Opinion: Can Nine Reclaim Some Glory?

Channel Nine is currently undergoing a resurgence of sorts, after a very lacklustre start to the year.

After heavily promoting the fourth series of The Block in its new 7PM timeslot, it has proven a decent new alternative in its first week on air.

Of course, its strong first week figures will be slightly inflated due to the massive publicity push, but it has arguably begun to turn around Nine’s fortunes.

And let’s face it, any old show that can pull half-decent figures for Nine (we’re talking over a million) will be more than welcome on its schedule, as its first half of the year has certainly been one to forget for the network.

After starting the year touting itself as the “Home of Comedy” it put forth its first offering in the form of Ben Elton Live From Planet Earth. And we all know how that one ended:

Low ratings combined with the worst critical reception to a show in recent memory made for a genuine, out-and-out stinker of a show.

Faced with failure, Nine felt it had no choice but to flog the hell out of its imports in Two and a Half Men and Top Gear, two programs that had done very well for the network in 2010.

However, repeating these “hit shows” ad nauseam led to viewer fatigue, and pretty soon they began turning off in droves.

Today, Top Gear is nowhere to be seen on Nine’s main channel, with Two and a Half Men pushed late into the night. You can find it now at 10:30PM on a Tuesday night.

Continue reading after the jump…

And then came Between the Lines, a sports-quiz show seemingly in the vein of Spicks and Specks. Its lack of success couldn’t be wholly put down to negative reviews, but possibly another sign of viewer fatigue. Fatigue of the boorish, male culture that many believe exists around the Channel Nine halls.

This, for many, is exemplified by the decision to have Eddie McGuire host every new quiz show/special/sporting event that appears on Channel Nine.

In short, it lasted three weeks before being axed.

The network has also experimented with various other shows which haven’t exactly bombed, but exhibited an endemic mentality of uninventive programming, as well as lowest-common denominator celebrity-driven garbage. For example, remember these shows?

This is Your Life

Hosted by Eddie McGuire, with the show being less about the actual “celebrity” whose life was being presented, but the surrounding stars in their life and/or other big-namers they have bumped into at an event. For example, with all due respect for Deborah Lee-Furness, it’s hard to imagine she would even receive a look in if she were not the wife of a famous Australian actor… or if he had refused to appear on the show.

Million Dollar Drop

Though ratings were never terrible for the show… it was hosted by Eddie McGuire, and featured ostensibly 8 questions drawn out over one hour in some cases, with some of the most nauseatingly long dramatic pauses in television history.

Getaway

Though not exactly a new show, its failure to achieve decent ratings has seen it shunted to Saturday afternoons. It is also symbolic of the network’s mentality; hoping the same old programming will get them through another year.

AFP

Though produced by Zapruder’s Other Films, this docu-drama has failed to reach the heights of Border Security on Channel Seven.

So, how can it turn its fortunes around?

Well most people know now about the two great white hopes, the first is Hamish and Andy’s Gap Year, which is shaping up to be a show in the same vein to their Caravan of Courage specials. They also will have a great deal of creative control. It should be a hit.

There’s also The Joy of Sets, a show which has largely been kept under wraps, but the combination of Andrew Denton, Tony Martin and Ed Kavalee has set tongues wagging. Channel Nine will not be expecting huge things from it, but will invest a great deal of time and money in a short-to-be great product in order to build a groundswell of good word-of-mouth.

And even if it doesn’t become the highest rating show in the second half of the year, it will earn Nine back some crucial credibility.

There is also another series of The Games in the works- a surefire success.

And speaking of surefire successes, there’s a little show called Underbelly: RAZOR still to come.

On a lesser note, there is also the much-heralded return of one of Nine’s favourite sons in Jamie Durie and his show Tough Design.

One can only wonder if it can find a decent audience, what with the Block dominating the schedule. Others have similarly noted the inexplicable glut of “Reno” shows on our screens, with Ten’s “The Renovators” soon to hit screens.

It is unlikely to capture a larger audience than the 1m strong DIY crowd currently watching The Block unless Channel Nine can provide a stronger point-of-difference.

Safe to say Nine will not be hanging their hopes on this one.

And are there any other wildcards up their sleeve?

Well, no. But they have options if they want to take them.

Here’s a sneaky tip for free; the 17th Season of Top Gear premiered in the UK on Monday morning Australian time- Nine could advertise the heck out of it again, make one last-ditch attempt to resurrect a hit show, then air them “fast-tracked” or “hot off the satellite” for the first time.

These are the sort of integrity building exercises Nine needs to pull to regain some credibility. It would also fit well with the “Home of Laughter” theme, if they decided to resurrect it.

Viewers demand new, smart and inventive programming, and there seems to be no greater contrast between Nine’s first and second halves of the year.

If you quickly compared Nine’s second-half line-up to Seven and Ten’s, they really only have two big, big shows up their sleeves (Packed to the Rafters and Junior Masterchef).

Nine is finally shaping up as “the one” to watch again.

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Posted on June 27, 2011, in Channel Nine, Opinion, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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