Sunday, May 22, 2011

Nine fails to read between the lines

Eddie McGuire. It seems you can’t go three weeks in this place without another Eddie McGuire quiz show being foisted on the weary public.

Honestly it’s like they’re being mass-produced.

5 nights a week you can watch Eddie host a heavily modified version of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ leading into the news, a few weeks back the book was unceremoniously closed on his new quiz show ‘Million Dollar Drop’ (an interesting idea hampered by being strung out over the course of a full hour)

Now Eddie’s back on screens without a moment to lose quizzing celebrities about sporting trivia with ‘Between the Lines’

Structurally at least, the show should be doing well, the celebs involved are generally watchable, the format itself seems tight, its light entertainment on a night stuffed with dramas and it leads directly into The Footy Show.

So why is it tanking?

I’m not sure why exactly – but I think the fundamentals of the show are good, but the viewer sees an advertisement, hears two words and just mentally tunes out.

Eddie Everywhere, the man, the legend.

Eddie McGuire is in many ways, in this day and age a unique creation, a throwback to the olden days of television when it was more regionalised.

You see television never took networking all that seriously until maybe the late 1970s. Until that time there were wild variations in schedules from city to city as the individual stations had a lot more control over program content.

That era saw the likes of Graham Kennedy and Bert Newton become household names despite the fact that their show (In Melbourne Tonight) was only seen live (if at all) in the Melbourne market!

Eddie is a similar beast, he rose to prominence as a sports reporter for Channel Ten Melbourne, but it was helming The Footy Show on channel nine which made him a star.

The Footy Show, lest we forget, was not like other shows, it was guerrilla television, starting in an era where Footy only ever aired on Seven, Nine put together a show about the sport with NO FOOTAGE, relying on the personalities of its presenters to bring in the viewers and people lapped it up.

An NRL based show was quickly created (Nine did –and still does- have the NRL rights) and Nine had Thursday nights sewn up.

Pretty soon McGuire was a household name in Melbourne, but north of the Murray he was a complete unknown. Luckily Nine has plenty of ‘event’ programming in need of an MC and in a role that used to be filled by journalist and daytime host Ray Martin, Eddie started popping up everywhere.

It started with Who Wants to be a Millionaire in 1999 – a big deal quiz show format which reportedly had everyone pulling a salary from channel nine trying out for the hosts role. McGuire got the gig and with it (and the show’s long run) viewers got another chance to see the man every week.

In case you don’t watch quiz shows or follow the AFL though, you could still see Eddie on such occasions as the Logie Awards, the National IQ test, The Tsunami Telethon (which itself is a crowning achievement in Aus TV IMO – off topic), A Current Affair just to name a few.

In fact channel Nine’s schedule was so full of Eddie at one point that they made the only logical move they could and appointed him CEO of the network!

Now there are two types of people working in front of the camera for TV networks, freelancers and stars.

Regular freelancers are hired on a show by show basis, by a specific program, these are normally actors or maybe presenters on a show made by an outside production company.

The network stars on the other hand, they’re employed by the network, and their job description can vary wildly depending on what the network wants them to do, one week they might be fronting a news program, the next they might be filming Christmas promos, the week after they could do a spot on a travel show.

All the while, their pay doesn’t change, they draw a salary and it doesn’t fluctuate depending on the task at hand (where as it would for freelancers).

At any rate, by the time he was CEO, Eddie’s salary had swelled to somewhere around $3-4 million!

A big chunk of that was no doubt negotiated when he was promoted to CEO, by reports (and we can take them with a grain of salt I guess) he’s still worth that even though he’s just back to being a TV presenter and for some time the network seemed to struggle with finding him something to do.

They plugged that gap with Millionaire Hot Seat, a good lead in to Nine’s News and a high output gig that IMO certainly justifies a big salary by the network.

But Nine keep trying to find MOAR projects for Eddie to front.

This year we’ve seen two so far, Million Dollar Drop and now Between the Lines (which was mooted all the way back in 2009!)

Million Dollar Drop bombed in a big way and it looks like Between the Lines is headed for a similar fate, but why?

A big part of the reason is McGuire himself and yet its not his fault. He presents the shows perfectly well, he’s a competent host, quick on his feet and charming to boot, but he’s also been oversaturated, remember he’s “Eddie Everywhere” every time his name is mentioned a subset of viewers just rolls their eyes and tunes out.

You’ll never win these people back (at least not straight away) no matter how hard you try, its not you (Eddie) its them. As unfair as it is, familiarity breeds contempt, it’s a cliché because its true!

Nine’s programmers look at these formats and think – ‘who do we have already on the payroll who can pull this off?’ and naturally Eddie is given the call, but what if they didn’t have the cost pressures of star salaries, where they could get a freelancer in to do the job, someone different that might bring in that casual aud, and let Eddie lay low for a while, doing his 5.30 thing, giving people the chance to miss him a little before putting him on the next big thing.

Just a thought…

Thursday, 19 May 2011
Australian Television Ratings Report



1 comment:

Calliope said...

Part of the problem as you say, is that Eddy is "Everywhere". The day he lost me was when he "hosted" the winter Olympics with his dreadful, smutty red-necked and ill-informed commentary. Speaking for myself, I'm tired of that type of thing, and I want a little more intelligence in my programs. Eddy just can't deliver that.