Sunday, February 21, 2010

It must be fucking bad!

Well - not to be outdone by Wednesdays - Thursday night has seen only one show after 7pm attract the magic million, Cougar Town, which was the subject of a bizarre non-sequiter rant from Seven CEO David Leckie during the week, delivered the good despite the abuse! Looks like Seven has another sitcom hit on their hands.

SVU must have suffered from being pushed back to 9pm (although it's not like people were watching anything else - so maybe they went to bed!) Similarly Medium took a hit for following so late - Ten might do better to start their news at 10pm rather than try to kick off a drama from that point.

Meanwhile the only thing continuing to make the creaking old Getaway look good is the shoddy performance of The White Room, Lets face facts here - if over 250,000 Home and Away watchers are compelled to avoid it - it must be fucking bad!

Surprise Erosion!

One of the features of television ratings in the past couple of season in this country has been the rapid audience erosion on Thursdays. Fridays and Saturdays were always TV dead zones, where the only people watching seemed to be in their 60s and over (judging by the schedule)

Now we all know that there's a fair stay at home crowd in the 30-40 age range - these are the people with young families who might be home some of the saturdays - but generally these people are harder to pin down and these days with Cable, DVD rentals, the internet and video games there are far more options for this age group - so the networks don't bother to try to cater to young people on these nights.

But in the last few years the audience has been eroding on Thursdays as well. Starting around 2008 we saw drastic drops in Thursday audiences with the only successful shows being cop dramas and 20to1, it was like the people meter population was all on Thursday night shopping which would make sense except a lot of states do it on a Friday night!

Whatever the reason - I didn't see this coming - but for the second week running we have really low figures on a Wednesday night.

Only 4 shows after 7.30 made it past a million, the number one show for the night was a measley 1.28 million viewers (Customs) and former million raters Cold Case and Gang of Oz struggled to keep their shit together in prime time slots - and I don't even know what's going on with Burn Notice - egad!

Friday, February 19, 2010


If nothing else we now have rock solid proof that there are people who will not watch something, even if it may interest them, for the simple reason that appears on SBS.

There's at least 600,000 of these people in the 5 major metro areas according to Oztam!

Top Gear certainly performed well in it's new digs on Channel Nine, if Nine can keep up the interest it will go a long way to restoring a night which for them has been one disaster after another in recent years.

Though it had a strong debut, its 8.30 hour was bested by NCIS on Ten which demonstrated that despite the network's woes there are still some things on the channel people watch regardless of the lead in!

There is some concern over the performance of NCIS Los Angeles at 9.30 but as this was a rerun it's probably a very good result, much more concerning is Grey's Anatomy on Seven which collapsed under the weight of NCIS and Top Gear (I guess men managed to west control of the remotes on Tuesday night!) to burn two new eps to under 900,000 viewers is not a good sign for this show, though I'd be interested to see the timeshifting figures for these eps - and we'll come back to them next week when they become available.

The 7pm Project: Not Bad Enough

Woah, My Kitchen Rules has very quickly gone from rip-off suspect to hit in a short space of time. Monday's figure of 1.47 million is the show's biggest aud so far and the first time it has won the 7.30 half hour.

It seems more people would rather be eating food than going without it, because while Seven was feasting on people meters, fifth season veteran the Biggest Loser was starving for attention, dropping to a woeful 678,000 viewers, which I'm pretty certain is an all time series low (or at least very close to it).

Alarm bells should ringing at channel ten right about now because the abject failure of the 7pm project is dragging down one of their flagship shows.

A few weeks ago I was of the belief that ten would stick with 7pm in the hopes that the Masterchef juggernaut would revive it when it rolled into town - but now that Seven has offered viewers an alternative to the cooking comp, they may just drop ten's show like a hot potato - especially given that 7pm seems to be doing its level best to drive viewers away.

So what's wrong with the 7pm project? Well, there are all sorts of nitpicky reasons floating around on the net like the short unsatisfying segments or people's personal dislike of certain cast members (Hughes and Pickering in particular are polarising figures) but the show is genuinely different to its immediate competition and it's not a bad way to pass a half hour, indeed the effort made to draw in mature viewers with guests like George Negus and Andrew Bolt has to be applauded, so why is the show losing steam?

Well, strip shows are not appointment television per se, they are habitual television, what other explanation is there for perfectly sane, reasonable adults watching night after night of Home & Away or A Current Affair, it's their habit, like smoking.

I'm of the opinion that habits have to be bad for you, they're a ritual self abuse, smoking, drinking, swearing - these are all damaging activities, we all know better, but we do these things in spite of ourselves.

