Strong debuts give Seven another narrow week. A win to Seven last week, thanks to the strong Wednesday night opening by Heroes and Prison Break and Sunday night’s Men’s Open tennis final won so convincingly by Roger Federer. Seven won 30.3% to 29.6% for Nine. A week earlier Seven had also won narrowly, 28.8% to 28.2%. Ten was third both weeks with 19.4% (19.8%) with the ABC next with 15.0% (17.5%) and SBS with 5.7% (6.1%). Seven only won Melbourne and Perth last week and managed to win overall, helped by a close second to Nine in Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane. Heroes averaged more than 2.1 million viewers last Wednesday night and the men’s final more than 2.4 million. Nine relied on Eddie McGuire’s new game show, 1 vs 100, and one-day cricket, plus the longer versions of RPA and Missing Persons Unit and the return of Getaway on Thursday. This week it’s more of the same with more programs aimed for the start of official ratings next Sunday. Ten returned The Biggest Loser last night: it did OK up against the cricket but Ten said that it won the 16 to 39 demographic and was second in the 18 to 49 group where almost half the women watching in that age group tuned in. The cricket was first with its mostly male audience. Nine is pinning a lot on The Code at 7.30pm tonight; it’s followed by Highway Patrol and then it’s Eddie McGuire versus the Desperate Housewives and then Brothers and Sisters, which after Heroes and Ugly Betty is the most anticipated of Seven’s US programs this year. B&S screens at 9.30pm, up against the Allan Border Medal from Crown Casino and Cops on Ten: cricket will have to be content with finishing down the track. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: Last night was “running dead” night because of the One Day cricket from Melbourne between Australia and NZ: the Aussies and The Nine Network were dual winners of a game that was vaguely interesting for one of the few times outside the first three Tests. Nine News was the most watched program, boosted by the first session of the cricket. The news had 1.784 million viewers, just in front of the night session of the cricket with 1.781 million. Seven News was next with 1.337 million, the first session of the ODI was 4th with 1.232 million (but didn’t count towards ratings). Ten kicked off its 2007 series of The Biggest Loser: it was hurt by the cricket but still managed to average 1.166 million. It was OK, two tonnes of flab waiting to be shredded. Zoo Tales on Seven at 6.30pm averaged 1.164 million, the return of the solid Foyle’s War on the ABC from 8.30pm, 1.040 million and the nature program, Planet Earth at 7.30pm, 1.026 million. It was the eighth and final program on the night with a million or more viewers. Seven’s movie, Sweet Home Alabama, 883,000, Ten’s So You Think You Can Dance at 9pm, 790,000.

The Losers: None really. The cricket dominated and Seven programmed accordingly while Ten ploughed ahead with its updating schedule. The telecast of the women’s golf on the ABC yesterday afternoon averaged 285,000, which wasn’t good. Ten has another women’s tournament this weekend. Golf doesn’t cut it in Australia with viewers, so why the US Masters on Ten and not Nine? Was it that cheap?

News & CA: Nine News won easily because of the lead-in from the cricket. Ten News was hit by the cricket, averaging 489,000. Likewise the 7pm ABC News with 795,000. That was lower than usual. In the morning Weekend Sunrise was strong with 443,000 which will make it tough for the returning Sunday program on Nine at 9am next weekend and the ABC trio, Insiders, Inside Business and Offsiders (9am to 11am). Ten’s Meet the Press also returns at 8am.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 37.3% (33.1% a week earlier) from Seven with 22.8% (37.1%), Ten with 18.9% (16.7%), the ABC with 16.8% (8.6%) and SBS with 4.2% (4.4%). Nine won all markets, Seven finished a close third in Sydney behind Ten, Ten was beaten in Perth by the ABC for third. In regional areas a win for Nine through WIN/NBN with 37.8% from Prime/7Qld with 24.4%, the ABC with 17.7%, Southern Cross (Ten with 15.5%) and SBS with 4.6%. The cricket was the big disturber last night and that will comfort Ten but those fourth place finishes in Perth and the bush won’t make up for the second in Sydney. The Network will be watching the figures closely this week.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Eddie’s 1 vs 100 tonight: up against the girls of Wisteria Lane, on an hour after The Rich List on Seven, the lead-in an average Kiwi cop doco series called Motorway Patrol, which comes right after the premiere of a high profile series, The Code. That’s Nine’s attempt at an observational doco series like Seven’s Border Patrol and The Force. On Ten it’s the Monday hour long ep of The Biggest Loser, followed by the return of Bondi Rescue at 8pm. That 8pm slot looks like being a pivotal half hour for all three networks. At least Nine hasn’t dropped a Clever or Magda’s Funny Bits into the schedule, so far. On the ABC The West Wing finishes tonight and then pops up again next Saturday night at 9.30pm.

Peter Fray

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