It’s the fear of every TV network and producer — what happens if you start a high-profile program and the viewers don’t come in the numbers expected? Ten, Nine and Seven have already experienced that sinking feeling this year. This morning it’s the turn of SBS and Shine Australia to experience the opening up of the bottomless pit in the collective stomach (it’s a horrid experience) — the much ballyhooed The Observer Effect with Ellen Fanning started on SBS ONE last night was was only watched by 170,000 national/ 121,000 metro/ 49,000 regional viewers. That is a damp squib at best, a complete misfire at worst.

Even by the modest expectations of SBS (being a semi-commercial public broadcaster) that was not good. Barnaby Joyce was OK as a first up interview, but the man bores for Queensland, not to mention himself and the National Party. And how many departing interviews does Nick Bryant, the BBC’s retiring man in Australia, have to make before he leaves the country? There was a touch of cultural cringe in that interview.

And the first episode of this year’s season of Paper Giants on ABC1 at 8.30pm (1.212 million national/ 828,000 metro/ 384,000 regional viewers) helped account for SBS’ debutante, but was hardly a gold standard effort. The Ita/Cleo effort of Paper Giants of last year on ABC1 (same producers) was head and shoulders above the contest between part one of  last night’s Nene King and Dulcie Boling contest. (Last night was a bit like media archaeological history — unearthing dinosaurs).

The ABC inadvertently (it couldn’t have been planned, could it?) showed up the aridity of Paper Giants immediately afterwards by screening a fabulous doco in its Sunday Artscape timeslot at 10pm on the great Diana Vreeland, the woman who invented modern fashion magazines at Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue in the US. She was a legend — self-made, passionate and a risk taker. Last night’s effort from the ABC portrayed two very interesting editors (who happened to be women) in a one-dimensional, boring way.

And then there was MasterChef Australia, which returned to Ten at 7.30pm (not in the advanced guides — funny about that). It averaged 1.464 million national/ 1.107 million metro/ 357,000 regional viewers). Hardly the strongest of starts, and I feel it is going to be a long, tortuous winter for Ten and the producers, Shine (a Murdoch family company).

And Whitlam — The Power and The Passion finished last night with 1.391 million national/ 965,000 metro/ 426,000 regional viewers. The parallels with the Gillard government (especially the inability to listen to  the electorate and ALP supporters) was sad. Whitlam beat MasterChef in regional areas, as did Paper Giants — not a good look for Ten.

By the way, Seven won all people, Nine and Seven drew the main channels. It was in fact the best night of TV this year. No one went lacking (except for viewers in some cases). Seven was a bigger winner in regional markets last night.

Last week: Seven won all people, Nine won the main channels and won the demos in metro markets and had a solid win in both in regional markets. Seven’s House Rules is gathering momentum. The Voice will do well tonight for Nine, but House Rules is doing better each week (especially in regional markets). Ten’s new current affairs program at 8.30 tonight with Hamish Macdonald and the great doco, When We Were Kings on ABC2 at 10.30pm.

Network channel share:

  1. Seven (29.9%)
  2. Nine (28.8%)
  3. Ten (20.3%)
  4. ABC (17.2%)
  5. SBS (4.1%)

Network main channels:

  1. Seven, Nine (22.7%)
  2. Ten (15.0%)
  3. ABC1 (13.8%)
  4. SBS ONE (3.6%)

Top five digital channels: 

  1. 7mate (3.7%)
  2. GO (3.5%)
  3. 7TWO, Eleven (3.3%)
  4. Gem (2.5%)

Top 10 national programs:

  1. The Block (Nine) –2.291 million
  2. Nine News — 2.208 million
  3. Seven News — 2.206 million
  4. 60 Minutes (Seven) – 1.939 million
  5. Sunday Night (Seven) — 1.870 million
  6. A Place To Call Home (Seven) — 1.859 million
  7. The Force (Seven) — 1.780 million
  8. Highway Patrol (Seven) — 1.522 million
  9. MasterChef Australia (Ten) — 1.464 million
  10. Whitlam (ABC1) — 1.391 million

Top metro programs:

  1. The Block (Nine) — 1.612 million
  2. Seven News — 1.503 million
  3. Nine News — 1.474 million
  4. 60 Minutes — 1.294 million
  5. A Place To Call Home (Seven) — 1.229 million
  6. Sunday Night (Seven) — 1.168 million
  7. The Force (Seven) — 1.126 million
  8. MasterChef Australia (Ten) — 1.107 million

Losers:  No one — well, apart from The Observer Effect on SBS ONE and a disappointing start to MasterChef’s 2013 campaign.Metro news and current affairs:

  1. Seven News– 1.617 million
  2. Nine News– 1.474 million
  3. 60 Minutes — 1.294 million
  4.  Sunday Night (Seven) — 1.168 million
  5. ABC1 News — 821,000
  6. Ten News — 532,000
  7. SBS ONE News — 195,000.

Metro morning TV:

  1. Weekend Sunrise (Seven) – 366,000
  2. Weekend Today (Nine) – 315,000
  3. Insiders (ABC1) — 185,000 + 69,000 on News 24.
  4. Landline (ABC1) — 209,000
  5. Financial Review Sunday (Nine) — 208,000
  6. The Bolt Report (Ten) — 160,000
  7. Offsiders (ABC1) — 145,000
  8. Inside Business (ABC1) — 126,000
  9. Meet The Press Repeat 4.30pm (Ten) — 100,000
  10. Meet The Press 10.30am (Ten) — 91,000

Top five pay TV channels:

  1. Fox Footy– 3.5%
  2. TV1 – 2.9%
  3. Fox Sports 3 - 2.6%
  4. LifeStyle– 1.2.1%.
  5. Fox8, 111 HITS  – 1.9%

Top five pay TV programs:

  1. AFL: North Melbourne v St Kilda (Fox Footy) – 206,000
  2. AFL: Melbourne v Haw thorn (Fox Footy) – 135,000
  3. AFL: After The Bounce  (Fox Footy) – 127,000
  4. Grease (TV 1) – 85,000
  5. Modern Family (Fox 8) – 85,000

*Data © OzTAM Pty Limited 2013. The data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of OzTAM. (All shares on the basis of combined overnight 6pm to midnight all people.) Plus network reports.

Peter Fray

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