Saturday, February 28, 2009

Timeslot Winners - Week 3

Dead beats Old - Saturday 28 February 2009

If you ever needed any indication of how the under 50s have abandoned Saturday night - you need look no further than the 6.30 timeslot where the ancient Malcolm Douglas managed to best an hour of idiotic pratfalls on channel nine.

Funniest Home Videos low ratings could be a reflection of the host (Shelley Craft seems to have copped a lot of flak in the blogosphere since she jumped from Seven) but then again this show has always been hosted by an airhead (well barring the illustrious first season at least)

In fact I've just had an idea - why don't Nine move this to another night where they desperately need it - then slot in reruns of the Graham Kennedy original on Saturdays, Douglas may be old but Kennedy is dead and dead trumps old!

OK, Also interesting - and I have to credit MediaSpy member retter2critical with this observation, that Seven is winning the night with old ABC shows (ie: Kath & Kim and The Vicar of Dibley), I didn't even notice this strategy but its pretty sound, far superior to Ten's weird movie choices based on some tenuous link to dancing.

Friday 27 February 2009

Well, the overall picture for Friday is still somewhat unclear with no figures available for Seven's northern movie The Guardian, however looking at it - its just awfulm I can't even blame the programmers because looking at the lineup there was a fair spread of genres covered last night, but nobody was biting.

Ten's programs took a big hit week on week with The Simpsons down 131,000 viewers and Medium down 101,000. Nine got some absolutely deplorable figures for its movies as well, shocking given they're both recent hit films - which says to me that the people meter people were all out for the night!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I’ll see you when you get there – Thursday 26 February 2009

As a guy who goes through the ratings on a daily basis nothing is more infuriating than sorting through the mess when networks decided to program city by city and now that Football season is starting up the game of shows being pre-empted in some markets or bumped in others begins. Usually this sort of nonsense is confined to weekends where nobody cares because only movies are scheduled anyway – but on a few occassions the practice spills over to weeknights, and last night was one of those nights.

It produced a good result for Ten with the combo of crime show and football allowing them to dominate the post 8.30 timeslots. But in the last few weeks they’ve tended to dominate them anyway – which is the ral rub for Ten – I’m sure if they could chose to pre-empt a weeknight it would be Monday or Wednesday – not Thursday which is generally successful. Southern viewers of Life on Mars will get a double episode next week so they can catch up but there’s no word on when Ten will air the pre-empted SVU episode skipping it for the time being in the southern states, this is the annoying factor with state based programming.

The absence of Life on Mars in some markets handed almost 100,000 extra viewers to CSI Miami – ordinarily that sort of shift would be something to worry about, but in a few weeks CSI Miami makes way for The Footy Show which will make the choice easier for viewers in this slot.

Meanwhile over at Seven their Thursday night tentpole Grey’s Anatomy seems to be on the decline – relegated to third place on a low viewing night. To Seven’s credit they are trying to bring a new audience to Thursdays but it doesn’t look like anyone’s biting.

It’s worse news for Private Practice which lost 72,000 viewers week on week, no doubt those were the few remaining men watching before they checked out altogether, Seven will probably tolerate this show in this slot for a while longer – but I’m starting to wonder how they would go if they swapped this with the far superior Scrubs which follows it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

9pm - Wednesday 25 February 2009

Lets look at the week on week progress of some series

Seven had some minor losses with Australia’s Got Talent shedding 49,000 viewers and Gangs of Oz taking out 27,000 but overall they were on par with the previous week.

Nine made some good gains particularly with News up by 119,000 viewers, as Kuttyswood pointed out on this blog yesterday the Queensland Election is proving a boost to Nine’s news ratings in Brisbane as they have more experience covering politics than Seven whose political coverage remains disappointingly lightweight. Since the bushfires in Victoria Nine News also seems to have won back some ground in Melbourne – the other state capitals however, remain largely indifferent to Nine News.

ACA also boosted by 154,000 viewers, the Two and a Half Men rerun took an extra 86,000 as a result and Farmer Wants a Wife went up by 132,000 week on week.

The Mentalist broke the magic mill going up 83,000 viewers and although stuck in second place Cold Case took the paint of Life over on ten with 155,000 viewers dumping LA for Philadelphia at 9.30

Over on Ten their early evening lifted nicely with The Simpsons up 63,000, Neighbours up 93,000 and The Biggest Loser up 92,000 week on week – but with Guerrilla Gardeners only able to add 24,000 viewers – the writing may be on the wall – even more distressing is that all those gains were in Melbourne, where it still posted under 200,000 viewers – unacceptable in Melbourne for a 8pm show.

Not sure whether the 8.30 timeslot or its 8pm lead-in is hurting House but neither is helping one iota, the sad irony for channel ten can be seen in the ABC’s figures – at 8.30 there’s over a million people watching Spicks & Specks and at 9pm 618,000 of them change the channel looking for something else to watch! All they have as an alternative of free to air is 3 American dramas half-way through the hour – c’mon Ten take advantage – move it back to 9pm.

Speaking of the ABC – what is it with their Wednesday nights becoming the cable comedy repurposing night? I’m not sure of the appeal of Chandon Pictures, it’s on a channel that even the bulk of Cable subscribers probably don’t get, it seems to be a very insider baseball premise and Aunty can only rustle up 431,000 people at 9pm to have a look? ABC don’t care about ratings – but if they do care about exposing good programs then they are wasting one of their best timeslots on a turkey.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Saints beat sinners - or is it just a lie? Tuesday 25 February 2009

Word has it that Nine have already greenlit a second season of Ladette to Lady (for those of you playing at home “seasons” are now about 6 episodes long, 22 episodes is so 1990s)

You’ve gotta wonder whether there’s a meeting somewhere in channel nine today where they’re looking for a way to get out of those contracts, this reality show has settled below 900,000 (which we’ll assume is the new pass-mark) now 800,000 is probably enough to keep it at 9.30 but Nine won’t be feeling too good about a renewal.

