Friday, July 31, 2009

The Last to Arrive

Last night was a typical Thursday where everyone got a turn to shine (save for the ABC I guess) 7 Dominated the news hour, Getaway and the Footy Show gave Nine the night and Rush pulled off another timeslot win holding its audience week to week and justifying Ten's faith in renewing the show.

The test for Rush may be after this week when Nine brings on their own Rescue: Special Ops - which, being about paramedics, is different - but to the casual observer looks like a clone. Will they be oversaturating the market with this type of show - stay tuned.

Seven absolutely collapsed after the Amazing Race. Double Take dropped 13.19% week on week but still held a decent 941k in tow - but TV Burp dropped 16.09% down to a worrying 845k.

Whilst Rules of Engagement has been subsisting on those kind of numbers for weeks now, Rules is a cheap (very cheap considering how often it's rerun) import on channel Ten, TV Burp is a cheap (read: replaceable) show on channel Seven - they're gonna need to lift in the coming weeks to keep Seven's support.

Finding your niche

There’s a weird phenomenon with Australia’s television ratings when it comes to American shows

Generally speaking a show’s performance in America is a good indicator of how it will fare in Australia

In the past shows like ER and Friends that regularly polled over 25 million US viewers in their heyday – had no trouble rounding up 2 million people here in oz.

Similarly in the 2000s big US shows like CSI and Everybody Loves Raymond had similarly big followings here, Raymond even mimicked it’s patchy start in the US where it spent two seasons admired by critics and no-one else, here it spent it’s first two seasons languishing on channel Seven while Ten paid attention to the critical press coming out of the States.

Similarly niche shows and cable shows in the states don’t fare too well here – Dexter, Californication, Flight of the Conchords, Sex and the City, The Sopranos, The Shield, The Closer, Battlestar Galactica – none of these are primetime fare here in Australia but last night something original happened...

United States of Tara pulled 1.2 million last night. A lot of people will attribute this to the lead in which was the final episode of The Chaser’s War on Everything, but that would be a mistake, plenty of sitcoms have followed this show to no avail – no, this is a new one.

In the US ‘Tara’ airs on a “premium” cable network, Showtime (think the equivalent to Showcase or Movie Extra here) meaning folks who have cable are paying extra just to get those channels, so it’s not available to everyone.

Of the 30% of American Households that pick it up, roughly 2.4 million of them watched this show – enough to see it renewed for a second season – even if Tara had 100% coverage across America you’d be looking at a maximum of 7 million people watching.

For a US show pulling less that 10 million – you’re usually looking at a summer run, if that, it’s very unusual for this kind of cable play to make it big on Australian TV. The heady combination of timeslot, heavy ABC promotion and a recognisable Australian star has added up to an unlikely 9.30 hit for Auntie! Kudos.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Leading in to something

You know, this year I'm becoming increasingly convinced that lead-ins mean next to nothing and two things bear that out on last night's ratings

The New Adventures of Old Christine
Nine decided, finally, to wheel this show out for another go behind yet another episode of Two and a Half Men (surely people have seen them that many times now they're burned onto the inside of their retinas at this stage!)

A crowd of over 1 million sat through an hour of Two and a Half Men and then promptly left! Having not seen the particular episode to judge, I can however say that Christine is a slow burn type of show which takes some viewing to get into - but is Nine going to have any patience when this show posted a figure 17% worse than the previous one week wonder Dance Your Ass Off!

That one show sent the rest of Nine's night down the proverbial - with even the resilient 20 to 01 buckling under pressure (and a timeslot change).

Talkin Bout Your Generation
Week on Week the 7pm project dropped 26.75% yet Generation actually rose 2% with 1.6 million.

Lead-ins are less of a factor than ever before and the audience is less patient and more fickle than ever!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lots of sex jokes but no Big Bang

Well last night the main action was going on in the 7.30 hour.

Two and a Half Men is enjoying a resurgence but The Big Bang Theory suffered badly dropping a staggering 492,000 from Two and a Half Men, that's a 35.6% drop from the lead-in and a 17.29% drop week on week.

Puzzlingly Big Bang's faltering did nothing to the figures for Sea Patrol which tracked line ball week on week.

Australian Story is having a good run of late - improving 19.37% week on week, the flow-on even helped Four Corners over a million.

The return of Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? did well but it remains to be seen if that was from the Matt Preston appearance or loyalists to the show, certainly it was the only shining light for ten on a harsh night: 7pm was down an upsetting 40.54% week on week, Ten is in for the long haul but a deeper analysis shows losses in all younger demographics, meanwhile the performance of Two and a Half Men and Home and Away speak for themselves - both above 1.3 million for the night.

Ten now has two very hard tasks on it's hands - developing this show on the run so people will watch it and then (the harder part) somehow attracting people BACK to watch it.

