A night to endure and then hurry on into the weekend secure in the knowledge that there is something, anything, better out there — the AFL, the Tour De France final stages, Australian Ninjas, the closing episode of MasterChef.  But there was one major event last night that could very well prompt a big shift in Australian TV.

Pulse throbbed for the ABC last night but the 736,000 national viewers isn’t the best of figures for a new program. Under observation, and could go to ICU in the next couple of weeks. Common Sense on Ten — even accounting for the fact that it was on at 9.30pm after MasterChef and the Masterclass (which were oh so long) — was weak with 341,000. It is also a flop on Foxtel. It is not Gogglebox and won’t last past this series. It had 228,000 in the metros. The Tour De France had 241,000 — so it was fourth in its timeslot, finishing in front of the ABC’s Cleverman with just 200,000 national viewers. That is an appalling audience for such an expensive program.

But buried in Melbourne last night was a clash that could well change Thursday nights down in the deep south. For the past couple of weeks Seven has promoted The Front bar, a Thursday night AFL footy rant show airing from 10.30pm onwards. But Seven has promoted it to 8.30pm, head to head with Nine’s The Footy Show. The Front Bar narrowly won —  299,000  to 296,000 nationally. But in Melbourne it was a clear winner, 177,000 to 155,000 – that is the first time a rival AFL show has beaten The Footy Show on Nine for years, decades, perhaps the first time ever. No wonder Sam Newman sulked and was silent last night on The Footy Show (he probably was told to watch what he said after several recent atrocities). But if The Front Bar proves to be a reliable winner, watch Nine revamp The Footy Show next year and out will go Sam Newman and others. That small win by the Front Bar is perhaps the biggest event in Australian TV this year. Don’t underestimate the impact on Nine which has known the Footy Show ratings are tanking and needed a refresh. Now it is getting a reason to act. 

The Front Bar, Have You Been Paying Attention, The Project — all Melbourne TV programs with a far different approach to what we have seen in popular light entertainment in recent years. The Front Bar actually recalls The Fat on the ABC, by far the best of its type I have seen. Seven ruined it when it poached then host Tony Squires. Pisstake TV, I call it – a very Australian format, so easy to do, so hard to get right.

Network channel share:

  1. Nine (25.9%)
  2. Seven (25.7%)
  3. Ten (23.3%)
  4. ABC (15.6%)
  5. SBS (9.5%)

Network main channels:

  1. Nine (20.0%)
  2. Ten (17.4%)
  3. Seven (16.1%)
  4. ABC (10.0%)
  5. SBS ONE (7.1%)

Top 5 digital channels: 

  1. 7TWO (3.8%)
  2. ONE (3.4%)
  3. ABC 2, 7mate (3.3%)
  4. 7flix, Eleven (2.5%)

Top 10 national programs:

    1. Seven News  — 1.641 million
    2. Seven News/Today Tonight — 1.464 million
    3. Masterchef Australia (Ten) — 1.356 million
    4. Nine/NBN News — 1.342 million
    5. Nine/NBN News (6.30pm) — 1.336 million
    6. Masterchef Masterclass (Ten) — 1.192 million
    7. A Current Affair (Nine) — 1.156 million
    8. Home and Away (Seven) — 1.125 million
    9. TheChaser Australia 5.30pm (Seven) — 1.048 million
    10. 7pm ABC News — 1.013 million

Top metro programs:

  1. Nine News — 1.040 million
  2. Nine News 6.30 — 1.025 million
  3. Seven News — 1.024 million

Losers: Common Sense on Ten, Pulse on the ABC. Nine’s Footy Show in Melbourne.

Metro news and current affairs:

  1. Nine News — 1.040 million
  2. Nine News (6.30pm) — 1.025 million
  3. Seven News — 1.024 million
  4. Seven News/Today Tonight — 948,000
  5. ACA (Nine) — 833,000
  6. 7pm ABC News – 679,000
  7. The Project 7pm (Ten) —589,000
  8. 7.30 (ABC) — 474,000
  9. Ten Eyewitness News — 464,000
  10. The Project 6.30pm (Ten) — 356,000

Morning (National) TV:

  1. Sunrise (Seven) – 484,000
  2. Today (Nine) – 407,000
  3. News Breakfast (ABC,  156,000 + 90,000 on News 24) — 246,000
  4. The Morning Show (Seven) — 231,000
  5. Today Extra (Nine) — 181,000
  6. Studio 10 (Ten) — 140,000

Top five pay TV programs:

  1. NRL: Brisbane v Canterbury (Fox League) —202,000
  2. The Late Show With Matty Johns (Fox League) — 68,000
  3. Thursday Night league (Fox League) — 63,000
  4. AFL: 360 (Fox Footy) – 62,000
  5. Australian Gold Hunt (Discovery) — 60,000