Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Share the wealth

Been busy the last few days so only time for a quick round up of the action.

We find on Saturday, Sunday and Monday each of the networks getting a turn at winning.

Nine shrewdly took out Saturday and by extension the preceding week by scheduling a last minute tribute to Michael Jackson, both Seven and Ten were locked into sporting commitments giving Nine the upper hand with a more flexible schedule to respond to current events.

On Sunday it was Ten’s turn to shine, mostly thanks to Masterchef, not only the show itself but booking one of its stars (Matt Preston) to guest and leaving him till late in the show ensured a massive turnout, one of Rove’s biggest ever and certainly the biggest this year. I’m interested to see whether the Masterchef crowd liked what they saw and whether they’ll stick around in the following weeks.

Monday night Seven showed some flexibility with a Michael Jackson special of their own – this one produced before the singer’s death in support of his upcoming UK tour, while held down in the 7.30 half hour by Masterchef, after 8 it rated it’s socks off delivering big blows to Recruits and Australian Story (though Nine’s Big Bang theory was actually a vast improvement on their previous week’s ratings at 8pm) and ensuring a staggering 1.8 million people witnessed an extended promo for The World’s Strictest Parents, making the 2 minute short the top show of the night, that’s a hard debut to top whenever that show bows!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Credible Alternative

Friday turned out to be big for Seven with the AFL back in force after the split round giving them the edge to dominate the night.

Masterchef is still causing them headaches between 7 and 8 and So You Think You Can Dance is going in the right direction increasing by 6 percent, still not enough to get infront of Nine's Live NRL or Seven's AFL but it's now beating the alternative movies in the various markets

In the southern markets
Catch & Release 370,000
So You Think You Can Dance 473,000

In the northern markets
The Stepford Wives 324,000
So You Think You Can Dance 382,000

So although it's no match for football it is a credible alternative, moreso than Law & Order which it replaced.

Speaking of the venerable crime drama, ten quickly swapped the 10pm rerun for a CBS News special on Michael Jackson at 10pm last night and in 10pm terms, it did very, very well up 48.86% on the previous week's Criminal Intent rerun!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thrilling, Dangerous maybe, but not Invincible

Woah what a day, today (Friday AEST) turned out to be!

Before I get onto that a quick rundown of the ratings, with some slight improvement for Rules of Engagement and Seven logging a win over Getaway with the combo of Thank God/Ghost Whisperer at 7.30.

Meanwhile Nine's Trouble in Paradise got off to a good start with very close timeslot win over Grey's Anatomy and a special mention to The Footy Show which actually won all its markets.

Anywa, nevermind any of that. Michael Jackson, a musician I grew up idolising, suddenly passing away from a heart attack is quite possibly the celebrity story of the year and something I gotta admit - I didn't see coming.

A lot can be said about Jackson, a lot good, and an awful lot bad, so let me just say this...

I highly doubt, given our fast moving increasingly fragmented culture, that we'll ever again see a singer with the singular star power of Michael Jackson.

Ten has a special tonight, Nine has one tomorrow (on Saturday), Music Max and VH1 have been running compilations of his video clips (I just saw the video to Man in the Mirror for the first time) and the news channels are 24/7 with this news and its associated developments.

Nine, which even after State of Origin was on a hiding to third place for the week will probably come out first on the strength of their outstanding coverage tonight as well as their special on Saturday night.

Historically Jackson has always been a ratings draw, I remember when I first started paying attention to ratings and ten had shown an Oprah special in Prime Time where she interviewed the singer - it rated through the roof, which for Ten in 1993 was a rare occurrence. Nine used to preempt popular shows whenever a new clip would debut so Richard Wilkins could host the exclusive premiere in primetime, and even after the thrill had gone there was still an unending appetite for programs as diverse as documentaries on his plastic surgeries to that landmark interview with Martin Bashir which marked the tipping point where Jackson's insane lifestyle started to come crashing down.

This is one of the less coherent blogs I've done in a while, not in a snarky mood I guess, there's all sort of memories and issues to sift through - and if you're anywhere near a media source you'll certainly have your chance over the next few days, but take a moment to appreciate the music

If you've never seen the video to Smooth Criminal do yourself a favour and check this out...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fight or Flight

Real quick blog on last night's action

When ever you have a major event on one of the networks, especially one on a weekday, the opposing nets have to consider their best option, fight or flight.

State of Origin has always been huge but it has been only recently that Nine has started airing the game live in southern states, even so both Seven and Ten gave a little bit of fight and a little bit of flight - and here's what happened...

7.30 hour up against Nine's Pre-Match and the Game proper
Ten aired Masterchef (a 90 minute special from 7pm) in all markets, this may go down as one of the boldest moves ever made against State of Origin and it paid off big time, beating Nine's pre-match coverage and becoming the number 2 show of the night helping ten to a number two overall and emphatic nightly wins in all the southern markets.

Seven aired Thank God You're Here in southern markets with Ghost Whisperer subbing in Sydney and Brisbane, Thank God will bow in Ghost Whisperer's slot this week for those markets. This was less successful, although Thank God came second in the southern markets, the female friendly alternative of Ghost Whisperer didn't raise a murmur in League heartland. Given the steamroller effect of Masterchef perhaps seven should consider moving their big 'investment' to another night in all markets.

