Monday, November 16, 2009

Roving On

What were they thinking?

That’s the first thing that sprung to mind on Monday morning as I sat in traffic (in my car, not out on the road) hearing the news that Rove McManus ended his show with next to zero notice.

It’s one thing to leave television – it’s quite another to do it on your own terms. It’s a completely different thing altogether to do it and almost not tell anyone! We’re in Dave Chappelle territory now!

I’m a little sad that I didn’t know it was going to happen – I have watched the show on and off since it’s commencement all the way back on channel nine. It was an off period for me, helped along by the launch of two new digital channels (GO! and 7TWO) and, last night, the launch of several new channels on Foxtel to keep me distracted!

So it’s sad and annoying that they didn’t promote it as the last one – but what of the decision itself? What does it mean?

Did Rove jump, or was he pushed? That’s the big question hanging in the air after this – everyone with something official to say on the matter will say that he jumped, and while he may have been the one who ultimately pulled the plug, I think there were some very compelling reasons to so.

The Show itself
Rove’s show, has not had a good year. In ratings terms it has been on the skids ever since Australian Idol surfaced but even prior to this – it’s only high notes were thanks to a lead-in from the all-conquering Masterchef.

The show’s other major problem has been the dilution of its talent with Dave Hughes and Carrie Bickmore moving to the 7pm Project.

The Sunday Night conundrum
4 years ago, Rove Live was on Tuesday nights at 9.30, in that timeslot it regularly posted sub 800,000 figures off the back of a weak lead-in The O.C. Ten solved this problem by moving Rove to Sunday’s at 8.30 – instantly giving his show a better lead-in and freeing up Tuesdays to be conquered by NCIS.

But the 8.30 timeslot created it’s own problem, talk-shows, by their nature, start off strong at the top of the hour and then trail off as the hour goes on, when you devote a chunk of your show to interviews then audience drop-off is inevitable – some people are just there for the comedy segments.

In the three years that Rove has been on Sundays Ten have not found anything remotely suitable to follow it, sitcoms= bomb, sketch comedy = bomb, NCIS reruns = bomb, fast-track US dramas = bomb, Dexter = bomb, Reality shows = bomb.

Ten’s biggest problem on Sundays for three years has been the 9.30 slot – and the cause of that problem is obvious, the lead-in. Rove at 8.30 is not a good lead in.

So here you have a situation where the show was tanking at 9.30, but the show does alright at 8.30 yet everything after it tanks

Roving Enterprises
In past years it has been noted that Rove was always safe at channel ten because he provides them with a plethora of programming across their schedule, that has certainly been true – it is still true now but some of the paint has come off. Look at the run-down.

The ARIA Awards
Rove had produced this show for years but this year Nine has the rights (for reasons I cannot fathom) so that’s off the table

The 7pm Project
Ten have thrown their weight behind this show and IMO it’s a good show, I hope it does well, there is conjecture that Rove has finished his own show to concentrate on 7pm which is a production on a much bigger scale.

The show struggles to stay above 700,000 viewers a night and is hampering ten’s post 7.30 sked, though not to the extent of last year’s Taken Out.

It is hoped that the show will pick up over summer with Home & Away out of the picture.

Before the Game
This show rates really well in Melbourne and Adelaide, I don’t even know if they get it in Perth and in the northern states it shows on Channel One because over there it’s a niche concern.

Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?
They wrung three seasons out of this show and when I saw wrung I mean wrung – at it’s send off this year there was about 600,000 people watching – at 7.30 on a Monday night.

When you look at this bigger picture you can see a production empire that’s appears to be on thin ice, with these ratings they could go from 4 shows to none over the summer. You can already bet that 5th Grader has been axed.

I think that Rove has decided to concentrate his efforts on 7pm (potentially the most lucrative of all the shows) I wish him the best of luck.

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