Over on Seven we learn the value of overruns, on most ratings reports this morning you will see a figure for All Saints of 1,223,000 Indeed I did and was preparing to write a paragraph on how All Saints has finally bested upstart Lie to Me, but word comes down from a reliable source that the 1.2 million figure represents 9.30 – 10.30 whereas All Saints ran from 9.45 – 10.45 and between those times Seven netted a still impressive 1,135,000 viewers.

Lie to Me was still bested in its timeslot due to the Packed to the Rafters overrun. Given that rarely anyone (including myself) checks back at the end of the week to see adjusted figures we can see how nets can use rubbery scheduling to spin the numbers their way.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Serial Killer found bludgeoned to death with gold statue - Monday 23 February 2009

Underbelly continued its stride into the record books with a third week over two million, although losing 174,000 viewers week on week. Perhaps they were watching the season finale of Top Gear on SBS which ran for 90 minutes and clocked an extra 190,000 on the meter.

Customs and Two and a Half Men both dropped slightly also, affected by the driving show, whereas offerings on the other three nets held their ground from last week.

Good News Week has some minor good news lifting 65,000 viewers while Four Corners dropped by 193,000 but the real spoiler of the night was the Oscars which caused a minor drop for Dexter (yes its still on) 23,000 viewers and a significant drop for Brothers & Sisters (which would be pitching to the same aud) 130,000 viewers – the Sally Field borefest should stabilise next week when Nine plays it safe with Crime Investigation Australia – but with that move we can consider Dexter cooked.

Nine’s unconventional strategy of airing the Academy Awards show live and then fitting a prime time replay around their schedule paid off nicely allowing them to capitalise on the awards twice over without disrupting what is currently their biggest night.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It’s on now!! Sunday 22 February 2009

What a night last night, very close between all nets with some unexpected results.

Firstly, viewership was well down on comparable Sunday nights with the 7pm timeslot barely breaking 4 million viewers.

Seven had a terrible night, after two solid weeks of domination over Sunday nights Nine moved in on their turf and did some real damage to their shows, Sunday Night down 264k, Border Security – a timeslot win but down 142k week on week, Triple Zero Heroes down 241k, City Homicide down 115k and third in its timeslot behind CSI, which last year it managed to hold a bay, Bones (although a rerun) was down 245k week on week.

Now in one sense they can be pleased because they are up against strong competion and Border Security managed to beat 60 minutes (or is that 90 minutes), but Border Security is a half hour show and 60 minutes can be dipped in and out of easily.

The City Homicide result is a much bigger problem – here they have a show which was pulling 1.8 million viewers a week in it’s Monday night timeslot last year – until Nine got smart and moved perrenial spoiler CSI up against it, draining the show’s audience, Seven does have an advantage in that they have more Homicide up their sleeves than Nine does fresh CSI eps, but even so without CSI as competition, interest seems to have waned over the summer.

Sunday Night is another problem, just as a casual TV viewer last week (and I watched a bit of Seven on Wednesday and Thursday nights) I couldn’t tell what their stories would be on Sunday Night this week, whereas generally Nine loudly trumpets what their doing on 60 minutes from week to week – perhaps Seven need to promote it more, because of all the shows in that 6.30 timeslot the most promoted (and most memorable promo) was The Biggest Loser and the results (a massive 607,000 switch-on) speaks for itself, especially after a week of lackluster ratings for the reality comp.

60 minutes also is going to have problems – only 1.2 million for a 30th anniversary special?? That’s not an encouraging sign at all! What’s worse is that this television milestone was beaten by So You Think You Can Dance!!! I won’t be holding my breath for the Nine press release on that one!

Find that show!
I know you all love this game, and channel Nine loves you to play it – this is where we follow that show, this time CSI Miami, from a 9.30 Thursday timeslot where it won with 884k, they only lost 3,000 people with the move to Sunday nights – so all in all not a bad result for them but unfortunately for viewers – this will only encourage them to keep playing the game!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Where did everybody go? Thursday 19 February 2009

Oh man – WTF? Only 3 prime time shows over 1 million, only two weeks into the season – maybe OzTAM needs to examine what households it has on its ledger because these figures are appalling.

Last week was an odd week due to Nine’s telethon – so instead I’m gonna compare with premiere week two weeks ago – lets see the numbers

Getaway up 3,000 viewers on Celebrity Singing Bee!
Yay Team – that was really worth it, well done.

Adults Only 20 to 01 down 45,000 viewers from two weeks ago
Looks like this show has found its number at least

CSI Miami up at least 200,000 on Kitchen Nightmares/CSI NY
Not sure what CSI NY got in Brisbane that night but this was a definite improvement over their previous performance in the slot – and a timeslot win (barely) however, for a CSI show – this ilow number s just plain unacceptable.

Ghost Whisperer down 76,000 viewers on two weeks ago

Grey’s Anatomy also down 76,000 viewers
From that I gather that the same people meter people are watching but a few of them opted out or forgot to press the button

Private Practice wasn’t on two weeks ago but comparing to last week debut it has gained 50,000 viewers so its not all bad!

The Biggest Loser is down 39,000 viewers from two weeks ago

Bondi Vet is down 27,000 viewers

SVU is down 73,000 viewers

Life on Mars is down 282,000 viewers

Most of those figures indicate just less people watching television – except for Life on Mars – those 282,000 viewers have all migrated to channel Nine to watch some CSI Miami, Horatio Caine will cease to be problem for the freshman drama when football season begins again and the crime watches aren’t forced to make a choice between a sci-fi cop show and one set in the 70s!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Anyone for gardening? Anyone?? Wednesday 18 February 2009

Hmmm – lets get the good news out of the way first shall we – Seven can be pleased Talent, Criminal Minds, Gangs of Oz and Lost all lifted Week on Week – an impressive result.

