WHEN the official ratings survey closes at the end of next week, Seven will hold on to its crown as the leading commercial free-to-air network.
But it is set to be beaten by Nine and Ten in some of the key advertiser-friendly demographics.
No 3 Network Ten wins the prize for hit of the year with MasterChef Australia.
According to OzTAM data, Seven has won the year to date with a 27.9 per cent share to Nine’s 26.6, Ten’s 22.5, ABC’s 17 and SBS’s 5.9.
But Seven is not as far ahead as it was three years ago, when it first beat Nine by more than two full share points: 29 to Nine’s 26.9.
Nine has been catching up, especially with younger audiences.
And although Seven had the most consistently successful programming line-up, it was not represented in the list of the top 10 programs, dominated by Ten’s MasterChef Australia (3.7 million for the finale) and sport events.
The Nine Network was given a late boost by the surprise success of two Hey Hey It’s Saturday Reunion specials, both of which attracted more than 2.1 million viewers.
Nine chief executive David Gyngell is soon to announce details of the show’s return next year in a series of specials starring Daryl Somers and the crew.
Nine won both the 25-to-54 and 18-to-49 demographics, albeit by finishing a mere 0.1 percentage point in front of Seven.
The Ten Network won in the 16-to-39-year-old demographic with a 30.8 per cent of the five-network share, beating Nine on 27.4 and Seven on 27.
These official OzTAM figures include the multi-channels too, putting Seven at some disadvantage because its digital channel, 7TWO, has only started recently.
When multi-channels Nine’s Go! and Ten’s One are not included in the figures, Seven fares better.
In a breakdown of the three commercial channels, Seven wins in total people with a 36.9 per cent share to Nine’s 34.4 and Ten’s 28.7.
Seven wins also in the 18-to-49 and 25-to-54 ranges, although Ten is very strong with younger audiences and wins in the 16-to-39 group with a 35.7 per cent share to Nine’s 31.8 and Seven’s 32.4.
The Ten Network’s has the two most successful launches of new programs this year with MasterChef Australia and Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation.The popularity of the cooking genre has exploded, with all networks planning more cooking and food shows for next year.
The Shaun Micallef vehicle Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation averaged 1.6 million viewers.
But the highest-rating regular show of 2009 was Nine’s Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities starring Matt Newton.
The drama based on Sydney’s underworld was also the only regular show this year to average more than two million viewers.
The third series, Underbelly: The Golden Mile starring Sigrid Thornton, Natalie Bassingthwaighte and Mark Furze, isin production for next year.
The second series of Underbelly averaged 2.1 million, more than the first series last year, which averaged 1.7 million, because it was initially banned in Victoria.
Seven also successfully launched two new shows this year: World’s Strictest Parents and Thank God You’re Here, which was not strictly new but new to the channel, which stole it from Ten.
Seven News finished comfortably in front of Nine News, with an average national audience of 1.6 million to 1.4 million.
Seven’s raft of locally produced shows had a drop in audiences this year, Find My Family being the hardest hit in losing 300,000 viewers. It fell from an average audience of 1.8 million last year to 1.5 this year, Border Security fell from 1.6 million to 1.5 and RSPCA Animal Rescue from 1.6 million to 1.4.