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TV networks shake up schedules so the ‘Tillies get all claps, chants and cheers’

Will more records be broken on Wednesday night with a record viewing audience cheering on the Matildas?

Will more records be broken on Wednesday night with a record viewing audience cheering on the Matildas? Photo: Getty

When Cathy Freeman ran the race of her life at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, an estimated 8.8 million people tuned in to watch her magical 400-metre win.

As Freeman took centre stage in a hooded bodysuit in the most anticipated event of the Games, the Seven Network’s decision to pay $US45 million for the Australian broadcast rights paid off handsomely.

That historic September 25 dash to gold-medal glory has been credited with attracting the biggest Australian TV viewing audience … until now.

‘Doing our national duty’

As Seven enjoys another ratings bonanza with its broadcast of the FIFA Women’s World Cup – 4.9 million viewers tuned in to the Matildas quarter-final on August 12 – the free-to-air networks and Fox Footy have opted to reschedule their Wednesday night programs before the Matildas’ semi-final clash with England.

“This move is indicative of the significance of the event, drawing parallels with the viewership of the Sydney 2000 Olympics,” wrote TVBlackbox expert Kevin Perry.

Normally, Seven’s nightly TV soap Home and Away has the 7pm slot, but not on Wednesday.

The network’s programming team updated its schedule on Monday, and confirmed to The New Daily there will be a one-hour Women’s World Cup pre-match following the nightly news broadcast at 7pm, with the game kicking off at 8pm AEST.

Highly respected TV and radio sports commentator Gerald Whateley told viewers his nightly AFL 360 show on Fox Footy will be moved to 6.30pm instead of the normal 7.30pm time slot.

“The next game is Wednesday night and we are going to do our national duty and get the hell out of the way,” he said, with a laugh.

“You can savour the build-up and we can get home.”

Co-host Mark Robinson echoed the sentiments of fans everywhere: “That is really a decision by our producer.”

The Nine and Ten networks have also made major changes in the crucial ratings time slot, including bumping The Block in three cities to Thursday.

Ten has removed three shows from its program schedule, including the newly relaunched Thank God You’re Here hosted by Celia Pacquola.

“At Network 10, we’re all about kicking goals, but this Wednesday – it’s not about us.

“We know the nation will be supporting our amazing Matildas, so we’ve made some scheduling changes. That way, Aussies don’t miss out on 10’s epic hump-day programming, and our Tillies get all the claps, chants and cheers they so rightly deserve,” a network spokesperson told TND.

The ABC will stick to its broadcast schedule, while SBS and NITV were set to make an announcement on Tuesday afternoon.

‘The semi-final will break TV sets’

Former Socceroo Craig Foster was among the first to point out the Matildas v France match on August 12 was the biggest streaming event in Australian history, and the most-watched sports program in 10 years.

“The semi-final will break TV sets,” he joked.

According to Seven, the Matildas’ thrilling penalty shootout victory over France in Brisbane reached more than 7.2 million people (preliminary data) on Seven and 7plus, with an estimated average audience during the game of 4.17 million.

The estimated average includes the game’s extra time (which was not captured in the preliminary OzTAM broadcast audience numbers for the game).

There were also 472,000 viewers streaming on 7plus – keep in mind the official OzTAM data does not take into account out-of-home viewing at clubs, pubs, sporting venues.

Seven says its coverage has reached 11.9 million broadcast viewers plus another 2.3 million on 7plus.

Here are the program changes for August 16

Week two of The Block kicked off with the all-important guest bedroom, and a few heated discussions over iced coffees. Photo: Nine

Nine

Nine enjoyed huge ratings success on Monday night with The Block, but the network wasn’t going to jeopardise momentum, choosing to drop it altogether from the rundown in Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.

“[It] was a time slot winner with Total People across the 5 City, East Coast and in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth,” says Nine’s ratings summary, adding it was the No.1 entertainment program “with all key demographics”.

A Nine spokesperson confirmed to TND that The Block will be moved to Thursday at 7.30pm.

In its place on Wednesday will be RBT, followed by Paramedics at 8.30pm and Footy Classified at 9.30pm.

Sydney and Brisbane will broadcast the show as scheduled on Wednesday at 7.30pm, followed by Paramedics at 8.45pm and Dream Listing: Byron Bay at 9.45pm (Thursday programming will feature the NRL from 7.30pm in these two cities).

Thank God You’re Here comedians will thank their lucky stars the show got bumped. Photo: Ten

Ten

Fans of Thank God You’re Here have the night off, with Ten’s program decision not to broadcast the improvisation skills of Danielle Walker, Guy Montgomery, Virginia Gay and Aaron Chen.

The Inspired Unemployed (Impractical) Jokers and Five Bedrooms are also removed from the roster, replaced by The Dog House and a double episode of Ambulance Australia at 8.30pm.

ABC, SBS and NITV

The ABC confirmed to TND there were no programming changes, reminding viewers who did want to switch to the football that there was always ABC iview to catch up on the night’s schedule.

This includes 7.30, Hard Quiz with Tom Gleeson, Gruen, hosted by Wil Anderson and the increasingly popular niche hit Gold Diggers.

SBS also confirmed to TND that while its Wednesday program schedule remains the same (The Moment: How Sports Changed the World – 8.30pm), the premiere episode of Wolf at 9.40pm will be repeated on Thursday in response to the game.

Coverage of the Matildas v England match starts on Seven and 7plus on Wednesday at 7pm AEST

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