ACP and Optus try cross-promotion to revive flagging brands. To try and keep its broadband subscribers renewed for another year and keep the expensive “churn” rate low, Optus is offering its about-to-end subscribers a never to be forgotten deal:

Put your feet up and relax with a 1-year subscription to any one of the magazines featured below:

  • The Australian Women’s Weekly
  • The Bulletin with Newsweek
  • Disney Adventures
  • Australian PC User
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Australian House & Garden

Apart from The Bulletin, which added a tiny 0.4% to its circulation in the year to June, the others were among ACP’s worst performers. Women’s Weekly lost 4.6% of its circulation or a massive 29,000 copies, PC User shed 10%, Cosmo, 6.7%, Australian House and Garden, 10% and Disney Adventures a huge 23%. I bet the value to ACP from Optus is that the sales are recorded as paid circulation. Is this how The Bulletin managed to add 218 copies to its audited circulation in the 12 months to June, the last under Editor In Chief Gary Linnell? PBS and Optus are widely and very deeply linked: former CEO Chris Anderson is now deputy chairman of PBL, former Chief Operating Officer, Pat O’Sullivan has that role at PBL, former senior Optus executive, Martin Dalgleish, is in charge of PBL’s digital business and former Optus spinner, Stephen Woodhill, joins the Nine Network/PBL next month. Optus and PBL’s Ninemsn is still trying to make a digital offering deal work, based on PBL’s content at ACP and Nine. Optus is now the mobile phone company of choice at PBL and Optus redirected its pay TV programming money to Nine more than two years ago (a round $1 million a year) to help Nine finance the aborted series of the successful telemovie, The Alice. Glenn Dyer

AFL TV rights negotiations between Seven, Ten and Foxtel have started, but interestingly it was Ten boss, Grant Blackley, and its director of sport, David White, leading the charge. Seven CEO, David Leckie, and his AFL point man, Saul Shtein, were not involved in last week’s chat with Foxtel boss Kim Williams and its head of sport, Peter Campbell. Foxtel went in low, offering $24 million for three games a week, while Ten and Seven want $50 million, but there was also a proposal that they could produce the coverage and sell it clean to Foxtel for a higher fee, rather than letting Foxtel spend millions producing its own coverage. Seven and Ten know that Foxtel will have to have some sort of deal in place before the start of the AFL finals next month, or Foxtel won’t be able to tell subscribers that the AFL coverage will return next year. Nine, News Ltd and Foxtel all know that Seven and Ten need to defray some of their costs, but Foxtel’s need is greater because it has to have subscription drivers and there are an awful lot of early digital deals expiring between now and the start of the 2007 season. Further complicating matters is the fact that while Foxtel is now very profitable, losing AFL would take the momentum out of its subscription growth, churn and costs would rise and in about 18 months time there would be quite a hit to the bottom line. Foxtel’s penetration in Victoria and South Australia is low and it needs AFL in some form as an offering to have any hope of improving on that coverage. – Glenn Dyer

