Big overseas hits, so why did The Traitors and Gladiators fail on 10?

Critics point to the programming and production of two big formats which succeeded overseas but failed to gain traction in Australia.

They have been big hits in the UK but both The Traitors and a Gladiators struggled on Network 10.

Are Australian tastes that different from British, or is there something else in the commission and / or production that contributed to their failings in Australia?

The Traitors

10 screened two seasons of the whodunnit series produced by Endemol Shine Australia and hosted by the charming Rodger Corser at the historic Robertson Hotel in the NSW Southern Highlands.

At best the show attracted a loyal cult audience, hungry for its ‘whodunnit’ gameplay.

Under the previous Overnights ratings system, it frequently hovered at around 260,000 metro viewers. No question, 10 gave the show a red hot go with two seasons, no doubt looking to its success interationally where it has been a hit for the BBC and been awarded by National Television Awards and Royal Television Society Programme Awards. Peacock’s US adaptation, hosted by Alan Cumming, even won an Emmy Award.

Dan Monaghan, SVP Content & Programming, Paramount ANZ, tells TV Tonight, “Traitors had one of the most loyal audiences on TV; those who came, stayed, engaged and loved it… we just didn’t get a big enough piece of the pie to start with. It’s such a success in the UK it would be great to see it return if we could make it work.”

TV critic Colin Vickery also looked to the programming of the series in its first season.

The Traitors had the indignity of following in the wake of The Real Love Boat which was a disaster for 10. That meant the Rodger Corser-hosted show was hobbled from the start. 10’s decision to put The Traitors up against the final weeks of ratings juggernaut The Block certainly didn’t help,” he said.

“That was always going to be a huge hurdle, especially given that The Traitors was a new format unknown to Aussie viewers. There is far more international buzz around the format in 2024 than there was in 2022. The one bright spot was that the people who tuned in to the premiere liked what they saw and stuck with the series. There simply weren’t enough of them.”

10 has confirmed it will not screen The Traitors in 2024 but has not ruled out revisiting it as a format later. That may not be enough to convince TV historian Andrew Mercado.

“10 tried really hard with their promos to rebrand The Traitors as a hit based on its UK ratings, but it didn’t work. Good on them for having another go with a format that some fans seem to love, but it just didn’t fly locally,” he said.


10’s reboot of Gladiators by Warner Bros. launched just days after Britain also revived the series. Screening as a weekly Saturday night proposition the UK series was praised as a “phenomenal reboot” and a “smash hit.”

By contrast the Australian revival, hosted by Beau Ryan and Liz Ellis, draw a substantial summer audience of 395,000 metro viewers for its premiere, but only 196,000 returned for the second episode. On social media there were criticisms, notably for its lack of crowds in the venue as if it had been filmed in lockdown (it wasn’t).

Andrew Mercado was blunt in his assessment of both commission and production execution.

“Bravo to 10 for creating the biggest flop of the year within the first few weeks of the year with Gladiators. A fake sports show with a fake studio audience is hardly a viewing alternative to live tennis and cricket on Nine and Seven. It was as mind numbingly dumb as its ridiculous running time.”

Colin Vickery also questioned the programming of the show as summer fare.

“The premiere episode of Gladiators rated quite well but that opening figure halved in night two. That suggests that viewers didn’t like what they saw or felt it was better programmed once-a-week rather than multiple nights in a row. 10 constantly changing the launch date probably didn’t help. Also, Gladiators was the third different reality format on 10 in January in three years and because it had a sports element it didn’t offer the sort of alternative to Nine’s Australian Open tennis and Seven’s Cricket that The Bachelors and I’m A Celebrity did.”

Paramount’s Dan Monaghan defended the hosts but could not explain the audience loss.

“On Gladiators, we had a strong launch, but the audience fell away by night 2 more than we’d hoped and we made swift changes to get toward Survivor in Q1 quicker. The competition didn’t change from night 1 to night 2, so I can’t speak to why they didn’t have come back. Our Gladiators were so well cast, and Liz and Beau excellent hosts, sadly the series just didn’t maintain performance.”

Looking ahead…

The outlook is more promising with Australian Survivor now in its ninth season for the network with a passionate, devoted following. stronger ratings and critical acclaim. The New York Times included Australian Survivor in its round-up of the best TV episodes of 2023, saying: “American Survivor is still a delight, but this iteration currently wears the crown.”

In late March I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here returns for its 10th season, with Julia Morris joined by buzzy new co-host Robert Irwin. Its 2023 season held up well against tough competition at Easter.

Hopefully 10 took on board the audience feedback from The Traitors and Gladiators for future commissions.

82 Responses

  1. I know this is old news now but just in case any insiders are referring back to this, I just heard a podcast with Annabel Fidler from S2, and she has such a deep understanding of the show and what works/doesn’t work, if she were involved in the production for The Traitors, it would be epic.

  2. Gladiators is a once a week program with an audience. That’s it. Not hard 10. Great hosts already.
    The Traitors is more nuanced but it has been covered well here. Roger is a great host I feel but a better set/hotel couldn’t hurt and boy o boy do they need someone with a bit more skill to choose contestants. I watched both seasons but S2 was hard going at times.

  3. Please put the traitors on paramount plus and reduce the ep length. The aus version was great just too long the repeat storytelling over and over was annoying.

    1. Ep length is a fine and about equal to the UK & US versions.

      But big agree on commissioning the show for P+. The traitor fanatics will sub to P+ to watch, and the international sales potential is there.

  4. Australian producers take well made, successful international shows and ruin almost all of them.. Australian Survivor is a miracle as it goes far too long, far too often.. would I lie to you, location location
    Location, 8 out of 10 cats does countdown (celebrity letters and numbers from memory) the list goes on.

  5. I don’t think there’s anything fundamentally wrong with the show, the Australian version is popular in the global Traitors fandom. It’s must be a marketing thing, or alternatively Australian audiences have been trained to want to watch the same old stuff all the time. But theoretically, it could do at least as well as Survivor as they’re a similar genre.

    I don’t mind civilian vs celeb as long as the casting is good. Civilian cast would definitely be cheaper, but celeb cast could work too and it could also get more eyeballs on it. Problem last time was that it was kind of half assed. They would need to take cues from the US and include more celebs so it’s harder to just pick them off and include more reality people (Survivor, Big Brother, Real Housewives, Drag Race Down Under), maybe some politicians (I see Sam Dastyari), maybe some hard-hitting journos (come on Leigh Sales!), maybe a comedian?. Bonus points if any of them have pre-existing relationships. How good would that be?

  6. Well this seems to be a popular topic, so i’ll throw in my 2 cents worth. I didn’t watch Gladiators because of the constant adds leading up to it’s launch. It really p….d me off, so I wasn’t going to reward 10 by watching any episode. With regards to the Traitors there were three things wrong and they were casting, casting and casting! The second season was particularly poor and not just because of the past reality contestants. Many of the cast just didn’t seem to have a clue and I couldn’t understand why they were cast. You want a Survivor sort of cast, i.e. game players, not influencers and look at me types.

    1. What rubbish the cast was great. And in fact I think it’s better that they are naive. That’s why I couldn’t get into the British version of The Traitors from what I saw I didn’t like the savvy nastiness of it.

      1. Are you serious?! It’s because of the casting is why the second season failed. They didn’t have any average Aussies that audiences can relate to like they did in the previous season. They had likeable, relatable cast in the first season and in the second season they didn’t.

  7. Sorry, just one more little thought from me. Why don’t they try these shows on a Saturday night? I realise the Tonight show format haven’t seemed to work but I think these days more and more people stay at home on Saturdays now because it is just too darn expensive to go out. Just a thought.

    1. Don’t understand why they did not stop gladiators in January in non ratings period given it was rating so badly against high rating sport. And slot it in now on a Saturday night between cricket and football seasons. Surely it would rate better than what they are running now and due to lack of competition on Saturday nights.

    2. What about including a Saturday Night Takeaway style show for a Saturday night too?

      It could be more intelligent and still generally appealing, and with the extra added cult status In Siberia Tonight, though more family oriented as well.

  8. Not much to add to what others have written but thanks to David for the informative article including quotes from those directly involved.

    Gladiators – clearly a weekend, early evening, once a week show. Structurally it simply does not work as a stripped reality during the week. Saturday night at 6.30pm was its natural home. Needed a bigger budget and to be paired in the schedule with major sport (which unfortunately TEN does not have any at present.)

    The Traitors – also very much a one day per week program. It simply does not have the weight to sustain anything longer in the schedule. Also, 60 minutes max including commercials. I noted one commentator who indicated Australia does not get camp but I could see a less po-faced version of this doing well with a strong sense of self-awareness. Alan Cumming’s notably in-your-face presence in the US version was missing from the less self-aware Australian edition.

  9. Traitors needs to be rested this year, let momentum of international series build and have a go Q2 or 3 next year with the following changes:

    Better set (hotel lacks atmosphere, white walls exterior/interior breakfast room) compared to the castle in UK/US. Loose the ridiculous tracksuits during challenges. All civilian cast. One hour episodes.

    I’d like to see Gladiators return for another try (much to my own surprise) with the following changes:
    Bring in an audience (it’s insanely fake having audience reactions when there is clearly no audience in sight). Trim episode times to one hour. Once a week screening. Sunday 630 is perfect family viewing. Follows the UK format more which has been extremely successful.

