Thursday, July 9, 2009

Not at these prices

Last night was one of those weird TV nights.

Arguably the biggest event of the day took place outside of Primetime (at 3am to be exact) and was replayed throughout the day on many different channels.

At night we had finales, reruns, special timeslots, pre-emptions, specials, special rebroadcasts and the Ashes!

Ten had a normal primetime schedule and viewers only stuck around for Masterchef, the rest of their post 8pm sked tanking miserably.

Nine, by complete contrast, upended their schedule for a night of Michael Jackson, first a 7pm replay of the Staples Centre memorial concert from earlier in the day followed by the often played (especially on cable in the last two weeks) Live in Bucharest concert. Neither show made much of an impact which was suprising, but given that the service was replayed throughout the day on FTA, Cable and in news highlight reels, not to mention the Bucharest concert has been played ad nauseum on MAX this week as well as being among the top selling DVDs - it's a good bet a lot of people already had the chance to see this stuff.

Add to this SBS coverage of The Ashes - the Australia vs England test Cricket series which netted an average of 679,000 viewers (but this includes viewership to 2am) but surely peaked a lot higher during primetime and you see the reason for a schedule that's out of sorts.

Seven joined the Michael Jackson parade in perhaps the most obscene way possible - on a day which had largely been devoted to celebrating the man's acheivements, Seven pulled the rug out from under that fantasy with a cut down version of the doco 'Living with Michael Jackson' this was the TV show that went around the world and landed Jackson in court on child molestation charges.

Seven cut out most of the sections of the doco on which those (since acquitted) charges were based, but even so the odd behaviour of Jackson whilst visiting a Las Vegas antique store or feeding his baby a bottle was arresting enough to snap you out of the sentiment.

Elsewhere two major shows, in fact two of the year's most expensive ventures were floundering.

Thank God You're Here - poached by (or is that whored to) channel seven for more money has not translated into more ratings. Only 1.3 million averaged on the season finale - only peaking at 1.5 million, a good audience yes - but significantly lower than the show's run on channel ten.

You can almost bet - given the show's history on Ten that Seven were selling time based on about 1.8m tuning in, it hasn't worked out that way at all - Tom Gleisner's mythical "wider audience" has not materialised and if you see a lot of commercials repeating themselves on seven, or a daytime slots with suddenly national advertising attached - well that's called "make goods" where the network promised an audience which it couldn't deliver and has to give away free slots to compensate.

Thank God's problems, however, pale in comparison to The Chaser, another show which was snapped up for too high a price tag ($1 million per ep for 10 eps) the show has now sunk below a million, now this may be due to The Ashes or Michael Jackson or who knows, but you have to ask - why did the ABC agree to this ridiculous license fee for this show - there was never a report of a bidding war, there's very little prospect of a commercial net wanting to involve themselves with this show because of it's adversarial content, now they've had to preempt two weeks (with the rumour being the series has been truncated to 8 eps - that's not a series length) and watch the ratings sink week by week - not great.

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