Seven nabs Aussie ratings crown

Network wins second consecutive TV title

SYDNEY — Seven Network has won its second consecutive yearly ratings race, proving its dethroning of the once-dominant Nine Network was not a one-off.

Last year Seven unseated Nine from a 20-year winning streak and it was keen to prove it could do it again — and it did, with a solid 28.4 % share of the total aud to Nine’s 27.3% and Ten’s 21%.

Pubcaster ABC improved its share to 17.6% while multi-cultural pubcaster SBS stayed at a fairly flat 5.6%.

Seven’s programming topper Tim Worner says that the win proves it has a broad sked that is working well.

“Seven’s success story is built on a vast array of hit shows, many of them Australian and including news and public affairs programs that have dominated the opposition,” Worner says. “It is not about one or two shows that have been played to death.”

Seven got a boost from hosting the Beijing Olympics but it was not the only thing in its favor.

The web had the hit of the year with family drama “Packed to the Rafters,” which played to regular auds of 2 million, while crime skein “City Homicide” and “Border Security” were among shows that dominated ratings.

One of Nine’s key failings is that its aud skews older and it cannot match Seven’s broad reach. It has also faltered under its new management after James Packer gradually pulled out of the empire started by his media mogul father Kerry Packer, leaving equity group CVC running it.

But it is a much more confident Nine than a year ago under the stewardship of prodigal son David Gyngell, who returned after a sudden departure in 2005.

“Nine enjoyed a strong start to the year with the success of hit shows ‘Underbelly’ and ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ but lost some momentum post Olympics,” says Andrew Anagnostellis, media analyst at Deutsche Bank.

Meanwhile for perennially third Network Ten, which saw the demise of its “Big Brother” franchise this year after poor ratings, reality TV is still strong. Solid ratings for local versions of “The Biggest Loser” and “So You Think You Can Dance” did good numbers for the web.

But it was Seven’s year and it will prove hard to beat in the coming 12 months.

“We have a mantra at Seven that involves building one hit show after another,” Worner says. “If we keep our focus on that aim, everything else — like winning nights, weeks or seasons — takes care of itself. Seven will launch in 2009 with the strongest schedule it has had in its history. It is as simple as that.”

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