Advertisement

KILLINGS, daily columns and blog —

Column: Film and TV

The forgotten ratings battlefield

by Jess Alice , July 31, 2013Leave a comment

tv remote

It feels ridiculously old fashioned to be talking about free-to-air television schedules, like someone’s grandpa lurching into the room to complain that there’s no-one interesting on the CB Radio these days. Doesn’t everyone just stream television, or torrent it, or – if they’re desperately clinging to the dark remains of a crumbling way of life – buy it on DVD? But free-to-air scheduling does have some impact on what becomes available to torrent or stream or watch in box set form, especially if you’re interested in home-grown drama. A show that rates badly on free-to-air television will almost always be axed; you can’t download a show that’s not being made any more.

To return to broadcast television is to return to a world full of strange continents governed by different rules. What happened to putting sitcoms on at 7.30pm? Now it’s all reality shows and the sitcoms don’t start until 11pm. Not everything’s different: Thursday nights at 9.30pm are dominated by the various footy panels, Channel Ten still shows The Simpsons at 6pm, Channel Seven always has some lightweight Aussie drama at 8.30pm Tuesdays, Friday nights are home renovation shows before some sporting event I won’t be watching, and Wednesday night is when the ABC wheels out the comedy. Or is it?

Occasionally one network or another will get annoyed with the status quo and start throwing their weight around. Remember when Seven kept trying to make their own footy shows happen on a Thursday night? Or the times when various interchangeable cooking shows or talent quests were scheduled up against each other in a clash to the death? Usually no-one cares about this stuff because the shows being flung against each other are meant to be disposable: they only work if you watch them live, so if everyone stops watching one it’s no big deal if it gets axed.

But occasionally – as has been happening on Wednesday nights for the last year or two – one network decides to start fighting quality with quality. When the ABC wrapped production on Spicks and Specks in 2011, they waved goodbye to the lynchpin of their Wednesday night comedy line-up. Spicks and Specks aired at 8.30pm, pulled in more than a million viewers a week, and finished promptly at 9pm, leaving those million viewers with the choice of either turning over to watch the second half of a show already in progress (every other network runs hour-long shows from 8.30pm) or sticking around to watch what was next. So everything after Spicks and Specks rated amazingly well too.

The ABC seemed confident they could keep their Wednesday night audiences in 2012 even without Spicks and Specks to bring in the crowds. Sensing weakness, Channel Ten pounced… well, not so much pounced as moved their own successful comedy panel show Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation into the Wednesday 8.30pm slot. Other Aussie comedy-dramas like Offspring and Puberty Blues replaced it in that timeslot; while lauded by critics, their ratings were less than impressive.

Meanwhile over at the ABC their Wednesday night line-up was also struggling.  Spicks and Specks replacement Randling turned out to be a dud and the various other comedy shows on around it weren’t faring much better. Amazingly, it seems when you force the audience for one kind of show to choose between two similar shows, both shows rate badly. Who saw that coming?

Not caring one whit for the previous paragraph’s logic, Ten kicked off ratings season 2013 with Shaun Micallef’s lightweight mystery series Mr & Mrs Murder in the Wednesday night slot. Micallef also struggled – partly against himself, as the ABC was also showing his sketch comedy show Mad as Hell Wednesdays at 8pm.  So Ten would make sure Mr & Mrs Murder started a little late so Micallef fans would have time to turn over, right? As they say in the classics, yeah nah: Mr & Mrs Murder actually started airing earlier, just to make sure you had to pick one or the other.

The stalemate continues: Ten is now airing live comedy panel show This Week Live Wednesdays at 9.30 against the ABC’s political sketch comedy (I use that word advisedly) Wednesday Night Live. Whatever the merits of either show, they’re still two fairly similar local efforts aimed at the same audience airing at the exact same time. But with the ABC announcing that their upcoming comedies Upper Middle Bogan and It’s A Date are going to be shown on Thursdays from August 15, perhaps the end is in sight?

Oh hang on a second: that’s just so the ABC can run their election comedies The Hamster Decides and Gruen Nation on Wednesday nights in August. The war goes on…

 

Anthony Morris is a Killings columnist and has been reviewing films for almost 20 years for a variety of publications, many of which have closed down through no fault of his own. Though his insistence on reviewing every single Adam Sandler movie may have played a part.

ACO logo




Frances Abbott

David Donaldson

Why #whitehousegate matters

A few days after the release of the budget, in which the Coalition government announced it was spreading the burden by increasing university fees, cutting school funding, and cutting welfare for young people comes a story that confirms what many already suspect to be the nature of opportunity: it’s much easier to come by if you’re born into privilege. Read more »

money

David Donaldson

When does lobbying become corruption?

