Early starts a glimmer of hope for Perth’s Tim & Libby

Tim McMillan & Libby StoneAccording to their boss Nine News Perth presenters Tim McMillan and Libby Stone get an A+ for effort.

“They are the hardest working news presenters in the country, because they are here at breakfast and here at dinner time,” says managing director David Mott.

Since mid-March Nine has been presenting two locally produced half-hour bulletins at 7am and 8:30am sandwiched in the middle of the Today show. After decades of dominance by the Seven Network in the Perth market, the move was part of Nine’s softly-softly attempt to make some in-roads, after purchasing the station from WIN last year.

But it means McMillan and Stone, who joined from QTQ in April, are on site from the early hours until evening. For such dedication, you’d be hoping to see some improvement in the all-important numbers.

On Wednesday, Nine had its first win over Seven for its 7:00-7:30am bulletin. Nine averaged 41,000 / 36,000 for the two quarter hours while Seven was 22,00 / 22,000.

Nine acknowledges it’s but a dip in the ratings ocean, but is encouraged by some upward movement.

“We have a mountain to climb here in Perth and it’s great to take those first steps and see such encouraging growth. It’s terrific the people of Perth are enjoying our local live Today Perth News bulletins,” said Tim McMillan.

For the OzTAM numbers, which lump the bulletins in with Today‘s share, Nine still lost to Seven. Sunrise averaged 39,000 from 7-9am and Today was 35,000. But Mott says having the only local Live content is working for the overall station brand.

“I’m the first to say this is only one day. We’re still in the building phase of that transition of being a truly national programme to a combination of creating local news,” he told TV Tonight.

“I find it extraordinary that the broadcasters here didn’t care about the viewers at breakfast time. To be perfectly honest when they are all on 2 and 3 hour delays it’s an absolute nonsense that there wasn’t a live up to date news service, and a local one.”

The Today Perth News includes National / International news, local news, traffic and weather, preceded by a live throw by Today‘s Karl and Lisa.

“It’s just about finding an opportunity to grow our brand, rather than just between 6 and 7pm,” he said.

“We just felt that the public deserved it.

“We’ve seen in recent weeks it’s been growing to get a loyal audience, but like anything it takes time for people to know it’s there.”

As McMillan notes, there is still a mountain to climb. In Perth Sunrise has averaged around double the audience of Today for years. Nationally it is enjoying a resurgence while Today has lost ground, sometimes with a margin of around 100,000 viewers.

Since the introduction of the breakfast Perth bulletins, Today has increased 3,000 in Perth, while Sunrise has increased by 8,000 -presumably both taking share from the now-defunct Wake-Up.

Sunrise executive producer Michael Pell reiterated Seven always switches to live news in Perth for big breaking news.

“We are very grateful to the people of Perth for continuing to make Sunrise their first choice for breakfast,” he said.

But David Mott, former TEN chief programmer, knows the value of branding across the big picture. He says Nine’s primetime news -where the numbers matter most- are up 6.7% while Seven is down 6.4%.

The weekly channel share is up 2.3% this year in the Perth market.

“It’s the highest growth of any station in Australia this year,” he explains.

“(Seven) are still in a commanding position, we understand that, and we still have a long way to go.

“(Seven’s) Rick and Susannah have been reading news together for 30 years. So we understand we have a job to do but it’s trending in the right direction.”

10 Comments:

  1. The only time i watch Seven is for Footy and Home & Away.
    Watch the Nine News with the best team in Perth.
    I enjoy the hour of News on Nine.
    Will Never watch Rick and Sue on Seven.
    Keep up the good work Nine

  2. For what it’s worth if I was running the breakfast shows I would start live either on main or multi channel then when it gets to 7 just add live local news every half hour and just replay earlier bits of the show

  3. I’ve only watched a few minutes, its ok but I tend to just hear the snippets on the radio and if its something of interest, I’ll just read it online.

  4. Colonel Vandelay

    I’m wondering what Michael Pell considers “big news”. When Nelson Mandela passed away, Channels 9 and 10 both switched to live coverage in Perth (10 going straight into Studio 10), while Sunrise was showing us the Cash Cow and Tongue Twisters.

  5. It’s a stupid idea having a 30 min news bulletin at 7am and 8.30 as those going to work need a quick 5 min summary. It would be better to tag on 5 minute local news on the hour and half hour from 7-9.

  6. seven will just do the same next year in the morning and drop tt for 1 hour of news and smash nine. with all due respect your comparing a live news segment with a 2 hour delayed show from the east coast!

  7. I really think they are overselling the importance of live local news at 7am. Anything major people hear on the radio or Internet anyway. As for 9 news making inroads based on the Today efforts, it again is overselling any real dent into the 7 brand. The fact is 9 just looks and feels the inferior product in Perth. Even Ten news at 5 usually rates better than 9news at 6pm. I have to say Ten have a better product than 9 and I prefer it to 7 too.

    Nine news’ unfamiliar newsreaders (and sport/weather) that keep changing don’t help. Throw in the fact 7 has always lead into locally produced today tonight while 9 just the national one (after a failed attempt at a local version) and 7’s ties with Telethon, a Perth institution that people relate with and it makes for a 7 juggernaught that probably laughs at 9’s morning experiment.

    All 7 needs to do to punch back harder is do the same. I…

  8. Good article David!

    There won’t be any huge movement until Rick and Susannah retire at TVW.

    Networking delayed eastern states news programs into WA has always been a problem for the networks. Would the numbers and overall audience be higher if either Seven or Nine went fully live between 7am to 9am by extending the production of Sunrise and or Today for WA only by another 2 hours when the east coast switches away to The Morning Show / Mornings at 9am?

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