Right that’s taken care of! Now what about channel nine…

Well… The Mentalist improved – slightly up from 929,000 to 955,000 and Flashpoint weakened from 670,000 to 632,000 but these seem to be the audiences these two programs are stuck with which is kind of sad given where they started – if only Nine had learned to keep them in the same timeslot from go to woah.

But what of Ten? For the last two weeks House had been airing at 9pm instead of the usual 8.30 and for those two weeks the show had posted figures over the million mark – now that it moved back to 8.30 the show sunk back to it’s late 2008 standard – so why?

Hmmm it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that they’ve lost the viewers who are watching Spicks and Specks on ABC1, in fact the irony is they probably didn’t even really lose them – those people probably record the show to watch later – they have the technology (not that OzTAM would know!).

Think about it for a second – you, humble viewer, like two shows on at the same time – one is a drama, the other a piece of fluff – which one are you going to commit to a tape? (or your DVR or whatever) Which one might you want to watch again sometime down the track – a show so disposable it could be done on radio? Or a multi-million dollar dramatic serial – I know which one I would chose – and so do about 300,000 others who have vanished from House’s audience.

David Mott (or whoever holds the cards there now) do yourself a favour and get this show back to 9pm.

Interestingly Life held almost all of the House lead-in and beat Flashpoint at 9.30 which is good for them, but like Flashpoint and the Mentalist this show seems to have found it’s level. Back when house got 1.24 million viewers (two weeks ago) Life still only managed 850k, which is also why its easier to justify this show at 10pm than at 9.30.

Anyway, that’s not even the worst thing to happen to Ten last night – their new series Guerilla Gardeners launched and then skidded across the tarmac crashing horribly into fourth place with a horrendous 645,000 viewers watching.

Now to be fair this show had three strikes against it

1) Its lead in – The Biggest Loser – was already in fourth spot with a lower than usual audience
2) Its on Ten, a network not regarded for its gardening programs, a net that hasn’t had a successful lifestyle format since the cancellation of Healthy Wealthy & Wise in 1998.
3) Promotion for the show was obtuse at best and at worst non-existant, I’m across more TV than most but I didn’t have a good picture of what the show was about until Tuesday just gone when I read a TV Tonight article – given the bulk of the population (esp those people meter folk) probably don’t follow TV industry news, then they would be in the dark about it.

This is a unique problem for Ten – if such a show debuted on Seven or Nine it would probably receive a decent sampling, but Ten is different – their primary audience is under 39 – gardening is not a popular pasttime with this group, in fact if I am representative of this age group then gardening is a chore confined to weeding and mowing the lawn (what there is of it).

When you look at Ten’s big program launches of the past 10 years you that the common demoninator is a concept that stands out to young people – young people are Ten’s core audience – the older viewers usually discover Ten shows later down the track.

Now this show does have an element that should appeal, namely that these gardeners are borderline criminals carrying out there renovations without the permission of councils or owners or anyone, that’s interesting – but then I only knew that about a day ago.

Ten might cross their fingers and hope for good word of mouth, but I’m not sure its gonna happen – we could be looking at the first casualty of the season.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fortified to the Rafters – Tuesday 17 February 2009

This is the first day we’ve gotten a look at a regular Tuesday sked for all three nets and Nine is learning the price of coming late to the party.

Seven’s Tuesday was according to the script – they are virtually unassailable from 6pm to 9.30pm with their gooey family line up but then look at 9.30 – what is happening there? All Saints has lost its punch.

Now given that All Saints probably runs on the smell of an oily rag and is still pulling over 1 million I doubt that it will be given the chop, but Seven must be seriously considering a timeslot change to have something else take advantage of Packed to the Rafter’s massive lead-in.

Over on Ten all of their shows bar Neighbours suffered audience drops as younger viewers leaked over to Nine, but not enough of them to cause an upset, although Bondi Rescue dropped by 292,000 viewers week on week as people decided splashing around in a big pool was preferable to a day at the beach!

Wipeout was Nine’s only bright spot, their decision to blow new eps of Two and a Half Men at 8.30 Tuesdays is turning out to be a costly decision, these eps on a different night could attract a much larger number but instead Nine is both limiting their reach and contracting their run of new eps (already shortened due to last year’s unnecessary fast-tracking)

At 9.30 Nine’s game of ‘follow that show’ has backfired with Aussie Ladette to Lady recording a 519,000 viewer night on night drop. Thanks Ladette’s – its been real.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bad News Week - Monday 16 February 2009

Underbelly virtually held all of its gargantuan audience second week in. This is certainly shaping up to be high watermark in Australian television and channel Nine’s best chance at promoting their 2009 lineup, infact anyone with their TV tuned to Nine last night would have been inundated with promos for their struggling Wednesday lineup.

A decision which, a few weeks ago, I blasted as being sheer idiocy has actually worked out well for Nine (just a moment whilst I fetch a hat to eat) that decision being the axing of The Big Bang Theory replacing it with a hastily cobbled together factual series Customs, err sorry Vince Colosimo: Customs! I wish Nine had persisted with Big Bang in this slot because it strikes me that this Customs show is attracting a lot of folks waiting around for the next program, but anyway – despite the short-term thinking the move is still a great success.

Also a success is the Australian Ladette to Lady – question is can they carry that across to Tuesday nights and how long does the series even go for – the opening scenes suggested that the course at Eggleston Hall ran for four weeks – that doesn’t seem like a very long series to me.

Desperate Housewives lifted a little last night and incredibly Brothers & Sisters retained 94% of its audience which must be some kind of record. I fully expect to see 11 more weeks of Friday/Saturday encores for these two shows to keep the viewers up to speed while they flirt with the crims over of Nine.

Speaking of Encores, the remaining 500,000 people who haven’t seen Dexter on DVD or Showcase were entertained I guess – but Ten is hurting badly on Monday night – even after what was a fairly solid start to the evening by Neighbours and So You Think You Can Dance.

