Sunday, May 31, 2009

A doctorate in high ratings

Sunday 31 May 2009

Biggest Week on Week Disappointment
Weekend Sunrise
Seven Early Morning, down 194,000 viewers

Biggest Week on Week Disappointment (Prime Time)
Ten 6.30pm, down 164,000 viewers

Biggest Week on Week Improvement
Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story
ABC1 8.30pm, up 224,000 viewers over the previous week’s episode of Dirt Game

Well there you go! A lot going on last night. Not only the return of Doctor Who, which unlike Star Trek, Stargate, Lost, Heroes or any other sci fi in this country, seems to have a large (probably older and more patient) following pushing the ABC over a million in that slot and doing some damage to Masterchef which was down by 107,000 viewers.

The other major story is the ascendance of Seven’s Sunday Night. Their current affairs flagship leaping 99,000 viewers week on week for a timeslot win and a comparison win against 60 minutes.

Nine’s post 8.30 fortunes took a beating with Bones a full 379,000 viewers clear of CSI (it was even beaten by Rove), Nine only managed to save face at 10.30 with CSI NY proving even more popular than The Evidence (a 152,000 week on week lift)

Consistency Pays

Saturday 30 May 2009

Biggest Disappointment
Saturday Night AFL
Ten down 68,000 week on week

Biggest Improvement
New Tricks
ABC1 7.30pm - up 182,000 week on week

Nothing big happening last night and a whole lot of missing figures making the picture even cloudier. Suffice it to say Nine was the winner on overall percentage with the ABC second for the night.

Nothing else that interesting happened, Nine's movies were both down on last week, but both were still good performers, Seven's southern broadcast of Phenomenon was down on last week's Meet the Fockers, but again not by too much.

Interestingly most regular series were up, aside from New Tricks, Gardening Australia, Foyles War, Vicar of Dibley, Rockwiz, Kath & Kim, The Bill and Funniest Vids were all up from last week. I guess on a night where almost anything goes schedule-wise, consistency pays!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

There's almost no point

Friday 29 May 2009

Biggest Disappointment
Live Friday Night Football
Nine 7.30pm (Sydney & Brisbane only), Down 172,000 viewers week on week

Biggest Improvement
Ten 7pm, up 157,000 viewers week on week

Indeed most of Ten's lineup was up from last week - but it's coming from such a low base there's almost no point. The Law & Order palooza is no match for wall to wall sport on the other networks, not to mention the ABC's forensic skein Silent Witness (now up over the million mark). Only Masterchef is giving ten any traction on the night.

As was pointed out today on MediaSpy today by TelevisionAU, Masterchef on Fridays is not a continuation of the competition proper but rather a 1 hour cooking class run by the judges, thereby turning the show into a psuedo lifestyle hour and probably causing some headaches for Better Homes in the process.

Life on Mars, a show which started promising and then evaporated once word had come from the US of imminent cancellation, had it's 17th and final episode last night with 356,000 people still tuning in. In two weeks time Ten will be re-booting their Fridays with the US edition of So You Think You Can Dance

With two cycles of the dance show due this year (one in June and another commencing September) that should see Ten out for the remainder of the year assuming it's a success.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Worst (part of Ten's) Week

Thursday 28 May 2009

Biggest Disappointment
Private Practice
Down 164,000 week on week

Biggest Improvement
Rules of Engagement
Up 84,000 week on week

So there you go, Rules of Engagement, ten's only foray into multicamera comedy is doing better while it's companion - the single camera Worst Week is trending in the wrong direction, while Rules gained 84,000, Worst Week lost 84,000 - there's some weird symmetry at work there.

I see two explanations here.

1) People are lukewarm on single camera sitcoms. Television critics may crap on ad nauseum about how a laugh track is insulting to their intelligence but the numbers tell a very different story

The top rated comedy shows over the past seven days have been
Talkin' 'bout Your Generation 1.6 million viewers
Spicks & Specks 1.6m
The Chaser 1.5m
Thank God You're Here 1.5m
Two and a Half Men 1.3m
Funniest Home Videos 1.1m
Scrubs 1.1m
Good News Week 1m

See a trend, all except Scrubs are filmed in front of a studio audience thereby featuring that dreaded laugh track. Perhaps the average viewer actually likes the live audience feel and is self assured enough not to feel their intellence is being insulted by the program's producers.

It's also a given that multicamera sitcoms tend to rely more on wit and timing while single camera coms fall back on sight gags and non sequiters.

2) Australian viewers are not so much in the dark anymore, it wouldn't a genius to work out that Worst Week is already toast in its home market - why get involved with something where there's no prospect of a future?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Timeslot Flop

Wednesday 28 May 2009

Biggest Disappointment
Law & Order Special Victims Unit
Ten 8.30pm
Down 460,000 viewers on last week’s House season finale

Biggest Improvement
The Chaser’s War on Everything
ABC1 9pm
Up 228,000 viewers on last week’s Gruen Transfer season finale

Well The Chaser is back and in ratings terms at least (haven’t watched the ep yet, but I’ve heard some worrying things) it was a success.

The ABC’s comedy double caused some headaches for the commercial networks, well actually know that’s not accurate – it caused some headaches for channel ten. The very people who form Ten’s core audience all flee to the ABC at 8.30 whilst Ten is now playing a game of crime show chicken which it cannot seem to win!

You’ve heard of the phrase “timeslot hit” it was common parlance in the 90’s when NBC had a Thursday night comedy lineup consisting of Friends at 8pm and Seinfeld at 9pm, the joke was they could stick a test pattern at 8.30 and 9.30 and they would still be in the top ten for the week!

Well now we have a new term – a “timeslot flop!”

SVU has been put headlong against two crime dramas and the ABC’s most watched hour all week.

