Busy holiday season for Seven CEO. No wonder Seven Network CEO, David Leckie, is not going overseas this Christmas/New Year. He’s a very busy man overseeing Seven’s role in the annual battle for the TV industry advertising agreements, which is knuckling down to the last few days of horse-trading. His point man is James Warburton, Seven’s sales director. Leckie is also up to his neck in the restructure of Seven into Seven Media and Seven Network. Once approved, the split and formation of the new companies is due to take place on 30 December. By that time it’s felt the ad deals for 2007 will be substantially set with Seven getting a rate rise of up to 7% (probably a bit more once premiums for many of its programs are factored in). Ten will get 3-5% and Nine will get nothing or a small increase but will get share. Seven has a fleet of programs attracting premiums, except for Sunday nights which is the Network’s black hole. Seven has sold at least six of the ten “fast start” packages to advertisers which lump the Australian Open Tennis next month in with some high rating programs like Desperate Housewives and Lost. Seven will cut back on bonus offers to advertisers (to increase reach and frequency) because it doesn’t have that much “inventory” available. Ten will make use of bonus ads simply to boost its share; Nine will have all the bonuses and other deals it can get its hands on simply to fill what is a wide open inventory of advertising slots. And here’s a bit of market goss: Seven’s Sunrise now is not accepting any bonus ads as parts of wider campaigns and virtually every ad in the program has some sort of premium charged on it because the program is so popular. Nine’s Today show ads are substantially bonus or low value ads. But Nine will make millions in profits from the cricket with all slots for the first four days of each test sold out and many of them at premiums. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: Without the prime time Test cricket the Nine Network was vulnerable last night, losing a close one to Seven. Today Tonight on Seven was the most watched program with 1.375 million with Seven News second with 1.358 million, Nine News was third with 1.236 million, then the 7pm ABC News with 1.193 million, A Current Affair with 1.163 million, The Cricket Show with 1.135 million, The 7.30 Report with 1.051 million and Dynasties on the ABC at 8 pm with 1.017 million. Nine’s repeat of CSI Miami averaged 916,000, Seven’s That 70s Show at 7pm, 899,000 Nine had the cricket programmed from 7.00 to 8.30pm but of course didn’t show any of it with The King of Queens on at 7pm. The cricket finished just after 4.10pm and Nine kept going with cricket material until 6pm Sydney time.
 
The Losers: It’s summer, remember, so lots of “lost programs” about. But you’d have to put Nine News and ACA in the losers list last night: They lost to Seven News and Today Tonight despite the cricket wrap-up being stretched with interviews, shots inside the Australian team’s dressing rooms, chat and good commentary. Viewers just didn’t want to know. Why would Seven trade TT‘s Anna Coren for Tracy Grimshaw on ACA who is a loser at the moment?
 
News & CA: Seven News won nationally by 122,000 and 99,000 in Perth. Nine won Sydney but lost Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Today Tonight won nationally by 210,000 viewers and 133,000 in Perth. TT lost Sydney but won Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Ten News At Five returned to normal levels with no cricket: it averaged 882,000. ABC News was again very strong, as was The 7.30 Report. Seven’s Sunrise averaged 430,000, Nine’s Today 263,000: no traction there for Sarah Murdoch yet.
 
The Stats: Seven won with a 26.6% share (27.9% a week ago) to Nine with 26.0% (25.6%), Ten with 20.3% (19.8%), the ABC with 17.8% (17.7%) and SBS with 9.3% (9.0%) SBS’s audience share doubles some nights when there is no cricket. Seven won Melbourne, and Perth, Nine won Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide. Seven’s ten point win in Perth put it over the line nationally. Nine leads the week 32.6% to 23.3%. In regional areas Nine’s affiliates WIN/NBN won with 30.8% from Prime/7Qld with 23.5%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 19.7%, the ABC with 15.5% and SBS with 10.5%.
 
Glenn Dyer’s comments: No cricket and as we have observed, Nine is weak and comes back to the field. but the Test coverage is good. Some of the commentary was OK but much is repetitive and the bleedin’ obvious, except for The Man in the Beige Jacket who suggested at the end of the coverage that Shane Warne might very well be in England in 2009 and would still be aged 39 (and it will be on SBS). The bloke in that Jacket is still head and shoulders above the rest, although Mark Taylor has improved this year. Nine’s outrageous exploiting of the New Zealand taxpayer to win Australian drama points continued with the showing of the very crude program Outrageous Fortune at 10.30pm. Nine has bought 13 episodes of the program which has been financed totally by Kiwi taxpayers. Under that dud High Court decision back in 1997, Kiwi-produced programs count as local content in Australia, but Australian programs do not count as local content in NZ. Another example of politicians and judges not understanding anything about the realities of life in the media and business. So long as Nine starts it at or before 10.30pm it gets full points for showing it in prime time. It attracted just 344,000 viewers. It was beaten by Boston Legal on Seven (491,000) and the last ep of the US version of The Biggest Loser on Ten (721,000). Nine isn’t worried about the ratings, it just needs the local drama content points. Just plain cynical. No wonder it’s struggling.

Peter Fray

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