Good News Week has dropped week on week by 61,000 viewers while Four Corners rose by 143,000. Indeed these two shows seem to be fighting over largely the same audience and seeing as the ABC ain’t gonna budge it might be wise for Ten to move GNW to 9.30 (there’s a lot of Ex – Enough Rope viewers looking for something to watch) and Dexter to 10.30.

Of course that leaves the 8.30 problem – given that the slot will be a loss for the next 10 weeks anyway, why not encore screenings or Out of the Blue!! (OK maybe that’s going too far!)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Rising Tide - Sunday 15 February 2009

Another Sunday, another cricket match for Nine and a boost in viewers all around with all commercial nets averaging over 1 million viewers for the four hour prime time last night.

Seven can consider their Sunday night a success with Border Security and Triple Zero Heroes looking like Sunday hits, and Sunday Night losing Sydney but winning Melbourne in it’s first stoush with Domestic Blitz.

Not so lucky was City Homicide whose older Audience spent the second week in a row glued to the cricket – we’ll no more once its regular competition (CSI) moves in from next week.

So You Think You Can Dance had a great night last night with the first live performance and The Biggest Loser Weigh In improved Week on Week.

Also smart on Ten’s part was the decision to return The Simpsons to 6pm Sunday, although keeping Out of the Blue at 5.30 at the expense of Sport Tonight is still hurting their ratings in that slot.

Rove, too is hurting, unable to hurdle a rerun of Bones, one of the most boring procedurals this side of Crossing Jordan!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Think Local, Act Stupid - Saturday 14 February 2009

Well good luck making sense of last night which was all over the place. Nine at least had a consistent sked but even that didn't help them out beyond Funniest Vids which had a decent return - it will be interesting to see if they can claw back the 200,000 or so viewers who have gone missing over the course of 2008.

Channel Ten had a logical state split based on their AFL screenings Perth Missed out on Mean Girls (because they got the AFL at 6.30) and picking up Sydney's movie after the game, sounds reasonable enough, but channel Seven - WTF is going on there??!?

Even discounting the early evening bumping of Fawlty Towers, why launch two new British series in only two markets?? How does that possibly help their ratings? And what makes them think that anyone who chose Underbelly over Desperate Housewives on Monday is actually at home on Saturday to watch?? The mind boggles...

Rinse and Repeat - Friday 13 February 2009

Both Nine and Seven had sporting events on Friday night which managed to fracture the schedule across the country.

Seven was split down state lines with Sydney/Bris showing encore episodes and the southern states carrying AFL.

Nine was split by time zone due to their live cricket coverage - viewers in Bris, Perth and Adelaide were treated to an encore screening of Underbelly

I'm not even going to attempt to spot a trend in all that mess - except to say that a national sport (Cricket) easily outperformed a regional sport (AFL). The irony is that I'll bet you the rights to the AFL costed Seven way more than the cricket rights costed Nine.

Ten at least ran a consistent sked - and although they were again up against a mountain of sport - they seemed to do a good job of anyone not tuned into the cricket.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Very Very Nice and Good: The Simpsons

Well here's a news item that slipped in the back door - is reporting that this week sees the debut of HD Simpsons in the US, which means finally... Widescreen.

You can read the full report and see the BRAND NEW opening title sequence here!

Shame File 2009: Channel Nine

Regular readers of this blog will know that I've already flagged one of the keys to ratings success - consistency.

Moving shows, pre-emptions and an itchy trigger finger are ingredients for a ratings failure - just ask Grant Blackley!

So that we can keep track of all the shifts and chopping and changing let's start the Shame File which will keep track of any and all inexplicable programming alterations during the season.

Even though last week saw most of the season premieres (and some significant changes) it won't count because it was still officially summer non-ratings so starting from this week it's...

Score 2 to Channel Nine:

Bargain Hunt - a 5pm strip companion show to Antiques Roadshow has been given the arse in favour of reruns of Airline

Celebrity Singing Bee - in spite of a decent opening night performance the show has been shafted to make way for travel skein Getaway, no word on where the Singing show will be relocated.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

No extra viewers but there's still life on mars - Thursday 12 February 2009

For the first week of a ratings season, this one hasn’t exactly gone to plan with the Bushfire Crisis dominating news coverage and throwing primetime schedules right out of whack.

Last night both Seven and Nine made major sked changes, Seven dumped Ghost Whisperer in order to catch up on Wednesday’s pre-empted Home and Away, while Nine threw their whole Thursday lineup (which wasn’t exactly working for them anyway) for an all night telethon.

As you might expect it was a success, but oddly it didn’t seem to bring any new viewers to what is Television’s most puzzling night, indeed it just seemed to soak up existing viewers from the other channels.

So we have to consider the question – what has driven TV viewers away from Thursday night? When I have some answers to that question I’ll post it here!

Meanwhile Grey’s Anatomy, SVU and Life on Mars weathered the telethon better than I would’ve expected, Private Practice however, not so much – but it’s an odd night and to soon to make any judgement on the various programming moves, however early trends suggest 7 and 10 tying for this night on a regular basis (with Seven winning overall due to their news) and Nine being the wildcard – depending on what moves in once the footy show starts next month.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

First Friday, then Thursday, Now This?? – Wednesday, 11 February 2009

I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but last night the audience shrunk.

On Sunday night the top rated non-news program was Border Security with 1.7million viewers, on Monday Night the top rated non news program was Underbelly with 2.5 million, Tuesday the top dog was Packed to the Rafters with 1.6 million, but last night the top draw – Australia’s Got Talent – managed only 1.3 million viewers.

There was a similar trend last week as well – with Wednesday experiencing a big drop off from the first three days. So what is going on? Is there less on Wednesdays that viewers want to watch? Is the competition much tighter? Or is Wednesday the new Thursday?

Not sure – but starting tonight I will be calculating average commercial audiences (when possible) between 6pm – 10.30pm so we can get an idea of which nights are heavily patronised and which nights are for video games!

