Seven wins seven in a row. For the first time in years the Seven Network has won seven prime time nights in a row outside the Olympics. In its long history Nine has at least won a night or two in most weeks of ratings. Last week, not one. Seven won all nights and finished with a winning margin for the week of 31.6% (30.5%) to 24.5% (26.7%). Ten was third with 21.5% (20.8%), the ABC was on 17.5% (16.7%) and SBS on 4.8% (5.2%). That was also Seven’s highest share of the year so far for a week, and the lowest for Nine. And to further emphasise how far it has fallen (and why the 2012 Olympics are a long, long way off), Nine’s highest-rated program last week was at 6pm a week ago last night: the 6pm Sunday news, which came in at Number 24 on the top 100 programs of last week. The ABC had three programs in the top 20 and Ten had one. Kath & Kim was the most watched program of the week with 2.066 million viewers, the only program with two million or more viewers. Seven also won all five metro markets from Nine or Ten (Ten was second in Adelaide). Seven has won all but two week of official ratings this year. Last night’s Kath & Kim was the season final for this series from Seven. Next week the first Kath & Kim series from the ABC starts on Seven after the new program, National Bingo. Seven has picked up the rights and will keep K&K going till the end of the ratings year on Seven. Seven and the K&K folk have yet to talk about a new series but Seven says if it happens, it will be on Seven.

Nine and Foxtel get the games. So Nine Network and Foxtel have paid $US100 million ($110 million) for two Olympic Games, the 2010 Vancouver winter games and the summer games of 2012 in London. That’s more expensive than the cost or more of the $140 million Seven paid for the winter games of 2002, the Athens Games of 2004, the Turin Games of last year and the Beijing games of next year. Seven’s fees averaged out at $70 million for a winter and summer games, Nine/Foxtel have paid $40 million more. Seven snapped up the four games rights back in 1996, well ahead of expected and was criticised by Nine, Ten and many media buyers and broking analysts for paying too much. That hasn’t transpired and Seven is now considered to have got a bargain, especially the Beijing games. Seven apparently bid around $US75 million. Nine’s massive price – possibly as much as $28 million above the amount bid by Seven, raises the same questions about whether Nine and Foxtel have paid too much. The deal is more than 60% above the $71 million paid by the Seven Network for the rights to broadcast the 2006 winter Olympics in Turin and next year’s summer Games in Beijing. Media analysts have wondered how Seven could make money on its games packages as it did on Athens and it will make a considerable amount next year on Beijing because of the better time zone and the presence of big spending Chinese and international advertisers. The problem for Nine is that it is five years away, David Gyngell might not be there, Nine could be under new ownership (its around the five year time limit for a private equity sale) and the ad market could be anywhere. But that’s what was said about the Seven commitment to its four game package and the ad market came good on that, so Nine and Foxtel’s gamble is likely to bear fruit. Nine and its mates in the News Ltd media are saying that Nine’s David Gyngell and Foxtel chief Kim Williams “ambushed Seven” by spending more than $US100 million for the rights to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and London’s 2012 Games. Nine and Foxtel sent senior executives to bid: Seven bid from Australia, an indication the network knew it was going to be gazumped. The deal includes live rights for free-to-air, high-definition channel programming, subscription television and internet and mobile rights. And that acknowledges that Nine either believes analogue TV will still be in use in 2012 ( the Free To Air Channel referred to its believed to be its analogue channel now broadcast) and it will have two digital channels available. Foxtel’s move is interesting as it gives it a subscription driver and just how Foxtel and Fox Sports divides things up will again fascinate the TV industry: News Ltd and PBL own half of Foxtel between them and all of Fox Sports (Premier Media). Will Telstra standby and watch itself get clipped again? Telstra will want the internet and mobile rights through its half ownership of Foxtel.

