The Glenn Dyer breakdown: Seven won narrowly from Nine, but the ABC was the star of the night with its fleet of news and current affairs programs doing very well, especially Four Corners with its world exclusive on the Lance Armstrong story. From 7pm, the ABC was in second place, ahead of Nine for most of ratings. From around 9.15 onwards, the ABC was number one until 10.30 pm. The network had an unprecedented five programs in the national top 10. Seven had three, Nine had two. Media Watch had its highest metro and national figures for years.

In fact the ABC showed last night the true strength in current affairs in this country with solid efforts from Australian Story (with the second part of the Rod Laver Story, 982,000 metro viewers and 1.421 million nationally), the tremendous story on Lance Armstrong on Four Corners ( 1.030 million in metro areas and 1.456 million nationally) that broke new ground and Media Watch ( 982,000 metro and 1.347 million nationally) which was tough on the Canberra press gallery reaction to the Julia Gillard speech and then the one-sided reporting of the Family Court case involving those Italian girls returned to Italy (especially the Courier Mail and the Nine Network). Q&A (934,000 metro on ABC1 and News 24, and 1.178 million nationally) was its usual untidy self and too pre-occupied with politics, but was interesting all the same.

While Seven won nationally and in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth (and the regional markets), the network’s weakness continued in Melbourne where it lost the night, despite The X Factor averaging 373,000 viewers (the third highest audience nationally) from 7.30 to around 9.15pm, a performance that would have normally won the night. (The X Factor had more than 1.4 million metro and over 2.2 million national viewers).

But thanks to another flop of a night for the Seven 6pm news, which damaged TT and then Home and Away, the Network lost Melbourne. The Australian‘s Media section wrote a glowing report yesterday about the remake of Seven’s 6pm news in Melbourne by Simon Pristel, the news director hired straight from the Herald Sun (after he was flicked from the editor’s gig by Kim Williams). Last night Seven News averaged just 192,000 viewers in Melbourne. (The 192,000 was the third lowest for Seven news in Melbourne for the last 10 years). It lost by 158,000 viewers to Nine News on 350,000. The weak News/TT figures ( it had 207,000 viewers) in turn dragged down Home and Away at 7pm and that lost Seven the night, as did a weak figure for Scandal after X Factor (197,000, but more than the News).

The ABC News averaged 387,000 and beat them all in Melbourne (the second highest audience nationally), but that’s the impact of daylight saving more than anything else. That 192,000 viewers is one of the lowest audiences Seven News has had in Melbourne for years. Seven’s losses didn’t start when Pristel took the chair a couple of months ago, but he hasn’t arrested the slide. if anything it has gathered pace. Seven has been sliding at 6pm and 6.30pm in Melbourne for most of this year and that has dragged down the network’s overall performance in Melbourne on many nights. The question is how long will Peter Meakin, the head of Seven news and current affairs, and Tim Worner, the head of Seven’s TV business, allow this loss of audience to continue.

Comment: The ABC is now a clear third after two nights, especially in the main channels where the real viewing action is. The commercial TV spinners will argue that the ABC’s audience is old and not the demos advertisers want, and that’s certainly true. But as I wrote yesterday, low audiences for programs overall mean low shares in the key demos and the spinners can’t hide the fact that Ten is bleeding viewers from its demos to Seven and Nine. Viewers in the 16 to 39 and 18 to 49 are not watching Ten because it has very little to interest them. No amount of mythmaking about downloaders, fast tracking and the like by TV writers and others who can’t see or understand TV can change the simple reality at Ten.

Ten is woefully weak in good, locally made TV programs. That’s what rates night after night on Australian TV (with the odd exception of Revenge and Downton Abbey on Seven this year), not the latest sitcom or turgid, boring drama from the US and UK. Seven and Nine are very strong in local productions, Ten has been weak for years, except for formats like MasterChef and The Biggest Loser and The Project, and recently, Puberty Blues, plus the 5pm News. It is nothing to do with myths about US cable subscribers cancelling their subscriptions as we saw in some of the Fairfax papers this morning (most of the US cancellations are upgrades to bundles including Pay TV and fast broadband and mobile phone plans). Ten’s problems all relate to poor programming choices and badly-made local programs (think The Shire, Don’t Tell The Bride, I Will Survive and of course, the turkiest turkey of them all, Everybody Dance Now. If they had have worked, there would be little fast tracking and Ten would be looking sweeter). That failure to get good local content to air is a management problem, not downloading or fast tracking or whatever fairy tale some in the media care to invent.