8.30 hour
The only real competition here was from the ABC whose 8.30 hour barely missed a beat from two weeks ago, The Chaser (which last time it aired was also against Origin) was down a negligible 8,000 viewers, hardly a sign of community outrage, we'll see whether it lifts next week unencumbered by League or whether this is it's new level, presumably any advocates for sick children will be enthused to hear Nine has slotted RPA as competition in this slot for future weeks.

Ten switched from fight to flight with a new SVU in the south and a rerun Criminal Intent in the north, it got them into 3rd place in the slot, just.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Even SBS are knocking on the door

You can imagine that Seven will be pleased that NCIS just had it’s season finale and their own Rafters is coming back soon, the beating they are taking on Tuesdays is pretty harsh though a lot of their troubles can be explained by a weak 9.30 hour – don’t expect a second season of 10 Years Younger in 10 Days, the show only barely managed to beat HomeMADE something which must be sending shivers down the spines of the powers that be.

Although Ten will keep NCIS on in reruns (why wouldn’t you with ratings like that) the return of Seven’s megahit should get them over the line on the Tuesdays to come.

Seven’s woes on Tuesday, however, are chickenfeed compared to Nine’s structural problems.

HomeMADE, meanwhile continues to sink, it’s not enough that Seven’s factuals and Ten’s quiz show are kicking the reality skein – now Kezza has joined in on the fray with Utegate adding the 7.30 report to the list of shows HomeMADE can’t challenge!

It was worse for Two and a Half Men, all three editions of the sitcom were beaten by Auntie and they want to add more episodes on a Wednesday!?

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Going Up

Grand Designs up 45.35% on Around the World in 80 Gardens
Lateline up 23.15% week on week
The Simpsons 6pm rebroadcast up 14.16%
HomeMADE elimination up 12.78%
7.30 Report up 11.07%
Masterchef ip 8.59%
Neighbours up 5.39%

Going Down
Two and a Half Men ® 8.30 down 11.5%, 9pm down 8.52% 7pm down 6.48%
Today Tonight down 10.89% week on week
The Zoo down 9.95%
Home Made 7.30 down 7.56%

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Really Odd Couple

One of the more annoying aspects of this season has been Nine’s propensity to team episodes of Two and a Half Men with everything under the sun.

They started this year by getting cold feet about The Big Bang Theory and slotting in the UK Mashup Customs at 8pm Mondays as a bridge between the sitcom and Underbelly – the move was fairly successful but most of that success could be attributed to the large masses tuning in waiting for Underbelly to start.

Nine tried to go in for a double dose of reality after Easter with Missing Pieces and You Saved My Life, both lame attempts to post feel good factual skeins that would trade on the success of Seven’s Sunday and Tuesday megahits.

Well times aren’t like they used to be and with the advent of Ten’s steamroller Masterchef people have dropped Seven’s Sunday offerings like a bad habit, while Nine’s rip-offs never got a look in.

A a few weeks of woeful ratings Nine gave Missing Pieces the axe and placed new eps of Two and a Half Men at 7.30 to partner Missing Pieces.

I don’t know about any of you who read this blog – but I watch a sitcom to get away from these dreadful fly on the wall shows, ever since Nine switched onto this strategy Two and a Half Men has held up it’s end of the bargain (it regularly beats Seven’s How I Met Your Mother) but as soon as 8 o’clock rolls the viewers grab the remote and head for Scrubs over on Seven.

Anyone who wants to see a factual is most likely watching the superior Recruits over on Ten.

Now news comes down that Nine will attempt the same deal on Wednesdays partnering Two and a Half Men at 7.30 with What’s Good For You at 8pm in order to move RPA to the 8.30 slot.

Partly this is good news, RPA is a completely different genre to anything else on Wednesdays 8.30 and thereby has more chance of success than the current drama logjam which is screwing up that night, but I don’t think pairing the lifestyle show with the sitcom is going to work

To put it bluntly – I don’t think anyone who regularly follows the teachings of Charlie Harper is the slightest bit interested in what’s good for them!

Monday 22 June 2009

Going Up

Australian Story up 23.24% week on week
Spooks up 19.45%
Brothers & Sisters up 13.53%
Neighbours up 13.52%
Deal or no Deal up 11.12%
7.30 Report (aka Utegate) up 11.11%
Desperate Housewives up 10.85%

Going Down
Supernatural down 29.34%
You Saved My Life down 27.59%

The day Miss Marple kicked Laurence Fishburne's arse!

Sundays are becoming like a see-saw with Seven on one end, Nine on the other and Ten in the middle, at least that's the case with the 6.30 timeslot where Random Acts of Kindness and Sunday Night swapped places for 1st and 3rd in the slot with Merlin happily in the middle.

At 7.30 there's no contest, Masterchef is again posting such a gargantuan audience that it alone lifted Ten to a first place win for the night!

Bones at 8.30 shows no sign of slowing down but CSI, a show that one-time commanded two million plus audiences and was used by Nine to pulverise Ten's sunday night crime double of Criminal Intent and NCIS, was severly embarrased by the ancient Miss Marple on the ABC.

I personally haven't seen Miss Marple on TV since the early 90's but seemingly it keeps plugging on presumably only stopping every so often to change the lead actress (given the character is quite old) Miss Marple took CSI (the Baywatch of crime shows) to the cleaners with her old school sleuthing and made a meal out of all the 9.30 contenders also!

Nine was slightly redeemed in the 10.30 timeslot posting a magnificent 746,000 for a CSI Miami rerun!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Million Dollar Bogey

It’s an ironic twist that certain events have conspired to make me miss yesterday’s deadline forcing me to post two days worth of results on the one entry.