Good luck!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Beaten and Bloodied

OK Ten - it's not you, it's Dupree!

Ten tried (yet again) to trot out this turd of a movie - now on a Sunday night - with lacklustre results.

Luckily they had an outstanding number for the preceding movie - Night at the Museum.

When combining it's powers with grey-magnet Dancing with the Stars, Museum sapped 60 minutes' numbers down to a woefully low 980k resulting in an equally poor turning out for the latest of the increasingly pointless Oceans Eleven sequels!

The short story of Sunday is that Seven did well with their regular schedule, Ten scraped in with a good movie choice and Nine's flagship was left beaten and bloodied on the side of the road.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Something wrong with the mix

Hmmm compared to recent Saturdays it was a bit of a quiet one for the networks.

Nine dominated held their nose in front at 6.30 with Funniest Home Videos but then slipped away at 7.30 with the often repeated Big Daddy. This and Nine's 9.30 movie (different in various markets) was enough to see them fall to fourth place on the night.

Seven drew a larger crowd with their movies The Wild (which was an almost wholesale rip-off of Madagascar) and National Treasure, both contributing to Seven's night winning share.

Ten's AFL gave them the edge in the 7.30 hour and they were competitive across prime time thanks to the sport, but lets spare a thought for The Simpsons, that extra 145,000 people watching in Sydney is probably 140,000 more than would have watched had the swans been playing!

The ABC had a shocker with New Tricks making way for the second season of East of Everything and suffering a 35% drop in their 7.30 ratings in the process, maybe they shouldn't be trying to mix Australian shows into their well established Brit line-up on this night.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Just a flesh wound

Umm Ten's looking a bit blue of late

At the start of the week I wrote

when Neighbours is your top rating show - you're in trouble

Well, last night they went one lower - their top show was the 6pm Simpsons with a measley 687,000 viewers - the 7pm project dropped into no-mans land at 656,000 granted the network has thrown it's support behind the show and it's early days - but tell that to the staff at Nine's 'This Afternoon' who met their fate with little over two weeks under their belt in a show which was talked up to the nines from the get go.

We'll see if the 7pm figures are indicative of Ten's general day to day health (ie: strong on Mondays and Tuesdays, weak on their lower rating days) or if it's the show itself.

At 588k - Ten cannot afford to have Dance lead off it's night - just put Simpsons or Futurama in there or better yet Move the dancing show to a slot where it can't cause damage.

QandA - the last to arrive

A quick one for Thursday night.

Seven virtually refreshed their whole lineup with decent results.

Amazing Race at 7.30 did quite well (incredibly bettered by the undead Getaway) and the two new comedies both tagged over 1 million viewers, although third in the slot with Rush maintaining it's first week figures without any problems.

Also good for Ten was that Criminal Intent improved week on week by 16.62% for a timeslot win.

If only it was that good for Ten across the night. The 7pm project claims to be waving not drowning - but I'm starting to wonder - it still posts a timeslot win in 16-39 but that's not what Ten is aiming for and as a result the 7.30 ep of Rules of Engagement was way down only climbing back up for the second ep at 8pm - both half hours are mediocre raters even by Ten's standards.

Finally - what's the deal with Q&A - It's back - I didn't even realise it - and neither did most of it's audience by the look of it - the show was well down on it's average - outrated by the ABC's 6pm program (among others). The ABC didn't put much promotional energy into the series return - hopefully the word will filter through in the coming weeks that the show is back - one of the more lively current affairs programs in recent times.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

End of Story

OK - Channel Ten - now would be a good time to panic!

The 7pm Project - 3rd night in experienced a massive drop night on night shedding 18.55% night on night and 31.98% on the premiere two night ago. This is a bad result.

Of course we've seen shows rise and fall on the strength of other shows on their night, and as it stands - Wednesday is not Ten's strongest night.

The Simpsons was the only thing keeping the dream alive for Ten with both episodes scraping in over a million, also Neighbours has some how chiselled out a big following for itself this year parlaying the gravitational pull of Masterchef into what has been a reportedly compelling storyline which has kept viewers with the show - a good result.

But this good news was completely counteracted by what's going on after 8.30.

Law & Order SVU is tanking, the show is a veteran - it's been on our screens since 2000, and arguably it's heyday was in 2003/04 when it gave ER a hiding in the 8.30 Thursday slot, that was the ratings peak and as hard as it is to keep viewers with a serial, it's even harder to convince the aud that's deserted a procedural that they haven't all seen it before - especially when it's main competition is a darker, sexier beast in the form of Criminal Minds.

Even worse is the result for House. The show is still a top draw in America - but ever since the cast was diluted with an extra 3 people they've struggled to hold the interest of Australians.

I think Australian audiences have a good sense of when a show jumps the shark, at least American shows, shows like Murphy Brown, The X Files, Lois & Clark, Beverly Hills 90210, NYPD Blue all vacated primetime very soon after they stopped being relevant. This phenomena still doesn't explain why crap like Getaway or The Footy Show continue unabated, but perhaps Australians are blind to their own shortcomings.

Of course these are just House reruns and scuttlebut says Ten is trying to bed down the timeslot in preparation for September, but an unwavering figure under 600k speaks for itself - the audience has moved on. End of Story.

Elsewhere Nine continued to embarrass itself through bad experiments with reality, this time Australia's Perfect Couple, I'm not even going to give that shit oxygen.

Seven meanwhile didn't pull 1.8 million (The Aud for the sneak peek), but did almost as well with Strictest Parents which gave them the night in overall terms.

ABC dominated the 8.30 hour but The Chaser is well away from its best figures, with next week being the final episode for the series I'm curious to know if ABC will give it any publicity or if the audience will even care?

Finally ACA had one of those rare wins over Today Tonight, again thanks to one of their big ongoing stories this year, the weight loss journey of Magda Szubanski, now if only we can all lose our collective memory of Magda Funny Bits we'll all have something to celebrate!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Making an ASS out of U & ME

So Nine had a problem - their problem was Tuesday nights

They looked at what was popular in Australia

Shows about Dancing do well

Shows about weight loss do well

They looked at what was popular overseas

A US cable show about Dancing + Loosing Weight is doing well

So Nine assumed that it would do well here...


The proof is the pudding

And there was whole lot of pudding on TV last night - a lot of it uncovered in ways not before explored outside of certain fetish videos available from reputable Fyshwick retailers!

Did it hook the viewers in - No
Did viewers feel like some hardcore sex jokes on Two and a Half Men afterwards - No
It it likely to remain in this timeslot - No

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Danger Zone


That sound you can here is Seven and Nine breathing a sigh of relief.

The behometh has rolled away and finally their shows are seeing some sunlight!

Sea Patrol lifted nicely with a double installment sustaining over the million mark giving Nine the night.

With Masterchef gone the 7.30pm rerun of Two and a Half Men rose to 1.4million proving it aint over yet for the oversaturated sitcom.

Seven had a decent night but the 8pm rerun of Scrubs was a rare low point for them sliding into fourth place with comedy viewers opting for an all new Big Bang Theory - in one of the biggest outings yet for the sophomore skein.

So what about Ten.

Ten is now in that danger zone, the second half.

It's worth taking a look back to this time last year to see how ten was faring back then.

15. Neighbours 6.30pm - 954,000
19. Good News Week 8.30pm - 865,000
23. Friends (r) 7pm - 776,000
24. America's Next Top Model 7.30pm - 756,000
25. The Simpsons (r) 6pm - 752,000
29. Burn Notice 9.30pm - 641,000

All in all when Neighbours is your top rating show - you're in trouble and that's how ten was - 1 week after Big Brother wrapped for the final time, Ten had a game show (Taken Out) not ready for launch so filled the gap with reruns of Friends.

Whatever else you think about Taken Out, having that rerun break gave whatever remaining 7pm viewers ten had an opportunity to check out the competition, when Ten doesn't have a strong 7pm show - their whole schedule suffers - you only need to look back at the early posts on this very site to see just how bad they were going!

Which brings us to last night, the big question is, will the 7pm Project be a good lead-in for Ten's primetime or will it be Taken Out?

Well for the first night, so far so good, a live pastiche of news and panel style commentary with the odd live cross thrown in, it had a good debut averaging 1.2 million (with an increase in the second half - always a good sign) They also pulled a formidable 41.3% of the 18-49 age demographic.

Ten programmer David Mott has indicated to TV Tonight that the show would live or die by it's demos so that's a good start.

Following at 7.30 was the final episode of The Recruits - one of ten's best factual launches in recent years, next week they're replaced by a new season of Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? That show did some real heavy lifting for Ten on Thursdays last year - as long at the 7pm project holds up as a lead-in they should post some good numbers.

Post 8.30 is a bit hard to judge - GNW had the night off with a rerun posting figures more akin to 2008 and Supernatural dropped drastically as a result. There are apparently only two eps of Supernatural left this season and it's a good bet that new ones won't return until summer (where they've got some clear air) so whatever Ten puts at 9.30 is going to be crucial for them in the weeks ahead - with their post 8.30 falling apart they dropped to 3rd place and a 21 share for the night, that's passable but there's no killer app at 9.30 like last year's Andrew Denton which is holding everything else back - so theres's no reason they can't fill this slot with something hot that brings in the crowds.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I won't get the chance to do the all important chart until tonight but suffice it to say that you'd have to be living under a rock to not know that the Masterchef Finale was the highest rated non-sports program of the decade!

