Nine plans Footy Inquest. chat The Nine Network is planning a new AFL program called Footy Inquest for Monday nights as part of a strategy to try and make the Network number one on football chat and analysis. Nine won’t have AFL coverage next year so it has to try and keep in the game by repeating the strategy it used in the mid to late 90s, when the network built a reputation for being hot on AFL news and coverage, without much vision. To this end it has hired Craig Hutchison, a long time AFL reporter at Seven, to be Nine’s AFL Editor. Like Eddie, Hutchison fancies himself as an all-rounder in TV sports journalism: able to host footy broadcasts, report, call the game and operate in a light entertainment atmosphere like the AFL Footy Show. Seven says it preferred not to try and top the money offered by Nine to keep Hutchison. With the self-administered demise of the Fox Footy Channel, Eddie feels there’s room on free-to-air TV for another AFL chat show, but this will mean higher production costs. The 9.30pm timeslot on a Monday night has been difficult for Nine for most of this year (Two Twisted, Bryan Brown’s drama series, died slowly in the slot). It’s cheaper to run programs like Cold Case there because they are networked from Sydney and are cheaper than locally produced programs. It also means dual programming: the AFL show for the southern markets and another program, Cold Case say, for the northern markets. Nine could also develop an NRL program but that costs money as well. — Glenn Dyer

Is Nine selling timeslots? Standards are certainly slipping at the Nine Network and it seems cash for comment may be worming its way into the schedule. We saw that with the conflicted Money special a week ago and at 11am yesterday, straight after Sunday finished, Nine aired another program (in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane) that definitely went further in blurring the lines between legitimate content and advertising. In a program called Talking Real Estate, you would expect there would be lots of mentions of properties and real estate agents would be interviewed. But the show, hosted by Greg Evans, was wall-to-wall free plugs and kicks for agents and the vendors of the houses featured. The interviews were soft, patsy types, no mention of the pitfalls of buying a property; tips consisted of stating the obvious; no mention of dummy or dubious bidding by vendors/agents, no mention of the current state of the market, interest rates etc. Nine is obviously so desperate for revenue that it is selling timeslots to special interest groups to show programs that do not disclose the relationship of the people promoting the products (ie, the properties featured and the real estate agents interviewed) and the program’s producers. Were any fees paid in the form of financial contributions towards the cost of making Talking Real Estate— Glenn Dyer

NRL grand final gives Nine the week.  A win to the Nine Network last week thanks to the NRL grand final last Sunday night, yet another reminder why there won’t be a change to the scheduling of the decider. Nine finished the week with a share of 29.6% (28.5% a week earlier) then Seven with 27.0% (27.1%), Ten with 21.8% (23.7%), the ABC with 16.0% (15.8%) and SBS with 5.5% (5.0%). Nine won Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, drew in Adelaide with Seven and Seven won Perth, as usual. Nine won both Friday and Saturday nights from Seven with Ten showing its now customary Spring-Summer audience weakness late in the week (it recorded shares of 17.2%for both nights and was beaten into fourth spot by the ABC on both nights). — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: Sunday night is a much closer affair now that Australian Idol has broken from its shackles and is doing big numbers. Idol averaged 1.892 million from 7.30 to 9pm last night – its highest figure for 2006. Ten News wasn’t at five and wasn’t second and wasn’t watched by 1.769 million. That was still the Bathurst car race coverage. The news didn’t actually start until after 5.30pm and was cut short to finish at 6pm to allow the repeat of The Simpsons to air (Sports Tonight was dropped at 5.30pm). 60 Minutes was third with 1.494 million, CSI was fourth with 1.492 million and Seven’s premiering series, The Real Seachange, averaged 1.430 million at 6.30pm. Nine News was next with 1.342 million, Medical Emergency on Seven at 7pm averaged a solid 1.329 million. Sports Tonight was down with 1.3 million viewers but that was actually the finish of the car race coverage and the shortened Ten News. Seven News averaged 1.292 million, a fresh CSI New York averaged 1.175 million at 9.30pm, Backyard Blitz had just 1.149 million. The 7pm ABC News averaged 1.109 million and Ten’s movie at 9pm, Super Size Me, averaged 1.050 million people. That was an interesting turn-off from the 1.9 million (nearly) people (mostly the target audience for fast/junk food advertisers), who watched Idol. Super Size Me was aimed at them and over 40%of the Idol audience didn’t stay around, but a million viewers wasn’t bad anyway. The ABC’s Operatunity started last night at 7.30pm with 724,000. A less emotive version of Idol. The figures were OK but there will be disappointment at the ABC. They had high hopes for it.

The Losers: The entire Sunday day programming of all non-Ten networks (with the exception of Seven’s Weekend Sunrise at 8am), but that would be too harsh, The Bathurst 1000 was a destabilising force all day and into the early evening.. Seven’s filler program at 7.30pm called World’s Stupidest Criminals attracted 565,000 viewers. There was better on elsewhere. No wonder Seven struggled for the rest of the evening after doing well at 6.30 to 7.30pm. Nine’s Backyard Blitz, with Seven finally finding a show with some appeal, the veteran Blitz was well beaten, a bad sign for Nine next year.

News & CA: Nine News won the 6pm news battle nationally and also won Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and drew with Seven in Adelaide. Seven won Perth. In the Sunday morning chat battle, Seven’s Weekend Sunrise sank to 307,000 because of the Bathurst coverage on Ten. Nine’s Sunday fell sharply and didn’t make the top 50 programs on the day for the first time in quite a while. Sunday averaged 169,000 from 9 am to 11 am (the car race started at 10 am). Nine will be looking for it to climb back over the 230,000 mark next week. Like Weekend Sunrise, the ABC’s Landline did well at midday with 225,000. It has a solid core audience. Seven’s My Business was hit, down to just 82,000 at 11 am, Nine’s Business Success at 8.30 am averaged 105,000, Insiders on the ABC at 9am, 95,000, Offsiders at 10.30 am (Barry Cassidy sans coat), 80,000 and Inside Business at 10 am, 71,000. Meet The Press wasn’t on Ten because of the 7 am start to the car race.

The Stats: Ten’s night with 29.6% (24.2% a week ago) from Nine with 28.8% (43% a week ago with the NRL Grand Final), Seven with 23.5% (15.8%), the ABC with 13.5% (13.5%) and SBS with 4.5% (3.4%). Nine won Sydney and Brisbane, Nine’s affiliates WIN/NBN won with a 30.5% share from Southern Cross (Ten) with 28.3%, Prime/7Qld with 22.4%, the ABC with 13.8% and SBS with 5.0%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: The car race certainly had a big impact. Its average of 1.408 million was up 11.5% on the 1.29 million who watched last year. The fact that it was a sort of memorial service for Peter Brock, also gave it some viewing “hooks” and with Craig Lowndes winning it, some emotion that you would not normally get from something like a car race. The race returns to Seven next year. Ten will be chuffed that Idol is working well for the first time in two seasons. Nine will be unhappy about Backyard Blitz and Seven will hope that its knock-off program Good As Gold does better than Stupidest Criminals and You May be Right at 7.30 pm Sundays. Nine tonight will want to see if last week’s low numbers for What’s Good For You at 7.30pm, What A Year at 8.30pm and Cold Case, show any improvement. Seven will be looking to better numbers for its 6pm news and Today Tonight duo this week as well.

Peter Fray

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