The Winners: A fairly good night for summer with eight programs with a million or more viewers. Seven News was tops with 1.363 million, followed by Today Tonight with Sam Amytage sitting in the chair (1.312 million), Nine News (1.256 million), the 7pm ABC News (1.230 million), A Current Affair with Leila McKinnon filling in (1.201 million) and Nine’s Deadly Surf at 8pm (1.165 million). The CSI repeat at 8.30pm averaged 1.155 million and Seven’s That 70s Show averaged 1.029 million (were viewers that desperate?). Seven’s evening tennis coverage averaged 772,000 from 7.30pm and 440,000 during the day.

The Losers: Top Gear averaged 934,000 on SBS at 7.30pm. Now that’s not in loser territory, especially for SBS (it’s no wonder they are trying to do a local version), but viewers are being short changed because the program is nothing but boys toys escapist rubbish. Over in Detroit, the car industry is slowly being torn apart as GM signals the end of the petrol engine and Toyota and others move deeper into hybrids. And on Top Gear? High fuel prices are an imposition rather than a fact of life. You wouldn’t get a inkling of these very significant changes because you can’t go fast and act the lad.

News & CA: Seven News and Today Tonight both needed a solid winning margin in Perth to win nationally after losing Melbourne and Sydney. Ten News averaged 885,000; Late News/Sports Tonight, 414,000. The 7.30 Report‘s summer edition with Ali Moore averaged a respectable 921,000. SBS News averaged 248,000 at 6.30pm. Nine’s Nightline, 240,000.

The Stats: Seven won with 27.7% from Nine with 26.1%, Ten with 19.4%, the ABC with 16.3% and SBS with 10.6%. Nine won Sydney, Seven blitzed Melbourne with the first night of the tennis and also won Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Seven leads the week 27.2% to 24.0% for Nine. Pay TV’s share was a touch lower than a year ago, which is a rare thing as Pay TV has been trending higher for most of the past year with very few audience dips below the same night of a year ago. In regional areas Prime/7Qld won with 28.3% from WIN/NBN with 28.0%, Southern Cross (Ten) with 18.8%, the ABC on 13.5% and SBS with 11.4%.

Glenn Dyer’s comments: In the end it was a solid night’s viewing. Sunrise‘s Kylie exclusive yesterday morning (from just after 8am) was why it averaged 439,000 and Today only 254,000. Badly scooped, Nine News resorted to running a few seconds of Ms Minogue walking around in Sydney (she was very visible) and putting a prominent “exclusive” super on the vision: pathetic. But the highlight for me was the Elizabeth David program — A Life in Recipes — on the ABC from 8.30pm. It could very well be in my top three programs of 2008. It averaged 707,000 and deserved far more. It helped explain our modern fascination for food, recipes, cooking shows, celebrity chefs and eating well. David forced the Poms, the Yanks and even the Frogs to re-evaluate food and single-handedly boosted its prominence in our lives (for better or for worse). Her drive, her passion (she was an out and out hedonist) was explained in at times excruciating detail. In her own way she was a giant and last night’s BBC production made her life come alive. Elizabeth David’s life makes Nigella Lawson look like a confection — David was the real thing and we all owe some small debt to her. She helped improve the lives of a lot of people by forcing us to take food seriously and eat well. We in Australia have a couple of larger than life figures who did the same: Margaret Fulton comes to mind as does the late Len Evans. Their lives would be just as fascinating. Tonight is dominated by the tennis on Seven. If you don’t like it, follow Elizabeth David’s life message and eat and drink well and enjoy yourselves.

Source: OzTAM, TV Network reports