UPDATE / Feb 10: Seven Sharp rebounded somewhat on Friday, pulling 376,000 5+ viewers (Campbell Live was again holding steady, with 252,000).
The higher rating was achieved despite being a man down - although Brian Edwards maintains the temporary shift from trio to duo helped the show's dynamic.
Edwards makes other intellectual points. But RNZ's Media Watch made an interesting point this morning, recalling a Chris Philpott blog that highlights a logic-defying point: That is, Campbell Live came back on air on January 21, two weeks before Seven Sharp's debut.
You would think that as the only current affairs show on at 7pm, Campbell Live would attract some of the half-million odd people who used to watch Close Up when the two shows played head-to-head. Or, heck, maybe 200,000 of them, or 100,000 ... But no, Campbell Live ratings were much as they were this week, with TV1's Border Patrol soaking up 400,000 to 500,000 viewers per night.
Why? Media Watch came back to NBR's original ratings prediction for Seven Sharp: that it would win because New Zealanders have a primeval urge to default to TV One. Sometimes, you can't overthink things.
UPDATE / Feb 8: Mayday, mayday, Seven Sharp is going down.
Nielsen overnight Television Audience Measurement ratings had the new show on 296,970 5+ viewers on Thursday - its fourth straight drop from its so-so 497,000 Monday night debut (the sort of numbers Close Up used to pull), and not far ahead of Campbell Live which was up slightly to 248,000.
As ever, Shortland Street as the big winner, reeling in 637,000 5+ viewers.
Seven Sharp's big plunge Wednesday night was blamed on Waitangi Day. Last night will be harder to spin. It's now well below Close Up's average in the week it got axed.
Monday 5+ ratings:
Seven Sharp: 497,000 (12.1% share)
Campbell Live: 242,800 (5.9%)
Shortland Street: 661,00 (16.0%)
Tuesday 5+ ratings:
Seven Sharp: 401,000 (9.7%)
Campbell Live: 221,700 (5.4%)
Shortland Street: 582,200 (16.0%)
Wednesday 5+ ratings:
Seven Sharp: 325,900 (7.9% share)
Campbell Live: 238,600 (5.8%)
Shortland Street: 564,700 (13.7%)
See historic Close Up and Holmes ratings below.
Feb 7: Going by social media, many people thought Seven Sharp's Tuesday outing was much more assured than its Monday night debut.
But ironically as launch curiosity faded, TV One's new 7pm show lost nearly 100,000 viewers.
On its third night, Seven Sharp took another dive. A Nielson rep said that was to be expected for a public holiday.
But NBR notes Campbell Live managed to keep near its Monday night level on Waitangi day.
In fact, in the 25-54 year-old demographic, Campbell Live (4.4%) actually edged ahead of Seven Sharp (4.1%) in share of the total viewing audience last night. Tuesday night, Seven Sharp led 5.9% to 3.7%; Monday 6.8% to 4.9%.
Monday ratings in: Seven Sharp wins
Feb 5: Even amid its social media savaging, and as the first (mainly terrible) reviews rolled in, NBR predicted the Close Up replacement would prevail in Nielsen's survey thanks to curiosity value, and New Zealanders' primeval urge to default to TV One.
That's proved the case.
To put the above numbers in context: Close Up averaged a 12.0% share of the 5+ audience in the week of Sept 16-22, 2012 (that is, the week TVNZ announced it was axing the show). For the year, Close Up averaged 456,000 viewers.
In other words, after all the hype, and first-night interest, the new show has squeaked in 0.1% ahead of its predecessor at the fateful time Mark Sainsbury got the chop.
At least it was ahead of TV One's filler reality show, Border Patrol, which clocked 415,000 5+ viewers in its final 7pm screening. Over summer, Border Patrol oscillated between 400,000 and 500,000 viewers.
For 2012 up until September, Close Up averaged 11.2%. For all of 2011, it averaged 12.1%; for 2010 12.3%. Campbell Live has averaged solidly around the 6% mark thoughout.
Among the 25-54 year-olds
In the 25-54 year-old demographic, the situation was grimmer for Close Up. With this group - of key interest to advertisers - Sainsbury's show fell from an average 8.5% in 2010 to 6.6% in 2012.
Last night, Seven Sharp had a 6.8% share, and Campbell Live 4.9%.
Looking back to the week last September when the axe swung on Sainsbury & Co, Close Up had 7.0% share to 5.4% for Campbell Live.
Ratings vs Holmes
Lastly, I asked Nielsen to dig out some ratings for Paul Holmes when he held TV One's 7pm slot in 2004 (his last full year with the state broadcaster before legging it to Prime, where of course things didn't work out ... that primeval urge to stick with One).
Nielsen cautioned that ratings fluctuated a lot, depending on time of year and topic, but across the full year Holmes averaged a 5+ audience of 642,000 (a 17.2% share).
Among the coveted 25-54 segment, the show had an average share of 14.8%.
Remember, this was a year when Sir Paul was under pressure for poor ratings, as they were framed then, as his pay packet increased.
A interesting sidenote for media completests: check out this Twitter list of people who work on Seven Sharp.
All figures from Nielsen's Television Audience Measurement.