Seven leads Australian ratings race

Network poised to end Nine's dominance

SYDNEY — Halfway through the ratings year, the Seven Network is on track to steal the Nine Network’s long-held crown.

Seven has a commanding lead — having won 18 of the 20 weeks so far this year — and should be able to claim victory well ahead of November’s end to the ratings year.

Seven has a 29.2% total aud share to Nine’s 27.5 % while Network Ten is third on 21.5%.

This win will be particularly sweet for Seven, which has just failed to pip Nine in the race for the past two years, despite growing its aud year on year.

Nine has held the ratings crown for almost 20 years, and for many of those years it had the station ID “Still the One.”

Rivals argue that Seven is coasting on its output deals from U.S. studios such as ABC/Disney, which have delivered hits like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Ugly Betty.”

But they have also nurtured a string of local hits. “Dancing With the Stars,” “Border Security” and newcomer “Surf Patrol” all rate well for the web and they lead in news and public affairs shows.

Morning television is also an area where Seven has been dominant with its “Sunrise” skein proving tough to dislodge from No. 1.

Nine’s half-way report grudgingly describes Seven’s top franchise programs as “currently concluding” but Seven disagrees.

“The forthcoming launch of the next series of ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and ‘Kath and Kim’ have yet to begin — let alone conclude,” says a Seven spokesperson. “We assume they mean the end of ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ but choose to ignore the storming return of ‘Border Security’ and the launch of ‘Surf Patrol.’ ”

Recent weeks have been more positive for Nine.

The bow of its new Naval drama “Sea Patrol” pulled an impressive 1.8 million eyeballs and its second outing drew similar numbers. Web has also benefited from the State of Origin rugby football matches, which always draw socko auds Down Under.

Ten, which targets the narrower 18-49 demo, has had a tough year. Its big guns, like “Big Brother,” failed to ignite, but it too has seen recent success with the return of hit laffer “Thank God You’re Here” (1.7 million viewers).

But it looks like Seven’s year, though execs are still cautious.

“Leadership is good,” says a Seven spokesman. “We won’t deny that, given the alternative isn’t as much fun. But we’re not into getting too carried away with ourselves. We’re looking to consolidate our performance over the next five months.”

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