Last night was marked by three new skeins in the mix, The Farmer Wants a Wife did respectable business but was choked out of the 7.30 slot by the aforementioned Talent quest which your truly checked out for the first time last night and, well I can see the appeal – but that’s exactly the kind of show I would love on a Saturday night, oh well.

Embarrassingly for Ten So You Think You Can Dance came fourth in it’s slot behind 7.30 Report and Spicks and Specks. House recovered some dignity for the net although it was down 163,000 viewers and next week all bets are off as it moves back to 8.30 in direct conflict with perpetual spoiler Spicks and Specks!

Life lost 99,000 viewers and Flashpoint haemorrhaged 174,000 thanks to Seven premiering the heavily anticipated Gangs of Oz – it was certainly an eye opener and managed to open an extra 426,000 pairs of eyes who weren’t watching seven in this slot (24) the week before.

Lost came back with a fantastic episode but this once megahit has seen it’s Australian audience dwindle as it veered towards science fiction – whereas season two – when it was still big – you could surmise that they only had a toe in the genre pool (four toes perhaps) this season they are fully submerged – show any viewer from season one last night’s episode and they probably wouldn’t recognise it as the same show – nevertheless I was one of the 405,000 viewers who tuned in, more still (almost 600,000 were watching Nine News)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lies, Damn Lies and Ratings - Tuesday 10 February 2009

Nine’s Cricket telecast and continuing coverage of the Victorian Bushfire crisis led to an off-pattern Tuesday night.

Overall viewers stuck with their favourites – NCIS and Lie to Me had impressive week on week retention whilst Packed to the Rafters seemed to take the biggest hit from Nine’s cricket coverage.

The only series to demonstrate week on week growth was Bondi Rescue, incredible given the series it is up against but it’s audience grew by 140,000 viewers. My only guess on its resurgence could be viewers looking for some good news stories among the wall to wall despair.

Packed to the Rafters had one of it’s lowest weeks yet (even though it’s still miles ahead of the pack) signalling that some of its viewers are casual and are able to be lured away, given the right alternative.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ahhh so that's how they do it! - Monday 9 February 2009

Several months ago I wrote over on my list22 blog that one of the colossal screw ups of 2008 was Nine’s handling of Underbelly and it’s subsequent non-broadcast throughout Victoria.

The show, banned in Victoria (Melbourne typically furnishes the biggest FTA TV audiences in Australia - especially for locally based prods) clocked a premiere rating of 1,320,000 in four cities. It's very plausible to assume that Melbourne would have added anywhere from 500,000 - 800,000 to that number had the broadcast gone ahead.

Well last night we got to see exactly what kind of interest Melbourne would have in last year’s qualified smash hit and the answer was…

Well just look at the figures!

Look at them!!

Holy Fuck!!!

After a week of lurching from one bad programming move to another channel Nine has officially dealt itself back in the game.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Opening Night - Sunday 8 February 2009

Last night was the first night the official 2009 Australian Television Ratings season.

The night was thrown into chaos with split scheduling across the board owing to the developing news story of the Victorian Bushfires which so far has become the worst natural disaster in Australian history.

All networks devoted extended coverage to the event in their Melbourne markets as well as additional bulletins at night, pushing existing shows all over the schedule

My chart attempts to make as much sense of all the moves as possible but a clear picture of the night won’t be available until figures adjusted sometime later in the week.

Anyhow here’s how they fared on the first night in


Seven had a big night – deferring their afternoon programming for news and pushing the debut of newsmagazine Sunday Night back to 7pm in Melbourne didn’t hurt them one iota, the new lineup of Sunday Night/Border Security/Triple Zero Heroes pulled a mammoth audience for it’s first outing – it looks as if Seven has successfully transplanted their Monday shows to Sunday night – but the real test will be up against 60 minutes next week.


Nine had the cricket all day and reaped a huge rating as a result, but it was their news coverage of the fires which stood out for this viewer, they seemed to have almost every reporter in their employ out at a different location bringing some truly memorable vision of the day.


Ten had the most uneven day and they were partly to blame. Ten have the unique advantage on big news days of being the first cab off the rank at 5pm, but Saturday, when these fires started (not to mention the hottest day in Melbourne’s history) saw Ten run with a national Sydney based bulletin, giving Sydney stories priority over the unfolding crisis.

Sometimes Ten’s national weekend bulletins are interesting because you get to see a bit of what is going on across the country as compared to the more parochial market leaders – but on days like this a local approach is really needed.

By Sunday Ten had realised their error and had brought in Mal Walden for a special hourlong Sunday bulletin but viewers ignored them in favour of Seven’s early coverage.

This result, and the decision to persist with Out of the Blue saw Ten’s share fall dramatically last night. The Biggest Loser was easily dropped by a news hungry public although they recovered nicely with So You Think You Can Dance – proving the show has a devoted audience – Rove got off to an inauspicious start, I suppose people weren’t much in the mood for snarky fun after all sheer horror – they’ll pick up next week.

Saturday 7 February 2009

I don't have much to say today - there are far more important things going on - in the past 48 hours no less than 26 fires have been raging across this state (Victoria) with now 84 people confirmed dead, among them beloved former Nine Newsreader Brian Naylor.

The Toll now counts this as the single worst natural disaster in Australian history eclipsing the horrific Ash Wednesday fires of 1983.

My thoughts go out to everyone affected by this disaster which is nothing less than horrific in its scale.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Finally! A Friday we can watch - 6 February 2009

Ten did something special last night - they came third, well what's special about that? look closer kimosabe - because that's the best third place they've managed in quite a while and the reason should be abundantly clear to anyone with even a passing familiarity with Australian TV schedules.

Look at Ten's line up - no haphazard movies, no sport, no gardening, no documentaries, no reality series, no MTV reruns, nope.

Instead two of Ten's most established series (in fact two of the network's, and television's, longest running) are pinning down the night and the results are better than expected.