Tonight: More X Factor from Seven and a proposal on Winners & Losers. Nine has Big Brother, and nothing much else, well there’s also The Big Bang Theory. And Nine starts another loser program on fast track, Mike and Molly which flopped earlier this year and ended up on the digital channel, Gem, where it really belongs, along with 2 Broke Girls. Ten has NCIS and NCIS Los Angeles. SBS has Insight and Dateline. ABC1 has the final Poh’s Kitchen and the first of two parts on Life At 7. Ten should do better than last night and moved up to third on the night. That’s a “should” though.

The top 10 national programs (metro & regional combined):

  1. The X Factor (Seven) — 2.218 million.
  2. Seven News — 1.604 million.
  3. ABC News — 1.578 million.
  4. Nine News — 1.549 million.
  5. Home and Away (Seven) — 1.469 million.
  6. Four Corners (ABC1) — 1.456 million.
  7. Australian Story (ABC1) — 1.421 million.
  8. Media Watch (ABC1) — 1.347 million.
  9. 7.30 (ABC1) — 1.295 million.
  10. Big Brother Live Nominations (Nine) — 1.260 million.

The Metro Winners:

  1. The X Factor (Seven, 7 .30pm) —
  2. ABC News (7pm) — 1.119 million.
  3. Seven News (6pm) — 1.084 million.
  4. Nine News (6pm) — 1.040 million.
  5. Four Corners (ABC1, 8.30pm) — 1.030 million.
  6. A Current Affair (Nine, 6.30pm) — 1.006 million.
  7. Today Tonight (Seven, 6.30pm) — 1.001 million.

The Losers: Seven’s new US soap sudser, Scandal after The X Factor. The audience halved from X Factor to 743,000 metro viewers (and nationally) for Scandal. It is in fact a clone of Homeland, but with a bit of mild spice (affairs, lovers, illegal naughtiness between the sheets stuff): US escapism masquerading as entertainment that would interest Australians. Ten though was again swamped with Can of Worms falling to 476,000 metro and national viewers. New Girl, 370,000 metro and national viewers. It’s not the slowness in fast tracking this program from the US, it’s that it is a fairly boring American sitcom, much like 2 Broke Girls tonight on Nine.

Metro News & CA: Seven news very weak in Melbourne. Today Tonight weak nationally. ACA not much stronger. Seven won Sydney, again. Getting a bit more common.

  1. ABC News (7pm) — 1.119 million.
  2. Seven News (6pm) — 1.084 million.
  3. Nine News (6pm) — 1.040 million.
  4. Four Corners (ABC1, 8.30pm) — 1.030 million.
  5. A Current Affair (Nine, 6.30pm) — 1.006 million.
  6. Today Tonight (Seven, 6.30pm) — 1.001 million.
  7. Australian Story (ABC1,  8pm) — 988,000.
  8. Media Watch (ABC1, 9.20pm) — 950,000.
  9. 7.30 (ABC1, 7.30pm) — 886,000.
  10. Q&A (ABC1, 9.35pm) — 858,000 + 76,000 on News 24.
  11. Ten News At Five — 650,000.
  12. The Project (Ten, 6.30pm) — 600,000.
  13. The Project (Ten, 6pm) — 389,000.
  14. Lateline (ABC1, 10.35pm) — 301,000.
  15. World News Australia (SBS ONE, 6.30pm) — 156,000.
  16. Ten Late News (Ten, 10.30pm) — 147,000.
  17. The Business (ABC1, 11.10pm) — 129,000.
  18. World News Late (SBS ONE, 10.30pm) — 42,000.
  19. The Drum (News 24, 6pm ) — 35,000.

In the morning: Ten’s Breakfast continues to add viewers with the highest so far yesterday morning.

