Worrying sign for local drama as Safe Harbour struggles on SBS

Ratings: Socially-heavy Dramas are just no competition for noisy Reality shows this year.

Critically acclaimed new drama Safe Harbour struggled to stay afloat on SBS last night, drawing just 167,000 viewers and failing to lift network share.

It follows the low ratings for ABC’s recent Riot telemovie of just 207,000 viewers.

Both dramas tackled socially-heavy topics of asylum seekers and the gay rights movement, respectively, and drew rave reviews. But both faced the consequences of competing with a hit reality show known as Nine’s Married at First Sight.

Married topped the night & demos with 1.26m  beating MKR on 977,00, Hard Quiz‘s 435,000 and I’m a Celebrity on 528,000 (rising to 568,000 at 8:30).

At 9pm 20 to ONE was 563,000 (tieing with 8:30’s Mad as Hell) beating Manu’s American Road Trip and Squinters.

Nine News, ACA and The Chase won early slots.

Nine won the night with 33.2% then Seven 30.1%, ABC 15.0%, TEN 14.8%, and SBS 6.9%.

Married at First Sight was #1 for Nine with 1.26m viewers then Nine News (946,000 / 912,000), A Current Affair (886,000), 20 to ONE (563,000) and Hot Seat (495,000 / 293,000). Botched was 288,000.

My Kitchen Rules (977,000) led for Seven then Seven News (930,000 / 902,000), Home and Away (642,000), The Chase (537,000 / 322,000), Manu’s American Road Trip (484,000). Movie: Identity Thief (152,000).

ABC News (646,000), Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell (563,000), Hard Quiz (534,000), 7:30 (498,000), Squinters (387,000), Adam Hills: The Last Leg (220,000) and Think Tank (175,000) comprised ABC’s night.

I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here (568,000 / 528,000) was best for TEN followed by The Project (460,000 / 277,000) and TEN Eyewitness News (430,000). This is Us is now trailing The Bold and the Beautiful at 266,000 while Madam Secretary was just 156,000.

Great Continental Railways was 270,000 for SBS followed by Safe Harbour (167,000), SBS World News (130,000) and The Good Fight (99,000).

9Life’s Talking Married topped multichannels at 205,000.

Sunrise: 267,000
Today: 266,000
News Breakfast: 111,000 / 41,000

OzTAM Overnights: Wednesday 7 March 2018

46 Responses

  1. I have just finished watching Safe Harbour. I found out about it while watching The Handmaids Tale on SBS on demand, something I still can’t believe us tax payers have to fund…anyhow, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought, like most Australians that it was going to be a lecture about how bad all white Australians are, but it was excellently made and acted. The only criticism I have about the cast was that the lead mother asylum seeker was way too ‘Aussie’ looking and acting (mannerisms etc) and young, and it was a bit unbelievable that she would be married to Ismail.

    Some overall thoughts:

    Ultimately, all the grief and heartache happened because a family chose to pay people smugglers to illegally enter Australia…that is not the Australians fault. We have never asked nor invited people to arrive by boat like that, so all consequences are on the ‘asylum seekers’ hands. The…

  2. Hello David,
    If you promoted it then I apologise – I did not see it, perhaps tunnel vision towards the ratings stories got me!
    I watch very little SBS normally so would not have seen promos there, which is why I suggested promotion outside of their channels would have been a good way to get information to irregular viewers who might have given a new drama a chance.

  3. I don’t think there is a comparison between the two types of shows here. What most people seem to be looking for is something in the middle. It is not necessary to combat the rise of competition shows with overly preachy social issue diatribes. If you have a message to push, it will be a lot more effective if it is woven into stories that people want to hear. Making shows that have such a small niche audience surely does not meet a cost-benefit analysis.

    1. I agree, but the SBS have always challenged audience sensitivities with it’s sexual content, gay dramas and ethnic/indigenous social commentary, the ABC tend to follow the BBC in the way it makes and broadcasts its content, but they are not the only national broadcasters to adopt a politically sensitive stance Canada’s CBC and national broadcasters in the U.S. also examine PC and gender/sexuality issues as well.

      1. I suppose if their goal is to challenge audience sensitivities, then there should be no surprise if the ratings figures are low. Especially if it feels that those sensitive issues are not presented in an evenhanded way, but that the network has decided to push a one-sided argument.

  4. I watched it and thought it was absolutely fantastic. I suspect some of the comments above are from people who didn’t but comment anyway. Why did I like it? A great thriller about dilemmas and group dynamics. A complicated but clever interweaving of time which wasn’t difficult to follow. Characters I could latch on to. I’m sorry the ratings are so low so far but SBS On Demand might lift the numbers. By the way, I’m a fan of shows like MAFS (yes, seriously), Documentaries, Factual Series etc as well so please don’t attempt to categorise me or write my views off as a “leftie”.

  5. ‘Identity Thief’ was on 7 late last night-also at midnight on WTV community TV here in WA-that’s something you don’t see every day!

  6. It’s lucky for the SBS / ABC luvvies that they work for the public service and can “tut tut” over their taxpayer funded bickies the next morning when the appalling ratings come out…
    It’s all about furthering their agendas, and in shoving their beliefs down the throats of the poor viewers.
    Why give the audience what they want to see when you can waste millions of dollars of our money to do what you like in your gilded little castles ? What a joke…

    1. I could not have put it better myself, look at the trashy Q&A it use to be a quality discussion with a breadth of topics facts and figures. Now its a chance to showcase militants from both sides against each other arguing over issues that make no difference to the people living out in the suburbs trying to educate their children and struggling to pay each bill. Not to then mention those stupid tweets that keep popping up on the screen that do nothing to add to the debate but just represent motherhood statements.

