It was the week that American critics began to knife Kath & Kim (officially), ABC told staff it would cut up to 35 production jobs, Nine denied having a contract with the wife of a convicted crim, an actor lambasted his former soap, Today Tonight announced its next host would be a sports presenter and said its film crew helped -not hounded- an interviewee, Seven ‘streamlined’ its Lotto results, buyers eyed a key production company, the Imparja / Nine Darwin deal fell apart, a TV critic died, and suddenly so did a former host / variety performer died suddenly causing the Today show to run the wrong footage of one of his performances.
And it was another win for Seven with a 29.9% share over Nine’s 26.1% and TEN’s 19.1% The ABC had 19.4% while SBS had 5.5%. Seven won in all cities.
For TEN the week was a disaster, finishing fourth behind the ABC –and the ABC had normal programming too. Nor did it win any demographic coming second to Nine’s win in 16-39, third to Nine’s win in 18-49 and third to Seven’s win in 25-54.
TEN has now dropped three shows from its schedule in seven days: Taken Out, 90210 and Bondi Rescue: Bali.
Excluding weeks with Olympic events it was also TEN’s lowest share in official survey weeks all year, even lower than when it had Big Brother. TEN remains in front for the year on 16 – 39 –but its target audience is actually the lucrative 18-49 for which it is currently third.
Top show for the week was Seven’s Packed to the Rafters with 1.83m viewers. A drop so minor could indicate that while viewers are not necessarily compelled to see every minute of every episode, they remain loyal and keep coming back. Together with Find my Family, RSPCA Animal Rescue and All Saints, the Aussie content helped ensure Tuesday as a powerful network night. Monday was close behind with City Homicide, The Force and Border Security all winners. Also performing strong were Seven News, Today Tonight, Medical Emergency, Crash Investigation Unit, Criminal Minds, Home and Away and Better Homes and Gardens. Dancing with the Stars had a modest rise, though wisely Seven won’t even let it compete with the NRL Grand Final tonight. The return of Out of the Question copped a big drop from its Bones lead-in. Private Practice has concluded and clearly doesn’t enjoy the following of Grey’s Anatomy. Despite lighter followings for its Thursday line-up, Seven still managed to win the night.
Two and a Half Men was again Nine’s biggest drawcard –topping Wednesday with 1.65m viewers. The 7pm edition is so consistent it is level-pegging Home and Away and prompting Nine to plug other holes with it elsewhere in its schedule. Aside from 60 Minutes it’s hard to find any other big total audiences by the network. Meanwhile, Fringe has held across its first three weeks and The Triangle did well for its lengthy screening. Yet so uneventful was the week that Nine’s own Ratings Report didn’t even highlight any results in Total People (it always does), instead focussing only on wins in demographics. But the real message for Nine last week was the appalling return for the NRL Footy Show Grand Final –just 319,000 viewers. After a year in which many were suggesting its time was up, where to for 2009?
Where to start with TEN’s week? The best news was from NCIS with 1.32m viewers and Australian Idol’s 1.20m on Sunday –it could also lift now Doctor Who is gone. A repeat of Thank God You’re Here managed 1.04m (can they twist Working Dog’s arm for a 2009 season?). After that it was almost all downhill. Monday’s Idol was beaten by Top Gear Australia. Rush is yet to establish any grip on its timeslot despite a good lead-in. House’s brand new season is proving a maddening puzzle to the network (it’s switched leads from this week). Friends at 7pm hasn’t addressed the timeslot problems experienced by Taken Out. Blame 2.5 Men for that? Even The Simpsons has been losing ground –its new episode didn’t even make Tuesday’s Top 20. The downturn wasn’t quite so dramatic over in Rove territory. While neither his Sunday show nor Fifth Grader topped 900,000 at least they haven’t halved their audiences like some of TEN’s other shows. TEN needs some cultural changes to appease a disillusioned audience (many of whom resort to downloading when their show disappears) which it is unlikely to do before 2009. Could it even be time for a new branding? Whichever way it moves this will be a delicate shift. Its audience is probably responding to the fact there have been too many changes already…
It was a great week for the ABC, taking third place ahead of TEN and without any stunt programming. Doctor Who was the top show for the week with a terrific 1.20m viewers, even beating Idol. Midsomer Murders beat Nine and TEN too. Also strong were Spicks and Specks, ABC News, Taggart, The 7:30 Report, Australian Story, Enough Rope with Andrew Denton, The Hollowmen, Catalyst, Two in the Top End, The Einstein Report and The Bill.
Top Gear Australia launched to 933,000 viewers which the network said was its biggest audience for a locally produced programme. It was nominally down on an old UK episode the week before. A passionate audience has had much to say on radio, print and online –how many will return this week? Newstopia’s third season premiered to 142,000.
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