US dramas struggling for Heroes

As the global financial market continue to slide, so too are ratings for American television programmes in Australia.

Despite the recent cast member promo visit, last night’s premiere of Heroes‘ supposedly revamped series managed a rather paltry 878,000. A second episode took 785,000. At 10:30pm the new season of Prison Break tanked at a lousy 387,000. Thanks to its early evening shows, Seven will be pleased it still won the night in 16-39, 18-49 and 25-54 demographics.

These are shows that two and three years ago were hailed as shining beacons for Channel Seven.

It follows the lack of interest in another former hit, Ugly Betty, which is now bumped until summer.

But Seven is not alone is finding American shows are out of fashion. TEN’s new season of House is getting about half the ratings it once enjoyed. Kitchen Nightmares USA was so poorly received it’s gone too.

The American shows that are working are Two and a Half Men, NCIS, and Criminal Minds -precisely one for each commercial FTA network.

Meanwhile Aussie productions such as Packed to the Rafters, City Homicide, 60 Minutes are connecting with audiences. Australian Idol is TEN’s strongest local brand.

The ABC has better insurance against the US fatigue with its British components. Its Sunday, Friday and Saturday British dramas have a loyal following, with Midsomer Murders and Doctor Who having given the commercial networks a headache.

Many would argue the lack of interest in some of the American product is a complex equation. Some shows are ‘fasttracked’ too late. Some have poor lead-ins. Others have been damaged by too many repeats or not enough viewer awareness of its place in the schedule.

There is now considerable anger from viewers watching other shows ripped off air at a moment’s notice, which damages loyalty to the network. Today’s Daily Telegraph has picked up on the mood in this article.

TEN is particularly on the receiving end of viewer anguish right now. Its audience is particularly susceptible to the habit of downloading, regardless of whether it is legal or not.

How much of a U-Turn we have taken when a few years ago the big imports like CSI, Desperate Housewives and Lost consumed us. Now US stocks seem to have fallen in television too. At least we know they can rebound back overnight…


  1. Basically there were few people watching any show Thursday night. The top was 1.2 million? Only the top 5 over a million.

    Even RPA did pretty badly. So I don’t think it’s much of a reflection on Heroes or Prison Break, their ratings had dropped last season anyway.

  2. 18 MINUTES of Ads per hour which irritate me no-end is the reason i do not watch 7/9/10 . These USA shows are fully funded & paid for by USA citizens.On their network sites the shows can be watched the day after shown on tv for free.

  3. I have to admit, I don’t watch either Heroes or Prison Break but I did love Ugly Betty & Im really p****d off 7 took it off air. It was only last year when they hyped the s**t out of it & now its canned.
    I know it all depends on ratings but if people dont watch the new American shows which are fast tracked, they may say, well stuff you lot, no more fast tracking, cause when we do, you dont watch em.
    I also believe that the public would rather see local shows, lok at the ratings for Packed To The Rafters, City Homicide, Rush, The Strip etc – its fantastic people are watching local content over overseas stuff – if this continues we will see many more quality local shows on our screens which is good for the local industry!

  4. Tim Worner is hardly a reliable source for info on TV show downloading. I doubt he has any real idea of the extent of downloading that’s going on.

    I dispute the “certain demographic” theory. I see TV shows being traded on DVD-R all the time between people who don’t even have enough interest in the internet to get broadband. Ordinary people with no interest in the politics of TV but a real interest in seeing shows before they go to air here. I can honestly say there is barely a single person I know who doesn’t watch some amount of downloaded TV. And I know a *lot* of people…

  5. The problem is that the three commercial stations are treating their audiences with s much disrespect. Shows are taken off air with no notice, don’t start on time, chopped to fit ads, put back on air with no notice, etc, etc, etc.

    TV shows these days often have complex story arcs that can go over a whole season. You can’t afford to miss episodes but the networks don’t care.

    Why start watching Heroes on Channel 7 when in all likelihood, its timeslot will be changed with no notice or it could be totally ripped off the air? With the last season, they took it off air with only two episodes left of a story arc. By the time they did show those episodes (with minimal warning), you would have literally lost the plot?

    Channel 9 cut Fringe so they can fit more ads in so you don’t even get the whole episode.

    Channel 10 are just as bad with chopping and changing.

    The TV stations only have themselves to blame and I feel absolutely no sympathy. They are driving their viewers away. They expect their viewers to be loyal but are never loyal back. Loyalty is a two-way street.

  6. i did like ten for several years now and the reason why i dont watch ten anymore is purely because they keep changing the time slots of the tv shows and i hate that the most! i like 90210/house and its gone because there was no major advertising for it, ten doesnt seem to advertise its shows well enough anymore! Seven and nine are doing a little better at least.

    btw if they keep removing shows and changing the times, people will get annoyed, everyone will be downloading…

  7. Matthew, as long as the american networks make money from the shows, we can get them. They make a large majority of their money from their own revenue from ads and dvd sales. If the networks over there keep making money, the production companies (often subsidiaries of the networks) will keep producing shows.

    With reference to Ramsay’s kitchen, i seriously doubt that this show has been dented much by downloads (i couldn’t understand why anyone would bother really with this show), but that the fad has passed.

    A bit off topic, but If i were channel 9, i would further capitalise on 2 1/2 men while it lasts, and put a few other half hour shows after them (similar to what they are doing with til death, but ones with much better quality, not the least including big bang theory) to get people interested. In case they have forgotten, 2 1/2 men only worked because it was on in a consistent timeslot for more than a few weeks at a time.

  8. If everyone downloads episodes, that will mean that TV networks won’t buy them. Which means Production Companies won’t get money. Which will lead to no money to make episodes!

    So if FTA TV dies so will Prison Break\Heroes\House etc

    If Prison Break was promoted, fast tracked and shown at a decent hour, it would had better ratings


  9. I think every time they promote a (new) show as fast-tracked when 4 episodes have already aired in the states, or worse, 7 episodes as with prison break, it lessens the effect that the term has.

    I knew heroes couldn’t crack the 1m mark for this season, despite the obvious quality increase. I Agree completely with Neon Kitten that they made a huge mistake delaying these shows. There was ample time for them to get their things in order to show them within a few days, but they passed on that. With Tim Worner saying that with the new season of heroes they would show it ‘fairly quickly’ is certainly a joke now, especially among core fans.

  10. Um how could 7 expect Prisonbreak to rate well? They didn’t promote it’s return at all and it’s in a 10.30pm time slot. By the time the show actually started it was almost 10.45pm. Im an avid fan of PB but even I can’t be bothered waiting until 10.30pm to watch my favourite show hence Ive resorted to downloading it. It astounds me that the tv channels wonder why shows arent rating as well as hoped when they show fans zero respect by chopping and changing times, having shows start late, taking shows off mid season. Seven pretty much murdered any chance PB had during season 2

  11. Hi There.
    I argee with all that has been said, but to add my 5 cents…
    As a long time, long suffering sci-fi fan, I’d had enough of waiting up to five years for series to air on the big three stations, and then in a crappy timespot with no promotion. They are now reaping what they have sown for decades. Once downloading was possible, Aussie TV to me became irrelevant. I watch these shows when I want to! Not when the networks finally get around to showing them! And from the sounds of it, so do most people now, ratings are for the most part now useless unless its a first run Aussie show, any other OS show was already downloaded by the time it got to air here!

    Oh, another thing, sometimes you come across shows which sound interesting, but you know that Aussie Free TV will NEVER show (Dead like Me, Deadwood, Regenisis, Chuck, etc) that are far better than the crap now shown. (Hell if the Simpsons still rate after repeat after repeat, what does that tell you!) Yet once you see such a show (Regenisis did it for me) you wonder why that are not on the networks here? I just think the program directors are lazy and will not got beyond US or UK high raters when there are a whole world of programs out there!


  12. Evan, I meant no offence. It’s just not my sort of show. I watched season one, but I was never really drawn to it. Season 2 lost me. I can see how other people would like it, though. And I would watch it over Packed to the Rafters in a heartbeat. It’s just not appointment television for me (don’t worry, I don’t have one of those dumb ratings boxes).

    Anyway, I agree that Seven is treating it really badly. I’ve seen enough of my own favourite shows on the short end of the stick to sympathise.

  13. A question about the new episodes of gordan ramseys kitchen nightmares usa,
    the figures showed a loss of viewers compared to the previous season, was this due to viewers being fed up with ramsey or because people have access to a new series with more torrents.If nine screen hells kitchen series 2 would this have the same effect in ratings?
    For the record house has gone downhill with the same old and heroes is just boring have a look at the figures in the usa.

  14. well the view count on heroes on the channel 7 website as of right now is
    episode 1= 2879 views
    episode 2= 7057 views
    and that is after 1 day- so add that to the ratings!

  15. Downloaded shows appeal more to a certain demographic -and one that visits sites like this. I don’t think this entirely explains the losses for House. Tim Worner discussed how some shows are more affected by downloading than others here.

  16. Majority of the comments here, state clearly that downloading of tv shows occurs, thereforth, if the FTA channels are not going to change there practices of programming, why bother complaining about it constantly here and other forums.
    It is obvious the networks in this country don’t give 2 hoots about whether some people are downloading TV shows from the US or the UK, otherwise they would of taken heed of it by now and done the following:-

    1) Screen shows in full, uninterrupted, except the breaks that occur because of the US breaks.
    2) Show the shows almost at the same time as country of origin(i.e ABC and Doctor Who, not 6 months after the UK or whatever the amount of time it is between the UK airing date and the Australian date), this is Fast Tracking or whatever you want to call it.
    3)Shows have to be screened BOTH on the SD channel and the HD equlivent- none of this putting certain programs only on HD- not everyone has a HD box, and they should not have to be dictated to by the Networks, ‘Buy a HD box or you can’t watch Smallville”.

  17. I think audiences are getting a little sick of ongoing shows where you have to watch every episode, especially when you miss an episode, it’s sometimes annoying not to watch it. This is why the free-to-air channels need to enhance their HD channels and start to show more repeats of their USA shows. Then again, many viewers prefer to watch for DVD with these ongoing storyline shows, so they can watch it all at once.

    I also think both Seven and Ten have done really bad jobs at advertising their fasttracking shows. They hype up the fasttracking more than the actual show, as if it’s something we should be amazed their doing so. Start promoting the show itself more, not the fact that we’re getting it fasttracked.

  18. there were some ads for prison break but they only appeared during heroes, so unless you were already in front of the tv that night no one would have known when to tune in for prison break. and the fastracking of it was very slow. but i’m patient enough to wait for the networks rather than downloading, and i hope that i don’t get screwed by them taking it off air just coz of the idiots with a ratings boxes. 7 seems to be making an effort with heroes though, they are repeating it on the HD station after prison break and they are putting the episodes up for download off their site and this is the first time they have ever done this with a show to my knowledge, 9 and 10 have done it before but not 7.

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