The Extra detail on the 5:30 battle

On any given weekday in the 5:30pm race it isn’t difficult to see the wins by Deal or No Deal are a headache to the Nine Network. It thumped Million Dollar Wheel of Fortune out of existence.

On Wednesday Deal had 761,000 national viewers while Antiques Roadshow had 473,000. But that isn’t the full picture.

While nobody is denying the might of Deal, the figures don’t acknowledge the fact that not only is Antiques a one hour show, but in Brisbane it airs from 4:30 – 5:30pm. That’s because the locally-produced Extra airs at 5:30pm, where it frequently beats Deal.

In the Brisbane market on Wednesday, Extra had 174,000 to Deal‘s 161,000. After 17 years on air, the hometown show remains a force to be reckoned with.

TV Tonight spoke with producer Michelle Cannon about the success of Brisbane’s quiet achiever, and whether there are any lessons to be learned.

It was 1992 when Nine launched various editions of Extra around the country in the 5:30pm timeslot, but within a year only Brisbane Extra (which subsequently dropped its city moniker) remained. Rick Burnett hosted the show until 2005, and is considered a key factor in the show’s long life. Since 2006, maternity leave notwithstanding, it has been hosted by Jillian Whiting (pictured).

Executive Producer Michelle Cannon, who has been with the show for ten years says she doesn’t necessarily agree that the show has remained simply because Queensland viewers are supposedly parochial.

“We think it worked because we got the formula right,” she said. “We did the show differently to other (Extra) shows. We didn’t try to be a hard current affairs show that they were already getting at 6.30. We went down a slightly different road and did a community based show.”

With its mix of local issues, health, consumer stories, gardening, fashion and entertainment, Extra airs across Queensland. With 17 years to its credit it is now the longest-running locally broadcast show in Australia.

“We have introduced studio interviews this year and they seem to be working well too. We do that maybe three times a week. It’s usually something topical on the day that we want to follow up.”

When Nine introduced Million Dollar Wheel of Fortune the network was smart enough not to mess with the 5:30 slot in Queensland. Again, this choice meant national figures in the Wheel v Deal battle did not detail the full picture. But it also gave Extra its share of headaches too.

“Whenever we have changes to our lead-in it can be unsettling because you’ve got a whole lot of different viewers tuning in before your show,” said Cannon. “So when they took Antiques off and Wheel was put on it did upset our figures a little bit. The people who were watching Antiques were staying for Extra, but then when Wheel came on it was a game show audience who were watching Wheel, but then switched to Deal.”

Cannon says Extra is now back to form, often beating its opposition and up around 14% year on year, excluding Olympics.

“I view it as a day by day battle. We just keep making the best programme that we can. Listening to our viewers.” The show also stays in touch with its local audience via the website extraonline.com.au

“The nice thing about Extra is I guess we feel a close connection with the community. It’s lovely working for a programme where you do have that feel. We feel the stories that we do can make a difference in people’s lives. We get a lot of positive feedback everywhere we go. People say ‘we love Extra!’”

After 17 years, she may have a point.

6 Comments:

  1. It is not just Extra Nine puts in that slot up here. On the Gold Coast, Nine airs a Gold Coast-specific news bulletin. Earlier this year Nine experimented with the GC airing both Extra at 5pm and the Gold Coast News bulletin at 5:30… David, Every attempt Seven has tried to beat Extra/GC News with local programming has failed, with the most notable being a hour long program called “Local Edition” in 2000. But it now uncovers Nine’s biggest flaw in it’s news in Brisbane, Ever since Sharon Ghidella and John Schluter defected to Seven, Seven News has been winning by massive margins on Sundays, which flow on to the rest of the week. I might tell you more when I get home proper.

  2. I think you mean nationwide but I agree Nine should look at reintroducing Extra in the other capitals. It’s funny but I often find myself watching Extra almost by default. Deal is loud and noisy while Extra has a nice laid back feel.

  3. While Extra may win some nights, if anything this should be a sign to Seven and Nine that leads in arent the be all and end all, On most nights, Seven News in Brisbane thrashes Nine news, despite the good lead in from Extra.

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