Crikey! What’s going on? A strange moment in the long history of Crikey and its sometimes awkward interplay with media and politics. Yesterday Crikey editor Jonathan Green hogs the opinion page of long-standing Crikey denier The Herald Sun (read it here), and then spends half an hour on radio with perhaps Crikey’s most hapless political victim Alexander Downer (listen here). Time. The healer.

Too much sport is never enough. Nine is restarting Wide World of Sports on Sunday mornings in about 10 days time and it’s having a bet each way by linking Sydney sports host Ken Sutcliffe with Melbourne’s James Brayshaw, who is also chairman of North Melbourne (sounds a bit conflicted there, but that’s the way in the Melbourne sports media). Nine will try and bridge the gap between audiences in the north and south, but Seven is taking a different approach. It’s starting its own Sunday morning sports program called Game Day, which will run from an hour from 10am (right after Weekend Sunrise ends). It will be hosted by TV newcomer Hamish McLachlan and be seen on Seven’s main channel in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth and AFL friendly regional markets but on the unwatched HD channel in Sydney, Brisbane and northern regional markets. Seven’s reason for not running it on the main channel in northern states: “it wouldn’t rate”. And, that tells us more about the future prospects for the AFL’s plans in Western Sydney and the Gold Coast than anything else. — Glenn Dyer

Seven wants more Out of The Question. The Seven Network has commissioned another series of the Glenn Robbins program, Out of The Question, which has been screening nationally on Thursday nights at 8pm. Audiences started at around a million and have fallen but the show will remain on air until Easter and will then return with the second series late in the year. Well-known media buyer Harold Mitchell described it as one of the failures of the 2008 official ratings so far, but obviously Seven doesn’t feel that way. Meanwhile TV land is wondering if the Nine Network will venture back into the market for a comedy series to replace the failed Monster House. That’s was yet another Endermol format that has failed for Nine (Fear Factor), but they seem to work for Ten (Big Brother) and Seven (Deal or No Deal). Monster House was probably Nine’s most expensive comedy program and has chewed up most of the budget. — Glenn Dyer

Last night’s TV ratings
The Winners:
The night session of the cricket with Australia’s stumbling, bumbling attempt to extend the final series had 1.685 million viewers. Nine News was second (boosted by the cricket) with 1.452 million and Today Tonight was third with 1.441 million. Seven News was next 1.428 million, followed by A Current Affair (or was that the cricket with 1.237 million?), Bondi Rescue (1.232 million), Home And Away (1.227 million), The Biggest Loser (1.176 million), It Takes Two (1.116 million from 7.30pm to 9.30pm) and All Saints (1.039 million). Ten’s Women’s Murder Club averaged 975,000 and Burn Notice lifted to 802,000.

The Losers: It’s hard to judge anything a loser when there was such a powerful program as the cricket. Nine’s post-cricket movie, Lethal Weapon 4, perhaps: 770,000. It was just ratings spak filla. Thankfully we didn’t have to watch Two And A Half Men last night.

News & CA: Nine News won everywhere bar Brisbane and Perth. Ten News averaged 625,000 (a victim of the cricket); the Late News/Sports Tonight, 399,000. Nightline had the night off. The 7pm ABC News averaged 953,000 (older viewers went to the cricket) and The 7.30 Report also suffered with 673,000. Lateline, 233,000; Lateline Business, 129,000. SBS News, 160,000 at 6.30pm; 160,000 at 9.30pm; Insight, 191,000. 7am Sunrise, 406,000; 7am Today, 285,000 — both up on Monday.

The Stats: Nine won with 35.9% (24.3%) from Seven, 26.9% (33.5%); Ten with 20.7% (20.9%), a good result; the ABC with 12.1% (15.3%) and SBS with 4.4% (6.0%). Nine won everywhere bar Perth where the time difference told against it (Seven won there). Nine leads the week 32.1% to 27.4% and should win the week. In regional areas Nine won through WIN/NBN with 35.1% from Prime/7Qld with 26.8%; Southern Cross (Ten), 21.4%; the ABC with 11.4% and SBS with 5.2%. According to Fusion Strategy, the 6; pm to 10.30pm battle saw Nine win with 32.14% (20.67% a week ago on the same night) from Seven with 23.18% (30.88%), Ten with 18.38% (19.84%), Pay TV with 11.84% (12.78%), the ABC with 10.91% (12.53%) and SBS with 3.55% (3.29%).

Glenn Dyer’s comments: Summer is now officially over. The real TV ratings war can now commence. If only Nine had Underbelly in Victoria, it would be a big winner on Wednesdays and probably have enough to win a week without the cricket. The interesting thing from last night is that in the 6pm to 10.30pm battle, Ten’s audience was hardly impacted by the cricket. Audiences for TBL and Bondi Rescue held up and its average audience figure of 942,000 was only 11,000 lower than the same night last year.  That would be a worry for Nine and Cricket Australia as those programs (and Home and Away) skew towards younger viewers who they’d want to be attracting to the cricket. Tonight it’s your choice of Underbelly, Spicks and Specks, Lewis or House. For the rest of the night, consult your guides… Back To You and Rules of Engagement from 7.30pm on Ten…? Animal Rescue and the Real Seachange on Seven? The Chopping Block and Cashmere Mafia on Nine?

Source: OzTAM, TV Networks, Fusion Strategy reports

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey