Seven mindful of reality show commitment -and why The Block is “attackable.”

"You don't want to ask people to make a 30 - 40 show commitment," says Seven CEO James Warburton, as the network combats viewer fatigue.


Seven will trim Big Brother from 30 to 20 episodes for its House of Love edition in 2023.

The series sees a houseful of singles form romantic connections before being forced to vote each other out.

As television continues to demand viewer commitment, how does Seven assess the number and length of episodes required of audiences?

Seven has seen success with shorter seasons of The Voice and MKR and CEO James Warburton acknowledges a tipping point about what people are doing and how they want to watch.

“Our view is, you don’t want to ask people to make a 30 – 40 show commitment,” he tells TV Tonight.

“Really, when you look at most of our shows, including some like The Voice, it’s around that sort of 15 or 16 eps. Some things are smaller at 12. It just depends on how it rolls out. Our view is you’ve got to keep it fresh, you got to keep it dynamic. You’ll see some of our shows we might schedule Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, but then they might drop back to just Sunday, for the last few weeks.”

Seven has announced new shows The 1% Club, We Interrupt this Broadcast which will join the likes of This is Your Life as an alternative to stripped reality.

“We’re very conscious of viewer fatigue and there’s no doubt it’s a reset from those COVID years where we’ve had extra eyeballs in the home, and people streaming even to the point of, probably, peaks with subscription services,” he continues.

“It’s our job to keep things reimagined, to keep the viewers interested in Free to Air television.”

Do all 7:30 shows need to run for 90 minutes?

“It tends to be the expectation. That’s what drives the numbers,” Warburton explains.

“Some are shorter, some of the launches are longer, but the vast majority are around 90 by the time you add your ad content.”

Meanwhile Seven has confirmed Australian Idol will take on Married at First Sight in 2023 Q1, including with Live shows.

Chief Content Officer, Entertainment Programming, Angus Ross, acknowledges Nine’s calendar book ends of Married at First Sight and The Block are formidable weapons.

“It is a challenge. Both those shows are strong. We’ve got to throw everything we can and the roles have been reversed in the past. I know I’d rather be on the winning side,” he said.

“But James has given us the ability to go and commission what we want, what we think is the best show to counter-program.

“Last year out of the Olympics, we launched The Voice and people were saying ‘The Block‘s dead’. If you remember, a few weeks in, it was under 500,000. Then we ran out of episodes.

”So they are attackable, and we’ve shown that.”

NB: The lowest number for The Block in 2021 was 591,000 metro viewers in Overnights.

24 Responses

  1. “It’s our job to keep things reimagined, to keep the viewers interested in Free to Air television.” So says James Warburton. He is kidding right? Honestly I cannot tell you the last time my television was on any of the free to air networks. I have gone so far as not watching the News and I have to tell you my mental health has improved in leaps and bounds. I no longer sit there yelling obscenities at some lying politician. One of the last series I use to watch was The Block. I haven’t offered it a glimpse this season. In my household from roughly 6pm its on streaming. For me to return to commercial television it would have to be some water cooler series to entice these eyeballs back.

  2. I would like channel 9 to make a few changes to The Block. It might be more watchful if the judges did not know who was doing which house up. Less challenges and contestants doing more work on houses as at the moment it’s the same old thing we see.

  3. Ten used to run Big Brother in half hour episodes, and it was so much more watchable than the 90+ minute eps the networks insist on these days. Even one hour would be an improvement. The fatigue is due to the length of the episodes.

  4. If programs rated well enough they would be on a few days a week anyway,as the program was intended.If not they are reduced to once a week.The only show i watch when it comes to reality on Channel 7 is Big Brother.Now that’s a program you couldn’t cut to much away anyway as the people on the show you wouldn’t get to know as well and how they tick.If your going give more of a chop to Big Brother you may as well axe it now.So the bottom line is if the show is struggling maybe a different line of programing would be wise.Fairly simple really

  5. My suggestion to combat viewer fatigue has been to show 1-2 episodes a week. Not 4-5.
    I don’t care if I watch 2×90 minute episodes a week, that is manageable over 10 weeks to give 20 episodes, what I dislike intensely is the 1×90 and 2-3×60 minute episodes or similar. The Amazing Race Australia was a significant imposition in the end, I finished it nearly 3 weeks after it aired and will not do that again, I should have learnt form last year, but I like the show and wanted to support the Aussie content.

  6. Gosh he is sooooooooo wrong about The Voice. We want More not less of that show. After blinds the show drops off because you are cutting the majority of the acts before we even get to see them anymore. I worry about what they’re going to do with Idol though hearing this.

  7. The whole point of BB was that it was live and you followed along. A shorter season that is edited into a few narratives, and focused on romance is not BB.

  8. If shows were 90 minutes Including ads I would probably give more shows a go. Sorry but all these shows go past 9pm i cant do it anymore the “9:18” finishes ect. Id rather even have a few more episodes and have 70 minute episodes. Its so annoying!!

    I do wonder how many live shows australian idol will have. Will it be 4 with multiple eliminations?? So sceptical still!

    Big Brother has been absolutely ruined.

  9. This is so typical of 7, they are following what 9 introduced over recent years for 2nd & 3rd Qtr (reduced series time)
    unfortunately 7 will struggle again 1st & last Qtr to compete against MAFS & the block for a while yet.
    7 have had zero success producing new content & have appeared to change direction with turning back the clock
    to revive shows that were dead & buried 20 yrs ago = mediocre ratings
    Sydney is a major concern moving forward for 7 – no AFL interest & other primetime shows doing poorly

  10. Let’s be honest, it’s about cost. They would do more eps of The Voice – but it is too expensive to make, so they trimmed it. If the other shows rate like Big Brother – they would make more episodes….

  11. The most successful reality show of the year, in its 18th season, is The Block. It’s a 51 episode season.

    An anomaly obviously but clearly viewers will commit if they like it.

    If Seven had anything doing good enough numbers, they’d make as many episodes as they could.

    Most of their tentpoles under performed (compared to rivals) or flopped this year. Lines like the ones the Seven boss is churning out here are clearly designed to lower expectations and change the goalposts so under performance is not the narrative.

    1. completely agree. Seven are just whinging that MKR was the equivalent of MAFS a few years ago and the former looked pretty unassailable. What they need is a show that’s totally fresh with different content/format, say like Hunted and nurture the show into a strong tentpole and evolve it, rather than overcooking it to death.

  12. Seven and Ten have somewhat gone the other way though, changing their big tentpole shows every 3-4 weeks and basically making it feel like one franchise only serves to promote the next franchise. No sooner has one starter and all the promo concentrates on the next.

    Now what would help further is not making it a 3-4 night commitment so a show still runs at least 6 weeks, but twice a week rather than 2-3 times. Granted Seven have tried that to an extent this year with things like The Voice on Sundays and other franchises running in the week, and looks like Idol will see that continue – though I suspect the auditions will air nightly before a more weekly structure for the live shows.

  13. 10 to 12 episodes of anything is stretching it now-days let alone 20 to 30. You have to be a committed viewer to prolong that much pain. The latest craze of finding love is over the top now. There are more interesting things we humans can focus on. We’re in the grip of a crisis and these people are producing stuff that’s costing millions and roping people in as supposed entertainment. As far as Seven goes I’ve been resting my eyeballs for a very long time and it doesn’t look like changing in 2023 either.

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