Why isn't anyone watching Ten?
In the broader scheme of things, like "nefarious network TV shenanigans" and "utter contempt for viewers", longtime readers of this blog will know that Ten usually comes in a distant third after Seven and the reigning champion, Nine.
Ten has been, until recently at least, home to some of my favourite shows. The network was also responsible for one of the greatest series promos ever made in Australia:
More pressingly, they tended to air entire series without messing around with the schedule, and allowed new projects time to find their feet rather than cutting them down after one or two episodes.
All of that appears to be a thing of the past.
Fairfax telecommunications reporter Lucy Battersby yesterday indicated that Ten's audience figures - once reliably healthy - have taken such a dive that they're at their lowest point in over a decade.
More specifically, since "the turn of the century".
From her piece: During the Olympic month, more people watched Foxtel than Ten, which had just 21 per cent of the national audience, according to figures compiled by Credit Suisse research analyst Samantha Carleton. "Ten’s share of 21 per cent was its worst since the turn of the century. While some allowance can be made for the impact of the Olympics, Ten also lost significant share to Seven as a string of new shows failed to fire," Ms Carleton wrote in a note to clients.
There has been plenty more bad news for Ten this year, including the resignation of head of programming, David Mott, evidently in response to poor ratings. Everybody Dance Now was canned, and The Shire, Don't Tell The Bride and Can Of Worms have limped out of the gates. Only Puberty Blues appears to be hanging in there.
Where did it all go wrong? From a personal perspective, though an argument could be made for its professional impact, cancelling So You Think You Can Dance Australia in its prime was the first nail in Ten's coffin.
The show enjoyed high ratings, and an exceptional level of production values - the final finale, in 2010, was one of the best production numbers I've seen (and that includes on the US franchise):
Having shunted SYTYCD for the project that, presumably, eventually became Everybody Dance Now, I'm not surprised Mott left with his tail between his legs.
It's possible that sending much of the network's reliable ratings workhorses, like Neighbours and The Simpsons, to Eleven likely made a large dent in their audience share.
I do remain impressed that Ten has stuck by The Project; while it's not the greatest news-related show on television, that the network allowed the show to evolve and settle into a pleasant groove is quite unusual in the current TV climate (especially as Ten seem to have begun to adopt the Nine approach to struggling newbies: a swift death).
Now that the Olympics and Paralympics are over, it'll be interesting to see if Ten gets back in the game. If they insist on commissioning dull content (with the exception of Puberty Blues) and cancelling things willy nilly, however, it'll be a grim outlook indeed.