Here's a ch Ten press release - the numbers are staggering
Ten Corporate Press Release

Continuing the debacle

Well, they've done it Ten has won a week of television, I don't think that's happened since the final week of summer 08 (Jan 2008).

Seven didn't help their case at all with the continuing debacle that is Prime Time Rugby Union, this time the game they play in heaven (and really expensive schools) pushed Seven's news in Sydney and Brisbane back and back, by which time everyone seemed to be tuned to either New Tricks or Harry Potter.

Also I take back my quip about Harry Potter's diminishing returns, although movies 1-3 seem to be played out - the fourth installment "The Goblet of Fire" can still draw a crowd and for a long night running to 10.55pm!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Thankyou MasterChef Australia

I've haven't watched more than 5 minutes of it, but I'm going to miss Masterchef.

For a ratings nerd like me the results of the past several weeks have been unadulterated fun.

Because Australia's ratings system put emphasis on the whole of prime time rather than the core 7.30 - 10.30 period, nights are often won on the strength of the 6pm hour, which for Nine and Ten means a local news bulletin followed by tabloid current affairs.

Almost two decades ago, Ten bowed out of the 6pm race preferring profit over glory, so ever since the 90s, television ratings in this country has been a two horse race, Seven and Nine. Dull, dull, boring and dull.

But not this year. Amazingly Ten's 6pm hour is unchanged for almost a decade, but this show, Masterchef, has become such a viewer magnet, a watercooler show, an all ages crowd please, it has caused all sorts of upheaval all over the schedule from one end to the other!

Ten has had successful 7pm shows before - but nothing like this, among the shows which will be glad it's over next week you can count

Better Homes & Gardens
Has seen it's aud fall away by approximately 200,000 viewers as it clashes with Masterchef's Friday Masterclass - an ingenious idea which stands apart from the competition proper as a cooking class for the masses. I knew this was a good idea when I was invited by my mother-in-law (not in ten's target demo) to try a dish she learned on the Friday night show!

Nine's Factual/Reality department
Masterchef brought a quick death to such unforgettable fare as Missing Pieces and You Saved My Life forcing Nine to fall back on their current crutch - Two and a Half Men, a show repeated so often this year it's starting to look transparent.

Working Dog
What an embarrasment, Masterchef has proven revenge is a dish best served hot! At the end of last season all looked lost for Ten as its one remaining hit show, Thank God You're Here, defected to the Seven network for more money, the expected crowds for the lazy laffer were at first subdued as the first half hour butted heads with Masterchef, later Thank God was almost totally subjugated by some strategically placed 90 minute episodes! Seven didn't buy that show to run interference, they bought it expecting a big number which never came!

Home & Away
In recent years the departure of The Biggest Loser was the signal for people to flock back to Summer Bay, not this year - the venerable soap has endured an unremittingly harsh climate for the past 7 months, first with Loser, and now Masterchef culminating in the ultimate insult for the show - the first time (in my memory at least) that it has ever been outrated by Neighbours!!!

So thankyou Masterchef, whatever your actual entertainment value, it has been fantastic to see this kind of upheaval to the status quo - wishing you all the success in the future!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Walk don't Rush

Masterchef had a 90 minute edition and walked over everything else, pulling a season high 2.3 million viewers, definitely one of the largest audiences all year and certainly the largest haul for a Thursday night.

Not one of it's direct competitors made it to 1 million viewers, that is now the sheer power of this show.

Seven had two season finale's - Ghost Whisperer and Grey's Anatomy, while Ghost Whisperer floundered against it's competition, Grey's Anatomy lifted handsomely to post it's highest numbers for the season. Not a bad way to end the year for them, you only have to know a women in their 30s to know this show still has a large fan base, but the Thursday timeslot tends to work against it, meaning if OzTam ever take to measuring PVR or VCR timeshifting they'll find this will be one of the shows that gains big time.

Grey's Anatomy delivered a smackdown of sorts to Rush, the action drama, which struggled on Tuesday nights in it's freshman year and embarrassed itself in summer reruns, couldn't have asked for better exposure coming right after one of the top rating hours of the year.

It's therefore a little dissappointing to see it lose 50.5% of its lead-in, but still 1.1 million was better than anything Rush was doing last year and better than most of the 8.30 ratings ten has had this year so there's hope for it - but Nine's upcoming rescue show (the name of which currently escapes me) could act as a spoiler dragging down Rush by oversaturating the sub-genre.

Speaking of Nine, were they even on last night, that has to be one of their worst Thursday showings ever, I know they mostly have Masterchef to thank, but at least Seven was acle to work around that - Nine seems to have given up the fight.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dead Rubber

The final installment of this year's State of Origin Rugby League competish was, of course, a dead rubber with Qld having swept the series in two games, it was still wildly popular though for Nine sealing the night for them post 8.30.

There's only one problem for the net - their week has turned into a dead rubber.

Even with the power of State of Origin, Nine has very little prospect of taking out the week, this is a staggering development

4 days in (despite winning prime time last night with a 30% share) Nine is in overall third place with a 24.7% share to Ten's 26.5% and Seven's 25.4%.

In the past no matter what state Nine was in overall - they could always be assured of taking out an origin week, and this is even going back to the days where the game was only shown north of the Murray.

This time around the final State of Origin has collided with the final week of Masterchef, surely the phenomenon of the year.

Ten has aired another 90 minutes of the show tonight (Thursday) as well as the second season premiere of Rush (a show which had everything going for it last year bar the timeslot) they should pull off a win for the night (though with Grey's Anatomy it will be close fought).

Even though Seven will win Friday and possibly take out the week - I cannot see Nine's Saturday being enough to get them out of third place - this is a disaster for a network that is just lurching from one to the next without a break.

This week it was the axing of "This Afternoon" a 4.30 skein designed to muscle in on Seven News. Like a lot of Nine's failures, it was trying to imitate a formula successful on it's rival (in this case Sunrise), it was shot in the foot one week in with the shock defection of newsreader Mark Ferguson and the ratings never took off.

Nine axed the long running (at least 15 years and probably more) Brisbane Extra to make way for the program, which lasted less than 3 weeks - well played!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's all about to change

It’s worth noting that the often repeated Harry Potter franchise has finally reached the point of diminishing returns for Nine, not one of the reruns has average a million this year, not even on the high traffic Tuesday night.

Next week they’ll be going for gonzo with the US reality train-wreck Dance Your Ass Off – which can be neatly described as The Biggest Loser meets Dancing with the Stars! The fact that this show featured neither Darryl Somers nor Ajay Rochester is a plus and I wish them all the best!

Ten and Seven were neck and neck – at least across the night, with Masterchef blowing away it’s competition early on and NCIS shoring up the late hour, though Seven feasted on Prime Time with the return of Surf Patrol making a strong impression and Packed to the Rafters dominating the 8.30 hour.

At least for Seven this is the last week they’ll have to worry about Masterchef spoiling their Tuesday, for Ten the question is, was NCIS’ poor performance due to ‘special time’ or is this a sign of things to come?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Woah - Masterchef collects its biggest audience yet pulling in a mammoth 2.1 million viewers, a 17.46% increase week on week and surely a good omen for the finale - Ten have reportedly extended the finale's running time by 30 minutes - with these figures surely that will be filled with commercials as advertisers would be falling over themselves to get on board.

Seven found themselves the big loser on Monday night - although their post 8.30 fare performed well, Brothers & Sisters was a timeslot winner improving 6.59%, Seven News was up 6.96%, Today Tonight up 9.9%, Home & Away up 5.37% but their 7.30 hour was a complete disaster.

How I Met Your Mother, twice pre-empted in recent weeks for successful Michael Jackson specials was down 40.74% on last week's modestly rating MJ concert. Worse than that it was beaten into 5th place behind Top Gear!

Scrubs was only slightly better representing a 30% decline week on week but coming behind a slowing improving Big Bang Theory. For some reason a lot of people showed an interest in Australian Story - the only serious contender during the hour.

Monday, July 13, 2009

It's no long term strategy...

Mixed fortunes all around on Sunday night

6.30 was shared fairly evenly, Dancing with the Stars giving Seven the edge on the competition, but no where near as definitively as the show's peak years in 05/06.

Despite coming third in the slot Random Acts of Kindness is shaping up to be a competent performer for the beleaguered Nine Network and once the double threat of Merlin and Dancing leaves they should get some clear air in the back half of the year.

More worrying for Nine is the 7.30 hour where 60 Minutes lost 17% from it's lead-in and 13.13% week on week. Dancing with the Stars also dropped in the 7.30 hour by 8% feeling the heat from the Masterchef which barely lost a soul week on week.

At 8.30 Miss Marple dropped an astonishing 21.7%, Bones an alarming 24.17%! Rove by 18.68% all of this thanks to Nine shelving the Hugh Grant sitcoms and pulling out a recent film that's actually rivetting - The Pursuit of Happyness which saw their week on week performance post 8.30 improve by 10% (Adjusting for Perth Audience). It was a good improvement, but still overall a poor showing and (being a movie) no guarantee of a good turnout next week, this is the dilemma with scheduling movies - it's no long term strategy, which itself is apt as a description for Nine as I can think of right now.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Missed opportunities

Anyone who knows me personally will be able to tell you that generally speaking - I don't like movies, I don't have the patience for them, I don't find them rewarding compared to television drama which has the capacity to really make you care about characters, I find comedy movies to be all lowbrow slapstick not even holding a candle to the wit of a Frasier or Seinfeld (or even an ALF!) and most of my favourite movies are either part of a series (Star Wars, Star Trek, Back to the Future etc) or have to really come with a great deal of personal recommendation for me to sit through them (Gran Torino, The Pursuit of Happyness, Wall St are recent forays for me).

So all in all, the current dearth of movies on television really works in my favour, I don't pay attention to them and they don't bug me, except on Saturdays...

Seven and Nine, faced with AFL from Ten, Cricket from SBS and the geriatric woodstock over on ABC1 both turn their Saturday sked into an unpredictable mish mash of weird movie genres.

Seven takes the cake for truly inane last night, The Princess Diaries (whether you were watching the original or the sequel depended on your location north or south of the Murray River) is a dreadful "family comedy" where the writers completely forgot that families also include adults.

As a child I well remember visiting the house of a family friend and been scarred for life by their kids repeated video playback of the godawful movie Mary Poppins, now I admit to repeatedly screening movies in my childhood, most notably The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek IV, Krull and Back to the Future II but I draw the line a jaunty supernanny who flies in on an umbrella and dances with a chimneysweep - that's just too much for anyone with a functioning Y chromosone to take - therefore Julie Andrews is permanantly black listed from future movie choices, such is the horribleness of that one film.

To put it in context for you - I even liked The Wizard of Oz - so I'm not just pissing on fantasy musicals here - it's just a bad film.

So strike one for the Princess Diaries

Seven followed up that effort with (again) two choices either Kindergarten Cop, which is funny but played to death by Ten during the 90s, or The Transporter, a violent action film with very little story and even less reason for existing, why Seven choses to schedule a shoot-em-up on the last Saturday of the school holidays is anybody's guess but that's two strikes now.

As for channel Nine - it's that time of year again, Harry Potter time. I know I said I like films that form a much larger saga or story - but Harry Potter just leaves me cold, I remember going to Chamber of Secrets in the cinema with some friends and people were falling asleep! This is not a good sign, nor is it a good movie, I haven't bothered with the sequels nor have I read the books on account of, 1) I'm an adult, 2) I have kids so at some point no doubt one of them will take an interest and I'll be forced to hear about it 3) the school system is becoming so decrepit that these books will probably be on the High School English syllabus by the time my kids get there!

Anyway, needless to say I didn't watch a lot of TV last night, until about 1am, at which time I noticed this odd little film on Nine that I'd never seen before but had heard about.

Dog Day Afternoon.

All I ever knew about this was that it was an Al Pacino film, nothing else about it was known, but the sight of Charles Durning playing police negotiator in a scene that makes Police Cheif Wiggum look competent was enough to pique my interest.

What followed was an incredibly bizarre hostage story which (on researching it today) turns out to be a true one where a man robs a bank to pay for his lover's sex change operation, the film was thoroughly engaging in a way that current fairy floss blockbusters or cookie cutter action films couldn't hope to match and yet it sitting there buried at one in the morning when perhaps three whole people meters might be switched on.

I guess the miracle is that a free to air network even played it all. Now I'm not some crotchety old man by any means, well maybe crotchety - but at 32 this film was before my time, but I'd relish the chance to check some of these classics out - and what better night than Saturdays, what a sad missed opportunity.

But hey - you can always see The Princess Diaries

Saturday, July 11, 2009

As Per Usual

After a poor showing on Thursday, Nine's Friday lineup completely collapsed with a lone NRL game disastrously under 500,000 viewers.

Seven's AFL dropped also but not by nearly as much and the performance of The Princess Diaries held up very well proving an alternative to all the sport on offer.

Besides this it was a pretty uneventful Friday, as per usual...

Paradise Lost

Woah - they haven't even finished the first test and already the Ashes have claimed a scalp! The new travel disaster show Trouble in Paradise has been axed after only 3 weeks. Slumping to a pretty low 871,000 at 8.30 is disastrous but still, given the popularity of Cricket in Nine's own Thursday demos, a little more patience wouldn't go astray.

Given that I've seen similar shows on niche cable channels is can't be too expensive a show to produce surely!

Grey's Anatomy, however, had a good week, thumping the opposition despite being pushed back due to a double run of Home & Away.

The ABC also, was causing headaches with a special about famed bushranger Ned Kelly, overall though the migration of sports lovers to SBS has left a schedule mostly depressed and underperforming.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Not at these prices

Last night was one of those weird TV nights.

Arguably the biggest event of the day took place outside of Primetime (at 3am to be exact) and was replayed throughout the day on many different channels.

At night we had finales, reruns, special timeslots, pre-emptions, specials, special rebroadcasts and the Ashes!

Ten had a normal primetime schedule and viewers only stuck around for Masterchef, the rest of their post 8pm sked tanking miserably.

