Seven is 1st in ad revenue, 2nd in ratings


SYDNEY -- Kerry Stokes' Seven Network booked the lion's share of Australia's AUS$3.5 billion ($2.73 billion) TV advertising revenue in 2006, despite finishing the year second to rival Nine Network in the TV ratings.

Seven took a 35.89% share of the AUS$1.4 billion metropolitan TV ad market in the second half of the year, according to figures released by industry body Free TV Australia, Monday, up from 36.4% in the first half. Nine, meanwhile, lost its market leadership, dropping to a 33.8% share, down 2.7 points from the first half's 36.58% share.

Network Ten saw its position improve in the second half, up 3 points to top a 30.6% revenue share.

Seven Network spokesman Simon Francis told reporters that the network was building revenue in a soft market, a reflection of "increasing ratings and improved programming."

By contrast, the Nine Network won the ratings year with a 36.2% audience share to Seven's 35% and Ten's 28.4%, according to numbers released in December. Seven showed the strongest growth of any network for the year thanks to a lineup that included "Desperate Housewives," "Grey's Anatomy" and such strong local franchises as "Dancing with the Stars" and "Border Security."

TV advertising on Australia's commercial networks topped AUS$3.51 billion ($2.74 billion) for the year, slightly down from 2005's AUS$3.51 billion.

Overall, TV ad revenue in the five capital cities fell nearly 1% for the six months ending Dec. 31 from the corresponding period in the previous year, while revenue at the networks' rural and regional affiliates rose 2.2% for the half and 3.1% for the full year.

Analysts are predicting that the Seven Network will push Nine from its No. 1 position in the ratings this year, with the battle for viewers intensifying as the networks launch key new programs this week, two weeks ahead of the official start of the ratings season on Feb. 11.

Seven has claimed a win for the summer ratings, with a share of 28.2% for the four weeks of the year to date. It also aired the No. 1 program -- which aired Sunday night -- the Australian Open men's tennis final won by Swiss wunderkind Roger Federer. The match averaged 2.4 million viewers, peaking at 3.05 million viewers.