Producer disappointed by Power Games ratings

“None of us can understand what happened," says producer John Edwards after Power Games' disappointing ratings.

PG6-5-13 369 LProducer John Edwards has admitted he is disappointed and bewildered by the poor showing for Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch War.

On Sunday the show rated 793,000 viewers in overnight ratings. It’s a huge drop from Howzat!‘s 2 million viewers last year. But it’s on par with Paper Giants: Magazine Wars, albeit on the lower-rating ABC broadcaster.

Power Games dramatised the early rivalry between media barons Sir Frank Packer and a young Rupert Murdoch (Patrick Brammall, pictured).

“We’re still reeling from the ratings,” Edwards has told Fairfax. “None of us can understand what happened. We’re smacked over. We don’t get it.

“We were expecting more than double that frankly. We all thought it was so much better than Howzat!

He said the election may have diminished interest in such a serious topic, but “the fact we had no News Corp coverage didn’t help. A million little things like that add up and perhaps we’re all sick of Packer stories.”

Other factors coming in to play were undoubtedly the might of Seven’s X Factor. Howzat had no such competition from Seven last year, airing against a Criminal Minds episode -although it did have a MasterChef finale which it doubled.

But I also believe the Aussie public has a fascination with Kerry Packer, not Sir Frank Packer. And Howzat! had cricket to draw in male viewers.

But Nine has also fiddled with its dramas on Sunday nights, not screening Underbelly: Squizzy until as late as 9:15. This also impacts on audience trust.

That said, we’re all programming experts with the benefit of hindsight.

Power Games was another well-produced and well-performed slice of recent history. Nine is repeating it on Friday and Saturday nights in various cities this weekend.

But it’s clear audiences have also had their fill of Packer yarns.

Despite this, I am still recommending the conclusion if you watched Part 1.

“The way it ends has got a little kick in it and there’s a couple of other things that are a bit more confronting. But I don’t know if you can come to it halfway through,” says Edwards.

39 Responses

  1. The Power Games provides an insight into the brutality and misogyny that is part of Nine’s DNA – and one of the reasons why this strangely ill-conceived mini has missed the mark. Sir Frank is presented as an overbearing, anachronistic bully, treating his sons appallingly. The young, handsome Rupert is presented as the likeable protagonist as he is challenging the status quo, while Kerry is presented as the bullied “idiot son”. The casting of Lachy Hulme in three recent Nine/John Edwards dramas is not respectful of the audience, and yes – the timing was bad. The various stumbles highlight the deep problems within Nine’s content commissioning processes, particularly regarding drama – which is struggling to connect a broad audience that includes women.

  2. @ Darwinite, well said. Loved most of the mini-series from the 80’s. My personal favourites were Vietnam and Bangkok Hilton, both starred Nicole Kidman (iirc). No reality then, and decent dramas and comedy. Mini-series should be relatable to the general viewer.

    The early Underbelly series were great. I can remember in the news in the 70’s about Donald MacKay being Australia’s first political assassination (allegedly).

  3. I enjoyed the hour of it I watched but Murdoch seemed a little too charming. From what i’ve read he didn’t (and doesn’t) have great social skills. But I’m sure they researched it more than me.

  4. Maybe they need to find the writers, producers and directors from mini-series of the 80’s (if they are still alive). They were always popular. Remember Return to Eden and Dirtwater Dynasty they were both good mini-series.

    The ones TV channels show nowadays seem to need to have sex and swearing as a drawcard instead of a good story.

    I miss TV from the 80’s there wasn’t a reality show in sight back in those days.

  5. I saw enough promotion and enjoyed all the previous installments. I will join the chorus of people who couldn’t stomach anymore of Murdoch after his election campaign and subsequent tweets. It was very poorly timed.

  6. Too many ads on Nine which ruins the flow of the drama. Very badly promoted. Lachy Hulme is becoming over-exposed. John Edwards has always been over-rated (IMO)

  7. Paper Giants was a bout Magazines and Ita Butrose. We all know something about magazines as many of us used to buy them. Also had famous people in it. The Cricket one was about Cricket. We know about cricket.
    This was about what? Two rich guys fighting? There’s no hook. Also extremely poor promotion. If you’re not getting covered in the Murdoch press you need to spend some cash somewhere else.

  8. Unlike everyone here, I won’t pretend I’ve got all the answers. But I do know for a fact that it wasn’t Nine who kicked off the Packer retrospective obsessions. It was ABC with Paper Giants! Are they in love with Packer too? Nine simply read the ratings, stole the idea, & have since been flogging it to death (like they do with everything else). I really don’t think it’s “the media eating itself up” because these stories have rated well in the past.

  9. Problem might be partly in the promotion. In a sign of just how well they had identified the target market for Power Games, Ch 9 were running their extended “first look”/previews in the space between ACA and Big Brother. Look I admit I am a BB viewer (although not an ACA viewer I hasten to add), but I am under no illusions as to what I am watching. Maybe Nine should have run the promos for PG during some of their more intellectual prog…

    Oh, right, sorry.

  10. I agree with the posters who have brought up the issue of inadequate promotion. It seems to me the networks are now exclusively advertising on their own channel rather than online, on buses, etc so if you don’t watch that station, you wouldn’t know what was coming up. For instance I never watch channel 7 so the reason I would know a show is starting there is because I read this site.

  11. My problem with the show was that it is just basically a cheesy soap opera. Two people yelling at each other about money. It looked like something from The Days Of Our Lives.

    I’m still waiting for someone to make a drama in this country that doesn’t mimic every feature of a soap opera. Any takers?

  12. I thought a Super League war would have done better. It’s Murdoch, Packer and 9. And sport.
    Of course no one in Vic, SA or WA could care less even though they had teams like the Adelaide Rams in Super League.
    Anyway we all know that once something is successful it gets flogged to death – like Masterchef. Now if only The Block would finally die. And Big Brother.
    Hilarious bafflement from John Edwards. TV must be one of the few industries where no marketing analysis or business plan take splace before spending money and executing an idea. It’s all “gut” feeling. Gut feeling gave us that Priscillla shite, The Shire and Being Lara Bingle. Good to see hubris infecting 9.

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