Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Brand Power - Wednesday 17 December 2008

A bit of a weird night caused by a test cricket match in Perth which has skewed channel nine’s lineup and it’s figures as a consequence. It would be encouraging to believe that CSI, ER and Gossip Girl all lifted by 109,000 89,000 and 71,000 respectively – and hey it could’ve happened – but we won’t know until they release the adjusted figures next week.

Notwithstanding the performance of it evening lineup Nine’s cricket coverage had the bizarre side-effect of driving regular ACA viewers to Today Tonight – making it the night’s top show!

Clearly all those years of consumer advocacy has taught the viewers to recognise when one brand offers essentially the same features as another and so people had no trouble switching brands for the night. Nine would want to hope it doesn't become a more permanent switch.

That and the performance of How I Met Your Mother was the end of the good news for seven – the rest of their lineup suffering badly at the hands of the cricket – as did ABC whose older male skew doesn’t help on night’s like last night!

Ten was about the same week on week although that’s not saying much.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sudden Drop - Tuesday 16 December 2008

There was a massive week on week drop in viewership last night.

Nine’s reality double looked hot last week but lost some of it’s sheen last night thanks to reduced overall numbers with about 160,000 less viewers tuning in across the hour.

Everything on Nine dropped week on week by around 100,000 viewers, ABC experienced a slight drop across the night while for seven Eli Stone and Ghost Whisperer both dropped while their 7.30 and 10.30 hours improved.

Seven’s decision to limit Ugly Betty to one night a week in favour of yet more animal flavoured reality has paid a dividend with Wild Vets and Coastwatch both lifting their audience by an average of 70,000 viewers in the slot.

Prison Break improved week on week by 30,000 viewers.

Ten showed slight a slight loss for The Simpsons (down 13,000 viewers) but a slight life for Rules (up 29,000 viewers. Last week Rules’ retention was 83%, last night it was up to 88% which is a good sign.

NCIS improved week on week by 7,000 viewers and In Plain Sight now coming in at a more manageable hour length was up 117,000 viewers retention improved from 51% to 60% an improvement but it will need to improve more over the coming weeks to secure a berth in this slot.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Blame Big Brother - Monday 15 December 2008

You know sometimes networks make weird decisions, the last few weeks channel ten has been in a state of panic worse than a Wall Street broker with all his money tied up with Lehman Bros.

Whatever they try on Mondays it isn’t working.

In the 90s US network CBS had a great slogan “If its Mondays – It must be CBS” well it certainly isn’t Ten. Big Brother has effectively their Monday Nights in 2008.

If we look at the early part of the year Ten were riding high on Mondays with So You Think You Can Dance and Good News Week, this pair of shows were posting healthy figures throughout.

When Dance came to an end in stepped 7 year veteran Big Brother. Big Brother has always been a force on Mondays – the show killed Nine’s Monday comedy hour after Friends departed with the pithy and often exciting Nomination shows both entertaining fans and frustrating others with their constant overruns screwing with their TV viewing.

In 2008 Ten changed the game and came unstuck. In an effort to revamp BB they ditched the traditional Nomination-Elimination structure of the show – for this season viewers would ring to protect their favourites and the three with the lowest votes were up for eviction with the housemates having the final say.

On paper it looks like a refreshing change to the old formula which often proved frustrating for followers of the show when nomination was in the hands of the housemates.

But in practice it removed that vital Monday Nominations a great opportunity to get into the housemates heads and see how they tick, there was also some real suspense involved to see who would be up that week and the previous night’s evictee was invited along for special comments.

In 2008 this was dropped and instead the Daily Show at 7pm was extended to an hour with a new import ‘How to look good naked’ filling out the hour.

It was a ratings disaster and the absence of Nominations was, I believe, one of the factors behind Big Brother’s rapid decline in 2008.

While BB and Carson Kressley were driving viewers away from the resilient Good News Week, the 9.30 show, Big Brother Big Mouth with proven showkiller Tony Squires gave whoever was left at that time a good excuse to try another network.

Thanks to this awful show a lot of people developed new TV habits on a Monday night. One of those habits was Bones over on Seven which was last night the top prime time show!

With Big Brother out of the way Idol came back and after a brief surge of interest for the auditions wrestled with a new hourlong verdict show that dragged on and on bleeding viewers along the way, Good News Week did well enough to keep it’s head above water at 8.30 especially in the face of competing real news over on the ABC with a resurgent 4 Corners.

At 9.30 Ten started playing dangerous games with a low-rated (US Cable) actioner with a very vocal fan base – Burn Notice couldn’t resuscitate Ten’s woeful 9.30 hour, nor could Supernatural a onetime megahit for ten scrounging for 1/3 of its original fanbase despite being fast tracked.

The year ended with Ten trialling the spin-off of 90210 (CW) first at 8.30 then eventually at 7.30. When an 8.30 debuts with less than 700,000 viewers you know the jig is up, Ten had managed to destroy Monday nights.

Now it’s summer and already there’s been 2 schedule changes (one that never made it to air!), first was pulling the planned screening of failed US drama Swingtown replacing it with another failed US drama The Ex List – after two weeks at 9.30 The Ex List was pulled new drama Army Wives moved to it’s slot and a second hour of Law & Order CI added, all the while ignoring the elephant in the room…

Carson Kressley is watchable and after the success of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (well for about a year anyway) Ten could certainly expect a turnout for his new show. Indeed in it’s debut the show did fire pulling 1,227,000 viewers but the numbers quickly fell away after the initial look.

Ten left their line up in place for two weeks, in week one it was clear that the Naked show was struggling against formidable competition at 7.30 but Army Wives lifted at 8.30

The Second week was worse – although Naked grew, Wives dropped from it’s lead in, a disastrous result, although it was the final night for The Howard Years which was significant summer competition. The Ex list fell into no-mans land under 500k – once that happens the plug is pulled.

Which leaves us with last night – Law & Order was brought in to shore up 8.30 – it didn’t do much of a job, perhaps the promotion was insufficient, perhaps people feel they’ve had enough law and enough order without adding a third night, perhaps it’s the third cop show in the timeslot creating a drain on the audience. Whatever the case it didn’t help much and Army Wives moving to 9.30 was a failure itself falling into the under 500k dead zone – will we see it next week?

My advice to Ten, Give Carson the flick and put a nice long movie on, or show a test pattern – can’t do much worse!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rubbish to the Rescue - Sunday 14 December 2008

If I heard the TV announcer declare that coming up was a romantic comedy starring Greg Kinnear and Ashley Judd I would reach for both the remote and a bucket and use whichever I could grab first, clearly last night a lot more people were closer to a bucket than their remote controls which explains why ‘Someone Like You’ gave the much more entertaining Die Hard 2 a run for it’s money.

Of course there is no explanation as to what possessed Nine to screen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 2, the original fine (and it will be played at some stage you can guarantee it) but this offcut of a sequel starring Randy Quaid??

Quaid is at times brilliant, but he’s best in small doses, as a supporting player he can steal the show but if he is ever the star of anything, then run for the hills.

Bizarrely Nine chose this for it’s lead over the much funnier ‘Friday After Next’, which itself is not as funny as the original ‘Friday’ which is my all time fave movie bout the ‘hood!

Note to Nine re Battlefronts – its not them, its you. Please forward the same note to Ten re Top Model. Both 6.30 shows cost their 7.30 followers big time, in the order of roughly 100-200,000 viewers week on week.

Viewers still can’t get enough of this fly on the wall BS and so Seven raked in the rewards at 6.30 and 7pm and tool the 7.30 hour just for good measure.

I don’t even think Battlefronts itself is the problem – I just think viewers are savvy enough to spot a dead duck when they see it – here’s a show that’s on for four weeks before being mysteriously yanked and suddenly resurfaces in summer. They average Joe may not read MediaSpy or TV Tonight but they’re smart enough to recognise a turd when it float to the surface, why bother to be interested in a show that’s likely to be gone in a few weeks, sorry Nine this goose is cooked.

As for Top Model – here’s what I like to call the import paradox and you read it here first…

Rule 1. In the United States as broadcast networks rapidly lose audience share to cable, more and more high quality series are being made for cable networks.

Rule 2. Nothing originating from any US cable outlet will ever achieve widespread mainstream success in Australia.

Rule 3. In reference to the above rules, please note that the CW enjoys an audience share comparable to a US cable network.

