Local reality hits lead ratings charge

Territory report: Oz

SYDNEY — Seven Network has proved it’s not a one-trick pony as homegrown reality skeins pull in auds every bit as good as its U.S. imports “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” which began the station’s revival last year.

Local reality hits “Border Security” and “Dancing With the Stars” have played to boffo auds of more than 2 million, and recently were joined by police reality skein “The Force: Behind the Line,” building on a strong lead from “Border.”

Given the net’s success, its no surprise that programming topper Tim Worner says he’s on the lookout for observational docus at Mipcom as well as Blighty dramas.

“The one constant is format,” says Worner. “The Seven team has been pretty sharp at identifying strong concepts very early on and then tailoring them to work well locally. That’s an area that hoovers up a fair bit of discussion time and that time has proven to be well invested.”

As far as successful U.S. content, Worner was pleased to find a sitcom that worked.

“We’ve finally been able to get a funny bloke in a new U.S. comedy pulling an audience — and his name is Earl,” Worner says. “Other than that, we believe in the potential of shows like ‘Bones’ and ‘Criminal Minds’ even though that whole genre is getting more crowded.”

“Torvill and Dean’s Dancing on Ice,” Nine Network’s attempt at a celeb reality hit, started well but was no challenger to Seven’s fleet-footed celebs.

Instead the web has stayed neck and neck with Seven with its resilient “CSI” franchise and “Cold Case.” Nine is facing the very real possibility that Seven may best it in the ratings for the first time in nearly two decades.

Youth-skewed Network Ten will be looking to bolster its 7 p.m. strip after mixed results with reality this year. A local version of “The Biggest Loser” played well in that slot, but follow-up skein “Yasmin’s Getting Married” was left at the altar after just one week.

“It would be great to solve that,” says Ten’s program topper David Mott. “We now have half a year with ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Biggest Loser.’ ”

1. “Dancing With the Stars,” Seven
2. “Border Security,” Seven
3. “The Force,” Seven

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