It’s been a tough year for Nine’s breakfast show but the network is hoping results in one key market is a sign of things to come
To those in the know, Brisbane is one of the most important television markets in the country. Seen as a ‘swing state’ (yes, I know it’s a city, not a state – but you get the idea), it’s filled with people more likely to change their TV viewing habits before the rest of the country.
And the thinking goes that if you win Brisbane you will eventually win nationally.
If you can remember back to a time when Channel 7’s Sunrise wasn’t the number 1 breakfast show, it was the Brisbane market that first started to ‘make the switch’.
Eventually, the rest of the country caught up and Sunrise stole the ratings crown from TODAY. It’s hard to imagine now, but this was a major shake-up as the TODAY show had been number 1 for decades. It really can’t be underplayed what a major deal it was to have the Channel 7 show winning – it completely made Nine rethink everything they were doing.
Since that time, especially in breakfast, Brisbane has been the market executives look to for hopes of what might come. So, you can imagine Channel 9 is hoping history repeats itself with news the TODAY show has won that market for the past 4 weeks.
While the past four weeks have been good for the TODAY show, Sunrise is still in front no matter what way you look at it. Channel 7’s breakfast offering has won 26 weeks to 6 weeks in the market and is averaging 61,000 to 56,000. Sources at Seven say this is their best result in Brisbane for years as the two are usually closer.
The question is whether a new trend is developing and whether Nine can hold onto that momentum. Executives at Nine are hoping the recent trend in Brisbane is a sign of things to come, but sources at Seven say that thinking is outdated and no longer true. They point to the fact TODAY did very well in Brisbane in 2018 but no trend developed. That is certainly true but we also need to remember the show underwent a major overhaul with the removal of host Karl Stefanovic, thus eliminating any momentum in that market.
There is no denying a four-week run is impressive and I am part of the old guard that still looks to Brisbane for early indicators of what might happen nationally. However, TODAY is battling to hold on to its number 2 spot after falling behind ABC News Breakfast in the 5 cap cities. The Michael Rowland and Lisa Miller alternative is trending to officially become the #2 breakfast show with 13 weeks in the #2 spot as versus TODAY’s 10 weeks.
While Nine knows the recovery process for the TODAY show will take time after a turbulent few years, Seven points to the fact Sunrise has won every week and every day of 2020 and is number 1 in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, the east coast, 5 city metro, nationally and regionally.
In fact Sunrise has grown in audience since 2019 and in 2019 it had grown its 2018 audience.
While all of this is true the last thing Seven wants is to have any chinks in the armour. Perception is everything in this game and if TODAY does the unthinkable and ends up winning the Brisbane market, Nine can spin that as a major win while Seven will be putting out fires.
Being a dominant Number 1 comes with some drawbacks – any loss, no matter how small, can be seen as a major defeat.
Over the course of the next few weeks you can expect a lot of effort to be put into the Brisbane market. If the Queensland border wasn’t closed due to COVID-19, I can guarantee both shows would be broadcasting live from the sunshine state.