  10. Can 10 seriously not admit any fault with Gladiators? They need only read the comments on this post. I’ll summarise for them…overkill of multiple episodes in a week (based on original scheduling, worse when they then burned it off), overlong episode length, lack of atmosphere, “cheap” look and appearance, similar sport theme to the competition (so not really a genuine alternative). Rescheduling the launch multiple times also not a good look and makes it seem like they had no faith in it.

  11. I wish one of the worldwide Traitor formats would try a season where they don’t tell the audience who the Traitors re until they have been banished. It would really change how you watch and interact with the game and could really breathe some life into it.

  12. I watched all of The Traitors via the 10 play app so I didn’t have to try to negotiate the too frequent and ever-changing broadcast schedule. The local version is good but the second season was a mess caused by the producers, primarily one of the cast chosen as a Traitor set up the show to fail. It was only redeemed by the final moments. IMHO casting some celebrities as a rating grab in the season 2 was a mistake and a red flag, as it works against the premise of the show where it’s better you know nothing about the other contestants, although, the US version did exactly the same thing. It’s a shame it hasn’t worked here as it’s a great format that’s clearly connecting with audiences in other countries.

  13. This is a good example of ratings performance not being synonymous with quality. I do think that a good way to build appetite/buzz for the Traitors might be through airing the international versions. It’s unfortunate that the current US season airs on a Thu in the US, which means that for Australia, it falls in the graveyard that is Friday. Would be interesting to see if it’s performing well on Tenplay/Paramount+?

  14. Ten should consider what they value as more important when launching new shows. Do they want decent audience numbers for the new show but only screen it 1-2 times per week for shorter times of 60-75 mins? Or are they content to have minimal audience numbers but fill as many primetime hours as possible with the new show by screening it 3-4 times per week with episodes going from 90 mins – 2 hours? A lot of their most successful shows of late only screen once per week and last an hour – HYBPA, Cheap Seats, Taskmaster, Gogglebox. People will come back to a show they like if they only have to commit to watching an hour of it once or twice a week. Maybe try launching some new shows like this and they may even start to build a more successful and varied schedule.

    1. I agree. And they can also claim ratings from encore or repeat airings. If they had the Cheap Seats four or five nights a week, like others have said, it could be too much or overexposed. It’s knowing about programming restraint as well.

      Let’s remember that shows like HYBPA, Cheap Seats, Thank God You’re Here are from Working Dog Productions, where the quality is very good. Maybe Ten may need to focus on quality instead.

      1. To be fair, 10 only need 1 episode a week as they have several encore screenings in primetime slots across the network anyway, so it’s the equivalent of 4 episodes of a stripped reality.

    1. My hot take – I think a Ch 10 MAFS would have a strong and successful following, but it would be a shadow of its current self. It is buoyed by being on a more watched network, with heavy advertising during a prime sports event in the Aus Open. On 10 it’s probably 700-800k in terms of Same Day National Average

      And in a similar hypothetical, I would say that an Aus Survivor on 9 in MASF’s post tennis slot would be almost as big as MAFS currently is (900k-1Mill average same day)

    2. Porbably not quite as popular, but still a major hit by today’s standards. I’m inclined to believe that it would be Ten’s most watched show, but I suspect that it would draw 10-20% fewer viewers simply because it would air on Ten.

  15. I feel like nobody is saying what the actual problem is? The problem is, they’re on network 10. Whoever has these boxes or whoever it is controlling the ratings, they ain’t watching 10. Neighbours failed, Masked singer is tanking, Traitors, the news, Deal… doesn’t matter what it is, the fact is whoever has control of determining the ratings are biased against 10, plain and simple. You can’t tell me no one is watching these shows. It’s frustrating and has been frustrating for years. There is nothing wrong with these programs, only the people able to report on it.

    1. I think you’re on the money. I think if these programs were broadcast on other channels, they’d be more successful.

      I think it’s trying to determine whether it’s marketing, scheduling, the culture and style of the channel or network, and so on. It might not be the overall factor, though it seems to be a factor.

      1. I don’t think this reboot of Gladiators would get an audience on any network. I feel like most viewers won’t simply watch something because it’s on 7 or 9 for example…not anymore. Look at Blow Up or Rush last year…maybe we are all more discerning now, especially as the global streaming giants are now also competing for our attention.

    2. That’s because people are sheep and I’m sure those who have been given rating ‘boxes’ are all over 70 or Uni boys house sharing, considering what rates and what doesn’t and that they only seem to watch 9 and 7. It doesn’t help so many people on here put down 10 and their shows when they never watch them. Seriously 85% of my favorite free to air shows are on 10. But they certainly didn’t include Gladiators!

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