Nine sticks it to cricket fans again. So we know what the Nine Network thinks of us cricket tragics. During official ratings we get all the cricket we want, especially if it runs over and boosts Nine News to the point where it beats Seven. But out of ratings and its back to the old policy of bail out of the Test coverage for news at 6pm Sydney and Melbourne time. On Sunday it cost us about 10 minutes of coverage, on Monday it was more than 50 minutes. And Nine has the hide to complain about the campaign conducted against the anti-siphoning laws by Foxtel. Nine News won easily when the cricket coverage from Brisbane ran over last week and would have won regardless of the decision to bail out of the coverage early on Sunday and Monday. Nine News averaged 1.573 million last night, Seven News 1.362 million. But with the official ratings battle over, why the reversion to the old Nine policy of going to news before play finishes? Especially when the program the cricket overrun would have pre-empted was the well-known high quality offering, The King of Queens, which averaged 1.009 million in its first reminder to viewers of its awfulness. In launching Nine’s summer cricket coverage a few months ago CEO Eddie McGuire promised us something special with great coverage, but based on this week’s effort (especially last night as England held out Shane Warne) Nine went back to telecasts of old. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: The first Monday night of summer was boosted by the Test cricket coverage but things quickly settled down on Nine and normality was restored. There wasn’t much of note on the box last night and viewing levels were generally lower. It was one of those summer nights with not much to recommend it. Just 10 programs with a million or more viewers on the night. Nine News was tops, boosted by the cricket with 1.573 million. A Current Affair was next with 1.414 million, then Seven News with 1.362 million and Today Tonight with 1.296 million (hosted by Anna Coren for the first time this summer).The 7pm ABC News averaged 1.275 million, its highest for a long time and a result of the ALP leadership change and the fact that viewers quite often start their viewing in summer with the ABC at 7pm. Nine’s fresh ep of 20 to 1 averaged 1.257 million at 7.30pm; The 7.30 Report had 1.160 million (also a recent high). Vanished, the new Seven series at 8.30pm averaged 1.127 million, The King of Queens had 1.099 million for 9th spot and 10th was a repeat of CSI Miami on Nine with 1.027 million. Dynasties on the ABC at 8pm averaged 974,000. The Ashes Cricket from 11am to 6pm averaged 825,000 people.

The Losers: Its summer, so we have to be careful because some of the programs are losers in ratings. For all the hype around Nip/Tuck from the US, 755,000 from 9.30pm to 11pm on Nine was just OK and no more. Seven’s decision to repeat The Great Outdoors in a sort of summer edition averaged 906,000, about 150,000 or so under what fresh eps were getting at the end of the season. The US version of The Biggest Loser on Ten at 9.30pm, 613,000. It will stay to prop up the back end of the night for Ten. Everyone Loves Raymond at 6pm instead of The Simpsons, just 530,000. The Simpsons at 7pm, 810,000. Seven’s Deal Or No Deal at 5.30 pm, 735,000, about 80,000-100,000 under normal. Understandable when more than a million people were watching the cricket.

News & CA: A reminder last night that it is news and current affairs, not news and two magazine shows at 6.30pm devoted to anything but current affairs. Both Today Tonight and A Current Affair did interviews on the change in Labor Leadership: TT with Kevy Rudd, ACA with Kevy and Jules. To see both doing such an obvious story was quite strange. I felt faint but then I bet the Seven newsroom in Sydney feels a bit faint today, the ABC News at 7pm had more viewers (411,000) than Seven (378,000). I know about different times but its very, very rare that Seven News is beaten by the ABC News in Sydney. The 7.30 Report vanquished Seven’s repeat of The Great Outdoors and Ten’s Smallville. Now that is very rare. It’s a symptom of summer viewing patterns and the news around yesterday (and the knowledge that viewers knew the program would cover the Labor Leadership in depth). It’s a message to those running commercial current affairs (and that includes the programs on mornings, late night and on Sundays) that there is an appetite out there for actual news to be covered and not an endless stream of “consumer-driven” reports. Because of the boost from the cricket Nine News and ACA won Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Seven News and TT won Perth. Ten News at Five averaged 749,000. Sunrise beat Today in the morning, 429,000 to 278,000 from 7am.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 29.6% from Seven with 28.1, Ten with 17.8%, the ABC with 16.3% and SBS with 8.3%. Nine won Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, Seven won Sydney and Perth. In regional areas WIN/NBN won for Nine with 32.6% from Prime/7Qld with 26.3%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 18.7%, the ABC with 13.6% and SBS with 8.8%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Last night was a good example of summer viewing, both in patterns and on the screen. The ABC News and 7.30 Report generally do a lot better in summer because people start watching a little bit later. The cricket does unsettle patterns. Without it last night Nine would have lost narrowly to Seven. If the cricket is close this afternoon (unlikely but we can hope) then Nine will again do well. Nine has the swimming tonight (but didn’t last night. The women’s 100 metres butterfly final would have been a cracker live). There’s another ABC cricket doco at 9.20pm, Weeds on Nine at 9pm is worth a look because of the pre-publicity. A recently widowed penniless woman turns to drug dealing to make money to maintain her lifestyle (haven’t we heard that before from the courts) and on Seven at 8.30pm and Life Begins, which is all about a mother of two struggling to rediscover herself. Yep, Clone for Clone, almost. The question is will the woman on Seven morph into the woman on Nine?

Peter Fray

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