It might be a better practice to watch PBS Newshour in the afternoon and wash it down with Lateline at 10.30 but where's the fun in that - where's the insidiously cynical plotting and bad dialogue? (Home and Away) Where's the chance to gawk at a celebrity satirising the worst aspects of his personality? (Two and a Half Men) Where's the shonky snake oil salesmen, biggest bra sizes and simmering (yet manufactured) outrage?

7pm, put simply, has no guilty pleasures, it's not stupid, or embarrassing, there's no exposes or puffed up self importance, there not even snark - most of the jokes are delivered in a PC good-natured fashion.

It's earnest, and that's not a good quality for TV, maybe kids TV, but then no-one ever got hooked on Totally Wild...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A moment in the sun

Sunday nights are shaping up to be a real scrap with the return of Seven’s Factual Skeins giving them the edge over Talkin’ ‘bout Your Generation which dropped a whopping 19% week on week.

It isn’t being helped by Biggest Loser which fell 13% week on week. With this continuing decline as the young audience breaks off to watch anything but analogue FTA the viability of this show has surely got to be called into question.

Still – it’s one of the few reality shows I can think of that has a video game out at the moment – so it’s not all bad!

So help me – I am not making this up!

Bones got the edge over The Good Wife thanks to its superior lead in coupled with a natural erosion of the sampling audience. Similarly it was close between Castle and House.

Nine would be happy with the performance of its Cricket and Olympics coverage, this is like a moment in the sun for sports on TV because as the year wears on and the country splits in two over their football preference the audience sizes will start to look more and more pathetic.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fresh funny skeins not stale old laughs

Well this is something new - we're in ratings on a Thursday night and not one show cracks the million mark! In fact not one cracked the 900,000 mark. There were viewers aplenty at 8.30 to watch Seven's sitcoms and SVU on Ten, so what's the go at 7.30.

I can see that the bad press and unsettled timeslot are working against Biggest Loser, I can also see that The White Room (for which I have not seen any promotion) might tank on the basis of being an unknown quantity, but what is going on with Getaway!?

I dare not get my hopes up that this mouldy cheap old Saturday Afternoon snorefest which has been keeping good alternative off Nine's Thursday sked for 18 years now might actually be ready to shuffle off, if only.

Overall channel Nine was very weak last night, the performance of 20 to 1 was remarkably weak last night - it's clear that given the choice of some guaranteed fresh laughs, people will chose that over the stale old clip show.

Even more encouraging was that the value of Thank God You're Here reruns has plummeted with the onetime megahit pulling a pretty average 700,000 in repeat. That show was overrated even when it was a hit.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

At least you have Steve Leibmann

Wednesday was a curiously low-viewing night across all the channels with only the bafflingly popular Customs and the milquetoast Spick & Specks making any real impression on the people meters.

The popularity of Customs was perhaps helped along by yesterday’s news story about Australia’s international terminals installing those nude scanners by next year

Only a few nights into the season and already I can see a trend emerging and a problem for programmers to solve.

Young viewers are mostly gone, at least large numbers of them are using the DVR or the internet or watching cable and the digital channels (Lost’s final season premiere was top of the digital pops last night with 216,000 viewers).

The ones that are left are spread so thinly that even youth magnets like So You Think You Can Prance are finding it hard to keep a million people in front of the box for two hours.

In their place the nets are trying to pitch to older viewers, notice how almost the hot young-skewing properties on Seven and Nine have made their way to 7TWO and GO! while people stuck with analogue TV feast on a morbid diet of docu-soaps and cop shows.

Now we have the situation where two cop shows can’t exist in the same space – look at the 8.30 aud for Cold Case, a veteran show for Nine was smothered in fourth place, suffocated by the more agile Criminal Minds – itself headed for veteran status in it’s fifth season and struggling to maintain a healthy figure.

The low, low audience for sophomore doco Gangs of Oz might suggest that people are starting to tire of this real crime stuff – seriously anyone who is way into this has an entire cable channel along with numerous shows on other channels to sift through day after day – Gangs has to be pretty special to make its mark and the problem is – it has no real hook – Crime Investigation Australia the CI series which is rerun on Nine at least has Steve Leibmann.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Whatever we're watching - It's just not cricket

Tuesdays are another night I'll be watching with interest as Nine attempts to shake up Seven and Ten's duopoly on the night. Frankly Top Gear can't come soon enough as people seem to abandon cricket when presented with more exciting options.

Indeed both Biggest Loser and My Kitchen Rules were up 200,000 viewers a piece on the previous night, while the return of NCIS absolutely thumped channel Nine. NCIS LA - though a rerun - did not fare as well, though the 800,000 seems pretty standard for a 9.30 rerun.