So there you go, Next Top Model is a dead horse, ten need to stop beating it. The last CW (or UPN, WB) series to achieve any success here was Supernatural which has been diminishing in viewers for several years now, I can’t think of any cable series that has achieved success with Australian auds except for the brief fling with Californication, once on 9.30 Mondays with 1 million viewers now languishing on late night Sundays with only 332,000

The list of US Cable dramatic series which have been successful in their homeland reads like a who’s who of Australian failures:
The Shield (FX): very quickly banished to 10.30 Saturdays
Nip/Tuck (FX): Brief success and summer series but eventually yanked, now Foxtel has first dibs
Battlestar Galactica (SciFi): a spark of hope with the mini-series but the regular season quickly flamed out on Wednesdays, second season didn’t even bow on the network
The 4400 (USA): First Season of 5 episode condensed over two nights and sold to Aussie viewers as a Mini Series had the goods, the second season was a complete bust.
Monk (USA): They have tried this again and again to no avail.
Burn Notice (USA): Vocal fans have kept this on the air and no doubt there’ll be another tryout in 2009 – it’s a good show but the general public don’t seem interested.
Psych (USA): Very quickly retired to TenHD.
The Larry Sanders Show (HBO): Remember the hype surrounding this in 1995, every TV journalist and their dog was salivating over this series complete with all the swearing coming to prime time, it had a very short prime time run
Dream On (Showtime): From the people who would go on to create Friends, this was one of the few US sitcoms with frequent nudity – Ten chose to screen the sanitized version – ‘nuff said!

And the mini-networks…
Star Trek Voyager (UPN): By today’s standards would be a massive hit – but Nine very quickly booted it to 11pm – except in Perth where it fared well against the competition and remained in prime time for a while longer.
The Sentinel (UPN): instant 10.30 status for this UPN action hour
Girlfriends (UPN): Was an early morning mainstay for Nine several years back
Reba (The WB): Foxtel absolutely loved this sitcom which was shunted to daytime on Seven
Grounded for Life (The WB): Ditto
Everybody Hates Chris (UPN/CW): Let me just say Everybody hates David Mott because this could still work dammit!
Felicity (The WB): One good summer does not a series make…
Smallville (The WB): Ten put in a superhuman effort to resurrect the man of steel from Nine’s scrap heap and they even got him to 1 million viewers – then did what every dumb network would do and switch timeslots midseason rendering the whole exercise pointless, first run right now sit with Fox8.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (The WB): They barely tried, slotting it on Fridays before retreating to 10.30 – after a while it became the hottest show out of prime time.
90210 (CW): This year’s saddest case a show which had everything going for it except it’s US network which ensured it wouldn’t be watched on these shores.
Reaper (CW): See above although even worse because seven have promoted this show and simply not bothered to make good on their promotion – it still sits on the shelf gathering dust.
Gary & Mike (UPN): this claymation series was the original ‘Reaper’, heavily promoted by ten in 1999 only to never surface.
Do Over (UPN): As I recall this time travelling sitcom did alright in Australia but was done in by US audiences.

It could be worse - Satuday 13 December 2008

How many times has The Santa Clause been rerun now? I’ve lost count – it used to be every Christmas Seven would haul out that extra-long Dudley Moore movie where he plays an elf, well now Tim Allen is their go-to guy with this movie continuing to rake in the punters time after time.

Given the Seven has a deal with Disney I expect them to have the most clout over the holiday season.

With The Bill keeping all the elderly glued to ABC1, it’s like no-one else showed up to the party.

McLeod’s Daughters is having a horror run on it’s way out the door. This brings up the question, why on earth did Nine loudly announce in 2007 that the 2008 season would be McLeod’s last? I can see announcing that sort of thing mid-way through a season, but before the next one – it’s just madness – what they’ve done is given hordes of the show’s fans an excuse to kick the habit and they kicked the remaining fans in the teeth by their inane scheduling, kudos Nine for fucking up what was once an excellent performer.

Of course it could be worse, just look at Canal Road…

The Kids are Alright - Friday 12 December 2008

Credit where credit is due, Seven knows how to program effectively. Holding off the premiere of Madagascar until summer might seem bizarre, but it was perfectly timed to take advantage of the sequel’s theatre release. Clearly big family movies are an important draw on Friday nights as has been proven in recent weeks with the Harry Potter series and Ten’s Nanny McPhee.

If this proves anything it’s that now more than ever you have to program to the audience available. Using Fridays to burn off adult films is no longer a good option. During the year the older audience has been split up all over the place with only the ABC (by virtue of having regular series after 8.30) commanding a consistent audience on the night.

To Ten’s credit they have decided to hedge their bets, Family hour for kids, post 8.30 with Crime Dramas. It will take some time for the young skewing ten to attract some older viewers on this night but it’s a worthy experiment and we’ll keep checking back here to see how it goes.

Better for Ten was the performance of The Simpsons which is pulling a better number in that slot than anything since the demise of Friday Night Games. Perhaps Ten should give this hour over to it's animated comedies and not bother experimenting with niche cable formats in the future.

Nine was the flunky of the night with appalling turn-out for Australian Geographic, you know it’s bad when you could be beaten by Ice Road Truckers. One wonder whether it will be in the schedule next week. Their choice of Movie, The Last Samurai, was unsuited to Friday night – back to the drawing board guys.

Law & Order: Interchange Bench - Thursday 11 December 2008

A very good Thursday for all networks with the numbers very even across primetime. After 7.30 Nine seemed to fare the best with older skewing original programming.

Cold Case continues to be the most popular series on Thursday nights. Having said that it’s also the series that lost the most viewers week on week with 100,000 deserters, The Closer had 60,000 folks bail. This kind of precipitation can be expected in December, but the other network’s shows stayed pretty even week on week.

Now onto one of the more baffling network moves, what is channel Ten doing? They got scared that CI took a beating from Cold Case so they did they swap-a-roo with SVU.

Last week Criminal Intent at 8.30 got 742,000 viewers, this week SVU at 9.30 got 745,000 viewers – a 3K gain.

Last week SVU at 9.30 got 829,000 viewers versus CI this week getting 821,000 so they lost 8K, that’s a net loss week on week of 5,000 viewers for their trouble.

Law & Order is so interchangeable it doesn’t seem to matter to viewers which show is where – they’ll tune in if nothing better is on, hence why the 9.30 hour with less competition (Reality and a US Cable Drama) is stronger than an 8.30 hour against two first run US Dramas.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Let’s get specific – Wednesday 10 December 2008

At this time of year the viewing figures are so low it’s difficult to read anything into the numbers, however Nine would be encouraged to stick with CSI Miami in this slot next year.

The reason it’s rating so well at the moment probably has a great deal to do with the amount of moving it’s done in the past two years. In 2007 and 2008 this show was all over the map, even having split broadcasts with Melbourne viewers getting the show in lieu of the banned Underbelly.

It was a solid performer in Melbourne at that time as well it should be noted, although it was being beaten by House which is now floundering even with less competition.

It’s a good bet that Ten will stick Rush at 8.30 Wednesdays at some point in the new year, whatever ratings it’s garnering in it’s quick turnaround are obviously too embarrassing or depressing for anyone to put in print at the moment, so it’s likely that unless Ten can find a way to sell the show to a bigger audience then it’s natural level would be approx 800,000 - 1 million folks.

How I Met Your Mother is starting to become the dominant commercial player at 7pm which some people will put down to the better lead in but I give viewers more credit than that – last night while watching Heroes I spied two separate promos for How I Met Your Mother, neither of them was generic, they were in fact episode based.

Seven is spending money and time putting together promos for a strip sitcom, something ten should seriously consider, all ten has to do is pick a 10 second moment out of that night’s episode of Friends and pump it at daytime and late night and viewers will eventually be drawn to the show – just showing the same generic promo over and over is useless – you may as well just go back to voice-overs over the end credits if you think it makes any difference.

Generic promos just let people know that shows are on, they are solely for the benefit of folks who would watch the show anyway – they do nothing whatsoever to attract new viewers to a show – that’s when episode-specific promos are needed.

Right now Seven is doing a better job of this than anyone, when you’re number 3, teetering on the edge of number 4 you should look at your market leaders and learn from their success.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Star system holding television back

As has been widely reported this week alleged funnyman Trevor Marmalade was dropped from Nine's footy show.

This morning on 3AW Peter Ford reported that the reason for the departure was over Salary. According to Ford, Nine had told Marmalade that they would only have him back if he took a pay cut down from 300K to 150K, it was a take it or leave it deal and Marmalade apparently left it.

Now I'm no financial whiz, but if they were paying him $300,000pa to tell 3 jokes a week on a show that only plays on one of Nine's O&Os (and 4 affiliates) representing less than half of the total Australian aud, they're weren't exactly getting their money's worth were they?

I’d want some more bang for my buck – truth be told. One of the things that seems to be broken with the TV business model is the idea of star salaries. This is where people are kept on the company payroll and yet there’s no role for them.

It’s very reminiscent of the whole Hollywood Star System where studios would employ actors on a full time basis and assign them to their movies as they see fit.

Old time movie buffs will wax nostalgic about this closed shop but really in terms of finding the best people for your movie it was holding the whole system back. You only have to compare the vanilla films of the studio era to the more memorable films of the 60’s, 70’s and beyond and you’ll see that while it may maintain a competitive advantage for the biggest player, it often locks out good new talent and keeps talented people away from the movies that would suit them.

So it is with television.

The most glaring example of this is Eddie McGuire, what has he actually done this year? Has been on TV? I think he hosted ACA at one point. Could anybody have imagined years ago that McGuire could host ACA? I couldn’t, it seems bizarre but there he was for a week earlier this year.

How come, well because he’s getting paid anyway, so they may as well have him do something. This is just weird, surely you wouldn’t run a business like this.

McGuire’s stock in trade is AFL and Game Shows, Game Shows are all but extinct after a surge in the early part of this decade and Nine not only doesn’t have the rights to AFL but it’s Melbourne Footy Show has had an all new team in place for two years since McGuire made the improbable leap to ring-in CEO.

While Nine’s problems with having so many faded stars on the payroll have been biting them over the past two years, Seven has been amassing a huge employee base of it’s own, poaching people left right and centre from the other networks.

They’ve been doing it since 2004 when they lured Ian Ross (Rosco) from Seven and Ian Dickson (Dicko) from Ten, and ever since then have been coaxing folks from the other three nets with alarming regularity.

Having all these people on the payroll is great when you’re riding high, suddenly your network becomes a destination for viewers to see their favourite stars or newsreaders, Nine used to be like this – in the 90’s but slowly bit by bit the wheels come off the star factory and you’re stuck with highly paid people being warehoused, or twiddling their thumbs after their shows have been cancelled.

We then get the embarrassing situation where the network starts trying to come up with ‘star vehicles’, Seven has already experienced this with Dicko lurching the poor man (well not that poor really) from flop to flop in a vain attempt to fit a round peg into a square hole. Nine did it with Bert Newton, kicking Bud Tingwell off 20 to 01 and giving it over to Bert. All this year they’ve scratching around for something for Eddie to do, too afraid to cut him loose and yet the vehicle is just not there.

Eventually this will happen to Seven when their current crop ages or viewers move on and they’ll find themselves in much the same strife that Nine is in now, it’s in their DNA – you see in the past 5 years Seven has become Nine.

What does this have to do with Marmalade, well its just a small example of some of the misplaced capital invested at Nine over the years and I’m hopeful for their sake that they take a long hard look at their star system.

Making entertaining shows for viewers should be the priority, not making shows solely to occupy their talent.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Late night suprise - Tuesday 9 December 2008

Nine pulled a swifty last night and for one hour became channel seven. A new show, Sudden Impact, which is another one of these car crash doco-soaps and the return of NZ sitcom Police 10-7 did the business in the opening hour.

What’s more astonishing is that ‘tis the season for surprise hit rerun movies with Mr & Mrs Smith not too shabby for the next 2 and a half hours, the icing on the cake was Survivor which was bumped back to 11pm but still commanded a huge aud for that time period, generally after 11 shows are lucky to exceed 300,000 (unless they started earlier or are live sport) so that’s an outstanding figure.

Surely Nine will be emboldened to try out Survivor again in Prime Time especially with an extra season up their sleeves meaning they could potentially show it year round without a break.

Seven seem stuck in 3rd gear in the early evening, Ghost Whisperer did better than Dirty Sexy Money which was hurtled back to 11.30 for it’s long limp off the screen, but Nine’s movie, In Plain Sight and the incompatibility of Ghost Whisperer all combined to give Prison Break a headache down 63,000 week on week.

NCIS was again the best Prime Time series on the night but this audience didn’t carry over for the 2 hour premiere of In Plain Sight with the audience almost halving – even taking into account the drop as the night wears on that’s still a bad result.

Almost as bad was the shocking performance of Rules of Engagement, losing to a show in it’s death throes (Ugly Betty) is a bad thing on any occasion, but losing 135,000 from a compatible lead in is just tragic. Having said that The Big Bang Theory experienced a similar drop from it’s lead-in on Monday (816,000 vs 1,018,000 for Mr Sheen) but still – nobody needs under 700,000 viewers at 7.30, even at this time of year.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Ex-Network - Monday 8 December 2008

As was the case with Last Monday – the ABC dominated by showing something people actually wanted to see – with the final part of The Howard Years and the final episode of Enough Rope winning their timeslots.

Bones pulled a more than respectable number for channel seven as did the Rich List. Surely the Rich List has now earned a 3rd season in 2009.

Ten seems to be in worse shape this Monday than last with it’s entire prime time line-up well an truly in the tank, last week’s semi-bright spot Army Wives lost whatever good will it had established whilst the defunct Ex-List sunk into 90210 territory , I’d be surprised if it is still around next week.

Nine’s line up was depressed, but with next week seeing a whole new post 8.30 schedule for ABC, they should regain some older viewers from the pubcaster.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

You Are What You Repeat - Sunday 7 December 2008

In many ways last night was the real first Sunday of Summer with several series staying an extra week last week, this week we get a look at life with all new 6.30 shows and there’s good news for Seven, bad news for Jamie Durie!

Turns out Jamie was holding them back in the early evening with viewers much preferring to see some animal action, this in turn unlocked a much larger audience for Hot Property at 7pm. Nine had a brief surge of interest for it’s perennial once a year Women’s Weekly promo but I don’t know what they were thinking segueing from Christmas entertaining to a horrid British series (You are what you eat) which upon last inspection had it’s host/protagonist sifting through the faeces of a family of fast food addicts. Not exactly the kind of thing you want to see after planning your Christmas lunch.

Luckily Charlie Sheen resuscitated Nine’s audience at 7.30 with it and lead out Big Bang winning the hour, their 8.30 movie Heist, did alright though not as good as the Drew Barrymore comedy Never Been Kissed which was promoted with the line “Ten Premiere” which I guess means it’s been seen on another network previously. It didn’t stop it recording a timeslot winning audience against rather drab competition.

Seven had a meltdown post 7.30. Everyone must have figured out they’d already seen that Seven Wonders show on ABC resulting in 317,000 less viewers week on week, at least 132,000 of them went to the ABC to watch a documentary on something or other (like I care!), this in turn made things worse for already cancelled British drama Holby Blue. Not even the magical David Leckie could get this turkey to fly, given this is a spin off from a spin off of Casualty, the long running Brit Hospital Soap, surely he would’ve had somebody in the organisation look at the ratings that Casualty received back when Ten trialled it in 93 or 94? From memory it wasn’t spectacular.

A worry for Ten is that the jig is up with America’s Next Top Model, this show has a weekly reach on cable of around 750,000 viewers – that’s pretty big and those people are watching a cycle several seasons in advance over what is currently airing on Ten. It’s a good bet that a lot of people who picked up this show back when it was pulling 1 million per ep migrated to Fox 8 when they realised how far behind the US Ten was running.

Australian TV is very slowly turning into the UK model where a lot of imports go straight to cable with the ‘terrestrial broadcaster’ effectively rerunning the show months later if at all, this places a whole lot more pressure on the FTA nets to find local content as the value of the imports diminishes greatly when you can get it first elsewhere (same goes for BT I guess!)

Saturday 6 December 2008

First things first - where's Friday? Well the info is pretty sparse no indication whether Numb3rs/Law & Order beat 24 on Seven which pulled only 645,000 viewers (oh yeah summer is in full effect!)

What is known is the timeslot winners on Friday
Seven News / Today Tonight / Temptation / Better Homes & Gardens Summer Series / Miss Congeniality.

Just like Ten, Nine is given to rerunning some movies over and over and over - and now we know why! With an average aud of 953,000 viewers, that's an audience you can bank on!

On Saturday the night was mostly ABC's. Funniest Homes Videos flourished early on, then everything else on the commercial nets bombed. It's a great shame that Wife Swap tanked, tihs will only encourage the networks to stick to their movies during the regular season.

Just a question, does channel nine get some sort of drama quota points for showing the AFI's? I mean, they already have the logies and this ceremony sits at a late night on the first Saturday of Summer. If they're not getting drama points for it then I don't see the point because they're certainly not trying to grow the audience.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Meh - Thursday 4 December 2008

A mostly unremarkable night except that the re-entry of Cold Case to Wednesday nights has upset the apple cart being the only prime time show to score over 1 million and knocking Law & Order Criminal Intent into third place in the slot, the Law & Order franchise regained it’s equilibrium with SVU however, although I’m much more interested to see how the original fares tonight in it’s new timeslot.

The Bold & the Beautiful held steady but Neighbours has dropped an awful lot over the course of the week. People will be quick to finger B&B as the cause of this decline but I think we can thank the warmer weather for keeping younger audiences (Neighbours main aud) away from the box in the early evening.

Nine’s factuals did alright and their place is most likely safe unlike Wednesday’s Deadly Surf which ended up drowning on it’s way across the Tasman Sea.

Both Ugly Betty and Eli Stone took a hit from their Tuesday airings – but that could be a reflection of Thursday’s older skew and smaller crowd.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Fast turnaround turns bad - Wednesday 3 December 2008

Wednesday was not a good night for anyone. Summer ratings kicked in with a vengeance with the final chart resembling a Saturday more than a Wednesday, in spite of all the goodies on offer.

The Best
On Seven, aside from their News/CAf hour their best result was the ever-reliable Air Crash Investigations, for Nine it was a rerun of CSI Miami in it’s old Wednesday night stomping ground. Ten’s best was barely above Seven’s worst with a rerun of The Simpsons at 7.30 posting their best score and a dismal fourth place in the slot

Good Signs
Seven can be pleased that The Unit held almost all of it’s lead in. As can 10 with Rules of Engagement holding a large chunk of Simpsons devotees. This will be good for Rules in the new year but a lot depends on how it plays out in the US. It’s on CBS – a network with too many hits and not enough spaces – hence it’s had to wait for midseason for a slot to open up. It will need to do something pretty spectacular to make it to a fourth season otherwise Ten can look forward to even more disappointment

Bad Signs
Nine has two decent tentpoles on this Night with 10 to 01 (a shortened 20 to 01) and CSI Miami, but duh! Deadly Surf, a weak, sunless NZ import (sort of a Bondi Rescue on Lithium) does not appeal to anyone who may be watching 10 to 01.

Similarly people who enjoy the antics of David Caruso and Co on CSI Miami may find the goings on at ER a little too taxing for their brains!

The Bold and the Beautiful dropped for the third day in a row – that’s not that worrying as the drop off has not been severe like the wild fluctuations ten’s 6pm slot has had to deal with in the past, but Neighbours dropped as well, taking Friends with it.

Where is my axe?
Okaaaay, so quick turnaround for Rush, not going that well. One one hand this could be half a million people who didn’t see it the first time around and are catching up now, on the other hand the lost 130,000 from an already low lead-in and sunk to 10.30 level numbers.

So what can Ten do, we’ll I’m not sure – I think they’ll just sit tight, they’ve renewed it anyway so it’s future is somewhat assured. The quick turnaround is always a gamble because in one sense you can hit a different audience, in another it becomes like one of those ‘encore episode’ deals which are all to common these days.

Gossip Girl, wrong channel, wrong timeslot, wrong show. Why Nine even hung onto the rights is one of life’s unsolved mysteries. The Foxtel showing will probably capture more actual viewers than last night’s 3rd placer.

Just as with my assessment of 90210, there is no buzz about Gossip Girl, I don’t see any of the stars of this show gracing magazine covers, even TV Tattle has given up covering it, to be blunt I see the following scenario in a few weeks, extra rerun of CSI at 9.30 (look at how NCIS does with two in a row!) ER at 10.30, with Gossip Girl either at 11.30 or 11.00 on some other night.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thank God They're Gone

Leave it to the silly season to throw up the most shocking story of behind the scenes wheeling and dealing. It’s rare that press releases are actually news worthy but the following release from channel seven qualifies…

There’s no doubt that this is a win for seven, a win for Working Dog and a massive kick in the nuts for Grant Blackley, David Mott and co.

I thought it might be interesting, to pull out an old article where Tom Gleisner mentions the relationship with channel ten…

From, dated 7 October 2006:,21598,20540889-5005382,00.html

Working Dog's long-standing relationship with Ten played a big part in the TGYH deal.

``It's called the fear-of-loss factor: Ten couldn't afford to risk having Working Dog go to Seven or Nine with it,'' a Melbourne-based producer said recently.

``If you've been going out with Miss Australia (Working Dog) for 10 years, you don't want to share her with another bloke, even for one night. She may not come back.''

Well, you heard it from the horse’s mouth, Miss Australia is officially a slut.

She’s just run off with the rich older millionaire, taken the house and kids leaving ten with only the shirt on its back

The only silver lining in any of this for ten is the likelihood that the eventual infiltration of known stinkers such as Kochie & Mel, Noni Hazelhurst and Larry Emdur could bring down this show faster than Yasmin could get married. Gleisner, Stich and Co can only Thank God that Daryl Somers and Shelley Craft had already left their new home before they moved in.

Karma’s a Bitch - Tuesday 3 December 2008

So the bitches at Seven have swiped Thank God You’re Here from channel ten, well something happened last night that I expected, and a few things that I didn’t expect.

What I expected

‘The In-Laws’ wouldn’t impress, that’s a given – movies have very rarely ever worked on Tuesday nights, Nine is clearly surrendering this night to it’s competitors and will continue to do so in the new year.

The Chopping Block held it’s numbers from the regular season – indicating a core audience who were interested in the premise. If Nine wants a third shot they’re going to have to find a way to attract more casual viewers to the show without upsetting what is a decent base.

NCIS would wipe the floor with it’s competition, that was also a given – what I didn’t expect was an incredible 93.5% retention to the 9.30 hour.

What I didn’t Expect

The 7.30 Report NEVER outrates ABC News, let alone wins it’s timeslot, I’m impressed.

A special about Britney Spears outdid Ugly Betty – didn’t see that coming, especially given that Seven had the greater opportunity for promotion.

Dirty Sexy Money completely bombs, worse than The Ex-List (which is saying something) after a much better lead-in to boot, they lost 45% of Eli Stone’s audience, a sad sad result which explains the performance of the 10.30 shows across the networks.

Friends, improves both day on day, week on week (with Will & Grace) and on it’s lead-in. Seems like one of my shakier predictions might come to fruition – that How I Met Your Mother viewers might slowly realise they’re watching a rip-off of Friends and migrate back to the original. Last night’s 7pm timeslot belonged to the ABC (and probably will all summer) but between the commercial nets it was as close as could be.

Update - Monday 1 December 2008

Just a quick update on Monday's Ratings with some new numbers for Neighbours, Home Improvement and Kath & Kim

Monday, December 1, 2008

WTF Is Wrong with Heroes?

Everyone is bitching about Heroes

The show’s ratings are in the sink, it’s been pushed back to 10.30 here in Australia and in America the behind the scenes dramas with writers being fired and Tim Kring calling the fans dipshits are attracting more attention than the show itself.

So what’s the problem, well in my view Heroes has reached that frustrating point that Lost came to early in it's third season where there are just way more questions than answers

Here's a few I can think of right now...

What is Arthur Petrelli’s actual ability that he is able to transfer others’ powers to himself?

If Lindeman could heal, why did he never heal Petrelli

When will any of these people do something heroic? So far the only ones have been Parkman (when he rescued the little girl in the first episode) and Nathan when he flew away with Peter in tow in the first season finale.

Nobody has sufficiently explained the Tracy/Nikki thing to my satisfaction – now we have a third sister – the ice queen?

Why did Seven schedule season 2 behind Bionic Woman?

Is Mohinder suddenly cured from being spiderman?

I’ve lost track of all these viruses, pathogens, antigens, now it’s adrenaline, oh no wait there’s a catalyst – it’s just getting silly.

Why bring Adam Munroe out of his coffin only to kill him one episode later?

Why did we spend several weeks driving from Mexico to the US with Sylar and the super-fun-happy siblings only to see those characters amount to nothing?

What happened to the girl who copies things from the TV?

Remember the boy who could fly? That was a great film!

If an eclipse somehow affects everyone’s powers, then what is the effect of the smiley-face moon from last night?

What is the point of all this?

The Timid & the Ugly - Monday 1 December 2008

The first Monday of summer played a lot like the last Monday of ratings season with The ABC’s one-two punch of Howard and Enough Rope knocking the other contenders around, with channel ten well and truly out for the count.

During summer I think it’s safe to consider 900,000 the standard barometer for success. With that in mind ABC, SEVEN and NINE all had great nights. Top Gear took a hit but still came out respectably.

Bones did at 8.30 what it was doing at 9.30 anyway, but The Rich List continues on resurgent. In fact the Rich List’s revival poses a weird dilemma for Seven – here they have a show which only seems to work on it’s Monday timeslot (it bombed on Saturdays) and yet they don’t really need this show as Border Security and The Force bring much higher ratings to this slot during the season – perhaps Seven should trial it on Thursdays (a weaker night for them) and see what happens?

Gratifyingly Scrubs is returned to a 10.30 slot and look, OMG it wins the timeslot (a very competitive one I might add) and brings 64,000 people who were not watching Out of the Question.

The Question for Seven is why have you idiots let this show languish at 11.30pm for 5 years? Last night as I watched this show, just to add to Seven’s stupidity they carried a commercial for the upcoming DVD release of Season 7 which is the season they are screening right now – how do I know this? Well simple on of the scenes they showed on the commercial was identical to what I had just viewed in the preceding segment.

There’s still two episodes for Seven to screen of this season before it hits the stores tomorrow, why they never tried to get this show back into primetime is beyond me, but hey we can get the DVDs I guess.

Fringe did better at 9.30 than on it’s last 8.30 show by 62,000 viewers so that’s something good. Watch to see if it improves week on week, it’s still an awful drop from it’s lead in but it’s still better than earlier in the year.

Ten had some OK news and some really bad news. In the OK file – the ratings for the first ep of Bold & the Beautiful didn’t suck – they didn’t bring down the house (a great rating would have been closer to 700,000 considering the competition) but they point to a solid start which is good. Even better is that Friends has shown some slight improvement at 7pm over Will & Grace (will Ten just TRY the Office here already) given it’s a rerun against a world of new (and news) it did OK and certainly cannot be blamed for the travesty at 7.30…

Like I said in an earlier blog – any show purporting to be about nudity in the 7.30 hour is clearly false advertising and thankfully people aren’t total fools so they gave this show (which bombed in the regular season) the flick. Expect to see an announcement of a third Simpsons/Rules of Engagement hour any moment now…

Army Wives did better, considering the lead-in and the competition from established hits but The Ex List got less viewers than Bold and the Beautiful and dragged Out of the Blue down with it. Ten needs a strong 7.30 show, I don’t expect them to be able to beat Charlie Sheen or Top Gear, but surely The Rich List is such a disposable show that their audience can be picked off with ease – it won’t be achieved with a failed reality import – that’s for sure.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cricket = Nine's Friend - Sunday 30 November 2008

Nine can be pleased with the first night of summer – the lead-in from cricket gave the early part of their night a nice lift over their rivals.

20 to 01 again proved the timeslot king, that is until summer stalwart Hot Property bowed at 7pm giving Seven a boost and further embarrassing Jamie Durie who once again came up short.

I expect 20 to 01 to lift next week as Thank God You’re Here bows out and comedy watchers are left with one remaining option, notwithstanding the unintentional comedy of Tyra Banks’ inflated ego.

Given the paltry lead-in you would think that Don’t Forget the Lyrics did alright to get to 830,000 but you’d be wrong, out of all the 7.30 shows on commercial nets Ten actually had the least increase with only 87,000 added, whilst Seven added 131,000 and Two and Half Men drew an extra 166,000 to the set.

I remember a long time ago when Nine had a mega hit sitcom in the form of Friends – they tried every conceivable show behind it – Caroline in the City, Veronica’s Closet (Good first season then stupidly re-tooled), Jesse (Boring show, good theme song), Spin City (underrated sitcom one of Nine’s best), Malcolm in the Middle (strong start then disappeared!?) and Two and a Half Men.

Now a and the ones that did then couldn’t perform well on their own. This year now that Two and a Half Men is a hit, Nine is trying to get a second, they tried Til Death and succeeded in growing it’s audience, except that the show looks to be on life support in the US and is therefore perhaps not a long term prospect so they’re giving another tryout to Chuck Lorre’s other show – The Big Bang Theory and so far, so good – if it can keep this sort of retention over summer then Nine has another long term prospect on their hands as it is also one of CBS’ best sitcom performers in the states, always improving on it’s 8pm lead-in How I Met Your Mother.

The last Monday sitcom CBS had which pulled better 8.30 ratings than it’s 8pm lead-in was Everybody Loves Raymond which in it’s second season was outrating it’s 8pm lead-in Cosby, it was moved to 9pm the following year where it stayed for the remainder of it’s run as the tentpole show for CBS on Mondays.

Finally, Ten seems to have been vindicated by scheduling School of Rock for the 800th time this season, I suppose in the eternal network game of rock/paper/scissors improbable comedy movie beats out fact based drama.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Not with a bang... Saturday 29 November 2008

The final day of the official 2008 ratings season came and went with barely anyone noticing.

Both Seven and Ten trotted out premiere movies at 6.30, Ten gave us the uneeded Garfield 2 (wasn't one movie enough?) while Seven showed us Disney Channel's attempt to create it's own bandwagon with Camp Rock which already premiered on cable about 2 months back.

Both were hopelessly outmatched by Nine whose Funniest Home Videos perked up slightly for it's season finale (but nowhere near the performance of previous seasons)

Note to Ten and Seven - get an hourlong 6.30 show, test pattern, whatever - Funniest vids has the biggest 6.30 aud and no-one (including kids) wants to start watching a movie halfway through - hence Nine's follow on movie a rerun of The Polar Express took the prize.

(In reality ABC's schedule of The Bill and some other show took the actual prize - but since they're too stupid to sell advertising with those sort of ratings, I'm not going to encourage them!)

Strangely - Saturdays are one of the few things that will actually get better with the oncoming summer - with less pressure on all the networks they'll start experimenting a little more and Saturday nights produce some real gems (Wife Swap for example) so thank god this season of Seven is over - maybe now we can be entertained!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Flavour of the Month - Friday 28 November 2008

Just a quick one for last night's ratings - I've only included the southern cities because Brisbane and Sydney dropped out of a few channel ten figures for some unknown reason so here's the damage south of the Murray

Better Homes and Gardens was again top for the night - but the real action on Friday night was the tie-in Movie bonanza on all three commercial nets, Seven used the hoopla over James Bond to sneak in a rerun of 'Die Another Day' whilst Ten tried the old commercial net trick of taking a previous film of a hot star and seeing if it floats - this time the Hugh Jackman vampire romp 'Van Helsing' clearly it sunk - although why Ten should be surprised after the performance of X-Men 3 a few weeks back is beyond me.

Nine was smarter than the rest of the pack and decided to tie-in in 'spirit' taking the jingoistic flavour from Jackman's movie ('Australia' in case you've been living under a rock) with their annual rerun of the Crocidile Dundee films (No III was mercifully excluded)

This little black duck headed off to Fox Classics to see a Widescreen presentation (uninterrupted by breaks) of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a film that stands as one of my all time favourites, and probably (IMO) Spielberg's all-time best.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Top Cable Series

Here's the list of top cable series in Australia for last week, this measure is the number of indivdual viewers watching any part of any episode of the program throughout the week - it's not an accurate measure as it can encompass different episodes but it gives a decent idea of what series on cable that most people can agree on.

TV After People – Thursday 27 November 2008

For a real demonstration of what happens when all the people desert television then check back on Friday night’s ratings, last night there were still a few folks around though – with a fair few of them watching what would happen to the earth if we all died (Yehaah!)

Of course with a choice between one of the fairy floss E! specials on teenage celebrities vs a decrepit travel infomercial you can see how people made their choice. Because the Seven special (originally from the US History Channel) went for 90 minutes every other slot looks out of whack on this chart!

Nine went to cable for their 8.30 hour with a “new” (for FTA only viewers) Crime Investigation Australia, this series is the flagship of CI: The Crime & Investigation Network, which has been one of Pay TV’s most successful channels climbing up the ranks to become one of the most watched despite being offered on a discretionary tier by most providers.

The strong performance by CI put the hurt on Criminal Intent’s season finale – slightly dampening an otherwise stellar season, the show will continue in reruns over summer along with stable mate SVU.

Heroes did the best of the late night shows despite not starting until 11pm, although all shows were down on last weeks numbers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Finally – Wednesday 26 November 2008

It took some yahoo at channel nine to schedule complete shit and ABC to pack up Spicks and Specks a week early but finally Dr House got back in the black – for his final new episode this year.

The medical drama roped in over 1 million viewers, a first for its current season – another beneficiary of Nine’s stupidity (Christmas with the Kranks?? I mean come on!) was Seven whose Criminal Minds enjoyed a boost of 179,000 viewers week on week.

Nine can be happy with the performance of The Big Bang Theory which has better audience retention from Two and a Half Men than previous tryout Til Death and is pulling respectable numbers. A timeslot change is in the offing with this pair of sitcoms now moving to Sundays and Mondays at 7.30pm where I expect they will continue to rate well.

Seven held their nerve (much like Ten has with House I suppose) with The Unit and it paid off with the military drama coming a close second to surprise timeslot winner Life – see what happens when you ease the glut of dramas in the same timeslot. No such luck next week as Life makes way for Rush and Nine enters the fray with ER.

Futurama continues to be a puzzle – the show single-handedly kept ten’s 2005/06 summer afloat (along with short-run hit Surface) yet now with new episodes it seems to be floundering, I’m putting the blame squarely on lead-in Will & Grace which in four weeks has failed to fire. When your main 7pm comedic rival is doubling your audience and then continuing into the 7.30 timeslot then Futurama has zero chance of building a lead. Honestly though will Friends do any better over summer.

Here my advice ten – if you want your nights to succeed – then PROMOTE Friends – not just with some one size fits all ad, but with a new commercial for EACH EPISODE run it all through your news and then start the promos for the next nights show all through primetime – the only way your gonna make people want to watch a show they’ve watched before is by reminding them how good it was – and the only way you’re going to do that is by promoting the S H 1 T out of it.

As a last note the return of Prison Break did really well and bodes well for Seven to dominate late night over the summer.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rush for the exit - Tuesday 25 November 2008

Last regular Tuesday of the year and Seven cleans up marking an unbeaten run on this night since the Olympics. Aside from Seven’s supercharged Tuesday the other top performer (again) was NCIS with an outstanding 1.35 million against the week’s toughest competition.

The same cannot be said for Rush, the show has one of Ten’s best lead-ins yet the viewers are not sticking around.

At one point it looked as if Rush had fairly good retention out of NCIS but now that NCIS’s figures have been improving the picture is becoming clearer – Rush has a core audience that has settled at 800,000 viewers and the fly-by-nighters tuning in for NCIS are not sticking around for the follow-up act.

The big question (which will be answered next week) is, will a timeslot free of local competition (9.30 Wednesday) encourage new viewers to sample the show? Or is 1,000,000 the true upper limit of Rush’s reach?

Stay tuned for that one, Although NCIS has weathered Ten’s season of hell, the same can’t be said for The Simpsons which took a beating at 7.30 back into fourth place – this is in great part thanks to the paucity of Ten’s entire schedule sucking the oxygen (and buzz) out of the network – can anyone even recall the last time they saw a promo for the Simpsons? I can’t and I don’t know if that’s due to Ten not promoting it or me not watching enough ten??

Nine barely showed up last night but luckily for them they have enough people tuning into their news and current affairs hour to keep them respectable.

What happens next week on Tuesdays depends entirely on whether people want to see Ugly Betty and Eli Stone – watch this space…

Monday, November 24, 2008

90210 No – Monday 24 October 2008


I can’t even look – I’m just going focus on the other channels for the moment.

Nine, Seven and ABC all enjoyed a close tussle for control of the Night.

Nine kept their Monday buzz going with a retrospective on the old 90’s show Weddings, that show was quite popular in it’s hey day being one of the original fly on the wall series attempted in this country.

A rerun of CSI gained week-on-week beating City Homicide into second place with The Howard Years Part II a close third, Cold Case also showed a slight gain week on week but was still in fourth place with Enough Rope taking the slot for the ABC.

The Good News Week Awards did OK, no scratch that – in light of it’s lead in it did magnificently with over 200% retention!

The big stories of the night though were at 7.30. SBS which rides on 5-6% audience share, wheeled out a new season of the UK Top Gear (after several weeks of middling performance of the Australian version) and saw their numbers lift spectacularly – It’s easy to think that people just ignore channel 28, up there on the lonely UHF dial while everybody else parties on VHF, but when SBS get a hit going the people come running.

The Rich List saw a 200,000 viewer lift in their fortunes week on week, at first you think – good for them they’re picking up, but I submit to you a theory – if there’s nothing on that viewers want to watch then mediocrity wins out.

These were the Audience Shares for FTA in the 7.30 hour (by my reckoning)
9 25.74%
7 25.07%
SBS 22.11%
ABC 18.63%
TEN 8.45%

8 percent, 8… That is horrific. As Ten’s 7pm timeslot has lurched from disaster to even bigger disaster their 7.30 timeslots have taken a beating but this is the absolute worst 7.30 beating they have ever sustained.

Ten has shown some faith in the new 90210 by reintroducing it for summertime but where are the viewers? 7.30 is arguably a better timeslot for a teen drama than 8.30 but they just didn’t show up.

I’m not sure why – the new show is well made, it’s not embarrassing to watch, it contains a lot of continuity for fans of the original and it cracks along at a breakneck pace, so why aren’t people watching it.

Here’s my (crackpot) theory…

There’s no buzz, or rather, all the buzz is centred on what old 90210 star will next appear, does anyone know who the stars of this new series are? Let me put it another way…

Back in 1992/93 did anyone NOT know who Luke Perry and Jason Priestley and Shannen Doherty were? They were megastars at the time, helped a long in large part by the behind the scenes feuding, but Ten rode out a year of poor ratings (1991) with the show on Friday nights before it caught on with kids here and (more importantly) in the US.

The next big Teen thing was Party of Five – Ten waited two years to bring it out – by the time they did Scott Wolf (remember him?) and Neve Campbell were on magazine covers everywhere.

Back in 1997 the WB Launched Dawson’s Creek – ten waited until 99 to introduce it here by which time Joshua Jackson and Katie Holmes were fully on our radar even though we’d never seen them in anything.

In effect Fast Tracking (in the initial years) may be a teen show’s worst enemy. There’s no hard and fast rules of course some teen shows never take off or generate any buzz (One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl) my point is that although I don’t think it will go this low again (it’s moving to Sunday nights with a better lead in than Will and Grace and less competition) Ten is going to have their work cut out for them getting it to catch on with audiences.

The only thing that can help this show in the short term is for Rob Estes to take his young co-stars down to the Viper Room for a night out (with Paparazzi in tow) – or perhaps Lori Loughlin could introduce the kids to drunk uncle Jesse!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Torn between greatness and obscurity – Sunday 23 November 2008

In the United States American Idol is the top rating show on Television, a megahit in the truest sense of the word with ratings upwards of 30 million viewers per showing. In the UK, the original Pop Idol was gone after only 2 seasons.

Australian Idol is (much like Australia) torn between the two countries, no longer the megahit it was in the first two years, it still manages to keep its head above water and although it’s finale ratings were not impressive when put in context with previous years – they are good enough to ensure another season next year.

Seven obviously expected Idol to do big things because they wheeled out the movies – scoring with the kids film Over the Hedge.

Nine’s season finale of 60 Minutes did the business at 7.30, as did 6.30 lead in 20 to 01 and CSI Miami was no slouch either with their entire night offering the most obvious counterpoint to Ten’s Idol night.

Finally the reruns: Kath & Kim scored their best rerun ratings since returning as Seven’s fallback from the unwatched US remake, Figures for the NCIS rerun in other reports are inflated thanks to the Idol overrun and Thank God You’re Here cannot exit fast enough.

Rugby League finally locates fans! - Friday 21 / Saturday 22 November 2008



Just a quick one for the weekend. Friday's standout was definitely Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire which wnet well in spite of not screening in Adelaide.

For the record South Australians viewed Wipeout and the 6th Day saving Harry Potter for Saturday whilst the Eastern States watched the Rugby League and Perth finished off the cricket

Nine also struck paydirt on Saturday thanks to people finally taking an interest in the Rubgy League world cup, predictably 7 and Ten phoned in their Saturday night and were rewarded accordingly

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Seven's Schedule - Now Twice as Ugly!

So what's Seven up to this summer? Lets check it out...

Looks like a very old skewing mix to me, continuing The Outdoor Room and then Hot Property - Hot Property seems to do well every summer that they wheel it out - but who is going to want to watch this orgy of auctions and house renovations whilst house prices across the nation are falling. As a social indicator - the ratings for this program will be very interesting.

At 7.30 Seven brings on a limited run BBC doco about various industrial marvels, followed at 8.30 by Holby Blue, the now cancelled spin-off of Holby City, itself a spin-off from the long running Britsh hospital drama Casualty.

I remember back in 1994 Ten attempted to foist the cheapness that is Casualty on unsuspecting Australian audiences - you know it's a bad sign when the set looks like cardboard and you're in the year nineteen hundred and ninety three. Who knows their may have been a decent story in there somewhere but I couldn't get past the Doctor Who production values.

A Touch of Frost rounds out Brit night on Seven, all of these shows should seal a comfortable lead in total people and over 55s (almost one and the same these days!)

With Home & Away taking the summer off, 3rd year sitcom How I Met Your Mother steps into the slot in an effort to give the show more exposure and expand the fan base - all useful causes. It's main genre competition is the remarkably similar Friends over on Ten.

The Rich List continues at 7.30 and Bones takes it's second hour away from Thursdays and over to Mondays, I'll be curious to see how this CSI-lite goes against the real thing, it is in vogue this year so anything's possible.

Late Night Monday we can see Scrubs followed by the US Kath & Kim, damn it to hell it should've been Scrubs in the 7pm timeslot many years ago, one of the most finely crafted sitcoms on television probably has more followers from DVD than actually on the television.

Yep twice a week Seven is throwing a lifeline to Ugly Betty - a first season hit whose second season return was horribly botched (by the network, not the show itself) joining it at 8.30 is Weirdo Lawyer Dramedy Eli Stone which was first promoted by Seven all the way back at the end of 2007. Has it taken them this to find the tapes they dropped down the back of the sofa in the green room? Sloppy Seven.

