The Winners: Again, no more be said. Nine News did well because of the test cricket lead in. Nine was one of the few winners yesterday, nationally, and in Sydney and Melbourne. In Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth it was a very different result as viewers there supported Seven over Nine and the test.

  1. Nine News (6pm) — 1.257 million.
  2. Today Tonight (Seven, 6.30pm) — 1.166 million.
  3. Seven News (6pm) — 1.153 million.

The Losers:  The cricket, 707,000 on average watched up to around 8.30pm or thereabouts on Nine (higher in the evening). Recruits on Ten at 8pm beat it with 799,000. And it wasn’t about finding a new Australian Test XI (now there’s a program idea for 2011).

News & CA: A Current Affair was pre-empted by the cricket, and again tonight. It pains me to say, but ACA would have been more interesting than the Test. Nine News won because the cricket boosted its audience.

In the morning Sunrise has not suffered a downturn in audience because of summer, daylight saving, the emerging school holidays. Today on Nine has however drifted. Sunrise won by 136,000 viewers yesterday, another very large margin for the morning battle. And Sunrise won despite Today winning Sydney. Sunrise won Melbourne and the rest. Today is not very strong in Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth.

  1. Nine News (6pm) — 1.257 million
  2. Today Tonight (Seven, 6.30pm) — 1.166 million
  3. Seven News (6pm) — 1.153 million
  4. ABC News — 787,000
  5. The 7pm Project (Ten) — 683,000
  6. Ten News (5pm) — 591,000
  7. The 7.30 Report (ABC, 7.30pm) — 543,000
  8. Late news/Sports Tonight (Ten, 10.30pm) — 322,000
  9. SBS News (6.30pm) — 153,000
  10. SBS News (9.30pm) — 129,000

Mornings

  1. Sunrise (Seven, 7am) — 432,000.
  2. Today (Nine, 7am) — 296,000.

The Stats:

  • FTA: Nine won with a share of 31.1% (3 channels), Seven (3) was on 28.2%, Ten (2), 20.9%, the ABC (4), 14.9% and SBS (2), on 5.0%. Seven still leads the week with 29.8% from Nine on 29.0%, from Ten on 18.8%.
  • Main Channel: Nine won with a share of 23.3%, from Seven with 22.1%, Ten was on 19.5%, ABC 1, 11.4% and SBS ONE, 4.4%. Seven leads the week with 21.4% from Nine on 20.9% and Ten with 17.9%.
  • Digital: GO won with a share of 4.5% from 7TWO with 4.2%, Gem on 3.4%, ABC 2, 2.2%, 7Mate, 2.0%, ONE was on 1.4%, ABC 3, 0.7% and News 24 and SBS TWO were on 0.5% each. That’s a total FTA share in prime time last night of 19.4%. The nine channels had FTA shares of an high of 26% in Perth, down to a low of 16.9% in Sydney and 17.6% in Brisbane. 7TWO leads the week with 5.3%, from GO on 4.5% and Gem on 3.6%.
  • Pay TV: Nine (3 channels) won with a share of 25.2%, from Seven (3) on 22.8%, with Ten on 16.9% (2), Pay TV (11 plus channels) was on 16.2%, the ABC (4), was on 12.0% and SBS (2), was on 4.0%. That left the 14 FTA channels with a total share of 83.8%, made up of 15.6% for the nine digital channels and 68.2% for the five main channels. Foxtel’s share ranged from 18.6% in Sydney and 18.4% in Brisbane, to a low of 11.3% in Adelaide (as usual).
  • Regional: WIN/NBN won with a share of 34.2% from Prime/7Qld on 28.0%, SC Ten on 19.8%, the ABC, 13.3% and SBS, 4.1%. WIN/NBN won the main channels from Prime/7Qld. GO won the digitals with 4.9%, from 7TWO on 3.5% and 7Mate on 3.4%. The nine digital channels had an FTA share of 20.5% last night. Prime/7Qld leads the week with 32.3% from WIN/NBN on 29.6%.