While I'm talking about that - 9.30 reruns seem to be all the rage at the moment, Nine is rerunning The Mentalist 9.30 Monday and Thursday, Seven is rerunning Thank God You're Here 9.30 Thursday, perhaps with the 9.30 slot's diminishing returns we will see the advent of American style 2 Hour primetime schedules.

I hope not.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lose some weight

Monday nights have been in place for two weeks now and there were very few changes, Nine’s Monday comedies came off a little from their premiere figures, Big Bang was beaten in its slot by Australian Story.

The 7pm Project was up slightly, but disastrously The Biggest Loser went down by 17% the biggest drop on the night.

Without following TBL this year I can’t say if the drop is due to the content of the show, perhaps it’s the target audience, a lot of whom would also be amenable to watching Seven’s My Kitchen Rules which only airs twice a week to Loser’s six times!

I don’t know about you but if I were an avid reality viewer with limited time on my hands I might splice it between the two shows.

The moral of this story is – now that it’s at 7.30 – The Biggest Loser could possibly stand to lose some weight!

Of course the greater moral could be to move it back to 7pm where it will enjoy a greater install base and therefore better ratings.

Of course – that opens up the final half of the year problem, but so far 7pm isn’t proving to be the solution!

Stacks On!

Sundays are the it day again, last year the advent of Masterchef and (more importantly) Sunday Night proved that 60 minutes was no longer the immovable object it once was.

To respond to this new paradigm Seven and Ten are piling on Sunday nights with some of their biggest shows, although Seven big early evening hitters won’t be back until next week, Ten debuted a new lineup with last year’s breakout hit Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation and the new, heavily hyped US drama, The Good Wife.

While Generation came up against stiff competition, the Good Wife, and House came up trumps giving Ten solid ratings to boast about.

Nine is currently rumoured to be brining Underbelly into the Sunday night fray either after the Winter Olympics or after Easter, it should be a game changer if it can repeat last year’s performance on a bigger night, but more importantly will it restore some sheen (and perhaps relevance) to its lead-in 60 minutes?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The 7pm Reject

You know how I could tell that I'd barely watched any free to air TV over the summer - I was genuinely shocked to come across Grey's Anatomy last night! Seven's decision to bring this to Tuesdays seems to be a good one as the series struggled to get attention on the older skewing Thursday night.

Ten meanwhile continues to sink, the 7pm project barely scraped past half a million viewers, you'd wonder how far Ten's "commitment" to this show extends. Despite being the only fresh material in its timeslot over summer it actually went backwards and a general lift in audiences hasn't helped at all.

7pms performance seems to be affecting not only Neighbours before it but the Biggest Loser afterward. Although Loser has always performed better after 7.30 than before - this year it seems to be struggling and given its start time against varied competition, viewers may find it easier to opt out in deference to other 7.30 shows, that if they'd started watching at 7pm.

Unfortunate Reality

After opening on Sunday night with a quite respectable 1.1 million viewers the Biggest Loser plummeted on its second outing falling more than 300,000 viewers in the process.

While it certainly wasn't helped by its lead in the anaemic 7pm Project (674,000 viewers and a distant fourth) a bigger problem may be the controversy surrounding one of the contestants who is up on some very unsavoury criminal charges, subsequently that contestant has had to be excised from the show in the editing room which is reportedly causing all sorts of headaches for viewers trying to follow a narrative jumping around more than your garden variety Tarantino film.

Ten just can't take a trick with their reality shows of late, last year's public lynching of Kyle Sandilands completely sucked the oxygen out of Australian Idol, now this story which is just off putting and unfortunate - what's next? Maybe a Masterchef contestant turns out to be a cannibal!!

Speaking of Masterchef, Seven's cash-in-o-rama had an uninspired sampling given the amount of promotion the show has gotten over summer, perception is working against them with this show - it feels like it's ripping of masterchef and it feels like it's ripping of My Restaurant Rules, still it did better than Loser so it could turn out very nicely for Seven.

Nine meanwhile steamrolled everyone else with their comedies and (lo and behold) a consistently programmed hour of The Mentalist all timeslot winners!

Sometimes it's good to move House...

After spending an entire summer scraping the bottom of the ratings barrel, channel Ten suddenly burst back to life with one week to go before ratings season begins, and against some tough competition.

The last Sunday of January has for the past several years featured the same tussle Tennis vs Cricket vs Dance.

As usual Tennis came out on top with a healthy average of 2.4 million viewers, Nine did respectably enough and Ten's big franchises pulled in nice numbers, the real suprise of the night was the 9.15pm showing of House, a show that last year was looking long in the tooth, turns out it was just up against too many other good shows (and newer ones at that, as this blog pointed out some months ago) it pulled a fairly decent 1 million viewers a much more encouraging start than this show has had in some time.