The reason is posting them together allows me to outlay a huge contrast in the fortunes of channel ten and channel seven and their dealings with production company Working Dog.

Working Dog productions is the boutique television company behind TV shows such as The Panel, The Hollowmen and Thank God You’re Here.

Thank God You’re Here was a megahit for channel ten, over the course of two years (2006-2007) the show was a top ten mainstay with in excess of two million viewers on several occasions.

After spending a year away from the screen the show’s producers late last year moved their skein to the Seven sked for an undisclosed sum which has been speculated to be up to one million dollars per episode.

At the time this was seen as yet another nail in the coffin at channel ten, the perennial third-place network was well on it’s way to coming fourth in 2008 with it’s major 7pm franchise Big Brother having failed resulting in the collapse of their Prime Time schedule.

For the last 13 weeks of the 2008 season it was rare for Ten to have more than four shows post more than 1 million viewers.

While one could look at the Working Dog decision as having the appearance of rats fleeing a sinking ship and on the other hand representing incredible business nous with the company parlaying a show nurtured by a rival broadcaster into a multi-million dollar payday, Thank God You’re Here producer Tom Gleisner sought to dampen the angry internet chatter by famously claiming that the move to Seven was about exposing the show to a wider audience.

Now 2008 rolls around and ten feels like they’ve got their mojo back, they were always going to have a respectable first quarter with The Biggest Loser a popular 7pm switch-on for the net, but it has been the performance of their Big Brother replacement, the cooking competish Masterchef, which has caught everyone by surprise.

Then there’s the case of Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation, an amiable nostalgia themed quiz show hosted by the normally avant guarde Shaun Micallef taking a rare paddle down the mainstream. It’s likely that with Thank God still on their roster, Ten wouldn’t have taken a chance on this show which was reportedly a spurr of the moment programming decision (producer Granada wasn’t even looking to pitch the show to Ten execs) but the gamble has paid off richly for the net giving them a stranglehold over Tuesday nights.

As for Thank God You’re Here. The show has performed well, but it has been repeatedly dogged in it’s Wednesday timeslot by Masterchef.

Masterchef’s second half hour on Wednesday has been butting up against the 4th season show dragging it’s ratings down significantly in the first half, last night was the first time Masterchef took on Thank God for the whole 7.30-8.30 hour and the result was an emphatic win to ten.

If the yet to be seen 7pm project is a success then Ten have indicated that skeins like Biggest Loser and Masterchef will be 7.30 starters next year, making prospects for a next season a lot bleaker for the Working Dog people

Payback’s a bitch I guess…

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Going Up

Masterchef up by 8.11%
The Bold and the Beautiful up by 7.24%
Today Tonight up by 6.96%
Around the World in 80 Gardens up by 6.83%
Ten News at Five up by 6.22%

Going Down
A Current Affair down 17.64% week on week
HomeMADE (7.30pm) down 14.93%
Artscape down 13.49% on Jennifer Byrne Presents
Two and a Half Men (8.30pm down 13.42%/7pm down 12.04%/9pm down 10.01%)
Mumbai Calling down 11.06%

Wednesday 17 June 2009

Going Up

American Dad up 103.54% over Prison Break
Masterchef up 71.49% over All New Simpsons
Masterchef up 24.78% over itself week on week
SVU New Episode up 16.36%
The Morning Show up 13.84%
SVU 9.30pm rebroadcast up 10.52%
Sunrise up 10.16%

Going Down
Cold Case down 28.37% on The Mentalist down 20.10% on itself week on week
Prison Break down 26.11% week on week
RPA down 25.31%
The Cook and the Chef down 18.82%
The New Inventors down 17.76%
Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union down 16.81%
Thank God You’re Here down 15.67%
7.30 Report down 11.36%
Two and a Half Men rebroadcast down 10.35%
Spicks and Specks down 10.11%

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Shape of things to come

With Masterchef picking up all sorts of steam in the run up to it’s finale Ten is on an absolute roll with Good News Week posting great figures and extending from 75 to 90 minutes tipping the network over the edge for a rare Monday win (All people and key demos from 6pm – midnight)

Seven and Nine both must be hanging on for dear life waiting for this cooking show to end so their early evening shows can breathe again, How I Met Your Mother did only marginally better on Monday than in it’s 10pm Wednesday slot languishing in 4th place, pitting this show against Two and a Half Men (and now Masterchef) has been an absolute disaster for Seven, the network is still Number one by a comfortable margin but like Nine in the 90’s this is actually more by virtue of its News/CAF hour than anything happening after 7pm.

Seven has already made several moves this year remeniscent of Nine in it’s heyday – chasing diminishing ratings with big dollars (Thank God You’re Here), shafting series back to 11pm at the drop of a hat (Heroes, Lost) and counterprogramming for spite.

Oh yeah, spite, what the hell am I talking about? Well simply put spiteful programming sees a network take on a successful show with a show that would appeal to the exact same audience with the object of railroading the original timeslot occupant, Nine was a master at this tactic, one of the most famous examples was taking on Ten’s US Hit NYPD Blue with their own Megahit ER on Thursday nights, we all know who won that battle, but it’s a good bet that most of the people who watch ER would also watch NYPD Blue, Nine forced viewers to choose.

