Nine stays with the cricket and wins. After reverting to the arrogant Nine of old on Sunday and Monday night and abandoning coverage of the second Ashes Test in favour of the news, last night Nine saw the light and stayed with the cricket until Australia secured its sensational win. Nine got huge audiences — over two million in every quarter hour — from 6pm til well after 7pm in Sydney and Melbourne. The coverage from 11am to 6pm averaged 998,000 but the audience from 5pm onwards grew rapidly to reach two million by 6pm and then more. According to the preliminary Oztam figures Nine’s audience peaked between 7pm and 7.15pm at more than 2.4 million (that’s Sydney, Melbourne time). — Glenn Dyer

Ten Network profits remain under pressure, despite signs of a revenue rebound. Group earnings before tax and depreciation and interest fell 15.6% in the first quarter to $107.2 million from $127.1 million. Looking at what happened to TV sales revenues and those from Eye Corp, its outdoor business, it seems the network’s TV earnings were again down, but profits from TV and Eye are not broken out in the quarterly statements, only in the half years. The network told shareholders at today’s annual meeting in Sydney that group revenues in the first quarter were only 0.4% lower, but that was more to do with a sharp improvement at its outdoor signage group, Eye Corp which lifted sales 24% to $42.1 million. Revenue for the TV business was down 3.5% at $251.8 million compared to $261.0 million in the first quarter of 2006. It’s hard to see Eye earning less with such a sharp rise in revenues from new contracts so the lower group profit had to have been driven by the TV business. Ten is hoping that the improving tone of the ad market in the run up to Christmas will reverse that weaker profit while the network is looking forward to a small rate rise in 2007 based on its sharp improvement in ratings across the board this year. Meanwhile, Ten has finally moved to upgrade its online offering, revealing that links to more than 50 websites will be offered from next February. The network is already spending a total of $25 million to complete the digitisation of all its tape-based material and archives. That will link to the website revamp but also improved internal operating efficiencies and lower costs. The network is also completing its move to High Definition TV and surround sound, which will be on air — and for the website — from next year. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: The night was completely confused by the thrilling final hour and a half of the second Ashes Test from Adelaide. Nine was an easy winner, Seven did OK but Ten and the others were a little overshadowed. Audience rankings were skewed, eg. Nine News and A Current Affair both averaged around 2.2 million but that was still the cricket. The win came just after 7.15pm in Melbourne and Sydney. The swimming from Brisbane on Nine averaged 1.387 million, Border Patrol NZ went to air at 7.30pm on Seven and averaged 1.269 million, followed by Seven News (1.222 million), new series Life Begins (1.173 million) and Today Tonight (1.127 million). Nine’s new program, Weeds, averaged 915,000 and The OC on Ten had 844,000. The cricket averaged 998,000 from 11am to 6pm.

The Losers: None, too confusing with the cricket. Deal or No Deal on Seven at 5.30pm averaged a solid 616,000 up against more than 1.7 million people on Nine for the cricket.

News & CA: The News and Current Affairs hour from 6pm to 7pm was not relevant last night. Seven News did OK, attracting 1.222 million viewers, Today Tonight averaged 1.127 million and was crunched by the Test. Normal rivalry will be resumed tonight. The 7pm ABC News averaged 866,000 and was also hit by the Test on Nine, as was The 7.30 Report which fell to average 770,000. Ten News was really whacked, averaging just 595,000 from 5pm. Sunrise averaged 453,000 from 7am; Today, 251,000.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 35.1% from Seven with 27.1%, Ten with 18.3%, the ABC with 15.1% and SBS with 4.3%. Nine leads the week 31.9% to 26.9% for Seven. Nine won Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Seven won Perth because the Test finished around 4.15pm and the telecast around 15 minutes later. Nine won more narrowly in Brisbane because of the hour difference, the cricket finishing at 6.15pm. In regional areas WIN/NBN won for Nine with 35.1%, Prime/7Qld with 26.5%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 19.3%, the ABC with 14.2% and SBS with 4.9%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: So Nine’s night thanks to the cricket and the week. Nine would have to fall in a big black hole over the next four nights to lose… but that has happened. Ask Seven in the last week of official ratings — it fell in a deep hole the first two nights and couldn’t get out and probably lost the year as a result. But Seven’s Tuesday night line-up did well last night and could be a potent force. Border Patrol is the Kiwi version of Border Security but Life Begins did OK, as did Weeds for Nine. Ten’s night was a bit better than it looked on paper, even after taking into account the enormous figures Nine had from 6pm to 7.30pm.

Peter Fray

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