How serious are TV networks about being “green”? News that the Ten Network has finally convinced the AFL to look at a later start time for the AFL grand final should cause a rethink on the commitment of TV Networks to being “green”. A twilight match kicking off at 5pm will be good for Ten’s ratings (though it still won’t be in a position to win the week unless Big Brother also ends then), but it will require much more electricity to power the lighting at the MCG. A twilight match wouldn’t be as useful to Ten as a proper night grand final, as Nine enjoys with the NRL decider, but it will still be far better financially than an afternoon match. And, of course the Seven Network will benefit as it will have a twilight grand final to telecast in 2008. The potential audience is larger at night, so ad rates at night can be 10 times or more those charged during the afternoons, even for Grand Finals. Last night’s State of Origin game on Nine generated far more money than it would have if staged on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.  But night games are certainly not green friendly. TV networks, including Ten, have made a thing of being green and trying to find an affinity with viewers who are eco-conscious (Seven’s Sunrise has made a big play for the green viewer with its interest in global warming issues). So isn’t it time they put their money where their mouths’ are and get rid of the energy chewing nighttime sporting events and go back to holding them during the day? Somehow, I can’t see that happening. But who ever said the media weren’t hypocrites when it came to making a buck! — Glenn Dyer

McGuire v Leckie. There’s a story  doing the rounds this week, about verbal stoush at a Hollywood barbeque between departing Nine CEO, Eddie McGuire and Seven Network CEO, David Leckie. It seems Eddie was angry about Seven cameras trailing him and his family around and threatened to do the same to Leckie and his family. But it was only three years ago that news circulated of a “clash” between Leckie and then Nine CEO, David Gyngell, at the LA screenings. By all reports, Leckie was more restrained this time around than he was in 2004 when he was under pressure at Nine. Now he’s leading the No. 1 network and Eddie is on the way out. His replacement, Ian Law, was the subject of yet another highly favourable story about Law by The Australian ‘s media and business writer, Nick Tabakoff, today. Law is reputed to be charmless and a head kicker, in the mould of one time rival, Brian McCarthy of Rural Press and now Fairfax. As Tabakoff writes: “His tough, uncompromising nature is also exemplified by a now-legendary anecdote still retold around PBL’s Park Street headquarters. One PBL source recalls: “When he arrived at ACP, one morning some kid walked into a conference room bringing muffins, juice and coffee. Ian ordered him out of the room, saying ‘We don’t want any of that stuff in here.’ He believed in walking into the room and doing business. He didn’t want people to be distracted. This anecdote also illustrates a personal frugality. One Park Street source comments: ‘He’s not a long-luncher, and he doesn’t appreciate it in others’.” If Law doesn’t like a long lunch, how does he manage to get on with John Alexander, whose love of the business lunch is legendary, even to the point of personally vetting the list of approved eateries where Nine and PBL staff can claim expenses? And still no mention in any of The Australian ‘s stories of Law’s run in with the Trade Practices Act during his time working for Rural Press in South Australia’s Riverland. — Glenn Dyer

State of Origin ratings. Queensland may have belted NSW in the second half of last night State of Origin match but Nine dominated the opposition all night, from the pre-match to the postmatch wrap-up, all of which was cunningly coded as separate programs to boost the ratings. The pre-match averaged 1.402 million from 7.30pm to just after 8pm (and 921,725 in regional areas, making a total audience of 2.3 million). The match itself averaged 1.982 million in the five capital cities and a very solid 1.231 million in regional areas, for a national figure of just over 3.2 million viewers (it was especially strong in regional NSW and Queensland). And the postmatch coverage averaged 1.851 million in the five metro markets and 1.117 million in regional areas, for a total audience of just over 2.96 million. But as impressive as these figures are they disguise the fact the audiences were almost entirely on the east coast. The game started at 10.30pm in Adelaide and averaged just 38,000 people and at the same time in Perth it averaged just 30,000. If WIN got control of Adelaide and Perth, would it network the Nine feed and put it to air in both cities at the same time as it was showing the game in regional areas next year? The big boost came from showing the game live in Melbourne where 358,000 people watched, the biggest game one audience in Melbourne ever, because it was live. The last game of the 2006 competition was shown live in Melbourne and averaged 363,000. The audience in Brisbane was 725,000 — the second highest ever (only beaten by the game one audience in 2005 of 726,000). In fact no other game in the series has rated as highly in Brisbane. In Sydney, the 831,000 average was better than the 812,000 in 2005 and the 808,000 in 2000, but that’s all. Thanks to the live broadcast into Melbourne the overall audience in the five metro markets of 1.982 million, was highest game one audience for at least 10 years. — Glenn Dyer

