Channel Ten are now regularly coming fourth in the ratings behind Seven, Nine and the ABC. Last week, the first week of 2010 as far as TV weeks are concerned, Ten ranked fourth for the week overall. The majority of shows on Ten in prime time (6pm – 10.30 by their own definition) are being watched by between 350,000 and little over 500,000 viewers which translates to shares about half of those enjoyed by Seven and Nine. Both Seven and Nine (moreso Seven) still have a few shows rating over a million.
The result is that Ten sees the way of fixing the problem is by changing their schedule. Ten already so far have removed Stargate Universe – which was actually one of their better rating shows – and Supernatural from Monday nights.
The next round of changes, in response to low ratings are changes mostly to earlier timeslots that sees Rules of Engagement (a show that never rates well so I can’t understand why they even put it on), Don’t Forget the Lyrics (a show best suited to day time TV or late night) and Glee (has a good fan base, but repeats are now too soon after original airing) all dumped from the schedule. Even the extra 30 minutes of the 7PM Project on Friday nights will be chopped, leaving the Friday night episode at 30 minutes.
Dumped shows will be replaced with more Malcolm in the Middle, more Simpsons, and movies – none of which will rate that well either. The changes to the programming line up are more likely to drive viewers way as printed guides will not be up to date, and people will tune in seeing a show different to what they expected.
We saw in 2009, that the more a network changes their schedule, the worse the ratings shares become. Channel Nine fell in to this trap with Tuesday nights where they struggled to compete against Packed to the Rafters and NCIS – both two of the top ranking shows overall. Nine regularly came distant third for Tuesday nights and never really recovered from the instability of the night earlier in the year until GO started helping their network shares from August.
Unfortunately for Ten, however, their multi channel ONE does not help their network shares with ONE’s digital channel shares typically being as low as one third that of 7TWO and GO, and more often than not below ABC2. In recent days, ONE’s share has been closer to that of ABC3 and SBS TWO. As ONE is a niche channel, low shares can be expected.
The summary of changes to Ten’s schedule are as per the following:
Thursday Jan 7:
7.30pm Accidentally on Purpose is back twice a week again – Tuesday and Thursday at 7.30pm. Why? It does not rate well either.
Friday Jan 8:
The 7pm Project is in a little island surrounded by Malcolm in the Middle – a show that now gets the “Two and a Half Men Award” for having the most episodes aired in one week. On Friday night, Malcolm can be seen at 6.30, 7.30 and 8pm. For the record, on Friday Jan 1, Malcolm was on at 11.30am, 6.30, 7.00, 7.30 and 8.00pm. Five times in one day.
Sunday Jan 10:
6.30pm Movie Billy Madison, followed by Die Hard with A Vengeance at 8.30pm.
Monday Jan 11:
6.30pm – not a change, but a reminder – Neighbours is back.
8.00pm – a new episode of the Simpsons will air.
Wednesday Jan 13.
7.30pm – another new episode of the Simpsons. If people know about the new episodes, they should rate well but otherwise they will struggle to do any better than the repeats.
Sunday Jan 17:
6.30pm – movie – Home Alone 2, followed by Collateral at 8.30pm (wasn’t that just on recently?).
And it looks like 6pm Simpsons will be replaced in coming weeks as well. At 6pm weekdays, Simpsons will be replaced with – wait for it – Malcolm in the Middle!
It all amounts to fairly weak programming on Ten’s behalf. The chopping and changing of shows out of a line up that originally was not that bad to begin with just does not make sense. I recall when I first saw Ten’s summer line up and posted it here in November I thought Ten would actually do OK and hoped that they would maintain the line up.
However, the reality now is that the period of time called “non-ratings” season no longer means what it used to. In the old days, it was a chance for new shows to be given a regular timeslot so they could grow on people, a chance to burn off episodes of shows that were not doing as well as they could during ratings season, a chance for more niche shows that never had any hope of rating through the roof to be given a chance.
Now, more than ever, non-ratings is simply that period of time where networks show poorer quality TV without any regard for the viewers. The networks react to the ratings during non-ratings season just as ferociously as they do when it is official ratings season. Therefore, what is the point to this season of second rate TV?
If Ten really want to increase their network shares during summer, then maybe it is time they become the first network to break from this non-ratings nonsense by bringing back some of their key shows earlier rather than making fans wait until the week starting February 7 for all of their favourite shows to return. Sure – less people watch TV over summer, but the majority start getting back to their normal routines the week after Christmas and New Years’ are done.
The ratings for last night – Sunday Jan 3 – show that there are a lot of people back in front of their TV’s now and, of there was anything worth watching, they would be there longer. Time to stop non creative programming with the one sitcom taking 10 or more timeslots in the one week and playing 90’s movies that have been on time and time again. Movies these days are repeated more on free to air than my favourite DVDs are played.
Programming information: TV Tonight.