It was the week that current affairs and finance dominated. Ray Martin lamented the state of commercial news and current affairs at the same time as a former sports presenter won his first week behind a public affairs desk, a CEO lashed out at his rival networks but shot off about the starting date of his new current affairs project, while the network signed a former Sunday journo, TEN reported a 25% slump in earnings, a Telstra boss said Foxtel subscriptions were slowing, another Murdoch stitched up a production deal with Foxtel, Gordon Ramsay and Underbelly were ruled too racy for 8:30pm, Nine snared the Rugby World Cup rights and the government announced an inquiry into the future of our public broadcasters.
As usual, Seven took the honours with a solid 30.1% over Nine’s 25.3% and TEN’s 20.5%. The ABC had 18.8% and SBS 5.3%.
Seven’s post-Olympics dream run continues without serious competition. Packed to the Rafters returned as the week’s #1 show with 1.88m viewers. Its lead in Find My Family almost matched it on an impressive 1.82m. Along with RSPCA Animal Rescue’s 1.60m, Tuesday was again Seven’s biggest night. Other firm favourites were Seven News, The Force, Border Security, Better Homes and Gardens, City Homicide, Criminal Minds, Crash Investigation Unit, Medical Emergency, All Saints, and Home and Away. Seven’s hurried Financial Crisis Special on Sunday hit home with 1.48m while Bathurst 1000 pulled a big daytime crowd of 1.24m. Kath & Kim (US) drew a curious 1.23m but Dancing with the Stars was beaten by its rivals. Heroes dropped to third spot on in only its second week. Don’t expect it to last there. Matt (formerly known as Matthew) White’s first week hosting Today Tonight was strong, winning every night over A Current Affair. As Seven found in the transition from Naomi Robson to Anna Coren, viewers don’t appear to be very swayed by the host as long as the tabloid stories keep coming. TT hit a high of 1.45m on Wednesday, so well done, Matt. As it eyes 2009 optimistically, Seven has its eyes on snatching Nine’s prized Sunday crown -a trophy it has sought to wrest many times before.
Charlie Sheen’s Two and a Half Men was again tops with Nine. Of its various outings, a repeat episode on Wednesday was its biggest audience at 1.41m, higher than a first-run on Tuesday at 1.03m. 60 Minutes won its Sunday slot with 1.35m, and The Mentalist held in its second outing. The death of a CSI character heralded the return of its new series which pulled City Homicide down. The Strip managed to pass the 1m mark, lifting from the week before and RPA did well to keep 1m after 9:30pm. But it was bad news for The Chopping Block, Battlefronts and Fringe –Nine has already pulled the last two from current scheduling.
NCIS was best for TEN on 1.33m –a good figure given it’s Seven’s strongest timeslot. The weekly performance for TEN is improving at a snail’s pace, but at least it’s heading in the right direction. It won the week in 16-39 by 0.1%. Australian Idol will be pleased to have bettered Dancing with the Stars. Rove also passed the magic million. Both Law and Order franchises, one of which was a repeat, did well on Thursday. Moving Kenny’s World to Tuesdays allowed a big improvement off the back of The Simpsons (no longer getting 1m for a new episode, are fans downloading it?). Rush picked up another 94,000. Wednesday was disappointing with lacklustre returns for Jamie’s Ministry of Food (only 2 eps remain) and House. But Monday was an unmitigated disaster with a dire 16.8% share. Idol’s verdict show tanked –the revamp has clearly misfired. That undermined the return of Good News Week and Supernatural later. TEN couldn’t even manage a show in the top 20 on Monday. The return of Download on Friday slumped in with 564,000 but viewers flocked back for its family movie Nanny McPhee scoring a triumphant 1.04m and surpassing films on Seven and Nine. Expect more family feelgood flicks on Fridays?
Another strong week on the ABC saw Spicks and Specks in pole position with 1.23m viewers, second in its slot. Midsomer Murders was strong on 1.20m on Sunday. Elsewhere, Galapagos, ABC News, 7:30 Report, Enough Rope, Four Corners, Australian Story, Two in the Top End, Catalyst, Taggart, The Bill and Rough Diamond all performed. Stupid Stupid Man managed 769,000 for its second season premiere.
Top Gear Australia was steady on 668,000 –some way behind the UK version but a good figure for the network. By comparison the premiere of its important (commercial free) documentary series First Australians was 392,000.
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