The Nine Network’s decision to screen an hour-long news service and throw to The Block and A Current Affair in a ratings battle against Seven Network shows has paid off.
The first nine weeks of the 2014 survey ended last Friday and the new official period starts April 27 which also coincides with Nine’s TV Week Logies coverage.
Nine’s programming underwent some major changes in 2014 with the introduction of an hour long new service (6pm-7pm).
The knock-on effect was pushing back A Current Affair to the 7pm timeslot in a head-to-head with the Seven Network’s long running soapie Home And Away.
It also meant Nine had to ditch its 7 O’Block promo for The Block which was moved to 7.30pm in direct competition with Seven’s ratings juggernaut My Kitchen Rules (MKR).
Even though The Block had to take on MKR, the Nine reality show’s ratings were up about 12 per cent for the same time last year.
The Block: Fans V Faves, which ended last Wednesday, averaged 1.414 million viewers per episode compared with The Block All Stars which averaged 1.263 million per night in early 2013.
The Block‘s ratings may have started moving skyward but MKR remains the dominant show and averages more than 1.6 million viewers an episode.
But the improvement in The Block’s nightly figures helped the station’s audience share in prime time (6pm-midnight) rise from 28.5 per cent in 2013 to 29.6 per cent this year.
For the same period, Seven’s dropped slightly from 32.7 to 32.3, while embattled Ten slipped from 16.4 to 15.6 and further behind the ABC. The ABC increased from 17.5 to 17.9.
Nine’s hour-long service has held up well and justifies the network’s decision to lead the way and switch its programming.
Seven also went to an hour news in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane but still produces local versions of Today Tonight in Adelaide and Perth.
So far Nine’s news has won every week of the official survey period while Home And Away has won five of the nine weeks in its battle with ACA.
Outside the prime time battle for ratings, the other war being waged by the networks is to win 25-54 year-old age demographic. Both Seven and Nine have scored wins.
Nine had the biggest increase, lifting its 25-54 demographic from 31.6 per cent in 2013 to 33.1 this year. Seven’s share rose from 32.5 to 33.3.
However Ten, which last year suddenly changed from a younger target audience to attract a bigger share of the 25-54 age demographic, slipped considerably.
Ten dropped from 19.6 to 18.4 while the ABC slid from 12.1 to 11.2 and SBS dipped from 4.2 to 3.9.
Seven director of programming Angus Ross said the network was number one for all people, 25-54 and 18-49.
“The record share in 25-54’s has again been driven by the dominant performance of My Kitchen Rules,” Ross told AAP.
“We are very confident of carrying this momentum into quarter two with the My Kitchen Rules finals, the return of House Rules and A Place to Call Home and the premiere of Rebecca Gibney’s new project The Killing Field.”
The three commercial networks will roll out some of their biggest shows for the year immediately after Easter.
Among Nine’s offerings are the third season of The Voice, local drama series House Husbands and its new reality series When Love Comes To Town hosted by Natalie Gruzlewski.
Seven still has the finale of MKR to screen before it rolls out renovation reality series House Rules and its new US sci-fi series Intelligence.
Ten will again serve up MasterChef and the Australian-based episodes of the US sitcom Modern Family, the US series 24: Live Another Day and imported comedy The Millers.