Nine trumpeted its first test figures, and they were pretty solid, but not good enough to win the night in regional Australia. Seven won that easily and it was a curious result because it is an older audience, more traditional in what it likes on TV, and there’s nothing more traditional than test cricket. Nine, though, won the metros, but more narrowly than Seven won the regionals.

Much of regional Australia — especially in NSW and Queensland — likes Seven. In fact, regional Queenslanders are rusted on to Seven like no other network and it’s perhaps that which prevailed over the the good work by the Australian side against the South Africans. In the regions, Nine had a total people share of 29.5% and a main channel share (where the cricket was being broadcast) of 19.1%. Seven’s share was 35.0% in total people and 22.4% in the main channels — a clear win. Compare that to the figures in the metros — Nine won with a total share of 29.8% to Seven’s 29.0%, and Nine won the main channels, 19.1% to 18.2%. Now Nine and no doubt Cricket Australia will love those figures — Nine made it clear this morning they were fine. But when the first test of a new season can’t win the prime time in heartland markets — regional Australia — something is wrong. The third (prime time) session of the cricket managed 1.22 million viewers — 832,000 in the metros and 383,000 in the regions.

But there was another oddity from last night. With the test coverage as a lead-in and Australia on top, Nine News lost Sydney and Brisbane to Seven (and won Melbourne). Seven had its usual big wins in Adelaide and Perth. But again you would have though the combination of the first test of the season, the prime time friendly time slots on the east coast, the Australian bowlers on top, the South Africans doing poorly, that Nine would have easily won the 6pm news slot in Sydney and Brisbane — as it is was Nine lost Sydney 237,000 to 286,000 and Brisbane by 153,000 to 189,000 for Seven. Nine won Melbourne by a handsome 80,000 or so.

Seven though did well in the metros and won the regions because of the performances of the 6pm to 7pm news and by running Home and Away from 7pm to 8.30pm — providing a clever demographic rival to the test. It did well — 1.21 million nationally, and topped the regions for the night with 511,000 viewers. If Nine and Cricket Australia wonder where all those younger viewers were, they were over on Seven. And I am still discomforted having Michael Clarke commenting on players he was on the same ground with a short while ago.

Baseball — the seventh and deciding game of baseball’s World Series (sic) was won by the Chicago Cubs after a rain delay in 10 innings and by the closest of margins 8-7 to end 108 years of failures and frustration. It also was won by Fox TV, owned by the Murdochs’ 21st Century Fox. It was watched by 40.015 million last night on Fox — the biggest for any baseball game since 1991. That October 27 game during the second-to-last year of George H.W. Bush’s presidency saw 50.34 million tune in to CBS on a viewer friendly Sunday to watch the Minnesota Twins beat the Atlanta Braves 1-0 also in 10 innings. This year’s game 7 was on a business day (Wednesday), so the size of the audience was pretty good. Like the first day of the cricket, live sport grabs the big audiences and digital is left behind. — Read the rest of Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings on the site.

Peter Fray

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