Ten’s alarming Sunday night woes continue. The Ten Network isn’t exactly in a state of panic about Sunday evenings, but they are “alert” and becoming very “alarmed”. After all, they avoided finishing fourth behind the ABC last night. Ten averaged 14.9% nationally from 6pm to midnight, the ABC, 13.8%. But that was only because the national broadcaster committed an even bigger sin than Ten last night. Both networks showed programs that sent viewers fleeing elsewhere. Ten had its two hour Cool Aid Carbon Test special that averaged just over half a million viewers, while the ABC had the Kylie Minogue Showgirl special which averaged just under half a million viewers. But Ten’s problems on the night are deeper than just an interesting idea gone wrong. It’s weak from after Sports Tonight at 5.30pm (which follows the weekend News at 5pm). Ten bombed with the Celebrity Dog School which lasted all of two eps and was last night replaced by a new ep of The Simpsons and a repeat of Futurama – that didn’t work either. The Simpsons and Futurama did better than the Dog program but the new Simpsons ep averaged around 400,000 to half a million less than it normally gets on Tuesday evenings – so it was wasted). The mainstay Sunday night program, the weigh-in ep of The Biggest Loser, averaged just 887,000, around 300,000 under what it should be getting. So this morning Ten moved quickly. Within two hours of getting the ratings and analysing them (an immediate glance would have spelled out the problems) Ten changed the 6.30pm timeslot for the second time in a week with repeats (“encores”) of Thank God You’re Here. They may get more people but Ten is short on fresh product at the moment. — Glenn Dyer

Three weeks in a row for Seven. Another win to the Seven Network last week, the narrowest of the first three weeks of 2007 official rating so far. Seven won five or six nights, including Friday and Saturday; Nine won one or two, Monday and Thursday. Nine claims Monday night with the Oscars to midnight but Seven won the 6pm to 10.30 pm battle with all networks and commercial share with Nine and Ten. So Monday a sort of draw but a win for Nine. Even though Nine has lifted its share slightly, the real story is that some of Seven’s big hits are not going as well (such as Lost). Ten’s House on Wednesday hit its straps for the first time last week and the network’s share lifted as a result. Seven won with a share of 29.6% (31.0%), to Nine with 27.4% (26.2%), Ten on 21.3% (20.8%), the ABC with 16.7% (16.4%). Later this month the Nine network share will plunge, compared to last year when the Commonwealth Games were on. Nine has the world swimming titles to broadcast but they will not make up for the loss of share on a comparative basis. Last week’s top program was Ugly Betty for Seven, with Dancing with the Stars second (as it was the week before). Seven had eight programs in the top ten; Ten had one, House; and Nine had one, RPA. Seven won both Friday and Saturday nights, 28.2% on Friday to 24.7% for Nine. Saturday was much closer, 26.8% for Seven to 26.4% for Nine.  — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners: Nine won the night with some interesting assistance, while Seven was let down by its 9.30pm blob called What About Brian. Nine was helped to its win by Ten and the ABC (see below); they each aired programs which freed up hundreds of thousands of viewers. As a result CSI averaged 1.690 million, just nipping past Grey’s Anatomy on Seven in the 8.30pm slot with 1.682 million. Ugly Betty was third (first last two weeks) with 1.657 million and CSI Miami with 1.619 million was the reason why Nine won the night. 60 Minutes kicked upwards to 1.458 million with Derryn Hunch’s effort; Seven News was next with 1.421 million. Australia’s Got Talent remained around the 1.4 million mark (1.394 million last night) and beat Nine’s 20 to 1 with Bert Newton with 1.143 million. That was a surprisingly large win. Nine News was very weak with 1.043 million and that was it. Just Nine programs with a million or more viewers. Not a particularly strong night of viewing. Why? Well the ABC’s Kylie Minogue special averaged 496,000 and Ten’s highly-promoted Cool Aid Carbon Test grab for the young, concerned, “green” aware viewer also did poorly: just 511,000. The ABC’s Planet Earth program shed around 150,000 people on the week before at 870,000 at 7.30pm. What About Brian repelled viewers: just 840,000 people were brave enough. The difference between that figure and CSI Miami explains the result on the night. Seven’s 10.30pm program Cheaters ( tackiest program on TV) averaged 417,000. Nine slipped in a program called True CSI at 10.30 pm and it averaged 744,000. The weight-in ep of The Biggest Loser had 887,000, which is average.

The Losers: Ten’s Cool Aid Carbon Test: just over half a million viewers and the ABC’s Kylie Showgirl special from late last year. Why? I know Kylie is cool but it was all so very behind the times (a Billy Thorpe retrospective should have been worked up) and the carbon test of Ten’s greenery might have made some at the network feel all Al Goreish, but the network’s target audience in the 16 to 39 and 18 to 49 age groups couldn’t care less. Both were clear cases of the networks not even being anywhere near what the audience wanted to watch. For the supposedly more savvy Ten crew, that is an offence punishable by watching more Simpsons repeats. Next Sunday Ten has Jamie Oliver going back to school lunches. That will at least be less boring than hearing carbon testing and hot air from the likes of Al Gore. The Ten program said all the right things, had all the right people, so why did it flop? Has the environment and issues like global warming become a “personal” issue for people and not a group one?

News & CA: Seven News won nationally by around 380,000. Seven’s car racing finished early at 5.30pm and a repeat of a BBC program from the 70s (The Good Life) was the lead-in. So no boost from the 710,000 who watched the cars from Adelaide. But viewers flocked to Seven and ignored Nine, especially in Sydney. The 7pm ABC News averaged 873,000 (a bit lower than normal on Mondays); Ten News (weekend half hour), averaged 880,000. In the early morning Seven’s Weekend Sunrise averaged 403,000, Nine’s Sunday rose to 234,000, the ABC’s Landline at Noon averaged 212,000; the ABC’s Insiders averaged 128,000 at 9am, Inside Business, 89,000 and Offsiders, 80,000. Ten’s Meet the Press, 50,000.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 34.8% (27.3% a week ago) to 32.2 for Seven (32.1%). Ten was third, distantly, with 14.9% (17.2%) and the ABC was on 13.8% (19.8%). SBS was on 4.3% (3.6%) and the only network to edge up its audience on a night when viewing levels were down.. Nine won all five metro markets, thanks to the post 9.30 pm wins. In regional areas a win to WIN/NBN for Nine with 34.4% from Prime/7Qld with 28.6%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 16.8%, the ABC with 15.4% and SBS with 4.8%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Now there were a couple of freebies handed out last night and Nine mined them very nicely thanks. The ABC figures were over 600,000 short of what the last episode of Foyle’s War got the week before (with its strong viewing in the older groups) and Ten shed 200,000 from last week’s Bridget Jones movie. So in theory there were 800,000 viewers available to the other networks last night. Many seemed to have tired and disappeared but enough boosted Nine (especially CSI and CSI Miami) to send it into first place. I wrote last week that the Kylie program on the ABC would send older viewers fleeing and they did. Next week the ABC is back to reason with a Miss Marple movie: a new one. Tonight no Oscars so it’s Desperate Housewives, Rich List and Brothers and Sisters for Seven, against What’s Good For You, 1 vs 100 and CSI New York on Nine. Ten has The Biggest Loser then Bondi Rescue (which Nine should watch). The ABC has Four Corners, Difference of Opinion and Media Watch, plus an Australian Story on Craig Lowndes the V8 Supercar driver. It will be more realistic than anything you will see on Top Gear on SBS at 7.30pm.

Peter Fray

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