Audiences flock to quality

Week 31 belonged comfortably to Seven, but it was the ABC that issued a lesson to commercial networks as audiences flocked to a supposedly niche show, United States of Tara.

tara-and-sonThis week the ABC delivered commercial networks a bit of a lesson as US cable series United States of Tara swooped with 1.27m viewers in a 9:30pm timeslot. It highlighted the fact that audiences will flock to  supposedly niche stories, if they are accessible. Even subscription television had passed on this one, but the ABC was able to win the slot with Toni Collette.

Once again, however, it was Seven’s week, scoring a very strong 29.3% over Nine’s 24.3% and TEN’s 22.4%. The ABC had 17.6% and SBS 6.3%.

Seven won 18-49 and 25-54 while TEN took 16-39 and a clean sweep of all 5 cities.  It also won Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Nine won Monday and Thursday, while TEN had a Sunday win even without MasterChef Australia or Rove.

Seven’s best for the week was Seven News (Sunday) with 1.97m just ahead of Packed to the Rafters on 1.92m, another impressive return. Also strong were  Dancing with the Stars, World’s Strictest Parents, Today Tonight, Surf Patrol, Better Home and Gardens, Airways, Home and Away, All Saints and Desperate Housewives. Saturday’s movie Finding Nemo was popular. Seven’s new comedy pair Double Take, TV Burp unsurprisingly lost a little ground in their second outing. The final Prison Break petered out on 181,000 and Lipstick Jungle on 150,000. After a soft return for Las Vegas eps, Seven opted not to keep the show on Mondays too (the eps are so old, and it was hardly a bumper show in its time). The might of All Saints at 1.26m behind Rafters should not be overlooked. This could join Always Greener as another drama axed while performing.

Nine may have lifted from third to second place this week but there were only a few reasons to be happy. Nine News (Sunday) was also its top rating show on 1.4m viewers. Elsewhere the finale of Sea Patrol did well, while Getaway and Random Acts of Kindness were its next best. Two and a Half Men fluctuated from a strong Monday night to a softer Tuesday. Alarmingly, 60 Minutes fell below 1m viewers -even without MasterChef around. Its Sunday movie Oceans 13 took half the crowd of TEN’s earlier family flick. But it was Tuesday night that was a fatal blow. Appearing out of nowhere, The New Adventures of Old Christine was soundly rejected in a line-up that dragged the network below 20%. The second ep of Australia’s Perfect Couple proved almost as dire, and should have been moved by now. What happened to the philosophy that  ‘if you’re going to fail, fail fast?’ There’s better news for Today, which beat Sunrise on Thursday for the first time in six years, excluding Good Friday. Eddie’s Hot Seat is holding firm.

Without its reality juggernaut TEN now has to contend with its regular shows led by Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation at 1.61m. But it managed to win Sunday with its movie Night at the Museum and Merlin. The return of Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? was respectable while Rush, NCIS and a new Simpsons were strong. The 7PM Project had another light week as it continues to tweak its format. Rules of Engagement is soft for a 7:30pm slot -odd that TEN plans to keep repeats in place soon. ONE’s FIA Formula One World Championship pulled 199,000.

The ABC’s Wednesday line-up could do no wrong. Spicks and Specks was the week’s best with 1.45m, a figure retained by the final Chaser episode. The 1.27m for Tara surprised everyone, defeating all in its path and it lifted At The Movies. The other top shows were Australian Story, ABC News, Four Corners, The 7:30 Report, Grand Designs, Cassowaries, Media Watch and Whatever! The Science Of Teens. East of Everything dipped slightly to 749,000. Thursday’s Q & A remains soft. Maybe viewers aren’t aware it’s back yet.

Top Gear was tops on 767,000 for SBS. Liberal Rule lifted from Insight but didn’t raise beyond 241,000. Food Investigators took a stronger 405,000. Friday was its best night thanks to the 2009 Ashes Series.

Week 31

23 Responses

  1. It is a nice trend. Tara is quite good.

    Wed night is certainly ABC night in my house.

    I think Aunty is in her golden age. Lots of great programming, and some more to come like Safran Race Relations. They keep trucking on with quality content while the others insult the audience with Australias best fat couple.

    A lot of thier entertainment is educational too so not only is it not dumbing you down but giving you information to ponder and think about. Not telling you what to think but to think.

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed ABC’s Wednesday night line up.

    BTW. Speaking of quality, CH9 are working on their latest rating-saving reality hit…

    Filmed on location in the Melbourne CBD, it’s working title is
    ‘Random Acts of Violence’.

    It will be followed by a spin-off series, ‘Farmer wants a Knife’.

  3. Neon, whilst i may agree with what you have to say, it is somewhat nieve to believe that all three of the commercial nets can run their platforms in the same vein that the ABC does. At the end of the day, the ABC can fall back on those government funds – Seven, Nine & TEN cannot and must bring in their own fortunes which yes, does sometimes require conservative programming.

    Whilst the networks do need to stop focusing solely on the numbers and realised a strong presence on other plaftorms is necessary, at the end of the day, the main reference point for success is within the ratings. Sure, we would love to believe that everyone is going to start downloading series tomorrow and revolt against the networks, but that isnt going to happen. Rafters, Generation, Masterchef, Dancing, NCIS & Sea Patrol all show that the TV nets are doing something right if they can continue to grab large audiences. Last night, 1.8m tuned in to watch a new service they could have viewed online through a few clicks of a button.

    The death of TV is boring to watch TV

  4. I watched United States Of Tara on ABC2, mainly because I planned on watching How Not To Live Your Life, Ideal and It’s Adam And Shelley (which I enjoy as well) it gives me a good 2 hours of Advert free TV that way on Thursday Nights.

    With United States Of Tara being in a 9:30pm Timeslot would the commercial channels had to have cut some of the content as say TEN do with Dexter and Californication, Nine with The Sopranos (Weeds was on late on 9 so does not effect it), seeing as TEN got wrapped across the knuckles for some of Californication breaching standards you would think that may be why United States Of Tara was passed on (like how SBS can show Oz, Big Love, Skins, Mad Men and etc the ABC has the same rules do they not).

    If the Broadcast Standards were changed that 7,9,10 could show the same as the ABC and SBS at/after 9:30pm then maybe some of these shows would be on the commercials (would love to know how Being Human and Boy Meets Girl have faired on ABC2 as they were/are great shows as well).

  5. I watched the Unites States of Tara and I’ll watch again. The first ep was a little awkward but that’s often the case when you have to set up the characters etc. The ABC should thank Toni Collette, I’m sure a lot of people watched it for her. There are few Aussie actors who are as well liked and respected. If this had been on a commercial channel I”m not sure I’d have bothered. Because it’s on ABC I know they’ll stick with it, they won’t yank it after a few episodes even if the ratings drop or shift it to a really late time slot.

  6. @ tv – I’ve never actually seen anyone add the daily shares together as a general guide on who will win the week.

    If you want a fairly accurate week to date figure, all you have to do is add a network’s share together each day, then divide by the number of days you have added together. So after Tuesday night, if Seven has had 30%, 20% and 25%, 30+20+25 / 3 = 25%.

  7. Yeah, I agree with other posters that commercial networks really need to stop trying to churn out ‘lowest common denominator’ material. It does insult audiences, whether on a conscious or a subconscious level. If the writing and execution of a program is unique and original, and has something to say, people will tune in. It will end up faring much better than some crap like 20 to 1 or reality shows.

  8. Ch7 breaks the 200 point barrier for a long time. That doesn’t look good for the other networks. Anything above 185 points is a sure win for the week as the three majors only fight over 530-540 points each week, with the rest going to 2 and SBS.

  9. I know I watched United States of Tara with a little bit of trepidation – but when it finished I went – “Is that it???” I really wanted more. I caught it on Thursday on ABC2, but will definately now be setting the PVR for Wed on ABC.

  10. great win for 7 they have quality and shows that rate with dwts,rafters,all factual shows and reality shows they know how to make blockbuster tv while 9 has given up and a total joke and ten is doing well with some of their shows, but with homicide returning nxt wk on monday night when it rated better then moving it to sun it should boost there mon night that has been weak.

  11. ABC will get decent nubers for Tara because it has a reputation for that type of programming. Nine, Seven and even Ten have sol dout to reality and trash so if Tara appeared on their network it would suffer from association

  12. Tara did amazingly well. The ABC does have a certain audience though that will either watch the ABC or switch off, while at the same time more general audiences will watch the ABC if there is something they are interested in. I wonder if it would have gotten as high a figure on the commercial networks. I wouldn’t watch it with ads.

  13. The commercials surely need no more convincing, after this, that their lowest-common-denominator programming in the quest to see whose is bigger on any given week, day or hour is destined to be the death of them.

    If networks would stop obsessing over these numbers, stop obsessing over who “won the week”, “won the day”, “won the demo”, “won the hour” etc etc etc, and instead focussed on providing quality programming that doesn’t insult the intelligence of their viewers – indeed, if they put the needs of the viewers above the needs of the advertisers for a change – they might find plenty to smile about.

    But they won’t. It’s all about being a size queen these days, and viewer be damned as sales of huge broadband plans and 1TB hard disks skyrocket and the networks scratch their little heads wondering why it’s all going so very wrong.

    The ABC got it so right with this one. Excellent show, high definition, 5.1 audio, no ads (as intended by the show’s creators).

  14. People probably saw Tara mostly for the curiosity value, but I didn’t see anything
    in the first episode that’d compel me to want to keep watching 12 more
    episodes of it and a 2nd season, so I won’t be.

  15. Congrats to ABC.
    Tara was a big hit for me and now with The Librarians as well, they get my viewing attention. Ten must rue lack of new eps of NCIS
    And Nine well, if anyone knows what is on Tues night let someone know (only if 20-1 and2 /12 men not on) and their Weds night fare of Jules Lund is just plain scary.

  16. A show like Tara could only really bit a hit on ABC. Not only is the network willing to take a chance on quality programming that isn’t exactly mainstream, but so is their audience.

    Channel 10 would have played up the edginess. Seven would have played up Toni and made it look like a family friendly Kath & Kim type comedy. God only knows what Channel 9 would have done with it. … Probably air it to less than impressive numbers before replacing it with 20 to 1.

  17. I’d say the big winner of the week is the F1, being on ONE HD (or early morning on TEN) 199k is a great number given not everyone has access to the new HD channel. With Webber doing so well and Schumacher returning those numbers can only get better for the rest of the season.

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