Seven has tried the same crazy game of chicken here this year with ‘Mother’ and they’ve flopped spectacularly.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Seven emulates Nine’s old tactics (the very tactics that used to piss viewers off and led to that famous label “Nein”) because half of the Nine Network is now on the Seven payroll but for god’s sake Seven please – you don’t have to become them to beat them, you’ve already won!

A Double-Barrell shot of WTF

That’s right not one but two shocks as the cold weather sets in and the nation gathers around the electronic fireplace.

The first surprise is the behometh average for Ten’s Masterchef pulling an outrageous figure representing a massive 37.56% increase in audience week on week, that huge figure pretty much gave ten the night, with them recording their biggest audience for Rove in quite a while with 1,271,000 tuning in, Ten was only let down by the dissappointing US Biggest Loser which only managed an average of 443,000 viewers for the night.

Seven can be happy with their timeslot winning Bones/Castle duo with Bones recording one of it’s biggest audiences ever (1,349,000) this one time also-ran is now one of Seven’s star performers while former hits either struggle (Grey’s Anatomy) or have dissappeared without a trace (Lost, Prison Break, Heroes).

But the real story of Sunday Night was channel Nine, while CSI is still in the doldrums, a pitiful 771,000 tuned in to a new ep of CSI Miami, the scheduling here is completely baffling – in the past three weeks all three CSI’s have been in this 9.30 slot and none have performed well.

But I digress, the real story was Nine’s strategy to move the anaemic HomeMADE away from their premier night, they replaced it with a new reality skein – Random Act of Kindness. First of all I did not see it – but the haphazard scheduling combined with the cookie cutter concept and Seven & Ten’s dominance of 6.30 in the past few months made me think that we could expect another dissappointing failure.

Not so, Nine’s Random Acts randomly boosted their performance in the slot by a staggering 45.87%, that will probably hold up as the biggest increase of the week. What’s good about it is while Sunday Night dropped in total audience, it’s other competitors Merlin and ABC News both grew week on week meaning Nine’s show succeeded in (as Joe Hockey likes to say) Growing the Pie!

Sunday 14 June 2009

Going Up
Random Acts of Kindness up 45.87% over HomeMADE
Masterchef up 37.56% week on week
Nine’s Sunday Rugby League up 29.98% week on week
60 Minutes up 27.52%
Nature’s Great Events up 22.53% over Bear Man of Kamchatka
The Simpsons (6pm rebroadcast) up 21.78%
Bones up 20.12%
Rove up 19.45%
3 Act of Murder up 18.59% over Ballet Shoes
Ten News at Five up 18.41%
CSI up 17.65%
Castle up 16.3%
Nine News Sunday up 15.78%
Merlin up 13.32%
CSI: Miami (10.30 episode) up 12.66% over CSI:NY
ABC News up 10.72%
Compass up 10.12%

Going Down
Today on Sunday down 57.79%
Serious Crash Unit down 11.16%
The Biggest Loser (USA) down 10.32%
Weekend Sunrise down 9.64%
Sunday Night down 9.25%

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Split up and siphoned off

Every commercial network split their schedule last night – Ten for the obvious reasons (the start times for AFL and the fact that movies rate better for them in Sydney) Nine too was split by start times for it’s international cricket coverage, while Seven split up for the rugby union – which has more of a following in Sydney and Brisbane than the AFL but not much more judging by these figures!

Excluding news programs there were seven shows that beat the Rugby Union in it’s heartland, including such unbeatable favourites as Gardening Australia and a rerun of the kids movie Zathura.

The game is by definition included on the Anti-Siphoning Legislative Instrument which restricts Foxtel from bidding on sports rights where there is a significant national interest in the sport. Ironically with only 372,000 viewers – that’s only slightly better than Foxtel in terms of audience size – and completely pathetic in terms of Free to Air, and especially for Seven, the market leader.

Saturday 13 June 2009

Going Up

Richard Hammond Engineering Connections up 57.54% week on week
Talk to the Animals (Nine) up 39.67% week on week
Gardening Australia up 23.72% week on week

Going Down
Seven's Rugby Union down 8.82% week on week

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Chef, The King and the Perfect Vagina

Ten has made their first major change to Fridays in an attempt to revive their fortunes on the night but the results were not good. For the first week in So You Think You Can Dance posted a significant loss for the net.

Retaining only 56% of the Masterchef lead-in the US Dance comp may yet find an aud (it has built in this slot in the past after a slow start) but it would not surprise me to see it moved to 8.30 with The Simpsons back at 8pm in order to bolster Ten's share.

Without the Simpsons on deck Nine's King of Queens was able to slip into the top 30 for the first time ever (remember it doesn't play in Sydney and Brisbane)

The AFL had a huge night last night, whether it's the freezing Melbourne weather, swine flu, the split round or just a chance to see two really good teams in action the audience rose a whopping 26.84% in the southern capitals week on week.

That was still nothing compared to SBS's customary 10pm sex docos, a title like 'The Perfect Vagina' was always bound to draw a crowd I guess with an amazing 67.48% increase over last week's 'Sex Blog Girls'

The Scoreboard
Friday 12 June 2009

Going up

AFL up 26.84%
Silent Witness up 9.99%
The Simpsons (6pm) up 7.83%

Going down
So You Think You Can Dance down 27.2% on The Simpsons, down 4.92% on Law & Order
Criminal Intent 10pm rebroadcast down 17.19% on previous week's 10.30 rebroadcast

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Ascent of Anatomy

A quick one for Thursday night with Ten taking a major hit to both Rules of Engagement (with both half hours down on the previous week) and Criminal Intent which seemed to lose viewers whilst the ABC gained them with an admittedly good doco series - the Ascent of Money

That same hour recorded a timeslot win for Grey's Anatomy which seems to managed to turn a ludicrous storyline into a half decent one and revived it fortunes somewhat holding it's audience from last week fairly well.

