Another fallacy of the digital world exposed. For years a small group of early adapters have been calling for TV networks to get US TV programs to Australia faster. They claimed to be downloading episodes hot off the file-sharing networks like BitTorrent and this was cutting into the audiences of the programs when they eventually aired in Australia. Quicker turnaround of shows would not only end or severely cut this loss, but also show the networks were hip, on top of things. So the past two months have seen a steady rise in the number of programs being quickly turned around by the networks. House and Life on Ten, Cold Case, Damages and Without A Trace on Nine and Bionic Woman, My Name Is Earl, Heroes and Prison Break on Seven are the main examples. And guess what? All but two are duds. House has suffered some audience loss: probably several thousand, as it airs in what is now the most competitive timeslot in Australia, 8.30pm Wednesdays, up against the ABC’s Spicks and Specks and The Chaser. And My Name Is Earl has had some new eps aired at 8pm Sundays, right after the very popular Kath and Kim. Prison Break has lost over 300,000 viewers since it returned for the third series and Heroes, which returned for its second series on quick turnaround, averaged 934,000 last night, more than 200,000 viewers less than its series return. Nine this week had Cold Case (1.097 million) and Without A Trace (964,000) off the satellite — they’ve both done better in the past. These results show that quick turnaround doesn’t make any difference: that the early adapters don’t influence viewing patterns, the quality of the programs do. Note that Seven hasn’t fast tracked Grey’s Anatomy or Desperate Housewives, its best programs from the US in the past three years. — Glenn Dyer

Nine joins the battle for NBC contract. The battle for the NBC TV production contract is moving closer to a decision and the Nine Network is now understood to be trying to grab the deal. NBC is presently held by Seven but Ten has made a determined attempt to wrest control. Complicating matters is the fact that NBC has decided to join its Australian deal to its existing Universal deal, now held by Ten (NBC and Universal have since merged). But if Nine gets the contract, or if Seven retains it, they will not get the Universal deal. That is believed to remain with Ten, so it is the only network capable of controlling the two halves of the now single contract. A decision is due shortly. Nine, Ten and Seven have had talks with NBC in Cannes and in New York. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
Seven News was tops with 1.478 million, followed by Home and Away with 1.401 million and Today Tonight with 1.330 million. Ten’s So You Think You Can Dance did well at 7.30pm, winning the two hours to 9.30pm. Nine’s Missing Person’s Unit was second in that timeslot with 1.230 million, and the ABC News was second at 7pm with 1.140 million. Nine’s The Gift won 9.30pm with 1.139 million. Nine News had 1.130 million, followed by Ghost Whisperer (1.128 million), A Current Affair (1.115 million), Temptation (1.064 million), Bionic Woman (1.059 million) and Getaway (1.054 million). RPA: Where Are They Now? at 10pm averaged 918,000. That repeat of Rex on SBS at 7.30pm, 376,000 (got to get those ad dollars in lads).

The Losers: Heroes on Seven, now down to 934,000 and struggling. Bionic Woman has shed an awful lot of viewers from its promising start but is hanging in there. Getaway is just keeping its head above a million. Neighbours, 773,000. Not solid. Seven’s Famous Hollywood program at 10.30pm. The ratings are solid, but it is a tasteless, tacky program.

News & CA: Seven News again won nationally and in every market, but Today Tonight lost Melbourne and Brisbane but won everywhere else and nationally. The 7pm ABC News in Sydney ran second with 363,000 behind Seven with 392,000 and was actually the third most watched program in the market last night. The ABC had 73,000 more viewers than Nine. This continues to happen on and off in both Sydney and Melbourne (the ABC News regularly beats Nine in Perth but that’s a basket case). It is not a good look, despite what the Nine newsroom says. Ten News, 764,000; the Late News/Sports Tonight with 399,000. Nightline, 317,000. The 7.30 Report, 899,000; Lateline, 247,000; Lateline Business, 141,000. SBS News, 164,000 at 6.30pm; 190,000 at 9.30pm (why isn’t the main bulletin on at this time with a few more resources?). 7am Sunrise; 419,000; 7am Today, 266,000; 6am Sunrise, 258,000.

The Stats: A close night, just won by Seven with 28.1% (29.6%) from Nine with 27.8% (28.6%), Ten with 24.6% (22.0%), the ABC with 14.9% (14.8%) and SBS with 4.7% (5.0%). Seven won Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Nine won Sydney and Melbourne. Seven leads the week 29.7% to 25.1%. In regional areas a win to WIN/NBN with 28.9% from 28.1% for Prime/7Qld, with Southern Cross (Ten) in third with 23.1%, the ABC on 13.9% and SBS on 6.1%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: The TV audience was up last night mostly for the Free To Air audience, but look at what was on. It makes you wonder why, because it was pretty arid. Average US programming, no real outstanding local program bar Missing Person’s Unit (The Gift, also on Nine was OK but it’s a tear jerking attempt at TV). There were 13 programs with a million or more viewers, so viewers looked and wandered the dial in search of entertainment. Ten’s two hours of So You Think You Can Dance worked and had its highest audience of the year so. It is now laying down the sort of audience understanding of the format that should mean a solid start to the local version next year. The weekend? Well don’t forget Daylight Saving on Sunday. It will ruin your day if you do. That will have an impact on early evening TV viewing and on the Sunday morning chat shows.

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports