“You will generally know after the first two weeks”
Stripped reality shows are an all-or-nothing gamble. Here's what industry execs suggest when things don't go to plan.
They say TV is cyclical…
Genres rise and fall in their popularity, shows hit fatigue and others take their place.
When it’s all riding on black at the roulette wheel, as it invariably does with a stripped format, much is at stake. If the show fires you are set for weeks and it brings a halo effect to the rest of your schedule.
But if it fails, what the hell do you replace so much real estate with?
“The impact it has on your schedule is huge”
Three years ago TV Tonight put that very question to some industry execs, on strict anonymity.
“The impact it has on your schedule is huge,” one source said at the time.
“A programmer’s life is a rollercoaster. You get good ratings one day and you’re celebrating, next day it’s failing. But when a stripped Reality fails there is so much pain because everything around you starts collapsing.
“It’s very hard in the 7:30 slot because you just get no flow into your other shows and everything around it fails.”
Another source agreed: “These are big rolls of the dice and without doubt when successful it provides you terrific momentum and a platform to build further shows off the back of them.”
“Seven to their credit stuck with it”
Seven is currently facing challenges with a revamped My Kitchen Rules, but the network will look to its ability to turn around House Rules in its first year. The network frantically recut new promos for the show and dug in.
“The first season of House Rules didn’t do well for the first few episodes, but Seven to their credit stuck with it and by the end it was doing really good numbers,” said one source.
“It depends on the network’s nerve as to whether to hold firm in the hope a show will build,” said another. “You will generally know after the first two weeks. Each network has different budgets and at times there are no options if it doesn’t resonate with an audience and you just need to see it out if replacement options are limited and even then there are no guarantees you will do any better.”
But there are other considerations to deal with too.
“With Reality shows there is product integration, from sponsors who have put money into the show. When you take them out or move them to late night you have all these client issues you have to deal with. Then you have “make goods” with the sales team because the product isn’t being exposed to the audience it was promised. Suddenly you are eating your own inventory to make up the shortfall.”
“It’s easy to lay blame but it’s these times support is required”
“Everyone is always an expert programmer when things don’t go well,” one source revealed. “The test of a CEO and the board is how to manage the situation when things don’t go to plan. It’s easy to lay blame but it’s these times support is required if they back their programmer.”
Right now Seven’s CEO also has much bigger problems with the company share price than with one primetime property.
“It’s much easier to turn around a 7:30 stripped timeslot”
Angus Ross, Seven Director of Programming, who turned Cats Make You LOL into a surprise hit after the failure of Restaurant Revolution, last month told TV Tonight, “It’s much easier to turn around a 7:30 stripped timeslot than it is to turn around a struggling news brand or a struggling sport. At Seven we’ve got the dominant news brand, the dominant summer sport, the dominant winter sport, the building blocks are there for us. We’ve clearly got to improve our game at 7:30.”