It’s just as well Eddie McGuire has returned to hosting excruciating quiz shows, because as a Network head he clearly makes a great excruciating host. The Commonwealth Games have now long been forgotten (I think Australia won from memory), and there is nothing left for the Nine Network (PBL) to hang on to that can suggest it still is Australia’s premier network. Seven (SEV) has finally won.
JP Morgan analysts put it hysterically this morning with their report entitled “7 8 9”. Oh how we laughed. (Think about it). Seven has topped the ratings for the second half of 2006 with a revenue share of 35.9%, ahead of Nine at 33.8% and Ten (TEN) at 30.3%.
While Seven’s performance has been highly commendable, it was actually Ten that put the final nail in Nine’s coffin, having bounced back from a revenue low of 27% earlier in the year (before BB and AI returned). Most of that recovery was at the expense of Nine.
While there might be some champagne corks a-poppin’ in Epping and Pyrmont, the Willoughby Hotel must have a few tumbleweeds blowing through it by now. Oh those glory days. Nevertheless, no network has much to be excited about on the bigger picture, as total revenue defied analyst predictions and fell for another half.
The internet and other new media have been sucking ad dollars out of FTATV for some time now, but analysts did expect some sort of pick up given last year’s numbers were so atrocious. Will there ever be a pick-up? ABN Amro believes a lot of the decline this time can be attributed to the loss of Nine’s premium.
Once upon a time, Nine attracted advertising spend at a premium to its actual market share for the simple reason that Nine ruled the roost and don’t you forget it. And if you didn’t pay up, Kerry would come around and kick your head in.
But Kerry’s gone now, and so has the premium, although ABN notes Seven has managed to pick up a bit of premium of its own. Word from the TV critics is that everything Seven has pre-purchased this year from the US has turned to gold over there, while Nine’s new acquisitions are already sitting in dumpsters somewhere. Things don’t look like picking up soon.
Not that it really matters anymore. Kerry was barely cold before Jamie ditched his father’s one true love, and the PBL Media spin-off now means Publishing & Broadcasting’s exposure to television is minimal. The same is true of Seven following its own private equity deal.
That only leaves Ten as a means of investing in FTA television, but given the media takeover frenzy it is still holding a premium that makes it little of value – if old media has any value anyway. Ten may yet disappear as we know it.
So while the ongoing ratings war has provided hours of entertainment in the past, it’s all a bit academic now. Until, I suppose, Howard privatises the ABC.