One of factors working against House in this slot was that it was a 5 year old show against two relative newbies, Criminal Minds in its fourth season is arguably at the peak of its powers, House had a refit back in season 4 and it has seen the show stumble with Australian audiences, Criminal Minds has had only one cast change (in season 3 Joe Mantegna subbing for Mandy Patinkin) and hasn’t skipped a beat, rookie drama The Mentalist is one of the year’s few shining lights out of the US.

Now Ten is replacing House with an even older drama, SVU is in its 10th season and unlike other Law & Order shows the cast of SVU have remained with the show throughout its run and the show is more character based than its sibling shows.

The 9.30 episode of SVU actually increased over the 8.30 one by 165k and over the previous week’s Numb3rs by 200k, it took Cold Case down by 110k week on week and My Name is Earl down by 114k. There is one conclusion I can draw from this, people like SVU still, there’s an audience for it – but at 8.30 that audience is watching other shows, SVU probably won’t cut through that clutter.

The only thing that could help Ten out here is that Nine and Seven will very soon be running out of episodes of their skeins, both having been fast-tracked last year, maybe Ten should put up some SVU reruns until then!

One final note, remember we're still waiting for this great new channel seven audience to surface Working Dog. If it wasn't for SVU, Seven would have recorded the night's biggest drop with Thank God You're Here plummeting 169,000 viewers week on week! Well done chumps!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Just keep digging...

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Biggest Week on Week Disappointment
Ten Years Younger in Ten Days
Seven 9.30pm
124,000 viewers lost

Biggest Week on Week Improvement
Two and a Half Men ®
Nine 9pm
187,000 viewers gained

Talkin’ ‘bout Your Generation and NCIS continue to dominate Tuesday nights giving Ten its second All-People win of the week!

The test for Ten, which has streaked ahead on Sundays and Tuesdays and has kept a good number on Mondays is to stabilise the rest of their week.

Wednesday should improve with two episodes of Law & Order SVU breaking in on what is already a crowded night of crime, but Thursday nights remain a problem for the net with the poor performance of their sitcom hour. Friday is likely to come good for them in a few weeks when they replace Law & Order with the US edition of So You Think You Can Dance.

Dance has already sparked controversy thanks to judge Nigel Lythgoe’s reaction to the spectacle of an all-male dancing couple – sounds like something that ten can promote!

Meanwhile – what the hell are Nine doing at 9.30? So they’ve dropped the Underbelly reruns – right-o, that’s cool, they were tanking anyway, but why continue to split Melbourne off from the rest of the crowd? Why not instead pick something that you can promote across the network rather than on a city by city basis? Either run Ramsay everywhere (in Melbourne he came a respectable third at 9.30 and a close second at 10.30) or pick something new and run it everywhere.

Just keep digging that hole Nine…

Monday, May 25, 2009

Chk Chk Boom

Monday 25 May 2009

A real quick one for Monday with the biggest week on week improvement coming from (of all places) A Current Affair.

ACA put on an additional 136,000 viewers in what was otherwise a fairly stable night by interviewing that Chk Chk Boom girl!

You can check out the video right here!

I not even sure what’s funny or interesting about it, other than been the most vacuous and pointless rise to fame since Corey Worthington, or Miley Cyrus.

The whole affair reminds me of that episode of The Simpsons where Bart becomes the “I didn’t do it!” boy!

It also says something for the power of Seven’s Today Tonight which was still a full 200,000 viewers clear of Nine in the 6.30 slot, talk about Grey Power.

And what does it say about Australia that a grand total of 3,024,000 individuals are supposedly watching tabloid TV at this time?

At least we can take comfort in the stellar performance of Scrubs second in its timeslot and climbing, it's typical of Seven to have an import that flounders for most of its run until the final season where suddenly it takes off. That 70s Show, MacGyver are two hits that immediately spring to mind, but that's an article for another day...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Nine Blocked from Success

Sunday 24 May 2009
A very good night last night for both Ten (winning the night with 29.3% of the 5 city audience between 6 and midnight) and Seven, both nets stomping all over Nine’s former stronghold.

The drama, Merlin, had it’s best week yet for Ten rising 127,000 week on week, similarly Masterchef rose 215,000 week on week with what surely must be its biggest aud yet.

Rove even lifted 177,000 week on week. And Biggest Loser (spread over 90 minutes) improved on Harper’s Island which was shifted this week to a post-midnight timeslot.

Seven too found a rising tide with Seven News, Bones and Castle all up by 100 grand week on week. While Nine continues to suffer in silence, with HomeMADE losing a further 28,000 in the face of an improved news lead-in and a lift in the overall available audience. (Remember yesterday’s blog – last Sunday viewers watching broadcast = 4.8 million, last night it went up to 5 million)

Nine will soldier on with HomeMADE because it has to but the Sunday show dropping under a million is a worrying development. I can’t help but feel sorry for them, in 2003 they struck reality gold with The Block, a show perfectly timed to capture the insane orgy of home renovations taking place under a rapidly escalating property market.

The creators of this show were hailed as heroes and the concept talked up by the media as if it were the television equivalent of the second coming, to tell you truth I never watched it, but I know it was popular, that first season managed to net a whopping 2.2 million viewers average to the exploits of those apartment renovators.

Nine tried to emulate what Ten does quite successfully parlaying a reality hit into a long running series, but unlike Ten whose shows are build with profitability in mind, Nine was still huge in the ratings and in the habit of spending $4 to make $5, when the second season didn’t meet up to high expectations (the finally still netted 2.2 million viewers!) they were quick to swing the axe.

Ever since then Nine has been trying to recapture the phenomenal success of The Block, not a season goes by without Nine trotting out the line ‘This is the new “Block”’ or ‘From the creators of “The Block”’, like Al Bundy, fixated on his six touchdown streak in a high school football game, Nine can’t get past the success of this show and it’s holding them back from better things!

