Less than 24 hours to go until we have ELEVEN on the air.
Just how well is it going to do in ratings?
Many believe ELEVEN will make a big splash and top all other digital channels in shares. Possibly putting GO! off its perch as the number one digital channel in Australia. Others find the line up devoid of content with little to offer.
With the return of many shows dumped from Ten – like Supernatural, The Office, The Cleveland Show, Nurse Jackie, Californication, as well as New Simpsons, Stargate Universe and Dexter, there is plenty of first run content (note some of these shows will be repeats initially until they pass the episodes already played on Ten).
Unfortunately though, it is not first run content that grabs the viewers on digital channels. One of the reasons why GO is so successful, is not because of its first run content – but because it loads the schedule with high rating favourites like The Big Bang Theory and Top Gear, as well as movie after movie from the extensive library that the Nine network seems to have. GO are notorious in bumping first run content for movies, repeats or random Big Bang Theory marathons.
7TWO have built their success on classic British sitcoms and lifestyle programming. The few first run shows 7TWO does have draw nowhere near the viewers the classics do. 7mate has strength in How I Met Your Mother, Family Guy, American Dad, Gene Simmons, to name a few. Gene Simmons is new, the rest are not (not during summer anyway).
GEM’s direction and recent ratings success is thanks mostly to movies – many of which are actually in HD. Repeats of the Mentalist help, Law and Order as well. The Nine network have become quite good at using movies to prop up digital channel ratings. It seems to work well for them, even though some movies are repeated within a month between two of their channels. Movies help keep an audience in one place for longer, therefore helping increase a channel’s shares.
All digital channels have enjoyed a major boost during summer, thanks to less competition from the main channels.
So where will ELEVEN fit in? Where will the viewers come from?
ELEVEN is expected to impact GO and 7mate the most – the two channels with the biggest target demographic overlap with ELEVEN. Having the Simpsons on at 7.30 Mon – Thur should do well for ELEVEN, Futurama at 8pm as well. But come Wednesday night, animation on ELEVEN goes head to head with animation on 7mate. New Simpsons at 8.30 Wednesday could well be up against new Family Guy on 7mate after summer. Wednesday night in summer is so far is one of 7mate’s best nights. It is also the night most likely to cause viewing and recording conflicts.
Looking at other nights, Thursdays with Stargate Universe will most likely be a weak night for ELEVEN, Fridays are also not likely to do too well – I‘d be surprised if So You Think You Can Dance US will attract big numbers. Saturday night, filled with two hours of what were GO shows as well with Get Smart and Hogan’s Heroes could be a surprise success as the audience is certainly there for classics, but how long before we have had enough of the same stuff all the time?
Looking at Sunday nights, I don’t expect Cycle two of New Zealand’s Next Top Model to set the ratings world on fire, and Smallville should draw some of the fans back who have been waiting for it. Monday – and Dexter could end up one of the most watched shows on ELEVEN, while Supernatural could do well at 8.30.
With ELEVEN offering no repeats of prime time new content programming, viewers will be faced with choices to make, and I think many shows on ELEVEN will rate a lot lower than they should as a result. Hopefully people will start choosing to watch something new and different over repeats of the same stuff on other channels.
Sadly though, it is the repeat content driving the success of the multi channels at the moment. All of them, though, will suffer declines in viewers as soon as new content is back on the main channels for 2011.
Based on summer ratings shares, I think ELEVEN will enter the ratings race with nightly shares between 2 and 3%. Some nights may peak over 4%, the weekly average is likely to be around the 2.5% mark.
In an interview with TV Tonight, Network Ten programmer David Mott has stated that he is committed to the ELEVEN schedule and will let the audience grow. This should mean that we do not see erratic schedule changes to ELEVEN and that the program should remain consistent even as we head into the 2011 ratings season.
ELEVEN will find its place amongst the other four general entertainment channels and the five of them will battle it out for spots in the top five digital channels of each night.
On Wednesday, we will know how ELEVEN’s first night faired.