Homer outrates Holmes, Close Up loses viewers

By Claire Trevett

The numbers show Paul Holmes has a hard slog ahead to keep the "we'll do anything to attract you" promise he made to viewers on his debut.

According to Monday night's ACNielsen ratings, Paul Holmes' debut on Prime was watched by 151,160 viewers.

Across at rival Close Up on TVOne, the audience reached 491,270.

About 1.4 million people were watching television at the time.

But while Susan Wood's 7pm show had almost three times as many viewers, its audience share is a long way short of where it rated in February last year with Holmes at the helm.

On Monday, Paul Holmes on Prime was outrated by a repeat of The Simpsons on TV3, which hooked 226,740 viewers.

Shortland Street on TV2 had 453,480 viewers.

Of Paul Holmes' ratings, TV3 spokesman Roger Beaumont's only comment was "Homer beat Holmes".

In the advertisers' dream audience of those aged 25 to 54, Shortland Street came up trumps, snaring 35 per cent. Close Up got 30 per cent and Paul Holmes 12 per cent.

Yesterday, Prime programming manager Andrew Shaw said he was delighted with the launch, and the audience size was "in line with our expectations and our advertisers' expectations".

However, executive producer Pip Keane's comment to the National Business Review that she would be rapt with 250,000 suggested expectations were higher.

Martin Gillman of the advertising media agency Total Media said Paul Holmes had rated less than he had expected, especially for its highly publicised first night.

"We expected slightly better than that. Nearly twice as many people watched Simpsons as Paul Holmes. If you were being charitable you'd say it was first-night jitters and I think there is a chance it will build."

Peter Myles, media director of Colenso BBDO, was happy to give Paul Holmes time.

"We did not have numerical expectations for day one," he said.

"It will take weeks for the dust to settle and it will come down to the resources and ability of the journalists supporting it.

"Getting one story is easy. Getting lots each day for weeks on end is not and that is where the battle will be fought. Close Up might have more journalists, but sometimes smart beats big."

Mr Gillman said hard times were ahead for Close Up, which was slowly bleeding viewers. Close Up was in danger of losing advertising revenue if it could not halt its long-term ratings drop.

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