 2007 season shows how little it has in the bag). There’s also a BBC series called Krakatoa -The Last Days and a six part animated series from ITV in the UK called Prehistoric Park which sounds suspiciously like another
version of Walking With Dinosaurs. And the
program that everyone ignored (I wasn’t invited to the launch) was Eddie’s old
gig Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. It should be back in
production soon if it’s to feature over the remaining months of
ratings, but it’s
still “tired” and resting, obviously. Glenn Dyer

Dancing on Ice crashes. What to
say about Torvill and Dean’s Dancing on Ice after last
night’s outing except that it is stuffed?

A bit
harsh perhaps; after all its average audience over the two hours from 7.30pm
onwards rose from 1.395 million to 1.404 million. But
there’s a bigger problem: it was beaten soundly by Seven for the first
time. Previously Seven’s Border Security (2.133 million last
night ), and Medical Emergency (1.728 million last night) have won the first
hour before viewers turn over to Dancing, give it a win over All
in the second hour. No such
luck last night, All
comfortably beat Dancing On Ice
with an average audience of 1.470 million. And that should raising
warning signals at Nine: the big selling point in the first three
episodes was the second hour bounce. The fact that it disappeared last
night means viewers no longer feel the need to keep track of what’s
going on. Viewers who started with the program are tending to stay,
which would be encouraging, but a 50,000 turnoff in the last half hour
in Sydney would have been a shock to Nine. The injury to Dermott
Brereton, which stopped him and his partner competing in the “skate
off” with Jackie Kelly last night, brings to six the number of
contestants who have suffered some type of injury. It should be renamed
Damaging on Ice. – Glenn Dyer

Bert’s ice slip up. That
Bert Newton’s still a bit of a shocker isn’t he? There
he was in a taping of Family Feud at GTV Nine last night in Melbourne (Bert’s Home
Away From Home) and he’s doing his own audience warm up in the breaks! Unheard of. Part of
this was handing out prizes to the audience to keep them “up” on the night with
the most coveted prize being the Bert head on a stick (Dicky Knee, anyone?). But
wait, there was more. The young blondes and spunkettes
in the audience got chockies from dear old Uncle Bert,
some unlucky souls received Today Show tote bags (Mum do I
have to?) and caps bearing the name of Bert’s show. (Give em away on eBay.) But the
prize that topped them all were the posters for Dancing On Ice that went out
like wildfire (pity about the show’s ratings then)…and the crowning moment was
when the poster with Jake Wall, Jennifer Hawkins’ significant other, was to be
handed out… Bert asked who wanted “this lovely Dancing
With The Stars
poster”. Tellingly, no one noticed the Freudian slip: not Bert, not his old voice-over
mate Pete Smith and not anyone in the audience, except our Crikey spy! – Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
Tuesday night and Border Security (2.133 million) and Medical Emergency
(1.728 million) finish one and two, Seven News third with 1.488 million
(thanks Perth) and All Saints fourth with 1.470 million. Nine News was
5th with 1.419 million viewers, Today Tonight was next with 1.414
million and Dancing on Ice was 7th with 1.404 million. Home and Away
won the 7pm slot for Seven with 1.324 million (great school fire and
rescue). A Current Affair was 9th with 1.304 million, Temptation was
10th with 1.263 million and the repeat of CSI at 9.30 pm averaged 1.229
million. The All New Simpsons averaged 1.136 million for Ten and Big
, 1.094 million, and the 7 pm ABC News, 1.092 million. It was
the 14th and last program on the night with a million or more viewers.
And Ten’s 8 pm program, The Wedge eased itself out of that list for the
first time to average 985,000. Rolf Harris at 8 pm did a good 958,000
for the ABC, Rove Live, 985,000 at 9.30 pm.

The Losers:Bert’s Family Feud back up to 70,000 and it beat Deal or No Deal down
to 893,000. Ten News solid at 903,000. Miss Universe, 689,000 but that
was from 9.30 pm to 11.30 pm, so over two hours, that’s not a bad
result and probably a telling difference in Seven’s win last night. Big
is a bit weak, big hopes for tonight’s eviction special when
the two intruders hopefully get flicked and we are down to the last few
days. ‘Go Camilla’ cry the Turkey Slappers Anonymous Support Group.

News & CA:
Seven News and Today Tonight depended on big winning margins in Perth
to push them ahead of Nine. Seven News beat Nine by 69,000 nationally
and 142,000 in Perth. Seven News also won Adelaide. Nine won Sydney,
Melbourne and Brisbane. Today Tonight beat ACA by 142,000 in Perth and
by 110,000 nationally. TT won Adelaide and Perth, Nine won the East
Coast. We are now firmly back to the days in early to mid 2004 when
Seven was being beaten regularly on the East Coast and occasionally
nationally between 6 pm and 7 pm. It hadn’t been for Seven’s strong
post 7 pm programming on most nights it would be in a mess now, even
with the weaker material Nine has to work with. Seven needs to shake up
its Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane News. The 7 pm ABC News averaged
1.092 million, The 7.30 Report averaged 708,000 (Birthday Boy
interviews with 67-year-old men aren’t liked by the crowds when there’s
a bit of Border Security or Ice Dancing on elsewhere). Ten News At Five
was solid at just over 900,000. Sunrise beat Today but Today‘s audience
is up this week (Baby Boost Looms?)

The Stats: Seven won
with a share of 30.6% (compared to 29.4% a week ago) from Nine with
29.1% (29.5%), Ten with 22.0% (20.6), the ABC with 14.5% (14.4%) and
SBS down to 3.8% (from 6.1%). Seven won Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and
Perth. Nine won Brisbane well.
Nine lead the week 29.4% to
28.4%. Last week Seven led and then got swallowed by Nine after
programming a dud M version of Las Vegas at 8.30 pm and followed it
with poor old Jack on 24 at 9.30 pm. Tonight it’s Born to Kill a bought
in series with Ivan Milat first up (that’s nice, a bit of local
interest) followed by poor old Jack on 24, again!

Glenn Dyer’s comments:
Tonight Nine will be competitive with McLeod’s Daughters, Without A
and Suspicious Minds. Besides Born to Kill, Seven has well, just
Beyond Tomorrow. Ten has House and NCIS, the ABC has of course Spicks
and Specks
and Absolute Power. And after Dermie Brereton’s injury on
Dancing on Ice (there’s no truth to those cheeky stories that the
program is being renamed Surviving Dancing On Ice and that it has a new
sponsor in WorkCover (in NSW) and that Nine will be working off the
rising workers comp payments by giving it cheap ad rates). Ten’s night.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey