Battle of the game shows. The Seven and Nine Networks blithely failed to stick to the program schedule last night in an attempt to gain an advantage over the other. Both networks were introducing new game shows: 1 vs 100 on Nine and The Rich List on Seven. Eddie’s show won with an average 1.958 million, which will please Nine; The Rich List attracted 1.4 million (both figures are preliminary). Eddie’s show was helped by having the final Steve Irwin doco Ocean’s Deadliest as the lead-in at 7.30pm – it averaged 1.647 million. But to make it tougher for viewers to flick across channels, the two networks played silly buggers with their program timings from the 6.30pm current affairs programs. Home and Away finished around 7.37pm with The Rich List starting straight after. Temptation kept going to just past 7.40pm in its first show back for 2007. According to the TV guides, The Rich List was due to finish at 8.45pm, which it did. 1 v 100 ran well past its 9.30pm finish time and ended closer to 9.45pm. The networks do this to try and hold viewers and stop them turning over, but in reality it is frustrating and very annoying, especially for those who watch and record.

What it also does is confuse the ratings numbers to make them imperfect measurements of viewing levels. Seven and Nine will have to enter the final start/ finish times so that an accurate set of ratings figures can be worked out. The networks will then adjust the figures quietly and use them in their battles to attract advertisers. Neither will tell you but game shows “skew old” and Nine is already known jokingly in the TV industry as Network 55 for its increasing share of the over 55 demographic. Last night Nine had three game shows: Bert’s Family Feud, Temptation and 1 vs 100. Nine’s audience would have been concentrated in the older end of the 25 to 54 demo (the biggest and most important) plus the over 55s. Seven’s had two, Deal Or No Deal and The Rich List but also programs younger viewers watch, Home and Away and Desperate Housewives. I know which network made more money last night. No wonder Eddie wants to host a game show! — Glenn Dyer

New current affairs show for Seven?: The Seven Network remains undecided about the idea of a new flagship current affairs program despite all but completing a pilot for the program. Former Nine staffer Mark Llewellyn has been in charge of developing the pilot since work started on the project in early December. The pilot will be considered by Seven executives in the next week or so but uncertainty about the idea continues. At present the program is being made with an eye to slotting it in at 6.30pm on a Sunday night as a spoiler to Nine’s flagship 60 Minutes which starts at 7.30pm. But Seven wouldn’t get much change from a budget of $15 million, which might prove problematic with KKR now owning half the network. That’s a total episode cost of around $350,000, high by any standards and about the lowest cost Australian drama is made for these days. Seven could do it for less but that would be reflected in the program that went to air. Then there’s the timeslot: 6.30pm Sundays might be the objective now but Seven is trying some other options for Sunday night. It already screens Where Are They Now over short runs at 6.30pm and it works with ratings of between 1.2 million and 1.4 million most nights. Switching that to 7.30pm would drop the ratings back to around one million or so, especially if the new current affairs program didn’t work. Where Are They Now returns in a couple of weeks with a one-off program, and then later in the year. It’s a big decision for Seven which will attract a lot of attention, especially given its background with its former failed high profile program, Witness. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: Well, only the game shows mattered last night: but not those at 5.30pm on Nine or Seven nor the returning Temptation at 7pm. No, the only question in TV today is how Seven’s Rich List did at 7.30pm and Eddie McGuire’s new gig, 1 vs 100 at 8.30 pm? 1 vs 100 averaged 1.958 million, with Ocean’s Deadliest next with 1.647 million (and the most watched program in Brisbane), Home and Away was next with 1.411 million, then The Rich List with 1.407 million. Seven’s Today Tonight averaged 1.399 million, followed by Seven News (1.369 million). Nine’s A Current Affair (1.216 million) and Nine News (1.184 million). Justice (new on Nine at 9.30 pm or thereabouts) averaged 1.122 million – a promising start but there are only 13 programs because it died in the US. Temptation returned at 7pm with 1.085 million and the 7pm ABC News did well with 1.039 million. Seven’s repeat of last season’s two hour finale of Desperate Housewives at 8.45pm or thereabouts averaged 911,000, Supernatural on Ten had 813,000 at 8.30pm, The West Wing on the ABC had 665,000 at 8.30 pm. That’s about the normal average for this series so ABC viewers weren’t all that tempted by Eddie’s resurrection.

The Losers: Bert’s Family Feud, 485,000. Not down as a repeat. Seven’s Deal or No Deal wasn’t a repeat in the programs but was in the ratings numbers: 695,000 viewers. Both OK results but the battle proper hasn’t been joined yet. Crikey! What An Adventure, the second of the Steve Irwin specials on Nine last night, averaged 694,000 at 10.30pm. Top Gear on SBS averaged 625,000 which was up on the previous week.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market but Melbourne, likewise Today Tonight which beat ACA. TT won by 183,000 viewers nationally and didn’t need the usual big win in Perth and Seven News beat Nine News by 163,000 nationally and didn’t need Perth, although both were helped by the solid margins. Seven won Sydney and lost Melbourne. The solid ABC News helped The 7.30 Report with 848,000. Kerry O’Brien is still looking holiday relaxed and very pleased with himself. Ten News averaged 888,000 people and the Late News/Sports Tonight program at 10.30 averaged 417,000. Nightline on Nine at 11.30pm averaged 294,000. SBS World News Australia at 6.30 224,000 and the half hour edition at 9.30pm, 261,000. In the morning Sunrise on Seven was again under 400,000 with 394,000. Today averaged 220,000.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 34.4% (27.0% last week) from Seven with 27.6% (30.0%), Ten was third with 17.5% (20.6%), the ABC with 13.3% (15.1%) and SBS with 7.3% (7.4%). Nine won Sydney and Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. Seven won Adelaide in a bit of a surprise. (the Steve Irwin special was beaten at 7.30 pm by The Rich List) Nine now leads the week 33.1% to 32.7%. In regional areas a big win to Nine with affiliates WIN/NBN averaging 37.8% to 25.2% for Prime/7Qld, 17.1% for Southern Cross (Ten), 12.3% for the ABC and 7.6% for SBS.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Game shows attract an older audience, and Monday night on Nine, with its three game shows, looks like Seniors Night for Network 55. The Rich List looked like a number of other programs Seven has done over the year – The Master for example – but on the whole it wasn’t bad and the questions were fair to middling. But it was a bit slow in places, especially compared to the spectacle on Nine. Eddie’s show is all about him, the spectacle and the audience and to see him back, working the “mob” and milking the tension for every last ratings point. It was good to see a great operator at work and not a network CEO. Why he ever thought he could run Nine is beyond me. Ego, ego and more ego no doubt but on last night he’s a great TV performer and host. And so is Andrew O’Keefe on Seven, who is not only giving Eddie a run for being “everywhere” on the Network, but also in studio craft. But Eddie has the better vehicle and he has made sure it resembles Millionaire, not in look but in the level of his involvement, the music and time taken to get the contestant to the finish line. O’Keefe worked hard to make The Rich List zing and Seven will be very happy with that result. The Rich List is being repeated tonight for those who missed it last night. The Rich List will have more eps on Seven than it did in the US where it lasted just one! It might attract more viewers tonight than the NZ-England one day cricket game on Nine. Here’s a question for The Rich List: “List the number of wins by England in the recent Ashes Test series”. That game is on Nine today and tonight as we revert back to summer viewing. No one is trying very hard. Ten’s NCIS should do well at 8.30pm, especially if the ODI is over by then, like last Friday night.

Peter Fray

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