Dirty Sexy Money is back, perhaps fast-tracked (not sure), itself followed by Prison Break which will also be pulling double duty on Wednesdays. This is surely Prison Break's last gasp - a show whose premise justified exactly ONE SEASON has stretched onto it's fourth!

Air Crash Investigations has gotten a headstart last week, as has The Unit, Las Vegas takes the 8.30 slot to play out their final season (or at least some of it) there was a point (When Vegas aired 7.30 Thursdays) when it was a timeslot winner and a solid rater - but like so many imports on Channel Seven they had trouble sticking to ONE TIMESLOT and the viewers quickly found other things to do.

The Amazing Race moves back an hour with Heroes staying on through the summer - that's one lesson it would've paid Seven to learn last year when it counted, now Heroes (like so many others) has faded away.

Apart from Better Homes & Gardens reruns (oh sorry "Summer Series") nothing else is locked in - first week back though we get the 24 movie, which is handy, after a sixth season which started out ludicrously and got worse ('I held my mud') I'm not holding out much hope for a return to the greatness of season 5, but I guess we'll see what happens...

Two unknowns here - a British drama called Brittania High followed by a short lived US game show called Dance Machine, not sure what the purpose of either is and perhaps Ten should've kept MacGyver on and run a marathon from 6.30 to 10.30 - if this is all Seven have got for competition on this night - it's not looking good.

If Ten is loading up on reruns to lock in a schedule for 2009 and Nine is just regurgitating failed series, then Seven's sked feels the most like summer, a whole bunch of shows we wouldn't see otherwise, nights and lineups completely remade and almost all of it imported. There is also still a very good question mark over the non appearance of Reaper another show which was heavily advertised LAST summer.

Gather round the Bonfire

A few days ago I poured over Ten's summer schedule. Time now to have a look at what Nine has in store for viewers this holiday season.

20 to 01 continues for a few weeks where it will likely dominate. Mid December it will replaced by burn-off episodes of failed gardening show Battlefronts.

Two and a Half Men has been cut down to a merciful 2 episodes per week using it to promote The Big Bang Theory. Both nights should work well and I would suspect that Two and a Half Men will continue to perform well.

It's suprising that Nine hasn't chosen to revive The New Adventures of Old Christine - perhaps they are not confident of that show's long term future in the states - indeed I beleive this is the reason that Til Death has disappeared, it is on very shaky ground in the US right now.

Again, another outing for the two sitcoms and the return of Temptation to the 7pm timeslot. I'm in two minds about this - on one hand it will probably attract the lions share of older folks with it's only competition being ABC news, but on the other hand it gives channel ten a free kick in the timeslot.

Last summer when Ten tried to get Friends to work they had to compete against Two and a Half Men and That 70s Show, both of which had either new episodes or reruns which were not widely viewed the first time around, this year they'll only have to deal with reruns of How I Met Your Mother which is substantially less competition than last summer.

CSI continues at 8.30 so we can almost assume this will be it's regular slot through the new year. I beleive that Nine programmers would be happy that CSI has City Homicide's measure.

Fringe is back being given a second tryout at 9.30 - given the kind of numbers it was doing at 8.30 Wednesdays this will be a crap shoot but hey that's what summer is for!

You know I'd almost forgotten that when Summer rolls around channel nine opens it's doors to all manner of factual snoozefests from across the Tasman. Yes it's that time of year again to enjoy the adrenaline pumping Police Ten 7, that is unless you've already been enjoying it Saturday nights on Fox 8, following will be one of those car crash shows which seem to pop up like noxious weeds all over Seven and Nine's schedules - no idea as to the origins of sudden impact, it may even be local because it is narrated by Gary Sweet, although my money is on a rebandged Brit import.

All we can tell about post 8.30 is that it seems to be a movie timeslot - this suggests that Nine have got nothing, Tuesday is Seven's biggest night during the regular season - if Nine want to break that stranglehold the time is now.

Also Monday and Tuesday late they are pumping in Survivor - first finishing off the Micronesia season, then there's every chance we'll get Gabon, the series has been doing good business on Tuesday nights for the network - much better than some of it other 10.30 fare.

10 to 01, you know I don't even get the point of 10 to 01. This is the worst repurposing of an existing format since Fox in the US tried to squeeze Ally MacBeal into a half hour slot for syndication revenue, what's worse for Nine here is that there is no point to a half hour version of their hit unless they're looking for a 7pm strip - which they're not.

Following at 8 is the return of another NZ reality show - Deadly Surf - way to excite everyone Nine.

At 8.30 CSI Miami is back in what seems like it fifteenth timeslot change this year, Miami has become a sort of hole-filler for nine in 2008, subbing for Underbelly in Victoria where that series' broadcast was banned and since it seems to move around at will filling in gaps created by departing series or rubgy league telecasts, thankfully Nine seems keen to re-establish the series Wednesday timeslot. In the Melbourne market at least - it didn't do too badly on Wednesday nights, although it never took the slot, House was always the timeslot winner in Melbourne (Underbelly in other states) how times have changed in just a few short months. In fact it's entirely possible that Underbelly wasa big contributor to House's demise in this country.

Following CSI Miami is ER - we're about 1.5 years behind here, some have suggested that they should try ER back in it's old Thursday 8.30 timeslot - and while that idea certainly has merit, I think a 9.30 Wednesday slot is the best chance for viewers to get to see this show through 2009's regular season all the way till the end.

Gossip Girl, a CW series which has already aired on Fox 8 (they're commencing the second season this week I think) gets it's FTA debut this week, kind of odd that Free TV viewers have had to wait this long - that's kind of how they operate in the UK with Sky getting a lot of the hot overseas shows before the 'terrestrial broadcasters'.

Not sure how popular this will be, it is not a demographic fit for Nine (remember they were previously burned with The OC a show which they handballed to Ten) Given that this show is less well known or anticipated than The OC and the former show only reached one million viewers on two occasions Nine is justified giving it a late night slot.

More fly on the wall rubbish to start off the night, Nine has clearly noticed that Seven's sked is usually wall to wall television wallpaper - and they're either trying to emulate them as much as possible or make viewers so sick of this kind of show that Seven is weaker in the new year.

Cold Case gets a go on Thursdays - I seem to remember this lineup of Cold Case, The Closer and Close to Home used earlier in the year

Documentaries, wow NOT, to add insult to injury they're using Friday nights to burn off Monster House. I suppose they have to burn it off somewhere but on Television??

Now this is more like it, Funniest Home Videos is always popular (although it has suffered this year under a new host) and Wife Swap USA is good solid entertainment, in the best tradition of Jerry Springer they round up two couples with diametrically opposed viewpoints and let them loose on each other's lives.

McLeod's Daughters returns for it's final season at 8.30, it got shocking numbers earlier in the year when it returned (after a substantial break) and I'd say the Saturday timeslot is to ensure an unbroken run of episodes through 2009.

Unlike Ten's schedule which has the look of a long term plan, this sked is more of a burn off schedule of unsuccessful shows, a bonfire infact. There was a time when you could rely on Nine's summer line-up to introduce shows not seen in the regular season (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Adventures of Brisco County Jr, Me and the Boys, 48 hours to name a few) there's very little of that here, apart from a few unknown factuals, most of this has been tried (and failed) in the on-season. It doesn't bode well for the year ahead...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Start spreading the news

Channel Ten’s 6pm Timeslot is about to change again, this time The Simpsons will make way for The Bold and The Beautiful. Daytime’s most popular show is moving to evenings in order benefit from the broader viewing base after 6 and hopefully steal a few followers away from the news on the other commercial nets.

Here’s hoping that it works because in the 17 or so years since Ten moved their evening news to 5pm, nothing has ever taken off in this slot. Ten’s low readings between 6pm and 7pm have kept their audience share subdued for two decades.

Last night we got a small sampling (that pops up now and again) of what would happen if Ten extended their bulletin past 6pm. The Brisbane storms provided an opportunity for the 5pm bulletin to run 90 minutes last night, it produced an inflated result for the net.

You can see here a table showing The Simpsons’s 6pm Audience for Brisbane and on the same night nationally – this was from approximately a week ago with no big news stories on the night. In the Brisbane market The Simpsons got a 17.54% commercial audience share, on the same night nationally they managed 20.47%

Now look at last night – Ten News produced a 26 share – translated nationally that would improve Ten’s performance in the slot by 6% and mean an extra 180k watching the net at 6.

This is by no means a detailed or even competent analysis and there are an endless amount of naysayers who will tell you that messing with the news = ratings death, but I think it’s worth a look – if The Bold and The Beautiful fails to lift ten’s 6pm game – then start spreading the news.

