2010: but where are the new hits?

Sequels, revivals and copycats. 2010 is halfway done, and so far its legacy for new local productions is an embarrassment.

Sequels, revivals and copycats, 2010 is full of them. But where are the new local hits?

The TV year is halfway done, and so far its legacy for new local productions is disappointing.

The year has been a vacuum for new Australian product, with networks reluctant to take risks and resorting to shows that either copy others, revive old glories, localise international formats or depend upon new seasons of proven product.

And as for new series hits? You can count them on one hand.

My Kitchen Rules is the year’s most successful new Australian production. Its Tuesday editions averaged 1.42m viewers. While it was seen by many as trying to capitalise on the success of MasterChef (indeed even to undermine it), the Seven show built in popularity and delivered the network a bonefide hit. But even My Kitchen Rules had its roots in an earlier show, My Restaurant Rules, however it differed enough in format for it to be considered a new 2010 format here.

Nine’s fly-on-the-wall series RBT is next with 1.29m viewers (based on two episodes).

The local version of US format Minute to Win It has averaged 1.18m viewers. It represents one of several new shows attempted by Seven.

Observational doco ICU has faltered with 963, 987 viewers, yanked from its timeslot.

The Matty Johns Show has hung on while The Bounce was bounced by Seven (and promises a Finals return). Their combined average is 891,579.

Australian Families of Crime, which has moved all around Nine’s schedule, averages 787,344. Australian Druglords has also moved around the schedule, as well as undergoing name changes.

Even new product at the ABC is thin on the ground. Documentary series Voyage to the Planets averaged 688,965, new comedy Lowdown averages 532,385 while underperforming whodunnit series Sleuth 101 was 449,048.

The list of flops is a concern: The Bounce, The White Room, Australia Versus -but at least Seven is taking risks. Nine hasn’t floated any new formats of any consequence (Wicked Love: The Maria Korp Story, a telemovie rather than a series, pulled 1.29m viewers) while regurgitating Hey Hey it’s Saturday, variations on Millionaire and new seasons of its drama batch.

Other new shows including Dance Academy and Santo, Sam and Ed’s Cup Fever have been more modest successes for ABC and SBS. ABC2’s I ROCK wasn’t even on the ratings radar. ONE has floated a few new sports chat shows.

Some of the new series in Pay TV this year have included Come Dine with Me Australia, Ultimate School Musical: Fame, As Australian As and Tough Nuts.

Meanwhile new Seven formats Beat the Star and The Marriage Ref are yet to eventuate (the former has already filmed).

But hope is in sight.  Offspring, Cops LAC, Keeping up with the Joneses, The Making of Modern Australia are coming while telemovies Hawke and Sisters of War are amongst new titles due and ABC drama Rake is in production.

18 Responses

  1. I agree with those calling for more Oz comedy, either as sketch shows, satire, or even live performance.

    We’ve got a good record of satire like Frontline or Hollowmen, skit shows like Chaser or Full Frontal, black comedy like Wilfred, and live stand up or ad lib like Roy & HG. Its the one thing we do well because we love to take the P…

    I think networks are over-cautious because of the recent trend for PC witch-burners and political interference, plus they rolled out some low budget lemons that predictably sunk without trace.

    Its unbelievable that we have such buffoons in politics at the moment, yet nobody’s making fun of them. Is it to do with Conroy’s ‘Oz content’ bribes?

  2. @Earthquake – I couldn’t disagree more. Seven has proved many times over that it can’t do comedy, unless it buys an already established brand such as Thank God You’re Here or Kath & Kim. It’s a shame as they certainly have the resources to produce something great. They are far too safe and broad (and fearful of venturing outside of those parameters) to ever make something actually funny. I’d love to be proven wrong of course! Seven…?

  3. I’m disappointed with the attitude expressed by people like Josh (but he is not alone by a long shot) who are “completely against Australian TV shows”. With so many people holding that view, Aussies who go into producing our entertainment have lost a battle they haven’t had a chance of fighting.

    We may have lower budgets but you don’t have to look too hard to find something of worth.

    (Just to reiterate, this aint a personal attack against you Josh – you are just articulating a view I’ve heard from many people).

  4. I am as australian as the next person but am completely against australian TV shows, with the slight exception for reality, because the directing is terrible and networks dont allow enough of a budget for the shows. The states supply hundreds of thousands to TV shows and here im guessing its not even a scratch of it. I am a huge fan of Idol, Dance, Thank God Your Here, Football Superstar (which wasnt mentioned above) and yet most have them have been axed (unsure about TGYH). Networks here are similar to networks in the states in one major way…if they dont like the ratings they yank it quicker then a blink of an eye. TV execs need to take into account the dedicated viewers, as well as considering what the audience is actually looking for…not just crime doco after the other! like seriously i live in Griffith NSW and i know enough about the mafia and drugs without having to turn on the TV and see it either on the news or in a drama!

  5. i think networks should give up on variety type shows. white room, heyhey, the bounce, rove, Australia Versus, TVburp ratings show no one wants them. it is obviously too hard for anyone to get it right and some of the ones that are ok don’t rate well anyway. people an this site often write them off as cheap filler, but some of them are actually very expensive. how many more expensive flops do the networks need until they learn. the strike rate is so low, most cases i would rather see a reality or a factual.

  6. Very little in the way of narrative production – comedy or drama. If you don’t subscribe to some of the movie channels you miss out on Tangle, that other one that escapes me: behind the scenes of a comedy show; an occasional made for tv movie, or short run comedy – is all there is! Slim pickings next Logies!

  7. Great article and very good point. Ten is now almost on an equal standing to Nine and Seven – but way better demos. Seven and Nine have played it too safe and too bland for too long. Take a risk guys – otherwise it’s just more of the same cheesy, old fashioned TV, with fewer an fewer people tuning in at all. It means hiring some good, new key creative staff who can access the creative community. RIght now, there’s no trust. Why should anyone take a good idea to Nine or Seven? I also agree about the ABC taking a few chances too. News Caff is powering along, but not Aussie drama.

  8. I really liked Ultimate School Musical on FOX 8 but the content was a bit skimpy. Would like to see it back though. But where oh where are the new comedy shows? Aussies love comedy and there’s none locally being produced. Come on 7, 9 & 10 – commission some new shows Ploise!

  9. There is definitely room for a new Australian commercial FTA sitcom, a sketch show and a variety show in there. Channel Seven has the pedigree for the first two and Ten the pedigree for the last one.

    I am getting sick of all these police doco shows that are on now. Surely we need a laugh. Hey Hey might not be getting the ratings on a Wednesday night, but a cheaper type of variety to make like Rove should be financially better for a station.

  10. Australian Networks need to show some courage and put some money behind big new Original Australian shows. One thing that’s apparent from the flops listed like Australia Versus & The White Room, is that they are very cheap and copy cat shows.

    Australian production companies have shown they can deliver quality, just look at MasterChef. Now they just need the trust and the cash from networks to make something more exciting than a panel show or clip show.

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