Sure The Simpsons has rated better in the past - but not particularly last season in a Tuesday timeslot swamped with fresh competition from all sides, retreating to Fridays (which is a wasteland for the typical Simpsons viewer) makes sense, expect the show to build as the weather cools down and people who have neglected the show discover it on a free night.

Law & Order posted some great ratings and a 2nd place for the two hours, although it will constantly be under attack from sporting options on the other channels the fact that it provides a regular reliable entertainment makes it a better proposition for advertisers than gambling on movies which can be a hit and miss affair.

Next week Law & Order is joined by Medium, a creepy crime thriller/family drama which has always been heavily underrated in this and its home country but deserves a chance to shine - every time I have watched it the show has pulled off some amazing high concept stuff and managed to keep its storylines different to other crime procedurals.

Also 2008 flameout Women's Murder Club is in the 10.30 for the next few weeks - given the good reception here expect to see other short runs in the 10.30 timeslot over the season, finally Free to Air gives us some thing decent on a friday.

Some commentators are calling the sked "risky" - I call it the most sensible programming move in decades - what's next someone turns on the lights on a Saturday???

Don't hold your breath...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mars Attacks - Thursday 5 February 2009

If there is one trend emerging from this week it is the slow disintegration of channel Nine. Back in the 1990s the once market leader had the strongest early evening lineup (Nine News and A Current Affair used to dominate the 6 o’clock hour) and the strongest late night (awash with young male skewing fare like the Star Trek skeins, Walker Texas Ranger and Renegade), this early and late night superiority meant that whatever Seven threw at them in prime time didn’t matter - they would still prevail in the 6pm – 12pm ratings battle.

So much of Nine’s strength at the edges has been diminished by costs cuts and poor programming decisions, their news lead in is pitiful and their news service is on the skids, their post 10.30 programming is no better, now confined to doco series better suited to cable and haphazard scheduling, Nightline is gone – a victim of cost cutting and erratic scheduling.

Contrast this to Seven. Since the start of this decade Seven have focussed on using their 10.30 timeslot to bring younger skewing shows to the fore – making late night television also appointment television, their early evenings are now a dominant force, bolstered by Deal or no Deal – a game show whose appeal escapes me but the numbers speak for themselves. Home & Away – their 7pm skein – continually reinvents itself year after year, picking up new viewers almost as fast as it loses old ones.

Over on Ten they are a mixed bag – their early evening schedule is targeted to young people (much like seven’s late night) in order to avoid direct competition with the news, but moves Ten has made in the past two decades have affected both Seven and Nine for better and worse.

Ten moving their news from 6 to 5pm was an immediate benefit to 9 and 10, giving Nine a dominating control over the slot and Ten breathing space to transform their news brand, at the same time their 10.30 news bulletin established a new paradigm as a late night news war erupted in the mid 90s – with Ten the only network able to guarantee a consistent starting time they saw off their competitors, first Seven, who turned to underrated series at 10.30pm (undercutting Nine’s 11pm series start time), Eventually Nine succumbed as well, first shunting Nightline to later (at 11.30 or even Midnight) and eventually axing it altogether – weakening their news brand.

Ten’s moves at 7pm have also been the catalyst for problems at Nine – the old setup in the 90s used to be Soap on Seven, Game Show on Nine and Sitcom Reruns on Ten – as a consequence Ten would rarely win – their innovative move in 2001 with nightly reality series Big Brother threw the game wide open – taking viewers from both their rivals and forcing Nine into Sitcoms at 7, now this year Nine will try a stripped reality show at 7pm, something which I never could’ve seen them doing in years!

This week it is Nine’s lack of early evening strength which seems to be hurting them the most in the ratings – for the fourth night in a row they came third behind Seven and Ten, their only successes last night were Celebrity Singing Bee, a limited run placeholder for aging travelogue Getaway and Adult Only 20 to 01, which many commentators view as a desperate attempt to lure an audience. Their scheduling of Kitchen Nightmares was a disaster – you can officially put anything with Gordon Ramsay in a file market ‘Late Night and Cable ONLY’ don’t expect it to remain there next week.

Seven on the other hand did well, even if it’s prime time shows tanked – they still could have won the night on the basis of their early evening and late night (a resurgent Scrubs) alone. Lucky for them their primetime also performed with Ghost Whisperer winning in total people and Grey’s Anatomy winning in 18-49s.

Ten also had a good night – it Biggest Loser ratings were up on Wednesday’s numbers and will probably fluctuate given the night, Bondi Vet however had a poor start posting an underwhelming total. Nothing Ten sticks in this post-loser slot seems to work all that well, factual series are not a natural fit for Ten, somehow they’ve gotten away with Bondi Rescue – but a show about a vet? Last year Seven screened no less that 3 factual shows devoted to Animals, they have that market cornered – I’ll be interested to see whether this experiment rises or falls in the coming weeks.

On the other hand – Law & Order SVU and Life on Mars performed excellently taking the shine off Seven’s night and adding some colour to a line up usually controlled by Wolf Films. Expect Life on Mars to rise next week when its main competition is the Lifetime reject series Private Practice.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Ten Percent Event - Wednesday 4 February 2009

Sometimes a network makes a weird move and everybody questions it, 90% of the time everybody is right and then 10% we see that the programmer had the right idea, last night was one of those 10% events.

What the hell am I talking about – oh yeah – House on at 9pm rather than 8.30pm, last season House was getting beaten at 8.30 by Criminal Minds and The Mentalist, and I don’t just mean beaten – but beat down! Usually averaging anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 behind the second place getter!

Seems like someone at Ten has their ear to the ground, or their eye on the net – one the most frequent comments I’ve read about House over the past few years is that people like it, but Spick and Specks is their first priority, the two shows have fought over the same timeslot for years but Ten has never conceded to their non-commercial competition despite the anecdotal evidence that the aud for both shows is overlapping.

