The Chase ratings are great news for seven

Herald Sun - Switched On - - ON THE COUCH - AN­DREW FEN­TON EN­TER­TAIN­MENT WRITER

To­day marks a year to the day that Seven ner­vously un­veiled its new game show, The Chase Aus­tralia, on the air­waves.

Re­plac­ing the strug­gling Mil­lion Dol­lar Minute, The Chase Aus­tralia had a pretty sim­ple mis­sion: beat Nine’s Hot Seat and in­crease ratings fig­ures for Seven’s news.

Job done. With a 28.2 per cent share in its times­lot, the quiz show has al­most 20 per cent more view­ers than Hot Seat. Around 3.5 mil­lion view­ers tune in to The Chase Aus­tralia at some stage each week, and its suc­cess has given Seven’s east coast news ser­vices a ratings bump of 15 to 23 per cent.

But Seven’s di­rec­tor of pro­gram­ming, An­gus Ross, is a hard taskmaster.

He says he’s happy with The Chase but still wants more.

“I would never de­clare, like Ge­orge Bush, ‘mis­sion ac­com­plished’,” he says.

“I’m a pro­gram­mer and I’m greedy by na­ture, and we al­ways want to do bet­ter for The Chase. We want the news to be win­ning ev­ery night in ev­ery mar­ket.”

One area in which The Chase doesn’t beat Hot Seat is in cash give­aways. Hot Seat has given away $5.5 mil­lion over the past year while The Chase has given away $2.2 mil­lion. And con­tes­tants walked away with cash on 191 Hot Seat episodes in the past year com­pared with The Chase’s 54 — and there were 143 where con­tes­tants won noth­ing.

But The Chase host An­drew O’Keefe doesn’t be­lieve the size of the prize, or how fre­quently it’s won, is a ma­jor fac­tor.

“One of the ap­peals of the show is that it’s not re­ally about the money or the prizes,” he says. “In a sense, that’s sec­ondary. Even for the (con­tes­tants) the pri­mary aim is to match wits with great minds. It’s re­ally lovely to have a pop­u­lar for­mat that cel­e­brates knowl­edge.”

If there’s one area The Chase ex­cels in, it’s blast­ing through ques­tions and O’Keefe has asked al­most 40,000 of them.

The con­tes­tants do well, av­er­ag­ing 67 per cent cor­rect, but they’re to­tally out­shone by pro­fes­sional quiz champs The Chasers — Matt Parkin­son, Bry­don Coverdale, Anne Hegerty, Issa Schultz and Mark Lab­bett — who get more than nine out of 10 ques­tions right.

O’Keefe pre­dicts The Chase will last at least an­other three years “and if it goes beyond that, marvel­lous”.

THE CHASE AUS­TRALIA, SEVEN, WEEK­DAYS, 5PM

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