Expect the original

Saturday 23 May 2009

Thought I might take an inventory of the week that was to see where the viewers are

This is real simplistic but might be fun

Top Show: Seven News 6pm (1.7 million)
12 Shows over 1 million
7.30 Broadcast Aud: > 4.8 million

Top Show: Seven News 6pm (1.7 million)
18 Shows over 1 million
7.30 Broadcast Aud: > 4.7 million

Top Show: Talking 'Bout Your Generation (1.6 million)
16 Shows over 1 million
7.30 Broadcast Aud: > 4.7 million

Top Show: Seven News 6pm (1.7 million)
17 Shows over 1 million
7.30 Broadcast Aud: > 5.1 million

Top Show: Seven News 6pm (1.6 million)
12 Shows over 1 million
7.30 Broadcast Aud: > 4.1 million

Top Show: Seven News 6pm (1.6 million)
8 Shows over 1 million
7.30 Broadcast Aud: > 4.5 million

Top Show: Seven News 6pm (1.4 million)
4 Shows over 1 million
7.30 Broadcast Aud: > 3.8 million

What does any of this prove? Nothing really - save that Seven News is really, really popular and next to the rest of the week, Saturday has hardly any viewers, especially beyond 8.30 where the collective broadcast aud drops from 3.8 million to a low, low 3.2 million, and then from 10pm drops again to 2.5 million.

So survival on Saturdays is much more incremental, and volalatile, although all the boradcasters have fairly standard Saturday skeds, only ABC has a truly stable sked with their unchanging lineup of New Tricks, The Bill & Foyle's War.

Seven and Nine are both in volatile positions, at the mercy of the movies they schedule while Ten is at the mercy of the AFL's schedule and the occassional movie in Sydney and Perth.

This week Nine struck gold with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - the Johnny Depp remake of the Gene Wilder original which Nine rolls out at least once per year to high ratings, put in a good show with almost 1 million viewers across the night and probably the lions share of young demos as well. Expect the original to be trotted out any week now!

The Rugby League experience

Friday 22nd May 2009

The smartest thing Nine has done in some time is scheduling an additional episode of Two and a Half Men at 7.30 on Fridays for the southern (non Rugby League states), the womanising antics of Sheen not only gives southerners the experience of Rugby League without actually having to watch the game, it also gave Nine a combined 7.30 audience sufficient to outstrip Seven's all conquering Better Homes & Gardens. It also points up a substantial difference between Friday and the rest of the week.

Friday is probably the only night where an hourlong edition of Ten's Masterchef is being left in the dust, while the cooking show is still pulling a decent aud and standing out as Ten's only Friday bright spot, it dips under both Home & Away and Two and a Half Men, both of whom it regularly dispenses with during the rest of the week.

Why is this so? I'm thinking because in Australian parlance - Friday is the weekend, not the day itself, but by Friday night, you are in weekend mode. The same 18-49 crowd that Ten is wooing with Masterchef is most likely out on Friday night doing something else.

It hard to know what demographics are actually watching Law & Order (that's the original), the show had its best chance in weeks of gaining some traction with the finish of ABC's popular Midsomer Murders but instead managed to lose over 30,000 viewers week on week. This is in spite of Midsomer replacement series Silent Witness losing 193,000 week on week from it's forbear.

Why on earth ABC actually took Midsomer off when there's a good year's worth of eps to get through is beyond me!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Weight gained is viewers lost

Thursday 21 May 2009
Nine dominated prime-time last night with what is possibly the dullest, cheapest lineup in all of prime time, a travel show, a clip show and a football themed talk show – this is what attracts the viewers on a Thursday night folks.

Seven won the battle of the imports with Private Practice improving a healthy 67,000 week on week and giving Seven some hope that the show (which looked pretty screwed only a few weeks back) has a future.

No doubt they’re all being helped out by Criminal Intent, last night’s Vincent D’Onofrio episode lost 82,000 on the previous week’s Jeff Goldblum instalment, I have a theory, and it’s a crackpot theory, that the Goren episodes are actually turning viewers off because of the actor’s very noticeable weight gain. I don’t know, well see where this goes, but viewers seem to be cooling on this show, just a little!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Natural Order of Things

Wednesday 20 May 2009
A very good night for Seven with Thank God You’re Here holding steady, Criminal Minds on the improve (by 76,000) and My Name is Earl over the 900,000 mark!

It’s easy to forget that at one stage My Name is Earl was broadcast in tandem with How I met Your Mother and Earl was always the more popular of the two, well this week the natural order reasserted itself with the preppy New Yorker’s making only 790k. Strangely both sitcoms were upstaged by Scrubs a show that was once left for dead in an 11.30pm timeslot! Just goes to show that nothing is certain in television and nothing is forever.

It would be remiss of me to bang on about comedies without recognising that particularly Australian variety, the light entertainment/comedy show, last night the ABC had two of them and Spicks and Specks posted a whopping 1.4 million viewers – I’m almost certain that’s its biggest audience this season.

In fact the whole 8.30 hour had all the hallmarks of one of those slots where there’s something for everyone, with 5 shows over 1 million viewers and the season finale of House going out on a much better note than in recent weeks (up 213,000 viewers week on week!)

Numb3rs, however, has got to go – give it a run over Christmas or stick it on Fridays (where they don’t seem to care) but it’s not budging from 600k, this, Supernatural and Harpers Island all need to be flicked to late night, Ten can’t continue with 9.30 letting down the side like this.

Finally a special mention for Cold Case which has well and truly come back from the brink of extinction on Nine and has just been renewed for next season in the US, you’re on a winner here Nine – don’t screw it up!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Still the one for programming disasters

Tuesday 19 May 2009
Well Ten won Tuesday night with ease on the back of a killer quadruple of Masterchef (up 39k week on week), Talkin’ Bout Your Generation (up 12k), NCIS (up 191k!) and Lie to Me (up 186k).

Seven too made gains on last week with The Zoo (up 45k), Find My Family (up 76k), All Saints (up 38k) and 10 Years Younger *up 76k) all putting in a solid night.