After looking halfway promising last week, Rules of Engagement has severely fallen away which is a pity, we need sitcoms on the air right now - they are the most endangered species on television right now overrun by cheap and nasty factual shows and endless cop dramas but they are one of the big categories for the new 09-10 US season, Nine, Ten and Seven need to bed down some sitcoms now in order to prepare the ground for what's coming, otherwise they'll miss the wave.

Thursday 11 June 2009

Going Up

The Ascent of Money up 18.8% week on week
The 7.30 Report up 11.7%
The Simpsons (6pm) up 11.02%
Sunrise up 10.95%
Getaway up 8.82%
Catalyst up 8.42%
Ten News at Five up 8.39%

Going Down
Criminal Intent down 19.38%
Heroes down 19.07%
Rules of Engagement (8pm) down 17.89%
Rules of Engagement (7.30pm) down 11.44%
Medium down 9.64%

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Act of Contrition

It’s been one hell of a crazy week for TV with controversy never far from the prime time schedule

Over on Nine they managed to have their cake and eat it too with the caustic Gordon Ramsay in country abusing TV personalities both behind their backs and to their faces, somehow Nine managed to spin all the way from whipping the man at the start of the week to hosting his formal apology 3 days later thus “rehabilitating” his image (sufficient to spruik his future projects) and provide days of wonderful newstainment for the gawking onlookers (Myself included!)

After Ramsay’s mea culpa, Tracey Grimshaw gave a reply during which she stated regarding his apology:

"I didn't expect Gordon Ramsay to apologise. I didn't ask for it and I didn't think it would help -- but it has…”

It certainly has helped their ratings, and helped Nine smooth over an ugly scene between one of their top journalists and one of their major imports (well maybe not so much anymore)

If only the ABC could be so creative with their PR, seemingly asleep at the wheel when it came to Chaser airing a skit lampooning the Starlight foundation which gives dying children some moments of joy. Now here’s the thing, the idea behind the sketch itself was not that horrendous, “Make a realistic wish” seemed to be poking fun at the fact that some of the celebrity meetings or trips to Disneyland and other things organised by that group are very outlandish things, where they went completely wrong was somehow making it about the kids by tacking on a line at the end about how “they’re going to die anyway”

Rightly, a lot of people were outraged and unlike the usual shock jock crowd there were a lot of people with sick children who were genuinely offended by the sketch. The ABC waited until after midday on the Thursday to apologise and then took the step of removing the program from the air for two weeks

They were hit significantly in the ratings last night for their decision losing 40.41% on last week’s Chaser and 54.81% on two weeks ago (with no State of Origin in competition) with their hastily scheduled Tracy Ullman series.

Also with the Chaser out of the way ten reaped the benefit with an improved audience for Law & Order SVU up 36.26% on it’s debut 2 weeks ago

Amazing how both networks (ABC and Nine) have a had a major PR problem on their hands in the last week, Nine has dealt with it head on by actually adding content to their schedule with the net result being improved ratings and a sense that they can continue to show both ACA and Gordon Ramsay on the same network with a straight face, whereas ABC has chosen avoidance as their tactic and have paid a huge price in the ratings and there’s no guarantee that viewers will return in two weeks time.

Of course the ratings and commercial considerations don’t matter at the ABC, but when you’re forking out 1 million tax-payer dollars per episode for a show that now needs to be re-tooled, well it will matter to somebody.

The Scoreboard
Wednesday 10 June 2009
Against 2 weeks ago (State of Origin 1 was last week)

Going Down
Tracey Ullman's State of the Union down 54.81% on the Chaser
Spicks and Specks down 11.38%
SVU 9.30 rebroadcast down 10.99%
Prison Break down 9.96% on Lost

Going Up
Family Guy up 47.19% on Russell Brand, up 26.81% on last week
SVU 8.30 All New up 36.26% on debut
ACA up 24.29%
How I Met Your Mother up 12.77% on 10pm Family Guy
Masterchef up 12.7% on two weeks ago
The Simpsons up 10.13% on two weeks ago (previous all new ep)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ramsay vs Grimshaw: Round III

Right now in Australia we have major issues like a budget deficit, swine flu, attacks on Indian students, the threat of a double dissolution election, and Therese Rein’s feet but Australian audiences aren’t interested in any of that – no they want more Ramsay.

It’s an incredible irony that the week before Kitchen Nightmares is due to slink away from it’s one remaining broadcast market (Melbourne) that foul-mouthed chef Gordon Ramsay should be in the country, causing a storm in a tea-cup by slagging off at ACA host Tracy Grimshaw behind her back, in turn delivering a rare timeslot win to A Current Affair.

Here’s the story as I know it, Ramsay has an interview with Grimshaw on Friday nights ACA, the next day he’s at the Melbourne Good Food & Wine Show giving a presentation and cracking jokes about the current affairs host, he augments his jokes with a slide-show which includes images of Miss Piggy and a naked woman on all-fours photoshopped to look like she has six breasts (if you’ve been on the internet enough years you will have seen the photo, it’s one of those things that gets around, so I’m not going to reproduce it here!)