Whether it’s Clive Palmer buying his way into parliament, the recent, varied ICAC revelations of dodgy fundraising in the NSW Liberal party, or the refusal or inability of successive governments to effectively tackle powerful corporate interests in industries like gambling, mining, media, and junk food, there is a feeling among many Australians that democracy is up for sale. Read more »

cluster munition

David Donaldson

How to make treaties and influence people

In an era when Russia can annex Ukrainian territory, when the Refugee Convention is regularly flouted, and when nobody seems to be able to do anything to stop the carnage in Syria, it can be tempting to ask: what can international law actually achieve? Read more »

1397733525000-TheOppositeOfLoneliness-600

Carody Culver

A published afterlife: Marina Keegan’s The Opposite of Loneliness

Marina Keegan looked set for literary stardom. For an aspiring writer, her credentials were so perfect they could have been lifted straight from fiction. Read more »

warning

SA Jones

‘Weather is never just weather’: Sophie Cunningham’s Warning: The Story of Cyclone Tracy

We’ve had national disasters in the forty years since Cyclone Tracy, but Tracy’s iconic status in the national consciousness endures. Read more »

The Fictional Woman

Carody Culver

Learning from semi-charmed lives

When famous public figures take a step further and use their personal experience as a literary vehicle for exploring wider social issues, I can happily check my celebrity memoir prejudice at the bookshop door. Read more »

1398878478_lea-michele-brunette-ambition-zoom

Julia Tulloh

How to be beautiful, according to Lea Michele

Lea Michele’s new book, Brunette Ambition, is what you might expect from a fairly young television and musical theatre star. Read more »

Mariah Carey

Julia Tulloh

Is she Mariah, the ‘elusive’ chanteuse?

Two weeks ago, Mariah Carey launched her fourteenth studio album, Me. I am Mariah…The Elusive Chanteuse. Yes, that’s the real name, and it’s hilarious not only because the title is so long and happily shameless but because Mariah has long styled herself as one of the least elusive pop stars in the pop music galaxy. Read more »

Douglass books

Julia Tulloh

High fantasy writers who aren’t George RR Martin, and who are also women

‘Tolkien is the greatest burden the modern fantasy author must labour under and eventually escape from if they are to succeed.’ So wrote Australian high fantasy writer, Sara Douglass, a decade and a half ago. Replace Tolkien with George RR Martin, and one might say the same principle applies today. Read more »

wetlands_poster

Rochelle Siemienowicz

Lucky Dip Diving: an approach to film festivals

I wanted to let go of the grasping desire to watch everything and be part of every conversation. But with the Melbourne International Film Festival in full swing, anxieties arise again. Read more »

Happy Christmas

Rochelle Siemienowicz

Joe Swanberg’s Real Women

In Happy Christmas, the female characters are a pleasure to watch, largely because they’re so familiar in life and so rarely depicted on screen. Read more »

Gabrielle

Rochelle Siemienowicz

Beyond tics, limps and prosthetics

Think of a disability – mental or physical – and there’s sure to be a film that features it. What about giving big roles to actors who actually live with the disability they’re depicting? Now that would be authentic. Read more »

hbo-silicon-valley

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Silicon Valley will eat itself

  At a certain point in the lifespan of any subculture, fiction and reality start to blur. Members of the subculture begin to model their character and appearance on the idealised representations of themselves they read about or see on screen, and the loop continues until nobody … Read more »

inbox

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Death to the Inbox

The primary source of our ‘email problem’ seems to lie in our belief that email is a vastly richer and more capable medium than it is. Read more »

5881861191_90de8b5bc9

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Making trolls eat their words

If we’re not conscious of a troll’s desired response, we risk inadvertently encouraging further trolling by allowing ourselves to be played. Read more »

detail

Danielle Binks

Fan-Girling Over Super Heroines

The testosterone-fuelled BIFF! BANG! KAPOW! of classic comics can seem uninviting, filled with spandex-clad men and swooning damsels who hold limited appeal outside the stereotypical 18-35 year-old male demographic. But things are changing in the world of comics. Read more »

9780143305323

Danielle Binks

Australia Needs Diverse Books

The ‘We Need Diverse Books’ team is made up of authors, editors and publishers from North America, but the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag and campaign has reverberated in youth literature communities worldwide. Read more »

tumblr_inline_n6wz16ohb91r8e10g

Danielle Binks

YA is the New Black

Apparently those of us who do read and enjoy youth literature should be ‘embarrassed’. At least that’s what Ruth Graham said in her recent clickbait article for Slate, ‘Against YA’. Read more »

Jabberwocky1

Chad Parkhill

The carnival is over

Jabberwocky, scheduled to take place last weekend, was the kind of festival that wasn’t supposed to fail. Read more »

Robin Thicke

Chad Parkhill

Why has Robin Thicke’s Paula flopped?

What, exactly, has caused Paula to sell so poorly that it has already positioned itself as this year’s most memorable flop? Read more »

splash

Chad Parkhill

Queering the Power: The Soft Pink Truth’s Why Do the Heathen Rage?

The Soft Pink Truth’s new album ‘Why Do the Heathen Rage’ demonstrates that despite their superficial differences, dance music and black metal have a lot in common. Read more »

2014-07-03-theleftovers

Stephanie Van Schilt

TV pilots: The good, the bad and The Leftovers

With the wealth of shows on offer, committing to a new TV series can feel like a big deal. It’s often during a pilot episode that audiences determine whether the program is appealing enough to stick with for the long haul. Read more »

Alg-90210-jpg

Stephanie Van Schilt

Sick-Person TV

The only upside to getting sick was the many afternoons I spent curled up on the couch at home, watching daytime TV. I inhaled the drama of pre-recorded episodes of Beverley Hills 90210 while playing with my Brandon and Dylan sticker collection (interspersed with sporadic vomiting). Read more »

The_Million_Dollar_Drop_logo

Nicholas J Johnson

Highbrow vs Lowbrow: Nicholas J Johnson defends Lowbrow TV

I can’t stop looking at Eddie McGuire’s smug, stupid face. It’s not my fault. It’s just I’ve never been this close to the man before, and it’s not until now that I’ve realised how oddly smooth and tanned his skin is. As if someone has stretched the orange bladder from a football over a slab of marble. Read more »