Commercial TV is a cruel business. You can slave over a good idea, make nice programs, and nobody watches: for whatever reason the end product just doesn’t chime with what the audience wants. And to make it worse, when it happens, it usually happens at the wrong time. Just take the Nine Network last night. There Eddie McGuire and James Packer were in Canberra with the rest of the industry at a cocktail party hosted by the Prime Minister for the 50th anniversary of TV in this country, and out in viewer land, Nine was suffering its worst defeat in years, probably since the people meter ratings system started back in the early 90s. A combination of strong programming on rivals Ten, Seven, and the ABC and programs nobody wanted to watch in great numbers on Nine saw the network run fourth with viewers from 7.30 pm onwards. Nine ended with a share of just 19.0%, compared to a winning 30.0% a week earlier. Ten won with a share of 32.7% from Seven with 29.1%. Nine beat the ABC overall because of higher rating programming from 6 pm to 7.30 pm. From 7.30 pm Nine’s program, Mothers In War, crashed to average just 651,000. An hour later The Great Weight Debate averaged 624,000 from 8.30 pm to 10 pm. From 10 pm to 11 pm Body Doubles averaged 471,000. Nine’s weakness spread to the regional areas where its affiliates, NBN and WIN, finished a distant third behind Ten and Seven. But with a share of 21.3%, NBN/WIN still managed to do better than Nine did in the five metro markets. That’s the best sign of how bad last night was for Nine because the viewing audiences for WIN and NBN are really “rusted on” to Nine product in regional areas (A Current Affair was the most popular program in regional Australia last night). It’s not what Nine is used to, but rivals Seven and Ten have both been there with low share figures after well-regarded programs have bombed with viewers. Yasmin, You May be Right, Popstars, Cooks. It’s a harsh and unforgiving world. — Glenn Dyer

It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that spin. Compare these two headlines on the AAP newswire yesterday afternoon:

Fed: Australians ignoring travel warnings: survey
Australian Associated Press General News, 13 September 2006, 201 words, (English)
TRAVEL BRISBANE, Sept 13 AAP – Almost 50% of Australians ignore government travel warnings when considering an overseas holiday, a survey has found.

Fed: Most Australians heed travel warnings, says DFAT
Australian Associated Press General News, 13 September 2006, 410 words, (English)
TRAVEL By Rosemary Desmond and Evan Schwarten BRISBANE, Sept 13 AAP – Most Australians take heed of government travel advisories despite a survey showing nearly half those planning an overseas holiday ignore them, federal authorities say. …

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: A very strong night last night for Ten with House, 1.961 million and Thank God You’re Here, 1.907 million winning easy and benefiting from one of Nine’s worst nights in memory. Seven’s The Force (3rd nationally with 1.637 million) and Police Files, 8 pm, 4th with 1.619 million) also added hundreds of thousands of viewers last night , aided by Nine’s poor night. Ten’s NCIS at 9.30 pm averaged 1.525 million in fifth place, Home and Away was sixth for Seven at 7 pm with 1.481 million and Forensic Investigators (Seven, 8.30 pm) had its all time high of 1.391 million, thanks again to Nine’s weakness. Seven’s Today Tonight averaged 1.377 million, Nine News was ninth with 1.376 million, Seven News was 10th with 1.369 million, A Current Affair was 11th with 1.288 million, Temptation, Nine at 7 pm averaged 1.214 million, Spicks and Specks continued to do well for the ABC at 8.30 pm with 1.117 million and the 7pm ABC News had another good night, averaging 1.025 million. It was the 14th and last program last night with a million or more viewers.

The Losers: The Nine Network’s entire night from 7.30pm onwards. In contrast Bert’s Family Feud stood out for its 606,000. Seven’s Deal or No Deal was up to 876,000 and Ten News At Five averaged 838.000 viewers. Extras on the ABC at 9 pm, down to 732,000 and still beat Nine. That was nearly 400,000 fewer than the audience for Spicks and Specks. Nine’s 7.30 program Mothers In War (651,000 viewers) was an idea on paper but …. And why have a thin, good looking host like Catriona Rowntree from Getaway host a program called The Great Weight Debate (624,000)? Nine should have looked more closely at Ten’s local version of The Biggest Loser and the host and contestants. Viewers could identify with all of them, not with the slim Ms Rowntree. She was just too good looking for the program. Having programs like Thank God You’re Here and House as rivals meant normal Nine viewers could migrate to Ten (or Seven or The ABC) with freedom.

News & CA: Nine could crow a little on a bad night with the news beating Seven nationally by just 7,000 viewers. Seven News won Sydney (by 2,000), Adelaide and Perth but Nine had big wins in Sydney and Brisbane and a higher audience in Perth. TT beat ACA by 91,000 nationally and 88,000 in Perth. TT won Melbourne and Perth, ACA won Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide . The 7 pm ABC News had more than a million viewers for another night this week and The 7.30 Report averaged 775,000, pushing Mothers In War into fourth spot from 7.30pm and The New Inventors continued the pressure at 8pm.

The Stats: Ten won with a share of 32.7% (28.0%) Seven, 29.1% (24.0%), Nine was third with 19.0% (30.0%), the ABC was next with 15.1% (13.9%) and SBS was on 4.0% (3.8%). Seven won Sydney and Ten won Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. Seven leads the week, 27.6% to 26.3%. In regional areas, Southern Cross (Ten) had a rare win with a share of 30.1% from Prime/7Qld with 29.4% and Nine’s affiliates, WIN/NBN with 21.3%. The ABC was on 14.6% and SBS 4.6%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Nine will do better tonight: the Footy Shows are on and will probably push the network close to a win, if not a win because a million viewers or more from 9.30pm to past 11 pm does that. Seven has Earl and the sinking Celebrity Survivor at 8.30pm. Ten starts its latest gamble, Jamie’s Kitchen: Australia at 7.30 pm. if anything it will give a better lead-in for David Tench at 8.30pm and Ronnie Johns at 9pm.

Peter Fray

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