Now there is video of this incident, because on ACA last night Nine had snippets of it – but for the life of me I cannot locate any of it on the net.

Then on Sunday night Ramsay goes on Rove and by all accounts it was very uncomfortable viewing, I didn’t see it but the retelling delivered by my wife who did was pretty compelling stuff, unfortunately the one video that was posted to the net has been taken down and the user (well known in YouTube circles for posting clips of Rove for some years now) has been suspended.

The ensuing shitstorm ramped up a few gears on Monday with Grimshaw deciding (rightly I might add) to publicly rebuke the chef. Yesterday we had a wide assortment of people weighing from freelance social commentator Kevin Rudd (he really is the new John Howard!) to Victoria’s arbiters of good taste Neil Mitchell and Andrew Bolt. All of this was capped last night with spectacle of reporters chasing Ramsay all around Melbourne to Crown Casino where they were stopped by six all powerful words…

“No filming on the gaming floor”

ACA this year has managed to make itself the headline more often than not, first the Matthew Johns interview, then the Ben Iken controversy, now this, a public stoush with one of Nine’s international (former) hits. ACA’s biggest stories this year have involved controversies within Channel Nine itself – one can only wonder what or who is next!

For all this noise, ACA did very little to the audience for Today Tonight, with that program only down by 42,000 viewers, most of ACA’s increase came from people who normally wouldn’t watch either show.

Furthermore, the effect on Ramsay’s shows was neglible, neither show managed a convincing number in Melbourne (the only market they were screened) though viewers of Kitchen Nightmares were treated to the spectacle of Ramsay teaching a restauranter how to yell obscenities at the top of your lungs from the edge of a cliff!

I guess they chose the location because nobody would be watching and really when you think about it, nobody was.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Going Up

ACA up 20% week on week
Millionaire Hot Seat up 18%
HomeMADE up 11%
Nine News up 10%
M*A*S*H up 10%
Two and a Half Men (9pm) up 6%
Masterchef up 6%

Going Down
Jennifer Byrne Presents down 10% on First Tuesday Book Club
10 Years Younger in Ten Days down 8%
Time Team down 8%
ABC News down 7%

Monday, June 8, 2009

Something like a phenomenon

Monday 8 June 2009

It was good news for all networks last night thanks to that phenomenon known as the public holiday!

The same event which suppressed the audience on the Sunday night served to boost it to new heights on Monday.

Early evening shows got a huge boost with people indoors earlier due to the bad weather, the football and the day off work.

Ten recorded it’s biggest audience yet for Masterchef, an average of 1.8 million viewers over the hour representing a 22% increase week on week.

Remember last year when this project was being mooted and people just shook their heads thinking it would never work? Well you should all consider yourselves told! Masterchef is the surprise hit of 2009!

Also making an impact – Seven news, 555k clear of channel nine and almost 1 million viewers clear of channel ten!

It used to be that Seven was winning night to night but Nine News would win on public holidays – the theory being an improved turnout among working stiff who would normally be commuting at 6pm.

Well that situation has well and truly reversed – Seven is now the choice for the bulk of the workers too! They are, for lack of a better word, entrenched.

Finally the other big thing to happen last night was Millionaire Hot Seat venturing into prime time giving some 1.2 million viewers a chance to sample the show, Hot Seat won Melbourne and Brisbane but ten Recruits took the other cities.

I wonder if this is a push for yet another prime time game show or Nine’s way of promoting the show to a wider audience. Either way they could consider it a success, though here’s a sobering thought, Hot Seat recorded it’s best ever 5.30 audience with 812,000 viewers, in the same timeslot Ten News brought 1,167,000 while Deal or no Deal pulled in 1,075,000! Still some room to make up there.


Going up

Hot Seat (5.30pm) up 23%
Masterchef up 22%
Scrubs up 18% (excluding Melb market)
Today Tonight up 15%
Deal or no Deal up 14%
A Current Affair up 14%
Seven News up 13%
Media Watch up 13%
Desperate Housewives up 12%
Recruits up 11%

Going Down
Jonathan Ross Show down 11%
Top Gear Australia down 8%
Supernatural down 8%
Good News Week down 4%

CSI: Time of Death

Sunday 7 June 2009

First of all, Monday is a public holiday - which automatically means that Sunday audiences will be down as people go out to fireworks or nightclubs or whatever. So even though the bulk of shows lost weight over last week it was to be expected, well mostly anyway.

Just like last week Ten did well with Merlin, Masterchef and Rove (and their decision to run Rove long won them the night) and Seven had great success with Sunday Night, Bones and Castle.

But Nine, Nine was having some trouble. Already they chosen to correctly single out HomeMADE a show which was a bit too late to the housing boom, that show is getting banished to Tuesdays, Nine's worst performing night.

But Nine's best minds need to now focus on what the fuck has happened with CSI!

This was once their flagship program, they have a rare commercial advantage with this show in that unlike NCIS, the Law & Orders, Bones, Desperate Housewives and half a dozen other current dramas, Nine is the only place on TV where you can see it. CSI does not show on cable, so it's audience can't be diluted by conventional means.

So what's going on? 810,000 viewers for two new episodes is a disaster! Plain & Simple. 4th place is a major disaster! I'm gonna call it...

Time of death 29 March 2009: that was the airdate of the first episode without Gil Grissom, which seems to be the moment a lot of viewers decided to say goodbye to the show.


