Fox Sports spin avoids NRL screw job.Fox wins $780m AFL ratings war” screamed the headline on the front page of The Australian‘s Media section today. And if it was a battle of percentages, then the story was right, but if it’s about people watching, then it was horribly wrong and nothing but puff. Seven and Ten both had more people watching that Fox Sports. And advertisers pay for eyeballs in the end, the more people who watch the more money you can charge. Seven averaged 822,500 per match, compared to 164,000 for Fox Sports. And Ten’s audiences are more than 3.6 times those of Fox Sports. The simple reason audiences for Foxtel’s AFL coverage have jumped 60 per cent is its switch from the under-watched Fox Footy Channel to the main Fox Sports channel. A move that saw Fox Sports push NRL games to the newly established and not so well known Fox Sports 3 channel. As a result AFL audiences rose compared to last year and NRL audiences fell, something neither Fox Sports or The Australian got around to highlighting.  Last year the AFL on Fox Footy was lucky to make the top 20 audiences list on Pay TV each week, while the NRL regularly made the top 10. This year on Fox Sports 1, the AFL has regularly headed the best Foxtel audiences each week, while audiences for NRL games have slid — which has made the NRL clubs very unhappy. The table run alongside the Oz report gives the game away: no mention of the Fox Sports coverage of the NRL. It would be too embarrassing and would detract from the spin. And the table is based on the five metro markets so it doesn’t take into account the NRL’s very high penetration in regional NSW and Queensland. The NRL and NRL fans have been stiffed by Fox Sports this year. That’s the big story from Pay TV sport this winter. — Glenn Dyer 

From the pages of Private Eye. “A host of blue-chip companies have altered their entries on Wikipedia,” the Times reported airily on 16 August, “in an attempt to cover up embarrassing episodes.” Quite so. But after naming and shaming such giants as Wal-Mart, Disney, Sony, and Exxon, the paper had no space to mention the revision of another high-profile Wikipedia entry: that of Wendi Deng, wife of Times owner Rupert Murdoch. This was clearly an oversight as Mrs Dirty Digger’s entry was the subject of frantic revisions a few weeks back when Fortune hack Eric Ellis wrote a 10,000-word profile of her for an Australian magazine. An anonymous contributor operating from the IP address seemed particularly keen to minimise any embarrassment for Mrs Digger, deleting sections of the Wikipedia entry which referred to Ellis’s piece as a “well-researched” exposé “that Deng herself and Murdoch have been making every effort to suppress”. A quick search discloses that is in fact the IP address of one Jason Ripkey — an IT coordinator at the New York headquarters of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation!

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: Thank God You’re Here returned to Ten after a week’s break and averaged 1.848 million to finish No.1, but that was Ten’s only success on an otherwise woeful night. The ABC can grin. The Chaser’s War on Everything returned from repeat hell with a fine new episode at 9pm and second place with 1.491 million (the revenge on Today Tonight and A Current Affair was sweet). Home And Away was next with 1.468 million, Spicks and Specks (1.417 million), RPA (1.381 million), Seven News (1.371 million), Today Tonight (1.315 million), Nine News (1.295 million) and A Current Affair (1.279 million). The ABC’s new comedy Summer Heights High (Chris Lilley) averaged 1.220 million at 9.30pm (the ABC won 8.30pm to 10pm). The 7pm ABC News was next with 1.172 million. Nine’s Without A Trace averaged 1.160 million at 9.30pm, Temptation had 1.087 million and McLeod’s Daughters averaged a respectable 1.078 million at 7.30pm, while Seven’s 7.30pm program, Most Shocking averaged 1.034 million.

The Losers: Ten’s move at 8.30pm to screen The Interpreter with Nicole Kidman: 759,000. Not good enough. Air Crash Investigations on Nine at 9.30pm, 726,000. The Nation is no longer and Nine pulled out comedy in the shape of The Late Shift at 10.30pm (series return according to the guide), 488,000.

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News & CA: Seven News won nationally but lost Sydney and Melbourne (more people wanted to watch APEC on Nine than Seven in Sydney?). Today Tonight won narrowly and needed its Perth margin to get home. TT lost Melbourne and Brisbane to ACA. The gap between Seven and Nine in the news hour has narrowed a bit in the past fortnight. Ten News averaged 880,000 and 261,000 at 11.05pm after the Nicole Kidman flop. The 7.30 Report averaged 803,000; Lateline, 365,000 and Lateline Business, 172,000. SBS Dateline 225,000; SBS News, 165,000 at 6.30pm; 164,000 at 9.30pm. And last night, was I mistaken, but with Stan Grant in the chair, SBS allowed the female newsreader, Amrita Cheema, to handle the lead APEC story and live cross to SBS Political Correspondent, Karen Middleton. Would that have happened if Mary Kostakidis hadn’t runaway? 7am Sunrise 417,000; 7am Today 269,000.

The Stats: Nine won with a share of 27.4% (24.8% last week), from Ten with 24.6% (28.0%), Seven with 24.0% (24.4%), the ABC with 20.2% (15.4%) and SBE with 3.7% (6.5%). Nine won everywhere bar Perth. Seven leads the week 28.6% to 25.9%. In regional areas a win to Nine through WIN/NBN with 30.6% from Prime/7Qld with 24.7%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 24.1%, the ABC with 17.0% and SBS with 3.6%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: The Ten Network needs a second hit show on Wednesday nights, like the recently departed House. Last night showed that Thank God is not enough to support the entire prime time attack. The absence of House though did allow more viewers the opportunity to watch RPA on Nine, which is a good thing. Nine will be happy, it won a rare Wednesday and McLeod’s Daughters climbed back above a million. The ABC will be very happy. The Chaser belted the opposition with a fine, sharp edged return ep. Chris Lilley’s debut on Summer Heights High benefited from being scheduled after The Chaser (We Can Be Heroes started more softly last year), but the ABC audience vanished at 10pm with At The Movies (557,000). Seven will be happy: it stayed in the hunt, despite having to program the boring Las Vegas (843,000) at 8.30pm. It did beat Nicole Kidman though. Tonight its Sea Patrol on Nine and the question will be whether it can hold its audience. Nine also has Getaway and the Footy Shows: the NRL program will be a pale imitation of last week’s Andrew Johns confession. Ten has got two hours of So You Think You Can Dance, a big ask, from 7.30pm. Then there’s a fresh Law And Order. Seven has The Ghost Whisperer then Fight For Life.

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports

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