Major Markets: What was very interesting from last night was the way Australia split on the cricket. Nine won Sydney and Melbourne (and won nationally as a result) with the cricket. Unfortunately the cricket and the rest of Nine’s programming couldn’t get it home in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth and Seven won all three markets. That divide is bad news for the Nine Network, WIN (which owns Nine in Adelaide and Perth) and Cricket Australia. Of course, if the test starts winning (a big IF), then the audiences will return, but it was a curious divide last night. In the digitals, GO won Sydney and Melbourne, 7TWO won Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth echoing the overall and main channel split. Nine leads Seven in Sydney and Melbourne, Seven leads Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.

(All shares on the basis of combined overnight 6pm to midnight All People)

Glenn Dyer’s comments: A weary night for us all. Warnie was watched by 762,000 people, which was better than the last outing when it was down around 400,000. Most of those watching would have been lured by the Liz Hurley tarting around story earlier in the week. It certainly wouldn’t have been for Warnie’s Perfect Pearlies or Ricky Ponting after yesterday’s appalling day in Perth. Don’t you wish that the program had been live to talk the day’s play and what should be done? There are a lot of cricket tragics out there who would be jumped at appearing with Warnie. Relevance, that’s what Warnie needs. So far there’s nothing, just self indulgence.

TONIGHT: No recommendations from now on, except to say that the Spicks and Specks Christmas special on Christmas Eve stands out as the highlight.

And that’s it from me for the year, a year when people rediscovered TV, the commercial networks discovered that diversity wouldn’t hurt them (poor dears, all those grown up men and women frightened of those things called multi-channels), Foxtel got a sight of its future and its possible demise if it doesn’t change, and advertisers discovered that Free To Air TV rocks your socks off if you need to flog things and try and make money. Next year, a very different story, especially with consumers saving and not spending.

Ten’s big day approaches on January 11 with Eleven starting, and then the new hour of news and current affairs from 6pm to 7pm. If that starts drawing viewers, Nine and Seven will be in a pretty pickle, especially as their private equity partners/owners wonder about cashing out in a float in 2011.

If Ten steals 400,000 or so viewers, from 6pm to 7pm (and they will come from Seven and Nine, and a bit from the ABC), then the structure of the Australian TV evening will be changed. Not to mention the finances of Seven and Nine. For once advertisers will have a choice of three commercial channels offering essentially the same product in the same timeslot Monday to Friday and on a reduced basis on weekends. That alone will see Ten get support.

It makes the competition in Australian newspapers look like a tea party. Only commercial AM talk radio breakfast in Sydney (three stations) and FM music in Sydney and Melbourne will be as competitive, but not on a national scale like Ten’s adventure.

Will Ten’s new billionaire (and one wannabe) shareholders fully understandable that their new investment is the game changer in Australian TV in 2011? Will investors, will the government? It will cost Ten money, north of $20 million, (it has led already to Ten’s former chairman, Nick Falloon falling on his word and departing), and Nine and Seven will have to pay to play. The spin will be vicious, the sledging rough. But unlike the rest of the Australian media, it is expansion, not contraction and confusion. Merry all that and a safe and leaking 2011. By the way, Ten is the only commercial network using its licence fee rebate (effectively) to pay for new programming. Nine and Seven have used it to fatten profits and are maintaining existing local production levels. So much for all the talk from free TV Australia, a misnomer if ever there was one.

Watch also Ten’s Eleven digital channel. It is being aimed at 13 to 29’s and has got the other networks, including the ABC worried. Ten could steal a flock of younger viewers away from the bottom of the market. Seven’s Home and Away might be damaged as a result, plus ABC3 and part of ABC2. Gem, GO, 7Mate and 7TWO all aim at older viewers. SBS’s third channel will appear as well, before or after CEO, Shaun Brown, departs.

Source: OzTAM, TV Networks reports

Peter Fray

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