Political advertising. IKEA is known for the quickbuild. Its ad turnaround is lightning fast too. 21 May: story breaks that Howard government has spent almost $200,000 on 64 Cabinet room chairs. Backbencher Don Randall defends the move, “Do you really want [the PM] to go off to Ikea and get his allen key out and put together a heap of dodgy chairs for people to sit on?” 23 May: Ikea publishes this ad in The SMH :

The accompanying media release from IKEA notes that “even the King and Queen of Sweden have bought our furnishings”. We would “be very happy to talk to the Prime Minister too”, says IKEA Australia CEO Kent Nordin. “We can even offer him an assembly service if he doesn’t feel confident enough to put the furniture together himself.” — Jane Nethercote

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Well, apart from the State of Origin Rugby League match, there wasn’t much else on TV, except The Chaser showed its resilience, as did Spicks and Specks , which isn’t good news for the commercial networks next Wednesday night. The Origin Game averaged 1.982 million, the after game chat stuff, 1.851 million and then came Seven News with 1.512 million viewers on average; next was Today Tonight with 1.463 million and then the pre-match stuff for the State of Origin with 1.402 million. Nine’s A Current Affair was 6th with 1.343 million, just ahead of Nine News with 1.326 million. the Chaser’s War was 8th with a solid 1.279 million, while Nine’s Temptation at 7pm was next with 1.269 million. Seven’s Home And Away was 10th with 1.267 million. (Temptation was boosted by people turning over before 7.30 for the League). Spicks and Specks was also solid with 1.207 million, Seven’s Last Chance Learners at 7.30pm averaged 1.112 million; Seven’s Police Files program at 8 pm averaged 1.058 million viewers and the ABC News at 7pm averaged 1.053 million in 14th position and the last program with a million or more viewers. Ten’s House repeat at 8.30 averaged 991,000 (the ABC benefited from going with first eps of Spicks and Specks and The Chaser). Ten’s Big Brother averaged 985,000 at 7pm, the New Inventors on the ABC, 976,000 at 8pm while the Biggest Loser Engaged Couples on Ten averaged 767,000 at 7.30pm and was simply buried. Seven screened Heroes in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth an it averaged 624,000 at 8.30 pm

The Losers: Seven’s movie in Sydney and Brisbane, Finding Neverland, wasn’t found by viewers at 8.30pm and it averaged just 249,000 as the network accepted the inevitable from Nine.

News & CA: Seven News and Today Tonight won nationally and in all metro markets bar Melbourne where Nine News and ACA were solid. With the ABC News over a million viewers, The 7.30 Report averaged 972,000, which was pretty good against the building audience on Nine for the Origin game. Lateline averaged 298,000 and Lateline Business, 156,000. The Ten News averaged 851,000 and the Late news/Sports Tonight a solid 429,000 at 10.45pm. Nine’s Nightline was buried again and averaged 161,000 at 11.15pm. Dateline on SBS averaged 151,000 and was an Origin victim. SBS News averaged 178,000 at 6.30pm and 176,000 at 9.30pm. 7am Sunrise down to 368,000 (a big drop) but so was 7am Today, down to just 231,000.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 36.5% (25.9% a week earlier) from Seven with 23.5% (27.8%), Ten with 19.1% (21.8%), the ABC with 17.0% (20.3% ) and SBS with 4.0% (4.2%). Nine won Sydney with a share of 43.8%, Brisbane with a massive 52.5%, and Adelaide. Seven won Melbourne and Perth. Nine grabbed back the lead in the week 28.9% to 28.4%. In regional areas, WIN/NBN won for Nine with 45.3% from Prime/7Qld with 19.6%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 16.9%, the ABC with 13.8% and SBS with 4.4%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: A predictable win by Nine but it was a great game (even if I am a Blue with Maroon leanings!). The performance of the ABC in going with fresh material paid off and it was a genuine viewing alternative to the game. The segment where they tried to pay for goods and services with bricks, which send up a finance company looking to exploit pensioners, was priceless. NSW could have done with a few bricks in the second half. The State of Origin wasn’t quite as popular in Sydney as in regional areas and Queensland. You can put that down to Spicks and Specks and The Chaser (which were also strong in Melbourne where the Chaser was first and S&S third in the market. The Chaser’s Melbourne audience of 474,000 was the highest non origin-related audience last night across the country in any market. Spicks and Specks was third (431,000). Second was ACA in Melbourne with 434,000. Tonight Nine will win with The Footy Shows and another ep of RPA Where Are They Now. Seven has Heroes at 8.30pm and Lost at 9.30pm from now on. That will be an interesting test of viewer loyalty.