Well last night, assisted by some stunt programming, Ten kicked of House at 9pm, with Life at 10pm out of the road of Spicks and Specks but still up against 9 and 7’s dramas. The result was Ten’s best Wednesday night in forever with both shows winning their timeslot in 18-49s and 16-39s and 25-54s

We know for a fact that this 9pm start will continue for the next two weeks ensuring a switch-on point for House, expect to see the network find more ways of pushing the start time back to 9, as the season progresses.

Over on Seven the decision to move Australia’s Got Talent didn’t hurt them one iota with the series return posting a timeslot win and competitive figures in key demographics, all in all a very successful move for the show. Meanwhile Criminal Minds slipped back into Wednesdays as if it has never left, the series currently fast-tracked should present a dilemma in 18 or so weeks when Seven will have to decide whether to rest it or air reruns (last year reruns were timeslot winners also)

At 9.30 though the jig was up with 24 posting a significant timeslot loss in total people and all demographics, it will probably maintain these numbers at 10.30pm Sundays which should be the show’s regular slot in two weeks.

Over on Nine things went from grim to worse, Nine News and A Current Affair were all that the net could manage over 1 million last night, that’s only 1 hour over 1 million, whereas Ten posted 2.5 hours over the million mark – a worrying reversal of fortune for Nine which has seen it’s traditional early evening strength erode markedly over the past two years and this year looks to continue the trend.

Backyard Blitz, one of their 2008 success stories found less success wedged in on a Wednesday night as older viewers opted for crazy vaudeville of Seven’s show leaving Nine third in all demographics. Having said that it was still a competitive figures, but not the barnstorming return Nine would have hoped for.

The Mentalist and Flashpoint returned solid numbers but were hurt probably less by competition than by their scheduling over summer changing more times than connex on a hot day, hopefully now that they have a regular timeslot things will pick up.

More baffling is the 10.30 slot for Cold Case – if only they had held their nerve in summer, Cold Case was a solid Thursday performer which got shafted for (of all things) The Secret Millionaire, and by the time it returned Nine found themselves running a poor second to Ten’s dramas on the night – the show is still popular (look at the turn out for a late night slot) but if you had told me a few years ago that this procedural would see out it’s days at 10.30 I would have told you you were stupid – I guess not!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuesday Stimulus Package - 3 February 2009

Now here’s what happens to Ten when they clean up their early evenings – after fumbling around for the better part of last year in the wake of a disastrous Big Brother season, Ten have finally righted their sked – and it turns out the problem was 7pm after all!

It may be that unless Ten takes a gamble and moves in on 6pm news then they’ll never break a mill in that hour but with the return of The Biggest Loser, a show with broad demographic appeal, they’re resuscitating their evenings quite nicely.

After a slight dip on Monday, TBL recovered somewhat to post some healthy figures against some stiff competition in that hour.

The opening ep for the Australian Wipeout did OK but Seven still owns the hour with their feel good factuals, however the ratings for Wipeout, Bondi Rescue and Find My Family show that all three can co-exist in the slot, between then they kept almost 4 million viewers entertained, which is a good result for everyone.

An extra 443,000 people tuned in at 8.30, with Packed to the Rafters gaining 220,000 on it’s lead-in to become the night’s top show (like any of you were surprised!) and NCIS gaining 318,000, Two and a Half Men lost 93,000 viewers from Wipeout.

The Adults Only ep in question was the subject of a PTC (Parents Television Council – US) campaign for a bizarre lap dance scene but wasting fresh episodes of one of your top shows against gargantuan competition is not the way to go. Hopefully Nine finds an alternative (other than TBA) in two weeks time when they have to front up again.

On to 9.30 and something expected and something unexpected happened.

The expected was the dismal performance of The Allan Border Medal, honestly who even watches sports awards? I get the Brownlow Medal to an extent, AFL devotees are nuts about their sport and devour anything and everything about it, but Cricket has a more general audience not made up of fanboys and furthermore, football awards like the Brownlow are covering a whole competition with many teams and hundreds of players so there is a degree of suspense and chance but with this, there is exactly one team, it’s like a club presentation and probably not worth broadcast time, cable would love it though!

The unexpected was Lie to Me, here I am thinking nothing will work after NCIS unless it’s NCIS, well I stand corrected, Tim Roth hit one out of the park for Ten last night with almost 1.5 million viewers, a timeslot win and the night’s 5th most watched show, well done!

Also In the category of amazingly unexpected – check out the ratings for Eli Stone and Ten’s Late News – hope none one was hoping for Out of the Blue back at 10.30 because Ten news just proved why it’s lasted so long at 10.30 (the big 42 billion stimulus package from Mr Rudd didn’t hurt them either!)

And Eli Stone must’ve have made a lot of friends over the summertime, kudos indeed, big 10.30 ratings are back!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Welcome Back - Sunday & Monday 1-2 February 2009

The season has unofficially kicked off giving us a good opportunity to look at the early starters and see where the competition is going this year.

First you get the sport
If there was any doubt then Sunday night’s ratings at least proved Tennis’ ability to draw a huge crowd to the television. At 8.30pm Sunday an average of 4.5 million viewers was watching television in the 5 capitals, a phenomenal result this early in the year.

Cricket too was no slouch, but it’s fortunes seemed to depend on what was on Ten, whereas the Tennis steadily built throughout the night.

Then you get the reality
Ten’s two big reality franchises cranked up again and suddenly viewers discovered channel Ten again!

The Biggest Loser commenced it’s fourth season at 6.30pm Sunday with an hour long introduction to the various couples who will feature in this season, it also ended with the most ludicrous cliffhanger in the show’s 3 year history hanging on the edge of one of host Rochester’s incredibly drawn out sentences

At first glance it looks like a disappointment, the show came third in it’s timeslot, but consider a few caveats

– it was up against two popular sporting events
– it had the Herculean task of lifting from a 266,000 viewer lead-in

Not sure what Ten is going to do about Out of the Blue – it’s like an Albatross, the only reason Ten has bought it is to qualify for points on it’s Australian drama quota (you know – keep the rent seekers happy) but to do this they have to show it in Prime Time, but it is currently Prime Time poison. Not sure how they’re gonna solve this one.