Praying for Summer - Thursday 20 November 2008

Nine had another great trip down memory lane back to the 90s with This is Your Life their top show for the night, all prime time shows* fell under the early evening strips as is increasingly the trend with Seven news again pulling in the most people at 6pm.

The finale of Make Me a Supermodel did the business at 7.30, personally 7.30 has become a TV dead zone where you start praying for the onset of summer programming for some sweet relief – luckily for me relief came with Comedy (113) screening two episodes of Scrubs against all this dross. I did manage to see the tail end of Oprah’s schmooze-fest where she was talking to Baz Luhrmann via Skype (hey at least it wasn’t via hologram) only two minutes of this and I felt physically ill. Ten has only been the latest to get on board a week long news and current affairs bandwagon hyping the f*ck out of this film.

Back on Tuesday Nine jettisoned any semblance of news content on A Current Affair for a half hour tie in for this movie, on Wednesday night I caught the tail end of ABC News and noticed it had morphed into Entertainment Tonight whilst I wasn’t looking, canvassing audiences at the film’s Darwin premiere, this in a week where Australia’s third largest city is being torn apart by the weather, car companies start heading for the exit door and yet another child care monolith goes down and yet the most important thing on any television news agenda is Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman – give me a break!

The 10.30 contenders (Heroes and The Strip) both got a boost with Ten News making way for Out of the Blue, which got it’s regular audience, but the surplus people up at 10.30 split between Seven and Nine (mostly to Nine).

Also that’s seven shows over the million mark for Ten, not too shabby this week, Tonight is a contest between movies Ten has You, Me and Dupree which is first run, Seven has I, Robot which is a rerun but has the stronger lead in, Nine will probably beat them all with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

*Although official Prime Time is 6pm - 12.30, I consider it to be 7.30 - 10.30 on weeknights and 6.30 - 10.30 on Saturdays and Sundays

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hamish & Andy hit for six - Wednesday 19 November 2008

Some different things happening last night. The Big Bang Theory was given a new tryout behind Two and a Half Men, and had a fairly decent 83% audience retention, I think Nine will stick with it through the summer and end up reaping some good results.

Ten scheduled a one-off Best of Hamish & Andy special at 7.30 which gave them their best ratings on a Wednesday for what seems like eons and took a chunk out of Two and a Half Men. That makes 6 shows over 1 million viewers this week making it the best turnout Ten has had in a long time – probably since the Olympics.

Unfortunately Hamish & Andy proved no lead in for House which is stuck in second gear hovering under the 900,000 mark, this is a terrible situation for a once popular series although it must be said that it’s lead-out Life is enjoying a spectacular audience retention.

Seven started summer early this week with perennial Wednesday gap-filler Air Crash Investigations landing smoothly at 7.30 but a new trial of The Unit (the Semi Fast-Tracked 4th Season Premiere) fizzled losing almost half of it’s Criminal Minds lead in. It’s a pity too because although the opening minutes of the episode were pedestrian to say the least, after the opening titles the show grabbed this (first time) viewer by the balls with a high octane plot with Terrorists assassinating the Vice President and Vice President Elect and this specialist military Unit (apparently based on the real life US Delta Force) sent in to rescue the President-Elect and take down the terrorists in what looks to be a season-long storyline.

It’s great action movie fare and I recommend everyone check it out – that’s if it’s still there next week!

Bait & Switch

Uh Oh – Ten’s getting jittery again, hot on the heels of Nine’s Schedule Announcement – Ten has made some changes to their sked, mostly for the better, no doubt there will be even more changes once Seven publish full details of their Summer line up – but for now let’s have a look at what’s changed

The big change is removal of perpetual rerun Thank God You’re Here, replacing it with the new 90210 on Sunday nights. This is a good thing – first of all we know that Nine has placed Two and a Half Men on Sunday nights – that would spell an embarrassing death for Working Dog’s precious project. By moving the 90210 sequel to it’s spiritual home (the original ran in this slot from 93-96 - Seasons 3-6) it might actually catch on with the viewers!

The little change late on Sunday night involves The Daily Show and The Office in the late night slots, why Ten does not give The Office a decent try in an early evening slot remains one of life’s great mysteries but on the other hand at least Ten is starting to recognise that the station is still running after 10.30 at night so it’s not all bad!

With 90210 only making a fleeting appearance on Mondays that opens up the night for Rules of Engagement to be given another go at 8pm, Swingtown gets the boot at 9.30 instead we get to see The Ex List which has already been axed by CBS after what was apparently an excellent pilot but a lot of creative difficulties between the network and producers since.

The other thing you’ll notice from Mondays is the weeknight lineup. First of all – although I didn’t include it on the chart – The Bold and the Beautiful, forever the lead-in to Ten’s 5pm news and the highest rating daytime show is promoted to 6pm – it’s an audacious move (see I didn’t say bold!) that should encourage a fair percentage of older women to ignore the 6pm news on the rival nets – whether it will do better than the Simpsons (currently around the 600,000 mark) we don’t know, but it’s a strong indication that ten realises it needs and older aud to sustain it’s operation. Judge Judy moves into 4.30 lead-in duty for the summer.

At 7pm Will & Grace makes way for Friends (yes again!) given that Seven will likely position reruns of How I Met Your Mother in this slot, Friends seems like a shrewd move – if only because How I Met Your Mother is a virtual clone of Friends and after a while viewers might prefer to watch the original.

No idea what will sit here on a regular basis (so far we have a Britney Spears special in the first week) I imagine it will possibly be more Rules of Engagement, once the summer sets in. After 8.30 Ten has snubbed Burn Notice and instead cranked up a second hour of NCIS. Given that show’s recent performance I say why not? But it would be good (without the heat of All Saints) to retry Burn Notice or another middling show in their lineup. With Nine putting movies on this night – Tuesdays is up for grabs this summer so any promotion ten can do on the back of their naval hit will be worth it.

Gone: Law & Order SVU, Back: House MD. Maybe someone at Ten read my blog last Friday (OK I doubt it) but it seems like they’ve opted for some consistency in their schedule rather than moving things willy nilly. That’s commendable, will reruns of House outmatch reruns of CSI? And will Seven keep Criminal Minds on Wednesdays? Will Wednesday night become a Mexican standoff with reruns?

The only change here is that SVU is back in its current 9.30 slot and the original Law & Order is off to…

Ahh Friday night – remember Fridays – that night at the end of the week that TV programmers didn’t know existed – well eureka Ten has discovered it! The Ice Road Truckers have been despatched back to cable TV and The Simpsons (always a reliable Friday night entrant) are back to fill another hole which frankly needs filling.

Now remember – there are two types of audiences on Friday nights – kids and old people, the kids are well catered to with The Simpsons – that’s a sound move and the old people just might discover the math related antics of Don and Charlie Epps on Numb3rs (one of the most interesting and underrated procedurals in recent times) and then go for some legal wrangling on the original (and best IMO) Law & Order.

They were going so well, outstanding in fact and then oooo – epic fail! Where the f&%# is MacGyver??? Why get people’s hopes up like that!! Instead we get BBC dross Big Cat Diary and I get to watch channel Nine which has the best Saturday lineup yet again!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Curious Phenomenon - Tuesday 18 November 2008

Another Tuesday night of wall to wall Seven dominance. You know a night of TV is big when people you know start talking to you about it apropos of nothing!

So it was last night with All Saints lifting for the last episode with actor Mark Priestley who died shortly after the Olympics in an apparent suicide. This help to subdue the figure for Rush, ten’s strategy for a quick summer turnaround for the Melbourne based drama is a welcome move – getting it out of the path of Seven’s steamrolling Tuesdays.

At least Ten has the one show that can weather a Seven storm in NCIS, occasionally this show, a procedural laced with sarcasm feels like it’s straight out of the 80s, which makes sense as it’s from Don Bellisario, the creator of such 80’s highlights as Magnum PI, Airwolf and Quantum Leap and although he has long since left NCIS (over a dispute with series lead Mark Harmon) the tone of the show is unmistakeable.

In the US NCIS is proving to be indestructible with reruns outperforming other new series wherever they land and the series itself standing up against megahits like House and American Idol.

Here in Australia it has been Ten’s most solid import, while their other big draw House implodes NCIS goes against the toughest show of the week and shines.

This week we can also bear witness to that curious phenomenon of the 8pm episode of The Simpsons outrating the 7.30pm episode. Anecdotally this makes a lot of sense, viewing generally (but not always) peaks at 8.30pm because with people working later and commuting longer they are often not ready to watch TV until later in the night.

For Ten this has been a factor for years – they used to show Everybody Loves Raymond after Becker on Tuesday nights because Raymond could net the larger audience – amazingly it has never occurred to anyone at channel ten to post the New Simpsons episode at 8pm and see what happens!