Melbourne's Peter Hitchener presenting the one hour news bulletin on Channel Nine last night.
With next to zero fanfare, Nine has tweaked the most hallowed institution of the TV schedule, the 6pm news bulletin.
Nine quietly launched an extended, one-hour news bulletin at 6pm on Monday across all its national channels, shifting A Current Affair to 7pm where it will now compete with popular soap Home And Away on ratings rival Seven and the consistently solid ABC News.
Channel Nine Sydney news presenter Deborah Knight.
Seven is expected to stick with its 30-minute news service followed by Today Tonight for the foreseeable future, though there has been much speculation that the network is also considering a re-formatted single hour of news and current affairs. Seven has declined to comment.
Nine started a one-hour service in Sydney during the October 2013 bushfires and has continued with the experiment since.
Nine has been buoyed by the consistency of audiences, citing roughly 90 per cent viewer retention across the hour.
A Current Affair, now up against Home and Away at 7pm rather than the near-identical Today Tonight, has also enjoyed a slight windfall, its ratings up 1.2 per cent in November 2013 on the same period last year.
The decision to air a national one-hour news service is no surprise to industry insiders who had noted the success of the extended broadcasts since the 2013 bushfire season. Nine's director of news Darren Wick hinted late last year that success had prompted discussion within the network and that there was scope for the one-hour news to continue.
"We're always talking about the evolution of news, we do that all the time," Wick said at the network's 2014 "upfronts" launch in November last year.
"With the bushfires in Sydney recently we went one hour - which is what we do when there is a big event happening - that story ran for about six or seven days and we got massive numbers out of that and we had a bit of a talk about how it would be interesting to see how we'd go without a big story pushing one hour so we just kept it going for a week as a trial, that worked pretty well so we gave it another week... the retention rate has been very high.
"The side effect is that ACA at 7pm seems to have found a whole new audience and not every night, but most nights we were beating ABC and Home And Away and the feedback we were getting from the audience is they hadn't bothered watching ACA for years but now with the new routine of the household, they were now sitting down to have a look at it.
"It's a weird one because we're back in a strong position with news nationally... (so) the temptation is not to do anything, but if you change is it better to change from a position of strength than a position of weakness? These are the questions we ask ourselves all the time.
"We're not decided yet, but it's just been convenient to do it this way and it's been a rare opportunity to have a look at how it works. And the feedback from the audience has been really good."
Nine claimed slim to substantial wins in the 6pm news slot in the major east-coast markets of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, as well as in the five capitals, where its Monday-to-Friday editions averaged 1.214 million viewers to Seven's 1.174 million in the 2013 ratings race.