These gains by Seven and Ten were at the direct expense of Nine and the ABC, last week ABC had the Federal Budget which lifted their night considerably, with that out of the way the audience deserted Around the World in 80 Gardens (down 41k) and Mumbai Calling (down 111k).

But the real disaster of the night was Nine, the 7pm rerun of Two and a Half Men was the last time they saw a million, HomeMADE incredibly sunk a further 27,000 viewers week on week, the Tuesday edition a sad 140,000 viewers behind the Sunday show, suggestion that maybe it’s not the show, it’s the timeslot, although really it is the show also!

Two and a Half Men was back in reruns in the 8.30 slot giving 292,000 people an excuse to find other entertainment at 8.30. Meanwhile the continuation of Underbelly reruns at 9.30 is still the most baffling programming choice of the entire week, why are they persisting with two hours of this when they could…

a) Run Ramsay everywhere
Kitchen Nightmares might be played out but a fresh reality skein has got to do better than reruns of a drama that most people have seen – Nine would have been better holding off from rerunning the original until they could clear a broadcast in Melbourne, they risk instead tiring out the other markets, the Sydney audience of Underbelly is shocking, even for a rerun a drop of 42% from Two and a Half Men is just terrible.

b) Run Survivor
Hey remember Survivor, that reality comp on an island that still packs em in over in the states, a more natural fit with Nine’s reality night and a fresher alternative to Ramsay – plus there’s about a gazillion episodes in the can still waiting for an airing.

c) Run E.R.
Oh remember ER? Onetime anchor of Nine’s Thursday night, it finished last month in the US after 15 seasons, again, there’s a tonne of episodes, the chance of catching some of that All Saints crowd and still legions of fans that would probably like the chance to see the once great show at a decent time.

Monday, May 18, 2009

How I Met Your Match

Monday 18 May 2009

Well now we know – the official sitcom loving audience in the 5 cities at 7.30pm on a Monday stands at 2,076,000.

How do I know this? Well that’s the combined audience for How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men at 7.30. Trouble for Seven is that people love bad boys more than motherf***ers. Witness the lift Scrubs enjoys now at 8pm with 210,000 viewers deserting Nine at 8pm and switching to Seven with Scrubs up 233,000 on its lead in!

Sea Patrol returned last night with almost 1.4 million viewers tuning in at a reported cost of $1.3 million per episode on a show that is yet to be rebroadcast we’re talking about some pretty expensive television here!

Nine barely edged out Seven on audience shares for the night, while at 8.30 advertisers would be flocking to Ten whose Good News Week has enjoyed a viewer surge post Underbelly and wins in the 16-39, 18-49 and 25-54 demographic groups!

Amazingly 48,000 more people watched Four Corner this week, than last!!! With four shows over 1 million viewers at 8.30 (a combined aud of 4.6 million) it seems like there’s something in there for everyone.

Then at 9.30, 1.6 million people go to bed! Eleventh Hour and Supernatural both improved week on week (up 114k and 56k respectively) but if this is there natural level (when not facing the AFL like last week) then that is still unacceptable.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

High Expectations

Sunday 17 May 2009

Second week in and HomeMADE continues to disappoint just scraping in at the million mark. I know 1 million viewers isn’t anything to sneeze at but for this show in particular it’s not a good thing.

Ever seen a promo for HomeMADE, you know a show has expectations for it when the sponsors’ logos appear in the promo. You know those expectations are huge when there’s about 4 or 5 logos along the bottom of the screen! That’s the kind of sponsor action you only see on big sporting telecasts! So I expect unless this show can pick up over the next 7 weeks then the good people at Nine will be giving away some free spots on their sked to some upset advertisers!

Merlin continues to buck two trends against, a) Scripted Drama before 8.30pm and b) Fantasy/Sci-Television, turning out to be a surprise Sunday night hit for the network, as is Masterchef. In fact Ten would probably kick arse on Sunday nights were it not for failing upstart Harper’s Island, in it’s second week the show dropped 151,000 viewers, I don’t expect it here for a third.

Seven, however, did well will their new starter Castle, the second star vehicle for Nathan Fillion who is familiar to Buffy fans and anyone who made the effort to watch Firefly, though Castle wasn’t as popular as the Bones rerun it replaced (shedding 73,000 viewers week on week) it’s still a promising start for this well promoted show. If only Seven put as much effort into promoting their long running imports (Lost, Desperate Housewives, etc) as they do their shiny new shows.

Was it all worth it?

Friday 15 & Saturday 16 May

Well that was the weekend

A little later than usual for your truly and really a pretty standard weekend by the look of it.

You’d think Ten would be reaching for the axe on their lineup with several weeks at below 20% but they look like persisting for the time being.

On Saturday night we had one of those odd occasions where not only were Sydney and Brisbane playing in (separate) night games, but also Adelaide and Perth meaning no Melbourne teams were represented. That meant auds were slightly down in Melbourne, the footy beaten in that city by Kath & Kim, Funniest Vids, Billy Connolly even Before the Game proved more popular. Football auds were up in both Adelaide and Perth (which you’d expect) but Sydney and Brisbane barely registered a blip on the radar.

I wonder when the next rights issue comes up (next year I think) whether Ten will look back at the deal they made to get the sport on their air (unlike Seven or Nine they guaranteed to screen matches in prime time in Sydney & Brisbane) and whether it would have been worth it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rules of Sitcom Scheduling

Thursday 14 May 2009
Thursday night is such an even little night, nothing lunges much past 1 million yet nothing goes too low, each of the networks has points to be proud of and things to work on, but the folks at Ten have to be concerned over the ratings for Rules of Engagement.

Rules of Engagement is an inoffensive sitcom that plays like a cross between King of Queens and Mad About You. Its funny and if it weren’t for David Spade it would be really funny, if you happen to watch it you’ll probably enjoy it – but its not the kind of show you’d set your watch for.

