Is this Nine’s first programming blunder of 2007? Next Monday night, Nine has scheduled the average NZ police observational show, Highway Patrol as the 8pm lead-in to 1 vs 100. It will be up against the stronger than anticipated The Rich List on Seven and the solid Bondi Rescue on Ten. Motorway Patrol will follow the first ep of Nine’s new police observational series, The Code (or how to make the Victorian Police warm and cuddly). The Code will do well, but Highway Patrol won’t. At best it’s a 1 to 1.2 million viewer show, which will be a weak point going into 1 v 100. And considering Eddie is also up against the first new ep of Desperate Housewives, he will find it very hard to repeat last week’s 1.958 million debut. Nine could pay a high price for not returning a program like Missing Persons Unit as a half hour program at 8pm on Monday, it would fit with The Code and help hold viewers for Eddie. Nine’s programming is in contrast with what Seven is doing to support its new US series, Heroes, which started last night. From next Wednesday Seven is starting its most successful program of 2006, Border Patrol, at 7.30pm, followed by the 2006 entrant, Police Files at 8pm, to give Heroes the best possible chance of succeeding. — Glenn Dyer

Nine’s latest cuts: golf and soaps. Nine’s cost cutting and the Ten Network’s plundering of its discards continues. Nine has already cut coverage of the domestic one day and Twenty20 competitions, flicked the US PGA and plans to cut its Wimbledon coverage to the semi finals and perhaps some of the quarter finals and matches involving Australians. And now it has ditched The Masters golf in April, which has been picked up by Ten. Nine ditched it because its ratings were not good and it was costing too much. Equally broadcasting it on Friday and Monday morning meant the under pressure Today show was being pre-empted. Last year Today‘s audiences much bigger than the audiences watching The Masters. Nine has also ditched the daytime soap, The Young and The Restless, which will go to air on Foxtel. In its place Nine claims it will broadcast The Catch-Up, a female daily chat program. But there are now suggestions that Nine hasn’t actually committed to the idea, with reports it is still being considered: will blokedom and the Packer edict of programming for profit kill off the Mia Freedman-driven program? — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: For most of last year Wednesday nights was a bit of a battleground with Seven, Nine and especially Ten doing well. Ten dominated in the end with House and Thank God You’re Here. Now Seven has Heroes to beat both those programs, as well (from next week) as its high rating Border Patrol. Heroes last night echoed the launches of Desperate Housewives and Lost in 2005 with a bigger than expected result. It averaged 2.109 million from 8.30pm and simply blew the opposition away. It will be harder next week but Ten isn’t bringing Thank God back until later in February. Second was Air Crash Investigations at 7.30pm which did very well and was riveting TV. It did 1.584 million about a BA flight to Perth in 1982 which flew through a volcanic eruption and survived. That was clever programming. Air Crash‘s audience was up 80% from the level achieved in 2006 when Seven showed it at 9.30pm and used it as a space filler. Today Tonight was third with 1.377 million, Seven News was fourth with 1.366 million, Home and Away at 7pm was next with 1.342 million and Prison Break – On the Run (returning last night at 9.40 pm), averaged 1.226 million. So the first six programs were all from Seven. Nine News was seventh with 1.099 million, A Current Affair was next with 1.092 million and the 7 pm ABC News battled away for ninth spot with 1.063 million. Nine’s Temptation sank to 905,000 at 7 pm. It will be in trouble next week when Ten starts The Biggest Loser at 7pm.

The Losers: Nine and Ten’s summer schedule last night from 7pm. They ran dead as Seven started Heroes and returned PB, but should have contested. Too many viewers got a free look at Seven last night. Outrageous Fortune on Nine at 10.30pm averaged 358,000 viewers. The return of The Kumars at No 42 bombed on the ABC. It averaged 363,000 at 10.10pm.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market bar Brisbane where Nine won. Seven News won by 267,000 viewers and 169,000 in Perth. Today Tonight won by 285,000 nationally and 134,000 in Perth. TT won all five metro markets as Nine News in particular weakened, hurting ACA. ABC News was solid and that also helped The 7.30 Report with 862,000. Ten News at Five was also solid with 885,000 viewers. Its Late News/Sports Tonight package averaged 463,000 at 10.30pm while Nine’s Nightline did 264,000 at 11.30 pm. World News Australia Late on SBS averaged 262,000, World News Australia at 6.30 204,000 a bit better. Sunrise at 7am on Seven averaged 396,000 (a bit weaker), 7am Today on Nine at 7am, down a bit at 238,000.

The Stats: Seven won with a share of 38.8% (32.9% a week ago) with Nine a distant second with 22.1% (25.6%), Ten with 18.8% (20.3%), the ABC with 14.5 (15.5%) and SBS with 5.8% (5.9%). Seven won all five metro markets and leads the week 33.2% to 29.5% for Nine. Seven won regional areas with 35.3% for Prime/7Qld, with Nine’s WIN/NBN on 26.0%, Southern Cross (Ten) on 18.5%, the ABC on 14.1% and SBS on 6.1%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: That was a big night for Seven last night. Pure programming, no stunts and another US hit backed up with a solid effort from Prison Break – On The Run (aka The Amazing Race? Who will get the $5 million?). Nine News and ACA again weak: Nine should be picking up not fading. Nine News picked up at the start of ratings a year ago and continued to improve for most of the year. Unless Seven stuffs it or Nine has several sleeper hits buried, Seven will win the year. Tonight it’s Nine’s chance to impress though. It returns Getaway (with more female flesh seemingly on display in the promos. How trite and old fashioned). It also has the hour length eps of Missing Persons Unit and RPA. A big gamble… heavy going for two hours. Do people want that on a Thursday night (any night?) after shopping, work, running kids around, chasing up homework etc? Ten returns Law and Order (SVU and CI from 8.30 pm to 10.30 pm). They will make Nine’s life tough, and Seven which shows another two hours of 24!

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.


Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey