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Oz ratings race is webs’ closest in 20 years

'Housewives,' 'Lost' help boost Seven

SYDNEY — Strong showings for local reality skeins have given Seven Network its best chance yet of beating perennial leader Nine Network as the yearly ratings battle reaches its halfway point.

Nine has dominated ratings for two decades but the chinks in its armor began last year when Seven inherited “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” through its output deal with ABC/Disney.

This year, those imported dramas are not the only thing driving Seven’s ratings success.

The web has drawn boffo auds with strong local product, including celeb reality skein “Dancing With the Stars,” which at its peak commanded a 40.8% share, and celeb duet-singing skein “It Takes Two.”

Together with non-celeb reality hits “Border Security” and “Medical Emergency,” Seven gets four out of the Top 10 regular programs, drawing with Nine.

With 20 ratings weeks under their belts, Nine has won 10 weeks, Seven has won nine and Ten, which actively targets a younger demo, has won just one.

But take into account the fact that Nine showed the Commonwealth Games, which only come around every four years, for three survey weeks and you have an even closer race.

Nine has fired back a few salvos including its own celebs reality skein “Torvill and Dean’s Dancing on Ice,” in which celebs learn to ice dance with former U.K. Olympic champions Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean.

But despite skating out to an impressive aud of 1.6 million, skein has had some slippery moments of late. Celebs have had a host of problems, from spinal injuries to broken legs and ratings are on the slide.

Nine has also been hoping to counter with “event TV” such as an interview with cancer-stricken Aussie pop star Kylie Minogue, which aired last week but was soundly beaten by an episode of “Desperate Housewives.”

The bad news continues for Aussie drama, with only three in the Top 20 Australian shows. They are Seven’s medical skein “All Saints,” sudser “Home and Away” and Nine’s rural drama “McLeod’s Daughters.” The rest was all local news and reality TV.

But if Seven can continue to apply the pressure for the second half of the year, something it failed to do last year, then the drama may be behind the scenes rather than on the box.

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