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners: 11 programs last night, dominated by the season ending ep of Kath & Kim which averaged 2.304 million as Number 1, due no doubt to the presence of Shane Warne, who was in his element and didn’t look out of place. (Warnie the sitcom My Name Is Shane?). My Name Is Earl averaged 1.569 million without Perth (Seven had its annual Telethon on yesterday and last night. Kath & Kim aired at 9 to 9.30pm local time). Seven News was third with 1.336 million, in front of Nine News with 1.291 million. Australian Idol was 5th with 1.285 million and Nine’s movie, Mr and Mrs Smith averaged 1.217 million from 8.30pm in a strong showing for a movie these days on free to air TV. Seven’s Hot Property at 7pm, 1.208 million, the 7pm ABC News averaged 1.122 million, and Australia’s Best Backyards ended at 6.30pm with 1.088 million (and possibly not good enough to return in 2008?). 60 Minutes was hammered, down to just 1.012 million. The presence of Prime Minister Howard and Kevin Rudd in their first real interviews not enough to spark the audience). Nine’s Singing Bee at 6.30pm, 1.008 million, down 188,000 on last week. Tragic last night, just tragic. Rove averaged 968,000, Dirty Jobs on Nine at 7pm 914,000, Rainshadow on the ABC 910,000, down sharply on last week. Thank God You’re Here repeat on Ten at 6.30pm, 887,000. Compass: The Abbey, AKA Big Sister, 825,000. And well done! That was up 243,000 on a normal Compass from last week.

The Losers: Losers? Seven’s movie, telemovie thingie at 8.30pm: Torn (about a little girl who goes missing). Three hours of the angst. No surprise it averaged just 606,000 and would have lost Seven the night if the 6.30 to 8.30pm slot hadn’t been so dominant. Rainshadow, down 200,000 on its opening. Too bleak. Could have been on Seven last night. The Compass idea of The Abbey was far more insightful way of exploring the human condition. Rachel Ward remains the block from my point of view. Dirty Jobs lost 40,000 viewers because Singing Bee shed 188,000. A really sad hour for Nine which is hurting 60 Minutes and not giving any help against Kath & Kim. Thank God You’re Here battered McLeod’s Daughters to the point where next year could be its last. 60 Minutes isn’t there but the last 10 weeks have been miserable times for the usually strong program.

News & CA: Seven News was more popular, thanks to big wins in Brisbane and Perth. Nine won Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne. Ten News At Five averaged 832,000. World News Australia on SBS, 194,000. In the morning, Weekend Sunrise, 361,000 (but shown in Perth at 6am to 8am because of Telethon), Landline, 247,000. Sunday, 229,000, Insiders, 216,000, Inside Business, 163,000, Offsiders, 142,000. Meet The Press, 119,000. Both Insiders and Meet The Press were boosted by the election news yesterday morning. John Howard popped up on Ten News just after 5pm, Mr Rudd declined. Doesn’t need the 16 to 39 or 18 to 46 groups, obviously.

The Stats: Seven won with 29.3% (29.1% a week ago) from Nine with 27.4% (27.1%), ten with 22.2% (22.9%), the ABC with 16.7% (16.8%) and SBS with 4.4% (4.0%). Seven won Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Nine won Melbourne and Adelaide. In regional areas, a win to Prime/7Qld with 28.8% from WIN/NBN for Nine with 27.4%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 20.1%, the ABC with 18.0% and SBS with 5.8%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Not even a Telethon which pre-empted most prime time viewing last night in Perth, except for Kath & Kim, could stop Seven from scoring a win last night. Telethon from 6 to 9pm in Perth averaged 210,000: a solid figure. That’s what Royal North Shore needs in Sydney? The Trans Tasman Rugby League Test from 1pm averaged 473,000 for Nine: the bikes on Ten, 450,000. Nine’s movie kept it in the hunt last night, Brangelina did well. But Seven has already won the week, the question is by how far. Tonight its Border Security and The Force on Seven, then City Homicide. Ten returns Supernatural to 8.30pm after Idol and before Californication. Nine has the pathetic Commercial Breakdown at 7.30 and Just For Laughs at 8pm and another movie, 50 First Dates. Mythbusters on SBS at 7.30. The ABC will have politics in The 7.30 Report. But Australian Story is part two of the Vietnam vets story from last week, Enough Rope might be interesting at 9.35pm.

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports

Peter Fray

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