SBS viewers reject import, plea for Letters & Numbers return.

SBS axed a low-rent show in June and replaced it with the UK version. But it's a switch-off for audiences.

SBS viewers have rejected the import game show Countdown, brought in to replace the local series Letters and Numbers, axed in June.

Last week Countdown averaged just 36,000 viewers.

In the week it was axed, Letters and Numbers averaged more than three times the number: 128,000 viewers.

SBS axed the low-budget series starring Richard Morecroft, David Astle, and Lily Serna in order to save costs. It replaced it with the UK version, based on the French original.

But the UK series is failing to fire.

Letters and Numbers was also commissioned to give World News Australia a boost as a 6pm lead-in.

In June when Letters and Numbers was on air, World News Australia averaged 187,000. Last week it averaged 163,000.

Fans of Letters and Numbers have also taken to Facebook to vent their anger:

Countdown is pathetic, no brains involved except for the contestants. You will lose viewers.

Countdown sucks! So many awkward and clumsy moments! Bring back Letters and Numbers and the gang!

Sorry but the UK version of L&N sucks. Watched it for the first, and last time. Please bring back Richard and the team. Much, much, much better.

I am trying to accept the replacement show, but I really can’t! Two evenings of it will be enough.

I loved Letters and Numbers. How could you axe this wonderful show. The British show is awful. Most of the time I cannot understand what they are talking about in their ‘funny’ British way. You have lost me SBS until you reinstate Letters and Numbers.

An online petition has over 1000 comments and 4000 registered supporters.

Upon hearing of the axe, The Punch described the show’s nerdy appeal.

“We love everything about the show. The enthralling gameplay. The contestants, who apparently are forced to wear the unloved shirt at the bottom of their cupboard, and to keep them unironed at all costs. But above all, we love the hosts.”

While Lily Serna is currently appearing in Destination Flavour, the axing of the low-cost show in order to save costs, will go down as one of the more bizarre programming moves of the year.

17 Responses

  1. Now that I think about it… I used to watch letters and numbers when I got home in time and would get my news from sbs. I now watch the project instead. I probably would go back to sbs news if L&N came back.

  2. 100k is a lot to lose for a station like SBS. Like the others I watched some of Countdown and while it’s not terrible it’s also nowhere near as good as L&N was & I now do not watch SBS at 6pm like 100,000 others. Bring it back and I’ll return.

  3. David – yes – that is correct – SBS own rights, not Shine.

    At 36,000, repeats of Letters & Numbers would do better. The show costs so little to make – they are surely losing more with these figures in advertising revenue than they gained by not making L&N anymore.

  4. ” the axing of the low-cost show in order to save costs, will go down as one of the more bizarre programming moves of the year”

    Just wanted to re-highlight that as it sums the whole thing up perfectly

  5. David..thank you so much for laying this case out with your numbers.It confirms what I intuitively felt…it was,as you put it,one of the most bizarre programming moves of the year on SBS’s part.L&n was such an all-round solid performer for them,certainly by SBS standards..decent numbers at the tough 6 pm spot,carrying them over to the news,selling books,funneling enthusiasm and loyalty into a vibrant website,and filling 2 different 1/2 hour slots 5 days a week.Sure it was corny,cloyingly polite and mannered,but yeah,the three hosts had that most important quality for tv…they were likable,the kind of people you wouldn’t mind having hang around in your lounge room.I so hope that the SBS deciders on this will be self confident enough to admit to stuffing this up, and we get our show back.

  6. I am glad that you raised this up. I miss Letters and Numbers. And the show did have a loyal following.

    It’s not surprising that Countdowns numbers (in the ratings) are down, and in turn, World News.

  7. I watch Countdown, its nowhere as good as Letters and Numbers. Plus the Countdown that SBS is showing is a year old. Countdown also feels too long theres more letters games and I prefer the banter between Richard, David and Lily. Plus Rachel Riley writes out her maths problems while Lily does it in her head.

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