West Wing fans in for more disappointment. In fact it would be fair to say that they might be more than a little shocked and alarmed at when the seventh and final series of the US political drama will be screened by the ABC. To watch the way this fine drama is brought to a close (if they haven’t bought online or downloaded already) they will have to master the record function on their DVD machines or become antisocial. The current series, screening on Monday nights from 8.30pm to around 10pm (back to back eps) is due to end on Monday 5 February. The following Saturday, 10 February, the final season (series seven) will screen at 9.30pm after The Bill. Since it was sub-licenced from the Nine Network in 2005 the ABC has broadcast the program at 8.30pm Thursdays and then Monday nights after Four Corners ended in November. Ratings for 2007 start on Sunday 11 February and it would seem the ABC has no place for the series in its prime time lineup in the high watching nights of Monday to Thursdays. How very commercial of the ABC. Friday and especially Saturday nights are low viewing nights; in fact Saturday is something of a graveyard in commercial TV, although for the ABC it’s one of its better nights. But the new timeslot does mean fans will have either to record the program or stay in and wash their hair. West Wing’s ratings jumped from around 340,000-400,000 on Thursday nights to well over 600,000 on most Monday evenings. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: A solid win for Seven on its second last night of summer viewing. It was another night where Seven News and Today Tonight finished top of the most watched pile and again accounted for Nine News and A Current Affair. A total of eight programs achieved a million or more viewers, not bad going given the absolute boredom generated by last night’s schedule. Seven News was tops with 1.376 million, Today Tonight was second with 1.319 million, Seven’s 7.30 to 8.30pm program Will and Grace departed with 1.158 million. Nine’s repeat of the very slow moving Midsomer Murders averaged 1.136 million desperate souls who wanted some entertainment, however slender it might have been. The 7pm ABC News averaged 1.122 million, The final two hour ep of The Amazing Race on Seven from 8.30 pm averaged 1.093 million and A Current Affair (1.055 million) and Nine News (1.029 million) brought up the rear in seventh and eighth spots. That ’70s Show averaged 993,000 at 7 pm, Law And Order Criminal Intent (a repeat on Ten at 8.30 pm) averaged 886,000, Nine’s 7pm program, The King of Queens, 794,000 viewers who suffered through a sitcom about plump, loud Americans.
The Losers: Ten’s repeat of Australia’s Brainiest Olympians, 695,000; Ten’s Numb3rs, 779,000.The ABC’s Psychic Investigators 764,000. If they are sooo interesting why aren’t they forecasting the ratings results for the ABC? It’s a clueless, brainless program only the likes of spoon benders and others would be able to justify, let alone the national broadcaster. Nine’s Til Death at 8pm, 646,000 and Help Me Help You at 7.30pm, 612,000. two sitcoms where the promos are funnier than the actual programs.
News & CA: Seven News won nationally in an unusually comprehensive victory for this time of year. Likewise Today Tonight over ACA. Seven News won by a massive 345,000 viewers. Today Tonight won by an equally strong 264,000. Both didn’t need the usual big margins in Perth. Seven News again scored a solid win over Nine News in Sydney, 360,000 to 267,000. A big tick for Chris Bath against Mark Ferguson. For whatever reason viewers haven’t liked Nine News or ACA this week. ACA can be explained by the hosting efforts of Leila McKinnon: light compared to regular host Tracy Grimshaw. And light compared to TT summer host Anna Coren. Seven News and TT were also solid in Melbourne and Brisbane this week, two traditional strongholds for Nine. Ten News was again solid with 893,000, not far away from Nine’s 1.029 million. Nine News was beaten by ABC News nationally and Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. And I know different timeslots and more people watching at 7pm, but they weren’t watching Nine at 6pm or 7pm! in the morning 6am Sunrise easily beat 6am Today and 7am Sunrise, 426,000, beat 7am Today, 261,000.
The Stats:
Seven won with 31,0% (30.0% a week earlier) from Nine with 27.5% (30.9%). Ten was third with 21.1% (19.7%), the ABC was on 14.9% (15.4%) and SBS was on 5.6% 94.0%). Nine leads 31.8% to 26.4%. Seven won Sydney, Melbourne (Nine was weak there last night), Brisbane and Perth. Nine won Adelaide. In regional areas another win to nine through WIN/NBN with 32.6% from Prime/7Qld with 26.6%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 22.3%, the ABC with 13.6% and SBS with 5.0%.
Glenn Dyer’s comments: Tonight and the week will be Nine’s after the one day international between Australia and England from Melbourne tonight. After the Tests and the 20/20 stuff earlier in the week the ODIs will be in danger of being a bit anti-climatic. Fans will watch and next week Seven starts its coverage of the Australian Open Tennis. In fact the tennis also looms as a bit of a yawn. With Roger The Dodger firmly in control the real story will be who will be his opponent. Federer is a bit like Australia in the cricket: yeah, we know one finalists already, goes the thinking, so who will be the most talented runner up for the final? or will our Lleyton make it past the first round? More cricket on Sunday: it’s a day match from Hobart, Australia vs the Kiwis so they will be of greater interest to many viewers. Seven finishes its summer programming Sunday night, after the tennis for two weeks it will start returning its big guns for the start of ratings on 11 February. One thing so far missing from Seven is a host for Today Tonight. Naomi has gone, to be a prancer on Dancing With The Stars, so who will fill the chair. It’s getting a bit late. Has Seven management been asleep this summer? Will it be Anna Coren who has so far done very well against Tracy Grimshaw and now Leila McKinnon on ACA? Tonight the ABC has Agatha Christie’s Poirot if anyone doesn’t like cricket, Seven has that prime time failure, Good As Gold, and Ten trots out Sleepless in Seattle once again to fill a hole. What number repeat is it now for Sleepless? The ABC gives us another chance to be bored tomorrow night by another ep of Midsomer Murders. This one is fresh from the sleep clinic.

Peter Fray

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