The Third cricket Test against India again confirmed that Australian sports fans like a winning team. The third session for each day (from Tea to stumps) of the first and second Test saw audiences of around a million viewers in metro markets. For the third Test in Perth, much bigger audiences, especially for the third sessions on Friday and Saturday (from 6.30pm) which averaged 1.251 million viewers in the metro markets and a further 599,000 in regional markets (excluding Tasmania). That made a total national audience (excluding Tasmania) of 1.860 million. That’s a larger figure than any NRL or AFL game, bar the finals.

The second session (4.10pm to around 6pm) averaged 1.128 million in metro markets and 1.594 million when regional viewers were added (excluding Tasmania). Yesterday’s first session (from 1.30pm to 3.30pm) averaged 922,000 in the metro markets and 512,000 in the regions, for a national total of 1.424 million. The second session (which was over in an over and a bit, then the presentations) averaged 776,000 in the metro markets and 398,000 in the regions, for more than 1.1 million viewers nationally.

Despite what some wishful thinkers in Seven and Ten have been whispering to credulous media writers in the last week, these are very good figures. Yes, they are lower than the five tests against England in the Ashes series in 2011, but any Test series against the old enemy is always a big drawcard for TV viewers and for Nine. But the Ashes Tests finished with the fifth Test in Sydney at New Year in 2011. A week later, the floods in Queensland and Brisbane happened, which was 52 weeks ago last week. Viewing levels last week were down on the same week in 2011, which saw the floods at their worst. Nine had brilliant figures for the flood coverage in 2011; few reports mentioned that comparison.

Nine will be pleased with these figures, and sorry the tests didn’t last longer, especially in Sydney and Perth. Now Nine has around six weeks of Twenty20 and One Day Cricket involving India and Sri Lanka. That will be a test for audiences, but if David Warner bats like he did in Perth and Australia keeps winning, the numbers should hold up, even as Ten and Seven start their 2012 ratings campaign with lots of noise and glitz.

Peter Fray

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