Two and a Half Men used to be in the same boat, funny but non-committal. Given that Rules is a lock for renewal into 2010 Ten could do worse than stick with it and hope it catches fire, but right now the show is funny but non memorable and the non-impression that it leaves is going to hurt it.

Ten needs a genuine zinger to line it up with – they had it last year with the hilarious Back to You which unfortunately bit the dust in the US over cost/benefit issues and haphazard strike scheduling (here it was hurt with haphazard Big Brother scheduling!)

Unbeknownst to Ten they actually have a memorable, funny, water-cooler type show to line it up with, no not Worst Week (though I’ve heard good things the show is axed in the states) I’m talking about The Office.

Currently buried late on Sunday nights, The Office is a show that ten tried for 1 week in prime time (one ep on a Wednesday and two on the Thursday IIRC) and then baulked at the low ratings, its no surprise it rated badly – the first 6 episodes (the entire first season) were pretty unfunny, but the show got renewed in the states and the second season (which aired 11pm Sundays after The Ronnie Johns Half Hour) was a rare late night TV treasure, of course back then it was regularly scheduled, since it has been all over the map with no thought to consistency.

The show is suitable for a 7.30 audience, after finishing the current season late at night Ten should think about revisiting The Office in a visible prime-time slot, it’s the sort of show that viewers remember the next day, which makes them want to watch the next week, which means they may stick around for what else is on…

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Numb3rs you don't want to see

Wednesday 13 May 2009

Another Wednesday night win to Seven last night. Although Thank God You’re Here was down slightly on previous performance, their post 8.30 figures lifted with Criminal Minds up 32,000 and a couple of people meters behind The Gruen Transfer, while My Name is Earl was up 64,000 viewers and Family Guy up a healthy 105,000. After a shaky start this post 9.30 lineup is beginning to acquit itself, it’s still down on Seven’s older skewing fare but with old skewing fare everywhere else they need to make up ground on the young demographics where they often miss out.

As a rabid fan of Lost I considered the intrusion of Ponderland to be an affront to people everywhere who took up this show in 2005, but I have to admit waiting around between Family Guy and Lost this odd little show has grown on me.

Also up at 9.30 was Cold Case which added 141,000 viewers week on week, all these shows are benefiting from Numb3rs a 4 year veteran for Ten which has never performed that well (usually hovering around the 800,000 mark) I would remind Ten that this is the second 9.30 show that is woefully underperforming for them, a few years ago they pulled Smallville from a 7.30 timeslot when it was getting 1 million viewers! Now they’re allowing all sorts of failure in the 9.30 slots.

Perhaps they’re hoping for a boost when the stronger SVU comes online in a few weeks to battle for the 8.30 slot, perhaps this is just warming the bench for Rush which will need a timeslot very soon if they’re going to run 22 episodes.

House also suffered an embarrassing fall dropping 91,000 viewers week on week and back under the 900,000 mark, similarly The Simpsons fell 107,000 viewers week on week making Wednesday a bad night for Ten.

It was, however, a great night for Nine, achieved somewhat at its own expense. A Current Affair ran an interview with NRL Footy Show Star/Melbourne Storm Coach Matthew Johns about a 2002 incident dissected by the ABCs Four Corners on Monday night.

That program has cost Johns two jobs and whatever good reputation preceded him. Whether its deserved or not I’m sure there are people more qualified than I to judge, but what amazes me is that Nine stands him down, he fronts up for an interview! Think about that – if you were given the sack and your employer turned around and asked you to humiliate yourself in front of the customers? Would you?

Nine should cut the guy a cheque – his bad behaviour gave the program a rare win over Today Tonight and a week on week boost of 277,000 viewers. Now it remains to be seen if this train wreck can revive interest in the NRL Footy Show – don’t hold your breath…

Quick Update

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Just a quick update of Tuesday’s chart with Nine’s 9.30 hour thrown in to demonstrate exactly what happens to you when you decide not to compete in a timeslot, walked all over by Seven and Ten…

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Memories of Pete and Tina

Tuesday 12 May 2009
Just look away now! Those numbers are horrible!

No not the federal budget! I’m talking about the paltry 889,000 who turned out for the second episode of HomeMADE.

This is no cheap and cheerful show , described as “The Block on steroids” it’s a home renovation competition where designers compete in teams making over neighbouring houses each week. Apparently the competition runs for 8 weeks, so we’ve just had week one.

Now I’m not keen to diss on a show that gets over a million viewers, as this program did on Sunday night, but last night 131,000 people abandoned the show for the alternatives on other networks, a sad, sad result more reminiscent of the HotHouse than the Block.

Elsewhere Talkin ‘bout Your Generation proved it wasn’t a fluke only down 48,000 week on week, by contrast Seven’s The Zoo was down 154,000 on last week’s Lion special.

The ABC had a decent hour at 7.30 with the Federal Budget Speech and the Kerry O’Brien afterparty pulling a decent crowd, although both were (puzzlingly) outgunned by the preceding news bulletin, I guess once you’ve the gist of what’s going on you don’t need to listen to a politician talking out his arse for 30 minutes with the constant chant of “hear, hear” in the background!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Breathing Room

Monday 11 May 2009
With Underbelly finished there was a little breathing room last night for other shows in the 8.30 timeslot to flourish. Seven lucked out getting a rare Monday night AFL match (they usually go to Ten) between two popular teams! The result was a thumping win with Seven combining the power of AFL with their popular dramas north of the Murray.

For reasons not yet revealed Melbourne viewers missed out on Scrubs meaning that different states are going to be out of sync for a while. Ten also has this problem with the AFL scratching two SVU eps and one Medium ep that southern viewers are yet to see. With AFL trying to make inroads onto Monday nights there are going to be more of these matches in the future causing all sorts of programming issues for the rights holders – ahh if only we all followed the same code of Football.

But we don’t and followers of Rugby League weren’t left in the cold last night, although they probably felt like a hot shower afterwards as the ABC’s Four Corners lifted the lid on the activities of Football stars and their groupies.

