Twenty20 cricket: ratings behemoth. You didn’t need 20/20 hindsight to see that last night’s game between Australia (aka KFC) and England (aka Vodafone) would be a big success. But even the Nine Network might confess to being taken aback at the size of last night’s three and a half hour audience: more than 2.37 million in the five metro markets and another million in regional areas. No measurement of audiences in pubs and clubs. Total national audience almost 3.4 million. That’s up there with the likes of the AFL Grand Final. The game secured big, AFL-like audiences across the country: 726,000 in Sydney, 714,000 in Melbourne, 407,000 in Brisbane, 290,000 in Adelaide and 235,000 in Perth, helping Nine to easily win the night — Glenn Dyer

The first reported sighting of a chequebook for 2007? “An off-duty police officer who escaped the jaws of a crocodile that fastened around his head and pulled him into the water has sold his story to a TV current affairs show … It is understood that Sgt Tanswell, who was asking $10,000 for his story, has made a deal with Channel Nine’s A Current Affair to describe his brush with death.” Other media reports suggested the deal was negotiated by the Queensland Police Union, which is a novel expansion of its interests into media management. But the Seven Network ambushed Nine and its client quite smartly with a reporter and crew bailing him up and having a chat as he walked along the street in far north Queensland. ACA reporter (and a former Today Tonight hack) Chris Allen Duckett could be seen in the background trying to hustle the sergeant away from Seven’s cameras and other media and into a waiting four-wheel drive. The first example of chequebook journalism this year, perhaps? Or was that Monday’s interview with Shane Warne? — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: The Twenty20 did the business for Nine and that was it for the night. But despite the dominance of the game from 7.30pm, nine programs had a million or more viewers, up two on Monday night and six more than sleepy Sunday. The cricket averaged 2.372 million, with Seven News next with 1.297 million and Today Tonight third with 1.281 million. Nine News was fourth with 1.221 million, followed by A Current Affair (1.178 million), Border Patrol NZ (Seven, 7.30 pm – 1.115 million) and That 70s Show (Seven, 7pm – 1.051 million). Serious Crash Unit (Seven, 8pm) averaged 1.045 million – why isn’t someone making a local version. It’s interesting and might put some sense back into the road safety debate. ABC News averaged 1.037 million at 7pm and the solid Life Begins on Seven at 8.30pm averaged 1.020 million, despite the cricket. Nine’s Dave Hughes special averaged 939,000 after the cricket.

The Losers: Ten was crushed by the cricket, its best programs being the News (850,000) and The Simpsons repeat at 7.30pm with 655,000. From then on it was downhill. The OC is dying (it’s dead in the US). Just 546,000 watched from 8.30pm. Likewise Charmed at 9.30pm.

News & CA: Much closer between Seven and Nine between 6pm and 7pm. Seven News won nationally by 78,000 and 127,000 in Perth. Seven won Sydney (another good win to Chris Bath over Mark Ferguson), Adelaide and Perth. Nine had solid wins in Melbourne and Brisbane. TT won Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. ACA won Melbourne. TT won nationally by 103,000 and 97,000 in Perth. ABC News at 7pm was solid but The 7.30 Report was hammered by the smash and run, falling to average just 613,000 viewers, down more than 300,000 on the night before. Ten News stood out for the network on a poor night while 7am Today (253,000) was again beaten by 7am Sunrise (384,000), the first time Sunrise‘s audience has been under 400,000 for some months. Today‘s audience was up by around 20,000 on the day before.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 45.6% (26.5% last week) from Seven with 24.0% (32.8%), Ten was third with 13.8% (17.0%), the ABC with 12.6% (17.7%) and SBS with 4.1% (6.0%). Nine won everywhere, leading the week with 34.4% to 24.4% for Seven. It was a similar story in regional Australia with WIN/NBN with a share of 47.3% from Prime/7Qld with 23.4%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 14.8%, the ABC with 10.0% and SBS with 4.5%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: The cricket probably did better than most expected but the real story from last night was the way Seven’s third string programs stood up to it, helped by the performance in Perth where the game started at 5.30pm local and finished after 8.30pm. It’s the same story as last year: when Nine has to rely on its usual programming it struggles, a message that has yet to sink in at Park Street. Tonight it’s back to the mundane. Seven has the truly horrible Cheaters on at 9.30pm. Nine has the New Zealand “drama” Outrageous Fortune and Ten is showing CBS programs like Letterman at midnight and the CBS Early Show at 4am as a lead-in to its 6am news. Now, where’s that radio?