The survey year ended with Seven on 29.1%, Nine 26.9%, Ten 21.9%, ABC 16.7% and SBS 5.5%.
It was a year where Seven could do little wrong, and where Nine continued to stumble but with new CEO David Gyngell at the helm, Nine is set to aggressively challenge Seven’s lead in 2008.
Seven enjoyed continued success this year with its stand-out hit Dancing With The Stars as well as It Takes Two and the new shows Australia’s Got Talent and The Rich List earlier in the year. Another hit for Seven was Kath & Kim which came across from ABC. The foxy morons delivered the highest average of any series this year, regularly passing the 2 million mark, a rare feat in this era of declining free-to-air audiences. Even repeats of the first ABC series, dating back to 2002, gave Seven great results.
Reality shows also did well for Seven with Border Security and The Force, but Nine also had good results in the genre with RPA Where Are They Now and Missing Persons Unit.
In drama, Home And Away continued to deliver strong figures going into its 20th anniversary but the 7.00pm timeslot was a tight contest with Temptation and ABC News also getting their share of strong results. Seven’s other drama stalwart All Saints also had a great year on the back of the Dancing With The Stars/It Takes Two lead-in.
The new Melbourne drama City Homicide also paid good dividends for Seven with consistently high audience figures. Nine launched Sea Patrol during the year that started with strong results but suffered a drop as the series progressed, but will be back next year. Nine’s other major drama McLeod’s Daughters also suffered a decline, and will now finish up next year.
News and current affairs, traditionally Nine’s domain, was Seven’s strength this year with Sunrise continuing to trounce Today, Weekend Sunrise ahead of Sunday, Seven News ahead of National Nine News, and Today Tonight ahead of A Current Affair. Although in Melbourne, it was a much closer battle between the two networks as Today dominated in the southern capital, and both Seven News and National Nine News fought it out with not much between them. Nationally, Nine’s 60 Minutes also held up well in the competitive Sunday 7.30pm timeslot.
The news year also ended well for Seven with its Sunrise-slanted federal election coverage Your Call 07, “without the boring bits”, seeing Nine’s coverage headed by Ray Martin beaten by the movie re-run The Empire Strikes Back on Ten. However, ABC’s election night coverage with Kerry O’Brien beat them all.
Deal Or No Deal continued to dominate the 5.30pm timeslot, seen as crucial by Seven and Nine as the lead-in timeslot to the news, at the expense of Nine’s Bert’s Family Feud which was cancelled during the year. Nine replaced Bert with a cheap UK import Antiques Roadshow which has surprisingly given strong competition to Deal Or No Deal. However despite Seven and Nine fighting it out in the timeslot, Ten wins the hour with Ten News.
The popularity of Sunrise in the breakfast timeslot saw Seven expand the formula with The Morning Show. The new show became an immediate hit at the expense of Nine’s Mornings With Kerri Anne and Ten’s 9am With David And Kim.
But the year didn’t always go Seven’s way. A few ratings mishaps were felt with some of its choices of prime-time movies, and also some of their US imports suffered ratings drops. Ugly Betty started on a high but soon fell to average results. Las Vegas and Bionic Woman also failed to get a significant result here. The late-year launch of National Bingo Night started off with strong figures, but quickly fell after a repeated smear campaign by Nine’s A Current Affair. And in the interesting battle of Jamie Durie (on Seven) versus Jamie Durie (on Nine), there were mixed results with Seven’s new series Australia’s Best Backyards having a neck-and-neck battle with two-year-old episodes of Nine’s Backyard Blitz. Nine also got good results with Don Burke‘s return to television with a one-off special, and top ratings for its telecast of the TV Week Logie Awards, movies Shrek and Shrek 2, and cricket and rugby telecasts. The NRL Grand Final recording 2.4 million viewers nationally.
Nine launched 1 vs 100 in January with Eddie McGuire but despite a promising launch, it suffered a ratings fall and was cancelled mid-year. Outgoing CEO McGuire did return to host a relaunched Who Wants To Be A Millionaire – going live-to-air on Monday nights – but struggled to reach the popularity of previous years. Not even the return of McGuire to the screen was enough to save Nine’s new US series Viva Laughlin featuring Hugh Jackman, debuting on the same night. The show’s fate seemed to be sealed when a US critic labelled it “the worst show in the history of TV” and suffered dismal ratings on its premiere. The US network CBS canned it after two episodes, and Nine consequently cancelled it after just the one.
But the ratings battle isn’t just between Seven and Nine. Network Ten had another successful series of Thank God You’re Here and also US import House. Rove McManus returned to TV in April after a prolonged break, with Rove making the risky move to Sunday nights and increasing on last year’s figures. McManus also hosted Ten’s new game show Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? which delivered strong figures.
Ten had little else to rave about apart from good ratings performances from AFL including the Grand Final which got the highest figure of any program this year – 2.563 million in the five capital cities.
Ten’s big name formats Big Brother and Australian Idol suffered falling ratings this year compared to last year. The former suffering from playing it safe this year in the wake of last year’s “turkey slap” incident, and the latter being hit by Kath & Kim, though still maintained a decent following. The second series of the Australian The Biggest Loser performed well, managing over 2 million viewers for its series final. The US series So You Think You Can Dance gave Ten great ratings on Thursday nights, boding well for the Australian version to launch next year.
Soapie veteran Neighbours declined in ratings this year, prompting Ten to wheel out a two-month teaser campaign to promote a relaunch in July – promising fresh storylines, new characters and better production values. Figures spiked when the relaunch happened, but soon fell back to their usual level.
The national broadcaster ABC had success this year with their midweek comedies The Chaser’s War On Everything, Summer Heights High and The Librarians. The game show Spicks And Specks also continued to achieve fantastic figures. ABC also recorded high figures for British dramas Midsomer Murders and New Tricks.
SBS had a controversial year – headlined by their decision to structure commercial breaks inside programs rather than between them. Twelve months on, the change appears to have had negligible effect as the network recorded a 0.1 per cent increase on its prime time rating compared to 2006.
The network recorded its better figures on Monday nights due to the popular Mythbusters and Top Gear and comedies including South Park, Pizza and Wilfred. Saturday night regular RockWiz was also a strong performer for the network.