You know Four Corners is onto a hot story when the press is talking about it on the Monday morning before it airs – well the news media has been onto this one since last Thursday when former Cronulla Sharks player Matthew Johns revealed on the NRL Footy Show that he was involved in an incident examined on the upcoming program.

The report achieved drew one of the program’s biggest audiences this year winning its timeslot in Sydney with 404,000 viewers and even pulling a respectable crowd in the non-league cities.

Also rising in the ratings was Good News Week up an astonishing 277,000 viewers week on week, by contrast Supernatural fell off further looking very shaky in this 9.30 timeslot.

Also looking shaky is Eleventh Hour – Nine may give it one more week to see how it does behind Sea Patrol but its performance last night was dreadful, without the viewer magnet of Underbelly the show fell 296,000 viewers and managed only 676,000 – amazingly though with this poor figure it was second in it’s timeslot!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Realty Reality Bites

Sunday 10 May 2009

Another Sunday, another round of series premieres, this time Nine debuted it’s great white reality (or is realty) hope for 2009: HomeMADE.

It had the perfect lead-in for once Nine’s 6pm news tied Seven in Sydney, won in Melbourne and Adelaide with only Brisbane and Perth letting down the side, but it was a great aud for Nine news which at 6.30 – completely falls away.

HomeMADE from the much ballyhooed creators of The Block lost 471,000 or 31.5% of its lead-in, by contrast Sunday Night, Seven’s current affairs beast lost only 17% from Seven News, was up a whopping 336,000 viewers week on week, within millimetres of a timeslot win and for the first time that I’ve noticed, actually eclipsed 60 minutes in the audience stakes, with the 30 year veteran only managing 1,181,000 off the back of the HomeMADE lead-in.

Ten, however, has the most to smile about, Merlin, a retelling of the medieval tale made all the more better by the lack of Sam Neill represented a massive switch on for ten with an additional 725,000 tuning in after The Simpsons finished, representing a lead-in “retention” of 225%

Now for the real shock, Masterchef, with no Logie awards in its way, raised 376,000 week on week for an average aud of 1,470,000. The Ten reality machine has done it again!

The only thing that prevented them from winning the night was the non-performance of new limited-run serial thriller Harper’s Island, only 576k tuning in at 9.30 for the murder mystery proving that Aussies prefer to see old British geezers get offed, rather than young American hotties! (Well maybe not – I’ll leave that kind of deep cultural analysis to Tribal Mind!)

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this at 10.30 in the coming weeks, the problem is, what the hell do you put after Rove, Rove is, as a show, essentially a late night format, yet it airs at 8.30, Ten have tried just about every format under the sun after this show and nothing seems to take, part of the problem is that once you get to 9.30, the teens start going to bed for school the next day, I don’t know the demographic breakdown of Rove, but I’d imagine they make up a sizable proportion given the audience drop-off that seems to take place no matter what show follows, whatever Ten puts at 9.30 Sundays, they’re going to need something that will entice older adults to switch over from the opposition.

Headache Inducing Scheduling

Saturday 9 May 2009
Another Saturday, another unspectacular set of numbers, the 6.30-7.30 hour is good with almost 4 million watching free to air, but after that the audience tails of quickly, of course you have your AFL on Ten which did slightly less than Seven's game on Friday night, Ten had about 120k less watching in Melbourne, and a few more watching in Adelaide and Perth.

In order to acheive this comparable result, however, Ten needs to do a lot more legwork.

Seven airs the one match on Friday nights (never live because of the commitment to Better Homes and Gardens) 8.30 for all southern markets (and occasionally Brisbane), 11.30 for Sydney (and Bris at other times)

On Ten the picture isn't so clear cut, this is ten, which during the 90s was the most tightly synchronised network in this country, with little to no variation between the 5 cities, of course the territorial pursuit of Aussie Rules football has changed all that, observe...

The AFL last night aired in all 5 cities, starting at 5 different times! Perth got the game, Blues vs Dockers, from 5.30pm - 8.30pm, Adelaide picked up the game at 6.30 (after screening Before the Game, live at 6pm), Melbourne started at 7.00, in reality the same time as Adelaide - but two different games! Melbourne catching the Blues game while Adelaide opted for Kangaroos vs Port Power!

In Melbourne the Mick Molloy/Dave Hughes football talker Before the Game went from 6.30-7.00 and was Melbourne's second highest rating program of the night with 390,000 viewers.

Brisbane picked up the Blues vs Dockers match after 7.30 (Before the Game does not rate north of the Murray) and Sydney had an alternate sked featuring two Simpsons eps not seen in any other market and a movie shared with Perth viewers, finally airing the AFL to a paltry 21,000 viewers at 10.30pm!

It gives me a headache just trying to line up this insane schedule in my chart - I can only image what the oztam people (and for that matter Ten's Programmers) make of this beast.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Give the People What They Want

Friday 8 May 2009
When in doubt go with what works! Channel Nine has, for weeks now, struggled to get any sort of traction in the southern states to complement their Friday Rugby League dominance north of the Murray, we last night saw the dropping of Til Death moving The King of Queens back a half hour and putting in an extra Two and a Half Men.

The additional Two and a Half Men came second in Melbourne and Adelaide enough turn up in the top 30 on the back of only three cities. They're putting an extra episode on Mondays as well, replacing one of those factuals, that will make 8 episodes a week/9 in southern markets!

This is all well and good but I'm starting to recognise eps that I've seen before, and I'm more generous on reruns than most people so Nine is getting into dangerous territory here, betting that this sitcom has the legs of The Simpsons, all I'd ask them to do is look at what happened to Seinfeld, a show which you just can't stip early evenings anymore (save for the niche market of cable) because everybody seen the episodes three times over!