Nine, by complete contrast, upended their schedule for a night of Michael Jackson, first a 7pm replay of the Staples Centre memorial concert from earlier in the day followed by the often played (especially on cable in the last two weeks) Live in Bucharest concert. Neither show made much of an impact which was suprising, but given that the service was replayed throughout the day on FTA, Cable and in news highlight reels, not to mention the Bucharest concert has been played ad nauseum on MAX this week as well as being among the top selling DVDs - it's a good bet a lot of people already had the chance to see this stuff.

Add to this SBS coverage of The Ashes - the Australia vs England test Cricket series which netted an average of 679,000 viewers (but this includes viewership to 2am) but surely peaked a lot higher during primetime and you see the reason for a schedule that's out of sorts.

Seven joined the Michael Jackson parade in perhaps the most obscene way possible - on a day which had largely been devoted to celebrating the man's acheivements, Seven pulled the rug out from under that fantasy with a cut down version of the doco 'Living with Michael Jackson' this was the TV show that went around the world and landed Jackson in court on child molestation charges.

Seven cut out most of the sections of the doco on which those (since acquitted) charges were based, but even so the odd behaviour of Jackson whilst visiting a Las Vegas antique store or feeding his baby a bottle was arresting enough to snap you out of the sentiment.

Elsewhere two major shows, in fact two of the year's most expensive ventures were floundering.

Thank God You're Here - poached by (or is that whored to) channel seven for more money has not translated into more ratings. Only 1.3 million averaged on the season finale - only peaking at 1.5 million, a good audience yes - but significantly lower than the show's run on channel ten.

You can almost bet - given the show's history on Ten that Seven were selling time based on about 1.8m tuning in, it hasn't worked out that way at all - Tom Gleisner's mythical "wider audience" has not materialised and if you see a lot of commercials repeating themselves on seven, or a daytime slots with suddenly national advertising attached - well that's called "make goods" where the network promised an audience which it couldn't deliver and has to give away free slots to compensate.

Thank God's problems, however, pale in comparison to The Chaser, another show which was snapped up for too high a price tag ($1 million per ep for 10 eps) the show has now sunk below a million, now this may be due to The Ashes or Michael Jackson or who knows, but you have to ask - why did the ABC agree to this ridiculous license fee for this show - there was never a report of a bidding war, there's very little prospect of a commercial net wanting to involve themselves with this show because of it's adversarial content, now they've had to preempt two weeks (with the rumour being the series has been truncated to 8 eps - that's not a series length) and watch the ratings sink week by week - not great.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Going out with a whimper

Packed to the Rafters had a triumphant return in Melbourne with a whopping 665,000 viewers tuning in south of the border, clearly having to wait an extra week did that much more to whet the appetite of Victorian viewers.

Rather than subjugate everything else on TV, Rafters had an effect of a rising tide with several shows up week on week including Talking Bout Your Generation (up 4.1%), Masterchef (up 13.6%), The Zoo (up 6.6%) all of these show pulling over one and a half million viewers.

HomeMADE is now finished, going out with a whimper on 900,000, a disastrous figure which also dragged down the rest of their lineup - especially Two and a Half Men which reran episodes seen only months ago to an underwhelming result. A new episode of 20 to 01 managed only 902,000 though a lot of those stuck around for the Nine premiere of Little Britain - 579,000 viewers being a fantastic result for 10.30pm.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Geeks vs Freak

If there is a show I feel sorry for right about now it's The Big Bang Theory. On it's third tryout on Nine making a concerted effort to find another sitcom to spin off of the Harper Bros the show has run smack bang into two solid weeks of Michael Jackson specials on Seven.

Last night Seven reaired the second hour of the Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary concert from 2001 (30th anniversary of his solo career), it came around the time of Invincible, an album which remains underappreciated because by the time of it's release Jackson's bizarre personal life had well and truly overshadowed whatever he was doing music-wise.

Desperate Housewives did even better for Seven booking 1,253,000 an increase over last week.

Supernatural was down 11%, the only thing letting down ten on an otherwise stellar night which saw Neighbours over 900,000 (a rare feat for the ancient soapie) and Masterchef up by 8% week on week heading for the finale.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Shaken up Sunday

Some big changes afoot on Sunday night with the return of Dancing with the Stars pushing out seven's current affairs skein (Sunday Night) and their fly on the wall hour.

Dancing with the Stars was heavily promoted for several weeks with the promise of seeing a blind man dance and it seems that viewers were only too eager to check it out.

Though 1.5 million is nowhere near the lofty heights of the show's early years - it's way better than last season and a marked improvement over last week's schedule for the net.

The move also pushed Bones in front at 8.30 with Rove dropping back on account of a weaker guest lineup, also Rove's shorter running time meant an earlier Biggest Loser, doing more damage to Ten's overall evening share.