Biggest Drop
The Bear Man Of Kamchatka
ABC1 - 7.30pm
Fell 27% week on week on last week's Doctor Who Special

Biggest Lift
The Biggest Loser USA
Ten - 9.50pm
Rose 3% week on week

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The game they don't watch in heaven

Saturday 6 June 2009

Biggest Disappointment
Richard Hammond's Engineering Connections
SBS 7.30pm Down 33.86% week on week

Biggest Improvement
Bruce Almighty
Seven (Southern Markets) after Vicar of Dibley
Up 29.09% over Phenomemon

All 3 commercial nets turned their schedules into swiss cheese last night to accomodate various sporting events.

Seven had the classic North/South split for their coverage of Rugby Union, the Union was a ratings disappointment polling only 219,000 in Sydney and 155,000 in Brisbane - middling figures at best. Worse than this was the decision to rerun Christian the Lion, a wildlife doco they ran only 5 weeks ago on a Tuesday night! And topping that level of bad was the fact that it rated well! More people watched this rerun doco in Melbourne, than tuned in for the Rugby Union in Sydney! If you actually compare it week on week in the three markets with the first run Cheetah Man it comes out on top with a 4% improvement!

Nine and Ten adjusted their schedules for local time differences, with Ten starting their Saturday AFL match at 5 different times and Nine playing around post-7.30 in order to line up with start times for the Twenty/20 Cricket.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Friday 5 June 2009

Biggest Disappointment
The Simpsons
Ten 6pm rebroadcast, down 11.88% week on week

Biggest Improvement
Law & Order Criminal Intent
Ten 10.30pm rebroadcast, up 37.27% on Life on Mars

Law & Order
Ten 8.30pm up 24%, 9.30pm up 21% week on week

Pretty ordinary night for TV, all the football codes were down, Silent Witness was down, oddly Law & Order was up, it was like the regular Friday crowd was out or something. I don't know why they would be - it's friggin cold at the moment (at least in this corner of the universe).

Better Homes & Gardens dropped for the second week running (albiet by a minor 3%), in the 7.30 - 8pm hour the show has competition with Ten and Nine both claiming over 1.2 million in that slot.

Since it started figures haven't been available for King of Queens so there's no idea how much it's loosing from it's lead-in and how that affecting Nine at 8pm, Next week of course Ten returns So You Think You Can Dance at 8pm which will either fizzle out unspectacularly or it will set the cat among the pidgeons on a night which has remained static for some time.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A 20 to 01 shot

Thursday 4 June 2009

Biggest Disappointments
Mask & Memory
ABC 9.30pm down on Q&A by 38.58%

Seven Early Morning down Week on Week by 12.21%

Biggest Improvements
Rules of Engagement
Ten 8pm up 50.96% on Worst Week

Ten 9.30pm up 23.89% week on week

Well here something encouraging – another sitcom it starting to connect with the public and lo and behold it’s one them old timey laugh track shows!

Rules of Engagement, currently in it’s 3rd season (if it doesn’t feel that old that’s because all of it’s seasons have been shortened due to the dearth of available half hour timeslots on CBS and ten only debuted the show in 2008 anyway) is starting to take off achieving some of it’s highest ratings yet.

While still 3rd in the 7.30 hour the removal of the also-ran Worst Week has turned Rules into a viable competitor

Now that that’s’s sorted and Medium is lifting Thursday nights are starting to become a close-run affair, even Criminal Intent lifted its game with a 20.58% increase week on week.

It’s also the only night of the week right now where Nine has any sort of dominance, the Footy Show is on a hot streak in the southern markets right now with 687,000 tuning in to the AFL vs 375,000 rugby league tragics.

Meanwhile my hat is off to 20 to 01, back in 2006 (the show’s second season) people were wondering whether Nine could sustain the series beyond it’s initial 7 episodes but lo an behold there have been 87 episodes (yet 87) since then and the show is still going strong! Kudos!

The Danger of The Mainstream

Wednesday 4 June 2009

Biggest Programming Disappointment
Da Kath & Kim Code
Seven 7.30pm Down 37.93% of Thank God You’re Here and Down 37.58% on Criminal Minds

Biggest improvement
State of Origin Rugby League
Nine 8pm – 10pm up 106.87% on The Mentalist and up 77.5% on RPA

Biggest Week on Week Improvement
Law & Order SVU
Ten 8.30pm up 43.58% week on week

First of all, no I didn’t see The Chaser last night, haven’t watched it since it’s return, given that these precious comedians didn’t feel obligated to produce any eps in 2008, I don’t feel particularly obligated to watch them this year, but of course you haven’t been able to turn on the radio or visit a news website without being informed of their latest transgression, which brings me to something I did watch last night…

Family Guy

Last night’s Family Guy was something a little different, a 100th episode compilation, the show mixed best of clips with bizarre commentary from Seth McFarlane and interviews with various focus group members of their opinions on the show.

It was a stark reminder that Family Guy, though successful with it’s target audience, is, in a wider sense, not a successful show, it certainly didn’t appeal to the 40-something people they interviewed for the special, most of them were either offended or at best non-plussed.

It’s funny to me that there was once another show that fit neatly into that category of appealing to 20 somethings and people with a childish sense of humour (myself included).

The Chaser

I first discovered the Chaser on the back of Kath & Kim with their news satire program CNNNN, that show was perhaps a little too focussed on politics and in-jokes to have broad appeal, but then ABC gave them another shot with the War on Everything.

