NINE's ASHES coverage sets new records despite plenty of HD Frustration
Australia's stunning victory in the First Ashes Test has delivered a record audience for NINE.
Coverage of the nail-biting last day on 9GEM pushed the channels primary share figure to 17%, a new record for a multi-channel in Australia.
The figure made 9GEM the second most-watched channel in the country, narrowly behind SEVEN's primary channel on 17.6 percent. NINE's primary channel which featured a heavily promoted second episode of reality format The Block pushed that channel to 16.2 percent.
The First Session of Monday night's Day 5 Ashes coverage airing between 7pm and 10pm AEST on 9GEM had an average national audience of 1.059Million (Metro: 760k/ Regional: 299k).
The big audiences stuck around for the conclusion of the match with the Second Session after 10:30pm AEST achieving an average national audience of 774,000 (Metro: 592k/ Regional: 182k).
Airing in primetime on the NINE's main channel, The Block had a narrow victory over the extended cricket coverage. The reality series had an average national audience of 1.152Million (Metro: 859k / Regional: 293k).
The decision to air the final day of the gripping Test Match caused significant frustration for some sports fans. NINE has recently launched a High Definition version 9GEM on digital channel 95. However, the improved service remains unavailable across much of regional Australia.
The broadcast also proved to highly frustrating for Foxtel customer's. The pay-tv provider has been unable to strike a carriage agreement with Nine meaning 9GEMHD is not available on Foxtel boxes. Foxtel customers with older equipment are also prevented from accessing the Standard Definition version of the channel.
A spokesperson for NINE defended the decision to push the final day's cricket onto the multi-channel, telling News Corp;
"In a multi-platform world we provide the audience with options, and we delivered for both The Block audience and cricket fans,"
the spokesperson went on to add,
"In Test cricket, there are a lot of variables including weather and the early conclusion of play. Day 5 is no guarantee.'
The combined strength of The Ashes and The Block delivered NINE an enormous network share of 37.8%. Well ahead of arch-rival SEVEN with a combination of five broadcast channels producing a combined network share of 24.7%