(Image: AAP/Michael Dodge)

Be thankful for very small mercies -- the NRL helped out some viewers in Sydney, Melbourne and some regions from a date with boredom last night. Melbourne Storm towelled the Roosters (current premiers and favourites for this year) 24-6. The game was watched by 580,000 viewers nationally (with a further 227,000 on Foxtel) and helped Nine win the night in the main channels, even though Seven won total people because of the huge national lead-in from its 6pm hour of news.

Elsewhere the Swans and GWS played for a very small AFL audience in Sydney and parts of NSW on 7mate (and nationally on Foxtel). Seven didn’t think the game would be of interest in other AFL markets -- it didn’t make the national top 100 list (the cut off last night was 128,000). So this morning I feel very lonely -- one of a handful of viewers. Foxel's audience of 194,000 out rated the small 7mate audience.

The Bachelor on Ten had 746,000 -- yes it out-rated the NRL (and did well in the demos), but it was down 126,000, or 14%, from the previous night’s debut of 872,000. Still, it was the 10th most watched program nationally. That’s a sign of how dire last night was for those brave souls watching free to air TV.