As I suggested Law & Order has hit the ground wheezing, it would be the perfect series for Friday nights, were it not for its even older skewing opposition and the fact that men are well served between Midsomer and various football codes, not to mention those war and sex docos on SBS, the real available audience is women and Medium didn't do it for them, neither do movies (it's rare that one pops into the top 30 on a Friday) the question is - what do women want?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Abusing the fans

Thursday 7 May 2009
Lots of big changes on the Ten sked last night and not the same level of success.

Rules of Engagement, a sitcom which has had two curtailed seasons (it was a midseason launch then ran head on into the WGA Writer’s Strike) returned to less than spectacular numbers allowing Nine and Seven to divide the hour amongst themselves with Bondi Vet falling away on the back of a poor lead-in.

Criminal Intent returned to SVU like ratings, but beaten handsomely by a 20 to 01 rerun, the 8.30pm hour was hotly contested last night with 4,322,000 people tuned in across the hour, the ABC benefiting from a retrospective special on Media Watch, a 15 minutes a week that tabloid journalists dread and a show whose attention from the news media is inversely proportional to its miniscule running time! The special pulled 911,000 viewers, one of Aunty’s best performances in this slot all year.

Medium moved nights to Thursdays, dropping from last week’s occupant (an SVU rerun) by 154,000 viewers but improving on Life on Mars’ sliding ratings and improving on its own ratings which were stuck under 700,000 on a low viewing Friday night. After last night there are 7 episodes left in the current season, after which they could virtually rerun the show in this slot for the rest of the year and it would probably produce a similar, if not better, number.

Medium’s debut adversely affected Private Practice. Last night I actually sat through an episode of Grey’s Anatomy to see whether I was missing anything (and no I wasn’t) but a new disturbing trick I noticed was that Grey’s Anatomy faded to black (no logo, or EP credit or anything) and then bang, right onto Private Practice, there was no promo for next week’s episode just a jarring jump to the next show.

To whoever is in charge of playout at the Seven network – this is abuse of the fans of this show – and I hasten to add, I am not one of them, but if my favourite show ended on a dramatic note and I didn’t get that space of the credits, or a promo to decompress and reflect on what I just saw, well that’s just low.

I get accelerated flow, In fact I’m a big fan of the kind of accelerated flow that American Networks practiced in the 90’s, back then the credits were all uniform (and yes off to one side, but legible) a promo for a related show would play and then you’d get a quick bumper to flag the next program, none of this jumping straight onto the next show – that is just arse.

So faceless Seven executive, just think about what you’re doing, by denying Grey’s Anatomy fans their show as a whole, you’re not only turning them away but you’re also hurting the prospects of the show you’re trying to promote, just look at the ratings (especially for Private Practice) it isn’t working!

Finally congrats to the AFL Footy Show had a big victory at 9.30 mostly thanks to some sort of heavily publicised stunt where Sam Newman got tarred and feathered! Meanwhile one of the stars of the NRL version seems to had serious allegations made against them to be aired at a future date on Four Corners – would somebody just can the Rugby League version already!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Still waiting... Dog

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Well week two of Thank God You’re Here and we’re still waiting for that massive audience that will discover the show now that its on the Seven Network! Seems like some of that aud has discovered Masterchef, the cooking game show virtually tied with the defecting superhit in the 7.30 – 8pm half hour!

The Simpsons has proved a good move to Wednesday nights with the aging show pulling some decent numbers as opposed to its more subdued Friday night outings – I expect it to stay on Wednesdays for the remainder of the year.

More troubling is the performance of House, the show is stuck, Grey’s Anatomy like, just below 1 million, it’s going to get worse next season when Seven has two shiny new medical dramas to dilute the market with (the paramedic themed Trauma and a nurse-centric Mercy both of which have been picked up by NBC and are made by NBC-Universal)

Actually I can see why viewers are flocking to The Gruen Transfer (a very smart and easy to watch show) and Criminal Minds (which I occasionally watch, and saw again last night. Flicking between Criminal Minds and House last night (sorry but couldn’t less interested in The Mentalist) the FBI drama just seemed punchier and less predictable than House which feels played out, at one point House was even talking to a ghost??? Cuz yeah that really worked for Grey’s Anatomy!

The night’s other FBI drama, Numb3rs didn’t fare too well, partly because with all of ten’s launches this week it’s been a little under the radar, and secondly, the show has always struggled here for some reason – it’s a pity because it’s one of the more inventive procedurals out there.

In other news My Name is Earl went up by 79,000 viewers the night’s biggest week on week increase, of course this good news is tempered by the news in America the show is teetering on the edge of cancellation.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Masterchef paying dividends

Tuesday 5 May 2009

It may be too early to call it, but I think we can assume that Masterchef is starting to pay Ten dividends.

Last year viewers were actively tuning out from Ten with the bloated corpse of Big Brother stinking up the place, once all the viewers had gone, even burying Big Brother wasn’t enough to entice viewers back, people needed a reason.

Of course, that reason was The Biggest Loser, a reality contest that still has life left in it and gave viewers a reason to switch on Ten and stick around, but these reality shows only last a certain number of weeks so whatever was coming to replace Loser had to not suck.

So far Masterchef is doing the job, holding its ground in a competitive 7pm timeslot and even getting a bit of watercooler buzz (someone yesterday told me they watched, and this morning I got a text from someone else asking me to identify the theme song, the joke’s on them cuz I haven’t watched a complete episode!)

The payoff for ten is not so much the 7pm performance but the stability of their Prime Time schedule, witness a good launch for Recruits on Monday and a great launch last night for the new quiz/game/panel show thing Talkin ‘Bout Your Generation. It has to be one of the best starts ever for a Shaun Micallef project, the lawyer turned comedian was always the most original and funny in the Full Frontal cast and his shows The Micallef Pogram and Newstopia are among the funniest Australian Television of the last ten years, it’s nice to see the man have some success.

This success was all the more extraordinary given the performance of a doco on Seven about a Lion (???!?) there was about 5.1 million viewers watching free to air at 7.30 last night – an excellent result for the industry.