Nine shafts new Aussie drama with US repeat. The Nine Network seemed deliberately to undermine its new Australian drama series, Two Twisted, last night in the hope of stringing out its run of new episodes of the US drama, Cold Case. Nine last night slipped in a repeat of Cold Case at 8.30pm. And the audience for Two Twisted plunged to 831,000 from 1.103 million for its debut a week earlier. Last night’s stories were well-produced: Lisa McCune and Tom Long were particularly good: the “Heart Attack” episode wasn’t my cup of tea, but worked. But I think Bryan Brown would be entitled to feel very miffed today that the program wasn’t supported by Nine programming, led by Michael Healy. Healy will mutter on about strategy and keeping new episodes of Cold Case for later in the year (October-November) when Nine’s inventory will be really thin on the ground. But Nine knew that scheduling the Cold Case repeat would have an impact on the audience for Two Twisted. You can see the impact: up to 8.30pm Nine was leading the night, easily. Then Cold Case came on and Seven’s audience exploded from the 1.094 million average who watched tired old The Great Outdoors, to a massive 1.959 million who watched Grey’s Anatomy. Seven won the night with a 30.1% share and Nine was weak on 25.9%, all because of the poor programming at 8.30pm. So this morning we have Nine’s high profile local drama and its producers feeling unwanted and probably more than a little miffed. It’s called keeping faith with viewers. Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Nine snatched defeat from the jaws of victory last night in what was quite an odd night’s numbers. Nine led clearly from 6pm through to 8.30pm and then its night went belly up and Seven moved past to win thanks to Grey’s Anatomy which was watched by 1.959 million viewers from 8.30 pm. Nine’s A Current Affair had its best night for months, finishing second with 1.601 million and Nine News was third with 1.578 million. Australian Idol had another strong night for Ten, averaging 1.572 million people. Nine’s Temptation was next at 7pm with 1.554 million, and its timeslot rival Home And Away was next with 1.475 million. Seven News was next with 1.451 million, Nine’s 7.30 program, What’s Good For You was eighth with 1.375 million and Seven’s Today Tonight finished ninth with 1.326 million. Criminal Minds averaged 1.110 million at 9.30pm for Seven and the repeat of Cold Case, 1.105 million which made it 11th. Seven’s 7.30 program, The Great Outdoors, averaged 1.094 million and Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope averaged 1.042 million with an interview with former current affairs host Mike Willesee, who is now a born-again Christian. ABC News at 7pm brought up the million viewer or more list with 1.012 million people. Nine will be wondering like Seven did last Friday morning (about Thursday night) how they lost that. Well they know: it was that decision to put the repeat of Cold Case up against a new episode of Grey’s.

The Losers: Not Bert’s Family Feud which bounced to 755,000 last night and that helped Nine News and ACA. Seven’s Deal Or No Deal continues its recent weakness, averaging 831,000. This is the closest Bert has got to Deal nationally since Family Feud came back earlier this year. Bert beat Deal in both Sydney and Melbourne. It’s more a case of Deal weakening noticeably in the past fortnight. Two Twisted (831,000) was weakened by Nine’s programming decision to run a repeat of Cold Case before it at 8.30pm. Silly.

News & CA: Strong wins for Nine News and A Current Affair last night, well ahead of Seven News and Today Tonight. Nine won both timeslots in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide and Seven won the 6pm and 6.30 pm slots in Perth. ABC News was solid with more than a million viewers, Ten News at Five averaged 976,000 across its hour from 5pm, Four Corners had its best figures for months: the report on the battle for the Coral Coast of Western Australia averaged 993,000 viewers. Media Watch averaged 944,000, with a strong critical attack on the ABC’s icon, Australian Stories, over last week’s profile on Mark Bouris of Wizard and an earlier three part investigation into a WA murder conviction against three young Perth men, which seems to have been less than fair.

The Stats: Seven won with a share of 30.1% (29.8%) to Nine on 25.9% (27.7%), Ten with 21.9% (20.2%), the ABC with 16.6% (16.8%) and SBS with 5.4% (5.6%). Seven won all five metro markets. In the bush though Nine was the close winner with WIN/NBN finishing with a share of 28.9% to Prime/Qld with 27.8%, Sthn Cross (Ten) with 21.2%, the ABC with 16.2% and SBS with 6.9%. Nine leads the week in the metro markets 32.1% to 25.5%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: A night of two parts – Nine led to 8.30pm and then that repeat of Cold Case ended it and two hours later Seven had won the night by the easiest of margins. Grey’s Anatomy is now a bigger drawcard for Seven than either Desperate Housewives or Lost were this year. It changed the night, boosted Criminal Minds for Seven at 9.30pm and was helped by a curiously poor programming choice by Nine. Viewers voted with their remotes, a message Nine obviously will have to re-learn (just as Seven is re-learning with its You May be Right on Sunday nights. Seven is sticking with it for a few more episodes, convinced it can’t get any worse) Hmmm. Tonight the interest is whether Dancing On Ice can build above 1.5 million viewers as the finale approaches. But it will be up against Border Security in the first half hour on Seven and then a new program called The Force (an observational cop doco series set in Western Australia), and then All Saints. Ten shifts The Wedge to 8.30pm and starts Real Stories at 9pm for a limited run, and then Rove Live. Seven’s night but don’t be surprised by Dancing On Ice.