Nine came out of Easter non-ratings hitting us hard with a record number of hours of reality TV as The Voice (Australia), The Block 2012 and Celebrity Apprentice’s second season all premiered in the same week, between April 15 and April 18, 2012.
The Block took over re-runs of The Big Bang Theory for Nine’s 7pm weekday timeslot, The Voice initially aired on three nights a week for the first few weeks, and Celebrity Apprentice aired on Wednesday and Thursday nights.
The Block straight away led the 7pm timeslot over the other networks, while The Voice Australia broke records as the Blind Audition episodes reached around 2.5 million viewers (five city metro). Celebrity Apprentice Australia, on the other hand failed to attract the audience it achieved in 2011 for its first season. In 2011, Celebrity Apprentice Australia was stripped across 7pm weeknights.
Season two of Celebrity Apprentice ended with its 9th hour and a half episode May 16 – just five weeks after it started. The Voice ended June 18, and The Block July 1. With The 2012 London Olympics not starting on Nine until July 28, that had left Nine with four weeks empty from locally produced reality.
After the Block finished, Nine returned The Big Bang Theory repeats to 7pm weeknights, before quickly removing them – due to poor ratings – in favour of The Voice US – which pulled even worse in ratings in its first week on air July 9-11.
This prompts the question – why Nine hit so hard with three reality series at once, knowing full well they would have a four week break with nothing between the Block finale and The Olympics when they could have spread the three out to cover the time frame leading into the Olympics.
What Nine should have done, is held off on Celebrity Apprentice until The Block was done, airing Celebrity Apprentice at 7pm weeknights over the four weeks in July, with its finale airing Thursday July 26 say. This would have served two purposes: 1) prevent reality overload in the five weeks after Easter, and 2) kept ratings momentum up at 7pm weeknights right into The Olympics.
Nine’s decision on Big Bang repeats would have been based on the fact that some repeats were pulling over a million in viewers, but these were episodes airing after the Block with significantly more viewers leading in. Unfortunately, that did not translate to 7pm weeknights.
As for The Voice US, I haven’t come across anyone who expected the show to rate well – so the question has to be asked what were Nine thinking? Considering it aired months ago in the US, and the winner has already been named and published on the web, it seemed a crazy move to air the show on Nine. Even when the first series aired on GO! it didn’t rate well, with typical GO! movie and sitcom repeats doing better than The Voice US. Airing US series of reality shows, given social media and the internet really have to be within days of original US air date, preferably within hours like what FOX8 do with American Idol. Especially when you hear all about these shows in US talk shows like Ellen and The View for example.
What Nine should have done with The Voice US is one of the following:
1) air it on GO! late night on the same nights the Voice Australia aired – yes, they still would have been behind US air date, but it would have capitalised on interest in The Voice at the time, and possibly have helped lift GO!’s late night ratings.
2) air it on GO! within hours of when it aired in the US – problem with this, is you would have had The Voice US and The Voice Australia then concurrently airing but at different stages (the US version would have had to move to weekends or late night).
3) break the show up into smaller segments and strip it across 7pm weeknights on Nine, with episodes no longer than 1 hour at most.
Or 4) Not air it on Nine or GO! at all. Seven’s policy on US series of their shows (X Factor, AGT, Dancing with the Stars) is NOT to air the US version ever, on any channel as they fear dilution of the brands. Which can be true to some degree, but the US version of Dancing with the Stars in particular would be well worth Seven airing here, say on a weekend on 7TWO as they have much bigger celebrities than we do.
And here’s another thought – I wonder how an edited version of The Voice Australia would have gone at 7pm weeknights in half hour installments? For those who didn’t watch the show from the start (I was one of them) imagine seeing the original Blind Auditions again for Karise, Sarah, Darren and Rachael? Not to mention all the other singers we saw on the way.
Meanwhile, back to reality, at time of writing, The Voice US is still in Nine’s schedule for the next two weeks on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays (July 16-18, July 23-25), then the schedule is taken over by The London 2012 Olympic Games.
The first week of The Voice US reached an average of around 600,000 viewers (5 city metro) over its three nights on air, raising the question as to whether Nine will move it to GO! or not. but if they do, what are we left with? Big Bang repeats again?
A little foresight could go a long way at Nine.
Expect to be hit hard again by Nine with new programming after the Olympics, mostly driven by Big Brother.