Then again, what the hell happened at 9.30, putting aside that the universally panned Kitchen Nightmares did better in Melbourne than an Underbelly (season 1) rerun did in Sydney (surely Gordon Ramsay’s Full Throttle F***fest would be a better fit with the mind in the gutter antics of Sheen and Cryer, but I digress.

The bigger problem at 9.30 was the spectacular fall of Ten Years Younger in Ten Days! The metaphorical arse has fallen out of this makeover show. Debut attracted 1,348,000. Second Week 1,226,000. This Week down to 990,000 that’s 358,000 viewers (26%) gone in the space of two weeks, has to be the most rapid haemorrhage since Aussie Ladette to Lady.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Monsters before bedtime

Monday 4 May 2009

The final episode of Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities last night and a massive turnout for the event, let down however by the performance of everything else around it, although Eleventh Hour won its timeslot it still lost over half the audience from the Underbelly lead in.

This raises a question – why on earth did Nine screen a double episode of Underbelly 3 weeks ago, when they could of used that first week back to debut Eleventh Hour (clear of Biggest Loser) and have an extra week next week to cement an aud for the show? Just a nonsensical decision really – and that first week back they really took a bath on the audience, only recovering to it’s median level this week.

Next Year if there is indeed, another story, I’d advise the geniuses at Nine to hold off screening it until after the Easter break to make the most of the available Audience and have an unbroken run. Also I’d advise against double-eps – you get the most bang for your buck in the 8.30 hour, which with a 2 mill aud is enough to win you the night, there’s every reason to stretch those shares out to 13 weeks rather than compress them into eleven.

Also for f***’s sake next year figure out what you want to do with the 9.30 hour before you bow – this year was a dog’s breakfast, Ladette to Lady (a completely unrelated reality skein), Crime Investigation Australia (a Cable repurposing) and now Eleventh Hour (should have put it here from the start)

The new Nine 7.30 hour reality skeins are not as popular as that Custom Mash-Up that preceded them with Ten actually winning the 7.30 hour with a great debut aud for The Recruits, which along with Masterchef was their bright spot for the night.

The return of Supernatural, though, was less lively, managing only a paltry 633,000. The problem for Supernatural is pretty simple really in my estimation – it’s aimed squarely at teenagers most of whom probably have to be at school the next day and therefore can’t stay up to watch it.

The other point is it’s a genre show, mixing sci-fi and horror. We’ve seen year after year high-concept shows thriving at 8.30 (think Lost, 24, Prison Break, Heroes, yes Supernatural, Charmed) and the second they’re moved to 9.30 the audience dwindles, Supernatural is the only one here holding onto a 9.30 slot by the skin of its teeth!

So what kind of shows are suitable for 9.30? Well lets look at what works, procedurals – Lie to Me, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Cold Case, Bones, CSI Miami, light entertainment – The Footy Show, Enough Rope, 20 to 01, and soaps like All Saints, even Brothers and Sisters looks respectable this week!

Essentially I don’t think these kinds of shows work at 9.30 – Ten has the perfect out, they can swap GNW with Supernatural, that will give more people the chance to catch GNW (getting it out of the way of Desperate Housewives and Four Corners) and give the kids a chance to watch Monsters before bedtime!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Movies dead but Logies still live

Sunday 3 May 2009

There’s still some life left in the Logie awards, it’s bizarre really that we’re looking at an awards show for a television season that ended more than five months ago, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles I guess, if anything in weather terms, Autumn only really kicked in about a week ago, so I guess you could look at this as the start of the “fall season” for Australian television.

Last night was also the first time that 60 minutes and Sunday night went head to head in all cities and the result was a resounding win (why Nine has never thought of a full time move to 6.30 with the excellent audience flow is beyond me).

Incredibly, despite this great performance, Ten still managed one more big surprise with a huge turnout for the first episode of Merlin, even Masterchef held up alright for its first regular Sunday, the only thing that let Ten down was the bafflingly poor performance of Borat.

Borat now joins the list of films that get copious amounts of press coverage, big response at the box office and on DVD and then flops on free to air (I must compile that list someday!) by contrast two episodes of Bones held up quite well.

Americanized English

Saturday 2 May 2009
Anyone lamenting the inevitable Americanization of Australian culture can always take heart in the British hegemony going on with Saturday night television. New Tricks, Billy Connolly, The Bill, The Vicar of Dibley - these are the most popular things to watch on Saturday night.

Of course in the background is a much more ominous sign of Americanization - the low viewer numbers, the low turnout on the commercial nets indicates a fragmented audience doing something other than watching broadcast television.

I would love to see the Foxtel viewer numbers on Fridays and Saturdays, When you take out all the people going out on Saturday nights that still leaves a lot of people who are turning to cable, DVDs, Video Games and the internet for entertaining alternatives to a pretty lacklustre television lineup.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Endless Midsomer

Friday 1 May 2009

A fairly unimpressive night for everything bar the grey double of Better Homes and Gardens and Midsomer Murders.

Ten, with no sport to fall back on fared the worst of the commercial nets with only a 19% audience share and low audiences all around.

Medium, a show which deserves better, will this week be moving to 9.30 Thursdays with Law & Order doing double duty on the night.

It's a tough ask for the 19 year old procedural which is far more highbrow than its character driven offspring, an evening of Law & Order is often a trip down the complex and labyrinth playbook of the US legal system, played for realism it can often be very dry stuff and at this point it's clear that viewers prefer the abnormally murderous antics of various eccentrics in the English countryside to the gritty 'ripped from the headlines' New York experience.

You'd think Ten might be hanging hoping that ABC will run out of episodes - well don't hold your breath - last night's ep (originally shown on Nine) was episode 10 (or 3.2) that's 10 eps out of 65!!! This show ain't going anywhere soon!

Perhaps Ten should reach into the old vault for some Murder She Wrote, or maybe they still have the rights to Ruth Rendell!