However, Ten can pat themselves on the back for showing a "special" on their drama hit Merlin in the 6pm timeslot giving them a 69% increase in the slot week on week.

Nine's decision to sked in a Hugh Grant movie (a premiere at that) may seem logically sound but it didn't work out that way with viewers already preferenced to the ongoing series on rival channels, there isn't that many remaining viewers to woo, and one off movies aren't going to draw people away from regular hit series.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Steady as she goes

Pretty standard Thursday as far as Thursdays go, with the networks settling into a pattern for this night which remains one of Ten's weakest.

A few weeks back I was concerned at the performance of Criminal Intent which used to be the timeslot leader for 8.30 Thursdays last year and now seems to struggle against the competition.

The whole night will get a shake up in two weeks with sophomore drama Rush getting a try out on Thursday nights just as Grey's Anatomy concludes for the year

Thursday, July 2, 2009

In Loving Memory of John Jay Smith

A Big night of TV last night threw up a few last minute schedule changes and a few surprises.

The main schedule switches were on Ten, subbing the Simpsons for a 48 Hours special on the recently deceased Michael Jackson - averaging 1.15 million it did better than any Simpsons ep since the first widescreen one back in April, though as a lot of angry Simpsons fans have pointed out in the blogosphere - where is the 3rd season premiere "Stark Raving Dad" featuring the mysteriously named 'John Jay Smith' in what was one of Jackson's only appearances on a scripted TV show.

In fact nothing better illustrates the rise and fall of Michael Jackson than The Simpsons, in it's early years Jackson was a friend to the program and a hero to it's main protagonist, Bart.

Michael Jackson wrote the song 'Do the Bartman' (true story) and Bart Simpson appeared in the full length Black or White video (the full length version hasn't really been seen since it's premiere due to it controversial content except for this week when music stations started rolling it out again), then Jacko went on to appear on the show's third season premiere, one of the first celebrity guest stars on the show, during that ep Michael Jackson was showcased as a hero and a living legend.

Contrast that to the show's seventh season with the episode 'Bart Sells His Soul' we get the following classic quote from Bart

"There's no such thing as a soul. It's just something they made up to scare kids, like the boogeyman or Michael Jackson."

Show those two episodes Ten and you've got the essence of the man's spectacular ride down the pop culture slippery dip better than just about any documentary could illustrate.

Continuing with the night's theme, Nine pushed aside Cold Case for their own MJ Documentary giving them the 9.30 hour with room to spare.

The Chaser also apparently weighed in with their own riff on the Jackson saga, but this being the first week since their premiere ep where they're not hindered by State of Origin shows up a big decline for the show - while still first in it's slot (just) it's down a sizeable 22% from it's May 27 debut, not exactly the bang you want for a million bucks a pop.

Find my 90 million

Seven had a perfect convergence of events last night, the long awaited return of Packed to the Rafters and in the first ad break the biggest lottery draw in the history of this country.

The OZ Lotto draw ended up drawing 2,283,000 viewers in the five markets - a huge audience but frankly given the amount of news coverage I would've expected bigger to be honest! Nonetheless, it all added up to an emphatic win for the network.

We also see the curious phenomenon of a lead-on lifting on the back of a big lead out - it was a regular feature early this year for Find My Family a schmaltzy reality show reuniting adopted kids with their natural parents or something worthwhile (OK I've never watched it but then I'm not in the target audience of 80-100 year olds)

Family was much stronger with Rafters following it than without it - similarly we saw another reverse timeslot hit this year on Nine with Customs, a mash-up of several Brit lurkers that curiously got a huge benefit by being before Underbelly rather than after it.

Accepted wisdom is that a strong show should deliver audiences to the show afterwards - so what's causing this phenomenon with the show before benefiting more.

I think I have the explanation - overruns!

You See both Seven and Nine run their current affairs shows long on any given night they can run up to 5 or 10 minutes out meaning that viewers tuning in for Packed to the Rafters at 8.30pm actually see the tail end of the preceding show, the practice has gotten so bad with the two tabloid shows that you can tune in on any given half hour mark to Seven or Nine when you switch you'll likely be on a commercial break with one whole act of the show yet to run!

This appalling practice helps out shows running before a tentpole show because even though the viewer thinks Rafters will start at 8.30, both Seven and OzTam have it marked for 8.35 giving the preceding show the benefit of the Rafters aud for 5 minutes.

It's one of the sneakiest practices devised in television since Turner Time (look that up if you have a spare evening!) and one that would make old Ted proud!

One thing that cannot be fudged by timeslot shennanigans is the absolutely stunning turnout for 10 Year Younger at 10.30pm, 710,000 has to be some sort of record for this slot and proves that the show's audience, while having dwindled to a point, was extremley faithful.