Welcome to the sounds of summer — zzzzzz — as we watch the cricket and try to avoid listening to Heals, Slats, Warnie, Nicko, Tubby and the gang bore and offend us with their Richie Benaud-denying attempts to comment on live pictures of cricket. Occasionally they get it right, but mostly it’s insider chuckles, jargon and at times a tabloid approach to commentary when Benaud’s style was a civilised broadsheet, based on understanding and explaining what was on the field. Bill Lawry turned a wicket into an artform and his signature call of “Got Himmmm” used to grate for some, but now it’s missing and many viewers regret that. The current mob are faint echoes, and poorly executed at that. The Nine coverage is full of fancy graphics, tablets (computer, not Nodoze), fingers tapping, grown men looking liked used car spivs, or trying to be pitch curators without the late Tony Greig’s key in the turf approach to pitch reports.

So it was more of that stuff yesterday afternoon and last night as Australian took apart a competent Kiwi side to win back a trophy (Chappell-Hadlee or Hadlee-Chappell) from our friends from across the Tasman. And it did the stuff for Nine in the ratings, but for the wider audience  on a Tuesday night with schools still schooling (or about to start the summer break) and work still a-working, it was baffling timing. They’re back up again on Friday night, and then next Thursday it’s the first test from Brisbane against Pakistan: the second pink baller of the year. It’s all a bit groundhog with the commentary team of Warnie, Slats, Heals, Nicko (or snicko?), Tubs, or is it Tubby of course Chappell droning on and on. HD TV might make the pictures look good (and the Australian team look good), but nothing can improve the commentary.

So Nine’s night, in spite of the panel of chatterers. Aussies love a winning team and this team is back winning. Nine is thankful, Christmas has come early. The night session (the Kiwi chase) had an average national audience of 1.448 million (979,000 in the metros and 478,000 in the regions). The first session, when Australia bludgeoned 379 runs was watched by an average audience of 815,000 (564,000 metro and 251,000 in the regions). Game over for the ratings in metro and regional markets.

Now the ODI coverage on Nine did upset timings and schedules so a comparison with a normal night is hard. But it has to be pointed out that even with the Australian innings as a lead in, Nine News fell 400,000 or so viewers short nationally of Seven News. And in the metros it was around 218,000. Even if the gap is less than that once final timings are done, it still illustrates the extent of the drop in audience support in metro and regional markets for Nine’s News and the size of the problem ahead for the network and its managers in 2017. And as I keep pointing out, it’s also the 5.30pm problem where The Chase Australia on Seven simply is dominant. But the one off impact of an exciting Australian batting performance didn’t make a difference last night. Sunrise also managed a 50,000 plus win over Today in the metros yesterday morning, 347,000 to 291,000.

The top five metro programs last night were Seven News/Today Tonight with 1.090 million, then came Seven News with 1.084 million, then Session 2 of the ODI with 979,000, fourth was Nine News with 872,000 and fifth was the 7pm ABC News with 752,000. In the regions, the five most watched programs were Seven News with 571,000, Seven News/Today Tonight with 509,000, then Home and Away with 482,000, 4th was the second session of the ODI with 478,000 and 5th was Nine News with 381,000. — Click here for Glenn Dyer’s full TV Ratings

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey