Nine to launch This Afternoon into live daytime TV battleground

Nine newsreader Mark Ferguson is to return to daily TV as part of the team behind the network’s new show This Afternoon.  

Ferguson was moved from anchor of National Nine News to the weekend slot at the beginning of the year. He will now be one of a trio helming the new Nine news show which starts on Monday and will run daily from 4.30pm for an hour, extending what was previously a half hour news slot.

According to an announcement from Nine: “This Afternoon will bring viewers across Australia the top stories of the day and the best in current affairs. When the big stories break, viewers will find them first on This Afternoon. But it won’t all be about the news. This afternoon will also have the latest entertainment stories, topical talking points and live interviews.”

Ferguson will be joined by radio presenter Katrina Blowers and ABC radio host Andrew Daddo.

The move comes just days after it was announced that Nine’s head of news and current affairs John Westacott is leaving.

Nine’s Director of Network News Mark Calvert said: “If you want to be informed as well as entertained, This Afternoon will be the program to watch. “We’ll bring viewers right up to date with the day’s top news stories as they’re unfolding, debate the big issues facing Australia, and help families deal with what life can throw at them. We will also be having a bit of fun with the stranger stuff that happens in the world.”

This Afternoon will be up against Seven’s News and M*A*S*H, while Ten has The Bold And The Beautiful, followed by its 5pm news show. In a nod to the rival lineup, Calvert said of This Afternoon’s presenters: “They’ll be bold, and at least one of them is beautiful.”

While it’s unclear whether Antiques Roadshow, currently in the 5pm slot, will survive the shuffle, the move sees the early evening battle switch to live television. Ten will launch The 7pm Project at the end of next month.

The late afternoon period is a crucial one for the networks. Nine will be hoping that a slight increase in audience will put Eddie McGuire’s Millionnaire Hot Seat, which runs at 5.30pm, in a better position to catch Seven’s Deal Or No Deal, which tends to pull in about 200,000 more viewers.

The inherited audiences from these shows often define the fate of the the networks’ evening schedules.

Nine’s last big live daytime project was the ill-fated The Catch Up, which was the brainchild of former magazine editor Mia Freedman. It was taken off air almost exactly two years ago following the departure of Eddie McGuire as Nine’s CEO.


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