So You Think You Can Dance also started last night for it’s second season premiere and posted a 153,000 viewer improvement on it’s lead in and second in the timeslot.

It took a hit on Monday losing 151,000 viewers night on night, but that may be due to increased competition.

Then you get the women…OK so Desperate Housewives might do alright this year though you’ve gotta hand it to Ten for doing their best to burn up their re-entry. The Devil Wears Prada just earned a spot on Ten’s movie wheel (yes that’s what I’m calling it) with a sound 1.4 million viewers, just shading the housewives and leaving Brothers and Sisters in the dust. Clearly men did not control the remote last night as the only testosterone on the night (T3) sunk without a trace.

Oh and the sitcoms
Last night also saw the launch of one the dumbest competitions ever – sitcom vs sitcom. You know this sort of thing isn’t new but generally the programmers have stuck comedies on different nights, now more than ever when good sitcoms are in short supply different timeslots makes more sense to maximise your ratings and the public thirst for laughs, but instead Seven has decided to pit their summertime star performer (How I met your mother) against it’s US stablemate (Two and a Half Men), the result is there for all to see – they didn’t even beat Big Bang Theory, and that should’ve been a walkover.

Well done Worner – how long before we can expect this good show in an 11.30 slot?

Finally hey – it’s Ten
Yeah uh – people watch channel Ten last night – like The Simpsons and Neighbours all posted increases. The Biggest Loser was down night on night – but still a stratospheric increase over Ten’s 7pm entires for the past 6 months. The result of this was that Ten won Monday with 28.4% share to Seven’s 28%, Nine which relaunched it’s look (it’s currently the nicest looking of all the nets) was in third on 20.7%. Ten also won in 18-49, 16-39 and 25-54 with Seven taking out the over 50’s

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Primetime Preview: Thursdays

7.30 - 8.30
Ghost Whisperer vs The Celebrity Singing Bee (later Getaway) vs The Biggest Loser/Bondi Vet

Hmmm, a lot of new in this hour - its been years since Ghost Whisperer occupied a 7.30 slot, the show has a solid following that seems to follow it all over the dialso it should do well.

The Singing Bee has appeal and has been primed by Ten's summer skein Don't Forget the Lyrics laying the ground for some success - but rumour suggests that Getaway will make a quick return to this timeslot which will equal disaster for Nine, the show is on its way out.

The wild card is Bondi Vet, for two years running Ten has extended their Thursday Biggest Loser which has always done well, but invariably the show following it (Jamie Oliver in the second season, Saving Kids in the third) has washed out, that could change though with Ten's Bondi Fetish growing another factual, plus rescuing animals seems to be all the rage over on Seven - so it could work.

The Hot Tip...
The Biggest Loser will win it's slot - then the rest depends on the appeal of a vet, expect both Ghost Whisperer and Singing Bee to do well, but once Getaway returns Nine will sink.

8.30 - 9.30
Grey's Anatomy vs Adults Only 20 to 01 vs Law & Order Special Victims Unit

Seven move Grey's Anatomy to it's US equivalent slot in order to build up a night which has faltered for them in recent years, it will easily retain 100% of its ghostly lead in, the test will be whether it brings any absent viewers back to Thursday night, which has increasingly been eroded in a cycle of low viewers and old skewing programs.

Ten has the ever strong Law & Order which has a mortgage on this slot. For those wondering why Ten has chosen to run with SVU rather than last year's suprise revival Criminal Intent, the answer lies in behind the scenes problems with Criminal Intent which has delayed production of half of the 16 episodes which may not premiere in the US until their summer, so SVU it is.

Nine meanwhile has zagged while the others zigged with Adults Only 20 to 01 - no word on how permanent that will be - perhaps its only a special but we just don't know. There's something to be said for a revival of the bawdy tits n' ass channel Nine I knew back in the early 90's, back when every movie promo had a minimum amount of female nudity and their idea of compelling drama was Chances!

The Hot Tip...
I expect Grey's Anatomy to post some big numbers upon its return but these will eventually decline to level off with the stable SVU, I'm only basing this on declining US ratings and suggestions of a preposterous 'ghost sex' storyline which will probably succeed in driving away non sci-fi viewers.

9.30 - 10.30
Private Practice vs Kitchen Nightmares vs Life on Mars

If you've been within 300 metres of a television this summer you no doubt will have seen promotion of Life on Mars, a US version of a british show about a time travelling cop, Ten have even wheeled out their old 70s logo for the promo which suggests they see a future with this one

Seven meanwhile is following logic by skedding the Grey's Anatomy spinoff after the parent show - that sounds like a good idea because in stray viewing last year I couldn't see much to distinguish Private Practice from any other estrogen-fest on TV, be it Strong Medicine, Judging Amy or whatever, the logo in the corner says Seven but my head screams W.

Nine has decided to retry Gordon Ramsay - after completely botching his re-entry late last year with scant promotion they look set to do it again this year. When you pour over the ratings figures for 2008 the top Ramsay show was consistently the US Kitchen Nightmares, when they came back with new eps of same show they failed to promote it - instead running weeks of Hell Kitchen promos before fronting up with Kitchen Nightmares and not alerting anybody - just bizzare.

The 9.30 timeslot is a no-brainer - Nine got a rap over the knucles from ACMA for excessive uncensored broadcasting of the f-word (that's "fuck" for those keeping score at home) in an M rated hour so moving it back lets them classify it MA but it also creates a weird problem - what if its a success and in four or so weeks The Footy Show comes back?

Kind of summarises Nine's entire Thursday sked - no long term thinking here...

The Hot Tip...
Ramsay could always surprise but I'll be darned if Life on Mars doesn't storm all over the slot.