Thursday, May 28, 2009

Timeslot Flop

Wednesday 28 May 2009

Biggest Disappointment
Law & Order Special Victims Unit
Ten 8.30pm
Down 460,000 viewers on last week’s House season finale

Biggest Improvement
The Chaser’s War on Everything
ABC1 9pm
Up 228,000 viewers on last week’s Gruen Transfer season finale

Well The Chaser is back and in ratings terms at least (haven’t watched the ep yet, but I’ve heard some worrying things) it was a success.

The ABC’s comedy double caused some headaches for the commercial networks, well actually know that’s not accurate – it caused some headaches for channel ten. The very people who form Ten’s core audience all flee to the ABC at 8.30 whilst Ten is now playing a game of crime show chicken which it cannot seem to win!

You’ve heard of the phrase “timeslot hit” it was common parlance in the 90’s when NBC had a Thursday night comedy lineup consisting of Friends at 8pm and Seinfeld at 9pm, the joke was they could stick a test pattern at 8.30 and 9.30 and they would still be in the top ten for the week!

Well now we have a new term – a “timeslot flop!”

SVU has been put headlong against two crime dramas and the ABC’s most watched hour all week.

One of factors working against House in this slot was that it was a 5 year old show against two relative newbies, Criminal Minds in its fourth season is arguably at the peak of its powers, House had a refit back in season 4 and it has seen the show stumble with Australian audiences, Criminal Minds has had only one cast change (in season 3 Joe Mantegna subbing for Mandy Patinkin) and hasn’t skipped a beat, rookie drama The Mentalist is one of the year’s few shining lights out of the US.

Now Ten is replacing House with an even older drama, SVU is in its 10th season and unlike other Law & Order shows the cast of SVU have remained with the show throughout its run and the show is more character based than its sibling shows.

The 9.30 episode of SVU actually increased over the 8.30 one by 165k and over the previous week’s Numb3rs by 200k, it took Cold Case down by 110k week on week and My Name is Earl down by 114k. There is one conclusion I can draw from this, people like SVU still, there’s an audience for it – but at 8.30 that audience is watching other shows, SVU probably won’t cut through that clutter.

The only thing that could help Ten out here is that Nine and Seven will very soon be running out of episodes of their skeins, both having been fast-tracked last year, maybe Ten should put up some SVU reruns until then!

One final note, remember we're still waiting for this great new channel seven audience to surface Working Dog. If it wasn't for SVU, Seven would have recorded the night's biggest drop with Thank God You're Here plummeting 169,000 viewers week on week! Well done chumps!

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