The rivalry between the brekkie shows – Seven’s Sunrise and Nine’s Today – looks set to explode yet again with Sunrise already eyeing the 2017 ratings battle with months still to run.
Despite the fact we’re only in July, the general consensus is a show needs to win 21 of the 40 rating weeks to claim supremacy.
According to a report in Fairfax Media today, of the 21 weeks counted so far for 2017, Sunrise can claim 15, Today has five and there’s been one tie.
In 2016, Today claimed the ratings crown and title of “Australia’s most popular breakfast show”, beating its arch-rival for the first time in 12 years.
However, a slanging match erupted between the two broadcasters with Seven arguing that if you threw in regional viewers (and not just the five metro capitals that Nine claimed) then it had more viewers and was the winner.
However, Nine was having none of Seven’s regionals talk and in October last year issued a press release trumpeting its success. “Today has averaged 317,000 viewers each morning in 2016 (up 5 per cent year-on-year), compared to Sunrise which has an average morning audience of 310,000 (down 5 per cent year-on-year,” the release read. “Putting Today in an unbeatable position.”
Today then began promoting itself as “Australia’s No. 1 breakfast program” which technically wasn’t true. Seven threatened to sue over the claim, forcing Nine to amend its promotions.
So, by Nine’s own logic, Sunrise (presently on 15 wins for the year) needs just another six to take the 2017 crown back off its rival.
However, Seven itself has labelled the “first to 21” rule as “phoney” and “a bit like a half-time victory lap”.
Last week, Today’s Karl Stefanovic – who’s going through a much-publicised marriage split – told Fairfax that Nine was suffering a hangover from its 2016 results.
“I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we were so hellbent on winning last year that we may have lost focus on the most important thing: the viewers,” he said “But now we’re back to winning the hearts and minds of viewers with great content, and I think we’re doing that.”