Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Cait Kelly

Cleo Smith family interview: Nine’s $2m 60 Minutes exclusive fails to top Sunday night TV ratings

Nine’s interview with the parents of Cleo Smith was the fourth-most watched program on Sunday night.
Nine’s 60 Minutes interview with the parents of Cleo Smith was the fourth-most watched program on Sunday night. Photograph: Tamati Smith/Getty Images

The Nine Network’s multi-million dollar deal to secure an exclusive interview with the family of Cleo Smith failed to put the program in the top ratings spot on Sunday night, although the 60 Minutes episode did win its timeslot.

The network spent weeks teasing the 60 Minutes exclusive with Cleo’s mother Ellie Smith and her stepfather Jake Gliddon, which cost it $2m.

The program took out the top spot for its 8.40pm slot, with 750,000 viewers, but lost out overall to Seven News (1.095 million viewers), Nine News (827,000) and Married At First Sight (825,000).

Nine defended the program’s ratings, saying it was the most-watched 60 Minutes episode this year.

“We are very pleased with the result and the content of the 60 Minutes interview which was compelling as Tara Brown spoke to the parents of Cleo Smith for the first time,” a Nine spokesperson said.

“The show won its timeslot and performed in the key demographics and on 9Now – a record streaming audience for the program meaning last night’s episode as a total number was an increase on the equivalent episode last year, and this is what we look to, we are all extremely pleased.”

The ratings from OzTam showed that within the Smith family’s home state of Western Australia just 67,000 viewers tuned in, the same number to watch ABC’s Vera in the state that evening.

60 Minutes has a long history of paying for interviews, with disgraced wellness blogger Belle Gibson paid $75,000 for appearing on the show in 2015, according to court documents. That episode pulled 1.073 million metro viewers.

Sunday night’s “world exclusive” was led by reporter Tara Brown, who was unable to fly to WA to conduct the interview.

Terence Darrell Kelly, 36, has pleaded guilty to taking four-year-old Cleo from the Blowholes campground in Point Quobba where her family were camping.

Cleo’s disappearance sparked a major police investigation that led detectives to a property in Carnarvon, minutes from Cleo’s family home.

“She was sitting on the bed and we ran up to her and she was like ‘hi mum’, like nothing had happened,” Smith told 60 Minutes.

The reuniting scene at Carnarvon, about 900km north of Perth, was one of joy.

“I still don’t think she really understood what happened in general, you know, being so young.”

Since getting home Cleo doesn’t like closed doors and sleeps with the lights on, and has woken up screaming with “nightmare after nightmare”, her mother said.

“Still to this day we don’t know the full story,” she said in her first media interview.

“She has blocked out a lot as to what’s happened. She went into survivor mode and pushed it very far away.”

Officers broke in and found Cleo alone in a room, physically unharmed and playing with toys.

“We’ve got a long way to go and so does she,” Smith said of the family’s recovery.

“She (Cleo) is probably going to be dealing with this for the rest of her life.”

Kelly is yet to answer other charges and more details of the kidnapping are expected to be outlined when he faces Perth district court on 25 March.

With additional reporting from Australian Associated Press

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.