Despite the presence in last night’s schedule of the TV pap programs like Beauty and The Geek Australia and Big Brother, the most-watched program across the country last night was a good, old-fashioned ABC effort with traditional values — Catalyst, which reports on science and other issues considered too “difficult” by most TV executives for Australian audiences. That view is especially held by commercial TV bosses. Well, Catalyst in the past fortnight, and earlier in the year, has shown the errors in that thinking.

Last night’s episode was the second part of Catalyst’s skeptical report on cholesterol and heart drugs. Fairfax and News Corp editors and managers can only eat their iPhones — the ABC has sparked a tremendous amount of interest with intelligent TV. The papers have in the past written about some of these subjects in the Catalyst reports, but got nowhere near the same impact. It was the most-watched post-7pm program in metro markets after Nine News and Seven News. And 701,000 of the 990,000 metro viewers were in the over 55 demographic, up from 688,000 a week earlier for the first part. Now the commercials can splutter and smirk about all the oldies watching the ABC (although Seven knows that that’s the heart of its new pet 40-to-64 demographic), but the commercials had fewer younger viewers watching TV pap like Big Brother and Beauty and The Geek Australia. Playing the demographics is a big part of modern TV management, but as Seven is showing, older viewers are enormously valuable and Catalyst confirmed that last night.

According to some inside the ABC, there was a view earlier in the year that Catalyst‘s time was up. The highly interesting special report on the fine-tuned universe earlier in the year and now the efforts of the past fortnight are a big reply to the doubters. It out-rated everything else on TV last night and lifted its audience from a week ago. Catalyst had 1.557 million national / 990,000 metro/ 567,000 regional viewers last night, up from the 1.491 million national/ 944,000 metro/ 547,000 viewers last week. It was the most watched program in regional markets and number 3 in metro markets. And for good measure, it easily beat Today Tonight on Seven and A Current Affair on Nine.

Redfern Now returned to ABC1 at 8.30pm and made a solid start with 949,000 national/504,000 metro/ 345,000 regional viewers.

Network channel share:

  1. Seven (28.6%)
  2. Nine (27.9%)
  3. ABC (20.6%)
  4. Ten  (16.8%)
  5. SBS (6.2%)

Network main channels:

  1. Seven (20.3%)
  2. Nine (19.8%)
  3. ABC1 (14.7%)
  4. Ten (11.3%)
  5. SBS ONE (5.3%)

Top digital channels: 

  1. GO (4.7%)
  2. 7TWO (4.6%)
  3. 7mate (3.8%
  4. Gem, Eleven (3.4%)
  5. ABC2 (3.3%)

Top 10 national programs:

  1. Catalyst (ABC1) — 1.557 million
  2. Seven News — 1.548 million
  3. Nine News — 1.514 million
  4. Home and Away (Seven) – 1.363 million
  5. Beauty and The Geek Australia (Seven) — 1.300 million
  6. 7.30 (ABC1) — 1.299 million
  7. ABC News — 1.289 million
  8. Today Tonight (Seven) — 1.130 million
  9. Big Brother (Nine) — 1.107 million
  10. How I Met Your Mother (Seven) — 1.066 million

Losers: Us viewers for putting up with Beauty and The Geek Australia and Big Brother. Yes, they meet a necessary need among younger viewers for vicarious pleasure … but the biggest demo group was watching something more interesting on ABC1, if only for half an hour.Metro news and current affairs:

  1. Nine News — 1.033 million
  2. Seven News — 992,000
  3. Today Tonight (Seven) – 884,000
  4. ABC News — 849,000
  5. 7.30 (ABC1) – 833,000
  6. A Current Affair (Nine) — 797,000
  7. Ten News — 559,000
  8. The Project (Ten) — 404,000
  9. Lateline (ABC1) — 215,000
  10. SBS World News — 152,000

Metro morning TV:

  1. Sunrise (Seven) – 374,000
  2. Today (Nine) – 307,000
  3. News Breakfast (ABC1, 60,000 + 35,000 on News24) — 95,000

Top pay TV channels:

  1. LifeStyle (3.4%)
  2. TV1 (3.3%)
  3. Fox 8 (2.1%)
  4. UKTV (2.0%).
  5. Fox Classics, A&E  (1.7%)

Top five pay TV programs:

  1. Grand Designs Australia (LifeStyle) – 111,000
  2. Selling Houses Australia Extreme (LifeStyle), Grand Designs (LifeStyle) — 65,000
  3. Inspector George Gently  (UKTV) – 55,000
  4. The Simpsons (Fox 8 ) – 54,000
  5. Pawn Stars (A&E) — 49,000

*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.) and network reports.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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