Amongst a growing list of issues to be concerned about, one that recently stuck with me was the ratings for Redfern Now: The Telemovie.
Surely there is something broken if a Telstra advertorial, fronted by Dave Hughes on Seven, outrates locally produced drama on the ABC?
Hello: This is Australia drew 503,000 viewers at 8pm on Thursday April 9 against Redfern Now: The Telemovie‘s 454,000 at 8:30pm. Admittedly the latter’s average is across a 90 minute broadcast, but with a cast headed by Deborah Mailman it’s a glum comparison.
At the time I raised this with ABC, who understandably noted they are more concerned with combined metro & regional numbers, and iview numbers as an indication of its spread.
After Timeshifted numbers came in, the Telstra special still won by 3,000 metro viewers, at 533,000 to 530,000.
Hello: This is Australia is at least the fourth recent advertorial given a primetime slot by Seven (others included a Royal Caribbean cruise, Target fashion and McDonalds). As Media Watch pointed out last night, ACMA has no rules that restrict it from selling an hour of primetime coverage to a client. The Easter non-ratings period was deemed suitable in Seven’s view, despite it having one of two datacasting channels active where it flogs everything from Slimming Leggings to Pilates and American TV pastors.
A Seven spokesperson told TV Tonight shows such as Hello: This is Australia had been designed with broadcast television in mind, not datacasting. Or should that be ‘sold with broadcast television in mind?’
In a statement it said cruise ship Voyager of the Sea, seen recently in the hour-long Tom, Rachel and Rosso Go Cruising, had also featured on Seven, Nine, TEN news in Sydney and Brisbane, plus ABC and Nine News in Darwin and the Today show.
“The programme complied with the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice. Royal Caribbean’s involvement was clearly identified in the credits,” they said.
“Four infomercials were broadcast on The Morning Show over a period of several months and were clearly identified as such for The Morning Show.
“As you can understand all of our client relationships are commercially confidential.”
Redfern Now‘s ratings were down on its season average, but as a one-off it lacked the awareness that benefits a weekly timeslot. Played in isolation during a non-ratings week would always be a challenge.
Perhaps the audience was just not drawn to its heavy topic of rape, no matter how strong the cast, and how ‘worthy’ its issues. As Gallipoli ratings remind us, audiences need a reason to tune in other than feeling some kind of moral duty.
But what is the outlook for Australian drama if more people will watch a paid advertorial over locally scripted and locally acted drama?
TV Tonight put that question to Screen Producers Australia -who declined to comment, presumably because they have members who make a living out of branded content as well as scripted drama. Disappointing.
Seven spends more on Australian drama than any other broadcaster, so perhaps I am being unfair. But somehow I doubt they are going to give over an hour of equal primetime to give awareness to the Aboriginal Women’s Sexual Assault Network or The Canberra Rape Crisis Centre. Would Hughesy or Tom, Rachel and Rosso front specials for their cause?
Last word on this goes to the Gogglebox families, who recently viewed Seven’s cruising special with disdain.
What is this show?
What the shit is this?
This is basically a paid commercial isn’t it?
Yeah this is an infomercial.
This is just cash for comment city.
I guess there is hope, after all.