  1. Sunrise (Seven, 7am) — 351,000.
  2. Today (Nine, 7am) — 337,000.
  3. The Morning Show (Seven,  9am) — 145,000.
  4. Mornings (Nine, 9am) — 135,000.
  5. News Breakfast (ABC1, 7am) — 41,000 + 31,000 on news 24.
  6. Breakfast (Ten, 7am) — 48,000.

Metro FTA: Seven (three channels) won with a share of 30.6% from Nine (3) on 27.1%, the ABC (4) was on 23.2%, Ten (3) was on 15.5%, and SBS (2) ended on 3.6%. Seven leads the week with 30.4% from Nine on 27.7%, the ABC is on 10.8%, Ten is on 16.8% and SBS is on 4.2%. Main Channels: Seven won with a share of 22.8% from Nine on 19.1%, ABC 1 was on 18.3%, Ten was way back on a weak 9.5% and SBS ONE ended on on 3.0%. Seven leads the week with 22.8% from Nine on 20.4%, ABC 1 on 16.6% and Ten on 10.7%.

Metro Digital: 7TWO won the night with 5.1% from GO on 4.5%, Gem was on 3.4%, Eleven was on 3.1%, ONE ended on 3.0%, ABC 2 ended on 2.8%, 7mate was on 2.7%, News 24 and ABC 3 ended with 1.1% each and SBS TWO was on 0.6%. The 10 digital channels had an FTA share last night of 27.4%. 7TWO leads the week with 4.5% from GO on 4.0% and Gem and ONE on 3.3% each.

Metro including Pay TV: Seven (3 channels) won with a share of 25.7% from Nine (3) on 22.7%, the ABC (4) was on 19.5%, Ten (3) was on 13.0%, and SBS (2) ended on 3.1%. The 15 FTA channels had a viewing share last night of 86.0%, with the 10 digital channels’ share, 22.9% and the give main channels share, 63.1%. The 200 plus channels on Foxtel gave Pay TV a share of 14.0% last night.

The top five pay TV channels were:

  1. Fox 8 — 3.3%.
  2. TV1 — 2.2%..
  3. LifeStyle, UKTV — 1.9%.
  4. A&E — 1.8%.
  5. Cartoon Network — 1.5%.

The five most-watched programs on pay TV were:

  1. Family Guy (F8) — 90,000.
  2. New Tricks (UKTV) — 83,000.
  3. The Simpsons (F8) — 69,000.
  4. Futurama (F8) — 68,000.
  5. Pawn Stars (A&E) — 65,000.

Regional: Prime/7Qld (3 channels) won with a share of 33.6% from WIN/NBN (3) on 27.2%, the ABC (4) was on 21.7%, SC Ten (3) was on 13.6%, and SBS (2) ended on 3.9%. Prime/7Qld won the main channels with 23.6%, from WIN/NBN on 17.0%, ABC 1 was on 16.2% and SC Ten ended with a very weak 7.8%. 7TWO won the digitals with 6.8% from GO on 5.7% and Gem on 4.5%. The 10 digital channels had an FTA share last night of a very high 32.4%. Prime/7Qld leads the week with 33.4%, from WIN/NBN on 27.3%,  the ABC is third with 19.8% and SC Ten is on 15.6%.

The five most-watched programs in regional markets were:

  1. The X Factor — 734,000.
  2. Seven News — 519,000.
  3. Nine News — 508,000.
  4. Home and Away — 477,000.
  5. ABC News — 459,000.

Major Metro Markets: Another mixed night. Seven won everywhere (overall and main channels), bar Melbourne where Nine was more popular as viewers loved the News, ACA and especially Big Brother. The ABC and ABC1 were third everywhere (overall and main channels) except in Melbourne where ABC1 pushed Seven out of second and to third. In Adelaide, ABC1 pushed Nine back to third, and in Perth, the ABC and ABC1 were second overall and in the main channels, and Nine a very weak and distant third. In the digitals, 7TWO won Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide,. GO won Brisbane and Perth. Nine lead Melbourne, Seven leads in the four other cap city markets.

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

Source: Oztam, TV Networks data