Why The Project is doing it tough, with no help from TEN.

Pitting The Project against Neighbours is a great way to cannibalise your audience.

2013-03-21_2315Question without notice to Network TEN:

Why on earth are you playing a premium first-run Drama series in Neighbours against a premium first-run Light Entertainment series in The Project, when they are both shooting for the same demographic?

How is this good business sense?

Which show is it supposed to be helping?

Aren’t you asking your viewers to decide between one or the other?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to protect your first-run local content rather than cannibalise the audience?

The Project has endured so many Programming changes that it has now ended up competing for the same audience as Neighbours, yet this was never the intent.

When Neighbours moved to ELEVEN in January 2011 it was scheduled against state-based news editions, with George Negus at 6pm. It was an alternative offering and The 7pm Project, as it was then known, was running against reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond.

By April 2011 TEN moved Negus to 6:30 against Neighbours, but the two shows were still arguably shooting for a different audience -one was serious current affairs and the other a youthful soap audience.

By October of the same year the Negus experiment was axed and The 7pm Project became The Project, running for an hour at 6:30pm. That was the first time it went head to head with Neighbours. But by February 2012 the show moved again to 6pm as TEN moved its Reality juggernauts back to 7pm. It was a big ask to compete with 6pm news bulletins.

The most recent move was a return to 6:30pm last December, again commencing head to head with ELEVEN’s soap. The show has now endured so many timeslot changes that it has impacted on a loyal audience.

Two years ago when it was a half hour 7pm Project, the show was frequently above 700,000 viewers. Admittedly TEN was in much better shape and the landscape had not fragmented as much as it has now.

But last week it averaged 435,000, only just ahead of The Bold and The Beautiful on 400,000. At the same time another 300,000 viewers are watching Neighbours on ELEVEN.

Both are arguably shooting for the 16-39 and 18-49 demographics. TEN is effectively forcing one mass audience of 700,000 to split into two.

Even more bizzarely, all this time Neighbours has not attracted Drama points for the network when it could have if it had been played at 6pmon TEN. As of this week the government has ruled that first run Dramas on multichannels will finally attract points.

But it’s time to consider moving Neighbours to 6pm to encourage the same audience to feed into The Project at 6:30pm, coaxed by direct promos. Lifting The Project would also help give TEN’s 7:30 shows a stronger lead-in.

There has been some chatter that the license fee TEN has paid for Neighbours precludes it from switching it back to TEN. Both the network and FremantleMedia Australia declined to comment when asked by TV Tonight.

On Monday, TEN’s CEO Hamish McLennan acknowledged to the joint Senate committee that TEN paid lower or “market” rates for content that was designed to screen on a multichannel.

Whatever the limitations, my message to TEN is to put your first run local content against US reruns and find a better way to flow audiences from one local show to another.

Stop making the audience choose. Do what you can to protect your talent. Programming 101.

67 Responses

  1. These are dangerous times for spineless Television executives more concerned with keeping their job than exploring new and exciting programming decisions.
    Viewers are only just starting to come to grips with Time shifting and Multiple channel recording.
    The problem is extenuated by revolving door bumping,cancelling and late starting.
    It is now time for someone with the cajones of a Kerry Packer to have the courage of his/her convictions and give Australia a late night Letterman/Kimmel/Leno variety style show.
    Perhaps as previously suggested The project moved to a later timeslot with band,special guests etc(What a better way to introduce new young Australian acts).
    Some of the best Australian Television I ever saw was the blatantly Letterman copied Vizard show of the late 80’s early 90’s,while a lot of people may not have necessarily liked Vizard it was hard not to like the show.
    I have noted lately that Charlie seems to have toned down his leftist approach but the same can not be said of the others,someone here made reference to right leaning guests that is definitely not the norm and a more apolitical approach would make it a hell of a lot easier for me to watch.

  2. The Project is one of those shows which adds to the Australian TV landscape.

    It’s pretty much always interesting and entertaining. I don’t watch it as much as I used to. However I really think if it was to go, the TV landscape would be worse off.

    There’d be literally nothing on at that time i’d watch. I’d flick onto the SBS news then watch a TV show on a DVD or something i recorded from another timeslot.

  3. I really like The Project, and I seem to be in the minority, but I love Dave Hughes, I find him really funny. I agree, it can be a lighthearted look at the news and enjoy when they make jokes, it’s what makes it entertaining, but they cover serious issues too and treat them with respect when it’s appropriate. It’s a nice alternative to the more ‘serious’ news and current affairs.

  4. I have to have a huge laugh when people say that a show such as The Project is “biased”, reading the comments here it seems that there is a fairly even number of people from both sides of the political fence saying this… just look at the comments of byeana (the show is biased to the right), closely followed by rudiger (the show is biased to the left).

    If bias meant anything then clearly biased shows such as Bolt, ACA et al would be gone. Bias means nothing, especially in a show which has none, in spite of people trying to prove it does because at that point of time it doesn’t agree with their own narrow point of view.

    @David, no time? Or does it go deeper than that. Could it be that the “news” organisations in this country are so scared of being shown up as the lying scumbags they are by the proposed (and sadly defunct) media laws that they are prepared to do anything (and I mean anything) to get rid of the people suggesting them?

  5. To all those saying that the Project would rate well if it was any good, let me just remind you of what *is* dominating the timeslot: TT and ACA. I think we can all agree that neither of those shows epitomise quality. So there goes that theory.

    Then there’s this theory that they treat everything as a joke and all they do is fluff. The people who are saying this clearly haven’t actually seen the show (or enough of it). Yes, they have fun where they can (which is appreciated by me) but they are absolutely serious when the topic demands it (e.g. organ donation, Royal Commission into child sex abuse, etc.).

    Everyone calling Charlie a “talentless anchor” who doesn’t know what he’s talking about? Seriously? He has handed people’s arses to them on several occasions. He asks intelligent questions and he knows when to challenge the interviewee’s answer (and he knows how to exercise restraint as well, which is important), based on genuine knowledge/research. I do agree, however, that Hughesy is not funny – but that’s just a small part of the show.

    What I love about the Project is that it makes the news more palatable and cuts through all the bs. It’s clever, funny and covers, in addition to news, topics of genuine interest or importance that might not make it onto the news (much like Hungry Beast). I often walk away feeling like I’ve learned something. (Sorry about the length, David!)

    1. On Thursday night when the other media spent so long covering the leadership spill, The Project was the only place I learned about Tony Abbott’s offensive remarks about “birth mothers” at the national apology to victims of forced adoptions. He got away with it that day because other news bulletins seemingly had no time to cover it.

  6. Reason 1 ‘Dave’ reason 2 ‘Carrie’. Just about anyone filling in for these two does a better job. And they are both leftists I prefer a more balanced approach from a host, Charlie at least attempts this.

  7. @ Rob, Yes you would think that with analogue been switched off all channels would be the same. Here in country vic analogue has been turned off for a couple of years. On WIN TV which runs Nines programmes they moved ACA over to GEM at 7pm while The Block was on. ACA is shown at 7pm in rural areas as they show a local news service at 6.30 pm. It would be very interesting see how ACA rated on GEM.

  8. I do not think that most networks( but especially Ten trying to be a viable Alternative) do not understand the unintended subliminal effect of biased political cheap shots,interviews, biased hosts and guest hosts and biased interviews or even biased lead news items etc, especially with us the older viewer, and strangely it is us that the new CEO is asking to return to the fold we have slowly but definitely abandoned.

    For example, whilst many in a live audience, who may be of a generation of those “inclined” fit and able to attend tapings of for example ‘The Project’, the now deceased ‘Circle’ etc, who will give instant gratification to the snide biased humour of Hughes, a lessor extent Ellmo, and other hosts who choose to jump on the possible recall bandwagon, the blatant and unwavering bias of Price, and blokes like the Vizzard’s, Hockey’s,and Krogger’s and the list goes on.

    We of the older generation who are viewing at home, simply see it distastefully for what it is, and start looking for something better on other networks hence ratings numbers not only reflect a change of viewer attitudes, it more importantly reflects and no doubt if traced back, a change in the networks attitude towards us the viewers.

    What better example can there be with likes of Paul Henry and Andrew Bolt and unfortunately sadly, many of same purveyors of bias and gloom, are the now also appearing on the New Meet the Press.

  9. I have to agree with Rob…all channels will be equal by the end of the year….so does it really matter what is on which channel…I guess… the issue is that the two programs do not clash….
    And yes….programming seems to be the core of the problem.

  10. Neighbours should be moved to TEN at 6.30pm weeknights and make The Simpsons replace at 6.30pm on 11 and Neighbours encored on 11 (Sunday afternoon) and make The Project renamed as “7PM Project” as it was traditionally before

  11. I really don’t understand why the *main channel* is relevent anymore as we move into the new age of digital television. I get that on analogue the main channel was it, but nowadays with analogue being switched off, one channel is as good as the other.

    Absolutely agree TEN needs a kick in the bottom when it comes to scheduling, and definately shouldn’t run their two programs against each other, but these comments of “deserves a better channel”… makes no sense.

    Eleven is a great channel, I really enjoy the old sitcoms, could do without couch time, but everything else fits the channel perfectly.

    Move Neighbours wherever you want, but understand that a channel is just another channel in my book…

  12. Neighbours is my last remaining appointment viewing. Everything else is recorded for later.

    Moving it back to Ten, airing at 6 would be the right move. Most nights, after Neighbours is done, my partner and I will flip over the project and catch the back end of it. If it didn’t clash with Neighbours (which, despite the move to 11, I would argue remains a strong tentpole of the 10 brand), then most nights I would catch the whole broadcast.

    But, I do agree, the project needs a shake up. Maybe a few different hosts. Maybe 1 negus story a night, to give their serious stuff a more… ‘legitimate’ air. And get Roy and/or HG on Fridays, for the sporting weekend ahead. It’s a good show, but if it isn’t connecting, it needs a re-tool.

Leave a Reply