At first a Friday Night skein the show got by on word of mouth alone, for a Friday night show it was like a secret treasure among a sea of mediocrity, ABC saw a show buried at 10pm Fridays after an incompatible lead-in trending up and decided to give it the coveted 9pm Wednesday slot in 2007 (an election year of all years!) the combo was pure alchemy and The Chaser morphed from an underground skein to mainstream hit.

But that mainstream success is strangling the show, last night was just the latest in a long string of incidents that seemed to have shocked the mainstream audience that has been on board since ’07, prior to this there was a major brouhaha over a weird musical number taking a swipe at the cult of dead celebrity, remember the storm that caused.

Personally I understand where a lot of the “angry viewers” are coming from on this – I have kids and jokes about kids in peril cut close to the bone in a way they never did before my parenthood, but I also remember that this sort of edginess is what drew people to the show in the first place. I wonder aloud what this means for the Chaser.

It’s audience was down last night, of course, because of the State of Origin, the Chaser experiencing a 24.16% drop week on week, but beyond that will the show start losing the viewers that brought it into the mainstream, or it persist in a love/hate relationship with the Australian public, or will a third outcome arise where the essence of The Chaser is watered down to appease the mainstream.

That would be sad, Australia already has a once-great team of risk-taking comedians who now just phone in stale comedy week to week getting fat and raking in the cheques…

What ever you do Chaser, don’t turn into Working Dog

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Why Seven has Lost it's way

Anyone whose seen Lost in Australia on Free to Air and on Cable (or DVD) will know that Seven always cuts the closing title, on a normal episode it kind of robs the show of something to lose this little moment but just now when Seven aired the season finale - they fucked up big time.

Not only was it a poor idea to split the episode into two parts (robbing it of a lot of momentum) but it even poorer form to cut the end title on this particular occassion

If you want to see the uncut ending of the episode
Then here it is

Betting on NCIS

Tuesday 2 June 2009

Biggest Disappointment
Millionaire Hot Seat
Nine 5.30pm down by 88,000 viewers

Biggest Prime Time Disappointment
Two and a Half Men
Nine 9pm rebroadcast down by 84,000 viewers

Biggest Improvement
Ten 9.30pm rebroadcast up by 216,000 viewers week on week

Ten had an absolute blinder last night helped immensely by a rerun of NCIS. The first run NCIS eps are due to finish very soon, what ten will do after that is anyone's guess but you can bet that they'll keep the reruns in the schedule

It's also a good bet that NCIS Los Angeles will be fast-tracked come September it's as close to a guaranteed hit that any network has next US season.

Nine continues to flounder with slipshod post 9.30 programming betraying a bare cupboard and a programming department that has lost it's zeal - honestly how many times can they play those Miss Congeniality movies - Nine are quickly morphing into a parody of last year channel ten endlessly rerunning the same movies in desperation to increasingly diminishing returns.

There's also a cloud over the future of HomeMADE, on a night where most shows gained viewers, HomeMADE lost 18,000 of them! There are unconfirmed reports that it has been yanked from Nine's Sunday Lineup, I have no doubt the series will be played out in primetime, the commitment to sponsors and a borderline ratings will ensure that, but I'm pretty sure the real estate/reno/reality genre is dead for the time being.

Monday, June 1, 2009

You can go back to the well

Monday 1 June 2009

Biggest Disappointment
Two & a Half Men (r)
Nine 7pm, down 156,000 viewers week on week

Biggest Improvement
Ten 9.45pm, up 100,000 viewers week on week

Hmmm not sure what to make of the precipitous fall of How I Met Your Mother. It's just sunk, completely overwhelmed by Masterchef and Two and a Half Men. It's a good bet that after Scrubs finishes in a week's time Mother will move in on Wednesdays behind Earl vacating this slot for older skewing fare.

The move of Mother to Mondays at the top of the season was a bit unexpected to say the least and in all fairness to Seven, it hasn't worked out. After generating so much goodwill for the show by running it at 7pm throughout summer, Seven managed to kill it by scheduling it against the current king of all sitcoms - Two and a Half Men!

Nine gave them a few brief weeks of reprieve by scheduling mediocre reality at 7.30, but soon wised up and brought back the Men to open their night.

For Nine, very good, not quite great, seems to be the most apt description.

New skeins You Saved My Life and Missing Persons Unit both registered mild increases on the shows they replaced raising by 60k and 50k respectively.

Sea Patrol, however, lost 102,000 week on week while Good News Week and Four Corners gained 93,000 and 84,000 respectively.

After spending most of it's vaunted return season in 2008 looking like a deer in the headlights of Ten's bad Monday programming, GNW is starting to reap the benefits of a stronger Ten and less harsh Monday competition with Desperate Housewives well down on it's historical highs and Underbelly gone (until next year) Ten have proven that you can go back to the well.

For those who don't remember, GNW is an ABC original which aired on Friday night in a 30 minute format, they spun it off with a live Saturday night series - Good News Weekend in 98.

When Ten bid for the show's fourth season (and won) they not only extended the format to an hour, but the kept the spin off, moved it to a Thursday (???) and called it GNW Nite Lite running for 90 minutes, that was two and a half hours of the show per week and it failed to fire.

Incredibly just when everyone had forgotten about it, ten decided to bring it back early last year, to Monday nights in a one-hour 8.30 timeslot. It's held the same timeslot ever since and after very patchy ratings it's starting to poll consistently over the 1 million mark, this is a very good result and proof perhaps that in this country old formats never die!

Now if only we can figure out a way to revive Hey Hey...