ABC takes top spot in Canberra free-to-air channel ratings in 2016
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ABC takes top spot in Canberra free-to-air channel ratings in 2016

As the ABC's Leigh Sales might say: suck on that, commercial TV.

The national broadcaster has been Canberra's top-rating free-to-air channel in 2016, audience data for the first half of the year has shown.

Leigh Sales and her panel put in a marathon effort on a drawn-out election night.

Leigh Sales and her panel put in a marathon effort on a drawn-out election night.

Photo: ABC Screenshot

Southern Cross Austereo may have spent $500 million on a five-year deal to secure Nine's programming in regional markets, rival WIN may have switched its allegiance to Network Ten and Prime7 may beat them both in the regions where they compete.

But in the nation's capital over the first 20 weeks of the 40-week TV ratings season the ABC has won prime time with a commanding 27.8 per cent network share.

Queensland's Josh Papalii is tackled during Game 1 of the  2016 State of Origin series.

Queensland's Josh Papalii is tackled during Game 1 of the 2016 State of Origin series.

Photo: Getty Images
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Aunty's main channel had a 19.6 per cent share of the Canberra viewing audience between 6pm and midnight, ABC2 had 4.5 per cent and ABC News24 2.7 per cent.

Prime7 and its offshoots like 7Two attracted a combined 24.9 per cent.

The Nine content, which used to screen on WIN but is now carried by Southern Cross Austereo under the Nine brand, averaged a 23.5 per cent share.

The Ten content now being carried by WIN averaged a year-to-date share of 13.4 per cent, including just 9.5 per cent for Ten's primary channel.

The half-yearly television ratings for Canberra have revealed the most popular channels and most-watched shows on free-to-air TV.

The half-yearly television ratings for Canberra have revealed the most popular channels and most-watched shows on free-to-air TV.

SBS had 10.3 per cent, including a 7.0 share for its main channel and 2.2 for its Food Network cooking channel.

The ABC has screened 25 of Canberra's 50 highest-rating programs in 2016. Prime7 showed 16 of them, eight were Nine shows and one was on SBS.

The Chaser's Election Desk is one of the ABC's popular programs in Canberra.

The Chaser's Election Desk is one of the ABC's popular programs in Canberra.

Photo: ABC

The ABC's top shows included its marathon election-night coverage hosted by 7.30's Leigh Sales, who ended the record seven-hour live broadcast with the cheeky skite: "Suck on that, Kerry O'Brien."

The capital's preference for politics also pushed comedy series The Chaser's Election Desk, the Treasurer's budget speech and Annabel Crabb's Kitchen Cabinet into the ABC's top 10 Canberra shows so far this year, along with ABC2 kids show Octonauts and Sir David Attenborough's documentary series on the Great Barrier Reef.

Barnaby Joyce, Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull have all sung from the same songsheet on Monday in calling for Bill Shorten to sack Sam Dastyari.

Barnaby Joyce, Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull have all sung from the same songsheet on Monday in calling for Bill Shorten to sack Sam Dastyari.

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The 7pm news bulletins on the ABC had bigger nightly audiences than Nine's news programs. The local weeknight bulletin of WIN News didn't rate a mention among the ACT's top 100 programs.

The ABC's following is not nearly as strong around the rest of the southern NSW TV market, which groups Canberra viewing area with regional centres like Wollongong, Orange, Dubbo and Wagga.

Malcolm Turnbull and Annabel Crabb on the ABC's Kitchen Canbinet.

Malcolm Turnbull and Annabel Crabb on the ABC's Kitchen Canbinet.

Photo: Supplied

Across the combined southern NSW market, the ABC has averaged a 20.9 per cent network share, behind Prime7 (29.5) and Nine (25.1) but ahead of Ten (16.8) and SBS (7.7).

Canberra's favourite programs overall have been the first two rugby league State of Origin matches telecast on WIN before the Bruce Gordon-owned network's July 1 switch to showing Ten programs like Family Feud.

Du Toit Bredenkamp as Russell Morris and Samuel Johnson as Ian "Molly" Meldrum in the top-rating Prime7 mini-series Molly.

Du Toit Bredenkamp as Russell Morris and Samuel Johnson as Ian "Molly" Meldrum in the top-rating Prime7 mini-series Molly.

Photo: Seven

This year's first Origin telecast averaged 108,784 viewers in Canberra. Game 2, in which Queensland clinched the series, had 102,480.

No other programs came close to cracking the 100,000 viewer mark.

Geoff Phillips, Amy Duggan and Hannah McEwan present the Canberra bulletin of WIN News.

Geoff Phillips, Amy Duggan and Hannah McEwan present the Canberra bulletin of WIN News.

Photo: Facebook/WIN News Canberra

In a worrying sign for WIN, only three Ten programs ranked among the 100 most-watched shows. Ten's biggest audience was for its coverage of the first rugby test between the Wallabies and England.

WIN will be hoping Ten's slate of new shows in the second half of 2016, including The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Australian Survivor, The Great Australian Spelling Bee and the Peter Brock mini-series Brock, will perform better than the network's first-half line-up.

Bachelorette Georgia Love.

Bachelorette Georgia Love.

Photo: Channel Ten

Nine has the Australian crime drama Hyde & Seek still to come, plus a new season of The Block, the high-end property porn of Unreal Estate and the new Jeremy Clarkson-less series of Top Gear.

Prime7 has the Olympics, which it will use to promote the likes of Zumbo's Just Desserts, The Big Music Quiz, Selling Houses Australia and The X Factor.