Melbourne tunes in for NRL decider, Sydney over the Swans. Even though the AFL Grand Final attracted a larger national audience on Saturday afternoon than last night’s NRL Grand Final, the Rugby League would probably be happier about the result than the AFL. Melbourne audiences were more responsive to its NRL team than Sydney was to its AFL team, a turnaround on the situation in recent years. In fact Melbourne had the biggest audience for both Grand Finals, the first time that has happened. Considerably more people in Melbourne watched the Storm play and lose last night (903,000) than the audience in in Sydney to watch the Swans play and lose on Saturday (762,000). The NRL Grand Final averaged 2.561 million, well short of the 3.15 million average for the AFL (both figures refer to audiences in the five metro markets). But a look at the make up of those figures shows that Sydney has gone off the AFL but Melbourne was definitely on song for the League due to the presence of the Storm in the Grand Final — it was a record audience for an NRL game in Melbourne and it easily out-ranked Sydney where only 804,000 tuned in (sort of understandable given the lack of a Sydney team). The NRL decider also had a huge 788,000 viewers in Brisbane, which will make the NRL very happy. The AFL had big audiences in both Brisbane (328,000) and Adelaide (325,000), but the big worry for the AFL was that sharp fall in the size of the Sydney audience — a decline of around 25 per cent compared to 2005 when 994,000 watched on average. Perth figures showed a record audience there: the average was 549,000 viewers. And in Melbourne the 1.18 million audience was off slightly from last year when more than 1.2 million people tuned in for the game. The regional figures for both games will be officially released tomorrow. — Glenn Dyer

Nine plugging holes with cheap Money. Tonight at 9.35pm on Nine a program called Money is set to return. The program guide says “Return”, but in fact its more like the results of an archaeological dig at the Nine Network’s programming vaults. So desperate is Nine for new programs to fill those nasty holes in its schedule this year that it’s being forced to dig back into the long list of programs being “rested”. Money was a half hour program shown on Nine about a decade ago. Paul Clitheroe hosted it and it was dropped after about six seasons because of declining ratings. Nine is also using Georgie Parker to co-host because she’s on contract and there’s been nothing for her since Clever was “rested” at the start of the year. It will interesting to see how it will go tonight because while shares and money are important, they are still essentially very hard to make interesting. The program is still very 90s in concept. Superannuation, shares, negative gearing are all fairly old hat now (as are interest rates) to most viewers. That’s one of the reasons why Money will have a studio audience tonight: to try and make it seem lively. They will be discussing surviving high petrol prices, rising interest rates and high levels of personal debt: sounds like a discussion forum for A Current Affair. The other reason is money: studio-based programs are cheaper to produce than programs with stories and other components: like the old version of Money. Nine also starts a new program tonight — it’s called What A Year and it’s hosted by Mike Munro and Megan Gale (who would be the most expensive elements of the program). What A Year looks at certain years in the immediate past, off tape archives with music and movies. Sounds trite, but cheap, another version of 20 to 1 which has about run its course. — Glenn Dyer

Nine wins another week. The AFL Grand Final coverage and the high figures in the early evening allowed Ten to sneak home on Saturday night with an average share of 25.0% from Nine with 24.7%, Seven with 23.1%, the ABC with 20.5% and SBS with 6.4%. Seven won Friday night with a share of 27.2% from Nine with 25.3%, Ten with 21.6%, the ABC with 20.5% and SBS with 6.7%. But Nine still won last week with a share of 28.5% (27.8% a week earlier) from Seven with 27.1% (27.4%), Ten with 23.7% (24.4%, the ABC with 15.8% (15.6%) and SBS with 5.0% (4.5%). — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
 The NRL Grand Final averaged 2.561 million people, followed by Nine’s 6pm news (1.642 million) and the Grand Final Entertainment (1.618 million). Australian Idol (1.217 million) did very well against the start of the League. The Grand Final presentation averaged 1.169 million (the audience halved very quickly) and Seven News had 1.121 million. Ten’s repeat of Love Actually (1.038 million) was 7th and the ABC’s The Worst Jobs in History was next with 1.02 million.

The Losers: No real losers, the Grand Final was too disruptive. Astute viewers may have noticed when the ads were on Nine that Seven smuggled out another ep of You May Be Right at 7.30 pm. Viewers didn’t miss it, it averaged just 494,000 people. Nine has also smuggled the latest series of The Apprentice into its schedule on Sunday nights. Last night it was on at 11.15pm and averaged just 267,000 viewers. The best of the NRL Footy Show was on after the Grand Final had finished: it attracted just 414,000 viewers: the boorish antics of those wacky guys no match for the skills of the Storm and the Broncos.

News & CA: Nine News was the easy winner over Seven because of the lead in of the Grand Final day coverage. Next week Ten has the Bathurst car race on Sunday for its lead-in at 5 o’clock. Yesterday Ten News averaged 687,000, about normal for a Sunday evening. The 7pm ABC news averaged 855,000. On Sunday morning seven’s Weekend Sunrise averaged 405,000, Sportsworld, on Seven, 309,000, Landline on the ABC at noon, 259,000. Nine’s Sunday fell to 234,000, the lowest figure since its revamp last month. Seven’s My Business at 11am, 152,000, the ABC’s Insiders (9am), 120,000. Inside Business, 68,000, Offsiders, 62,000 and both were topped by Ten’s Meet The Press with 75,000 viewers.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 43.0% (30.5%) from Ten with 24.2% (24.6%), Seven with 15.8% (25.8%), the ABC with 13.5% (16.1%), SBS with 3.4% (3.1%). Nine won Sydney (48.1%), Melbourne (41.1% share) and Brisbane (56.8%). Ten won Adelaide and Perth. The regional figures won’t be released until tomorrow.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: As expected the NRL dominated and the audience was the second largest since the present metering system started in 2001. Melbourne did better than Sydney but the real winner was Ten: its share last night only slipped half a per cent on the previous Sunday night. And that should be a worry for the NRL and its media mates. Ten aims at the 16 to 39 age group, which is what the football aims at with heavy promotion. Ten’s audience last night would have skewed young female, the part of the audience the NRL is trying hard to reach. Judging by the way Idol held up at the kick off the Grand Final, the NRL would be better sponsoring Idol to reach young female viewers than some of its other efforts. The Grand Final would have skewed young to middle-aged males. The ABC program at 7.30, the Tony Robinson The Worst Jobs in History (7.30pm) also wasn’t that much hurt by the start of the NRL at 7.30pm: it only lost around 128,000 viewers compared to the previous Sunday. That’s a good performance. Ten won Adelaide and Perth simply because Seven programmed dead against the NRL game across its network. Tonight Nine has a new series of What’s Good For You, a new program called What a Year and a rehash of the 90’s show, Money to compete with The Great outdoors, grey’s Anatomy and Criminal Minds. Ten has Idol, Law and Order SVU and the US version of The Biggest Loser (and we are talking BIG here). The ABC has Four Corners and Enough Rope and Mythbusters replaces Top Gear on SBS at 7.30pm.

Peter Fray

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