  7. I would have watched Safe Harbour if I had the merest inkling that it was on.

    I saw no promotions for it, no advertising, nothing. The first intimation I had that the show existed was this ratings report.

    All of the networks (and I include free to air, streaming, Pay TV in that definition) need to know that if you do no promotion whatsoever or if that promotion fails utterly to reach your intended audience at all then low ratings are the inevitable result.

    Promote, promote, promote and not just on your own network as that will inevitably just be preaching to the converted. Social media campaigns, ads on websites, even old fashioned street side billboards can help spread the message. No promotion for your show equals no viewers.

        1. I can confirm that. I try to skip ads 3m, 20s, and -7s at a time, and watching the docos on SBS, I literally couldn’t avoid knowing Safe Harbour was coming.

  8. From some of the comments here today, I’m wondering if I’m on the TV Tonight comments page or one of the News Ltd Papers sites comment pages?

    1. from some of the comments here today I am thinking that there are a range of views freely expressed without denigrating anyone. Free speech is a good thing when dispensed responsibly.

  9. Australian drama producers must be thinking why bother making any shows at all,when no-one wants to watch quality drama in this country.This applies to all drama from around the world by the way,not just Australian made drama.

  10. It seems people can tell the difference between drama and propaganda, it’s a pity SBS can’t produce straight drama without injecting their pro-asylum seeker agenda into it. Australians have shown again and again that they don’t want a bar of asylum seekers and boat people, why does SBS think we will watch so-called drama pushing their cause?

  11. Both Leftist channels with agendas to sell acclaimed by leftis journos Duh ! What about all the great Australian novels that have not been adapted, or even past adaptions for the movies that can be given the TV treatment. Just can’t wait for Picnic at Hanging Rock, but of course that’s too entertaining for the Government funded channels. Agree with all others at 8:30 we need much lighter fare and I don’t mean that unwatchable reality garbage.

      1. Janet King, The Secret River, Cleverman, Glitch, East West 101, Deep Water, The Principal, Big Little Lies, China Girl, Sunshine, Riot, Safe Harbour. If you target Doctor’s Wives in the inner city, even they don’t have the time to watch them all, and you aren’t going to get a large audience. Doctor Blake and Miss Fisher on the other hand were entertaining and popular, but were cancelled to fund other less popular worthy dramas. Just like the BBC cancelled Banished, its highest rating BBC2 drama after 1 season, because left wing activists objected to it and staged a social media campaign. Critics love these dramas because they want to save the world, but politics is everywhere now and often viewers just want to relax and be entertained.

        1. I watched Riot about a week later because I was apprehensive of it preaching to me but I enjoyed it even though it was a little uncomfortable at times.

          I have watched many of the local ABC productions but they do seem to all be wanting to tell me the same something, which is why I get selective on them.

          The Good Doctor is rating like mad and that can be a little uncomfortable and entertaining without preaching to me.

          I will not watch Safe Harbour.

    1. There was a time when 8.30 was the time for serious drama, preceded by lighter programming at 7.30pm. Seems all the realities finishing at whenever they can after 8.30 has now jaded that whole idea.

  12. My headline would’ve been, “Australians resist being brow beaten as Riot and Safe Harbour sink without a trace.” You would think church attendance figures would’ve provided a clue as to our tolerance for sermons.

    I don’t think it is the slightest reflection upon Aussie appetite for Australian made dramas.

  13. Socially heavy dramas only seem to attract small audiences with a specific interest. SBS and ABC keep churning this stuff out. There needs to be broader appeal. Does anyone find it ironic that Riot got a TV audience of 207,000? yet the 40th anniversary of Mardi Gras is a lockout with an attendance of around 500,000

    1. Just like the record low ratings for the Oscars, people are sick of media personalities and actors preaching their political views into our face every minute of the day and night.

  14. I guess in a way these dramas are another form of reality tv, one’s that can’t just come in and demand to be seen. Not saying it isn’t deserving of a bigger viewership but there are some hard nuts to crack. MKR & MAFS have built up a loyal following over a number of weeks, bringing narratives with conflict, feel good stories, plot twists, characters we love, ones we hate etc. People have invested time in these characters and want to see the end result play out episode by episode, helped by instagram/twitter which have become companions to reality tv. Where people go to vent love and disgust in real time together. The local drama show feels like there is no rush to see it. Personally i want to see Riot and Safe Harbour but i know iview and on demand are there ready for when i am. The fact they are so reliable & ad free compared to 7/9/10 is a huge factor in that too.

  15. Unfortunately it seems the Australia public are much more interested in mind-numbing reality than quality drama. Hope the Timeshifted + OD figures pick that up a bit.

  16. while I appreciate Safe Harbour may be critically acclaimed, and may well be the must watch, ratings & personal preferences indicate we just want a bit of light entertainment, work, family, social commitments all impact viewing choice., I have my ‘must watch’ series , after that come 830-9pm I want an easy light watch before bed. And in following the ratings Aussies want the same

      1. When characters are deciding to tow a much larger ship with a sailing yacht’s auxiliary engine rather than setting off the emergency beacon (on the pretence that the trawler would then be taken back to safety in Indonesia), one is not watching ‘quality’ but diatribe IMHO.

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