Nine’s reality TV boss says The Voice finale ‘deserved’ better ratings, promises a refresh

Adrian Swift

Adrian Swift

Nine’s reality TV boss has admitted he felt Monday night’s finale of The Voice “deserved” a bigger audience and has promised to “refresh” the format ahead of its 2015 return.

Speaking to Mumbrella Nine’s director of development and digital Adrian Swift said they will look at all aspect of the show, after just 1.6m metropolitan viewers tuned in to see Anja Nissen take out the singing competition, down from $2m the year before.

The Voice was credited with turning around Nine’s fortunes when it first aired in 2012 and was the most popular show that year. However, it struggled last year against Seven’s My Kitchen Rules losing some audience share, and this year has seen numbers fall off still further.

Swift said he believed the falls were in line with declines in traditional broadcast audiences and that the network would look at a number options, including reviewing the coaches, the songs and possibly featuring more of the backstory of unsuccessful contestants, to make the show more captivating for viewers.

“We believe the show deserved bigger numbers but I think the reality with all singing show is that they are down this year,” said Swift, who also has responsibility for Nine’s The Block which enjoyed a resurgence in ratings this year.

“At all levels of Nine we love the show but we will look at it,” he said. “We will look at the judging panels, the kind of songs we choose, the kind of artists that appear on the show.

“When we do it again next year is keep the authenticity, keep the core of the show. We might make it shorter, we might get rid of some of the rounds, we might show more of the nos – where we might show more of the things where (the coaches) didn’t turn (their chairs) for just to give more context on how good the ones where we do for turn are. ”

Monday’s broadcast saw the metro audience actually decrease to 1.57m for the winner announcement, well down on the 2012 and 2013 which drew 3.098m and 2.3m respectively when the audiences lifted from the final performances.

“Would I have like a couple of hundred thousand more viewers? Yeah I would have, but it kind of tracked with how these shows go. It’s not surprising to us,” Swift conceded.

“There are two factors at play. Television is down broadly this year and also singing shows (are down) – I mean the X Factor is down 25 per cent this year. There might be a bit of saturation in the market but that’s alright for us. It won the night, it won the demos, it won on multiple levels.

“(Citing the combined metro and regional audience) we are down from the final 11.8 per cent which I would argue is broadly equivalent to where broadcast TV is. I can certainly live with it.”

Swift argued The Voice has come to represent the Nine brand more than any other show on the network.

“It is one of our biggest franchises but it works on a number of different levels for us. That show represents what the Nine brand is,” he said.

“I think the audience engages with the judges on the show, we think it’s slightly bigger and glossier than the opposition and we think that it has a real heart and authenticity to it.”

This year saw a reshuffle of personnel with two new judges, Australian singer Kylie Minogue and US rapper added to the lineup in place of singers Delta Goodrem and Seal.

Nine’s director of development said despite the ongoing shift to online viewing advertisers and media buyers should remember that traditional television was still the only platform that could bring millions of people together at one time.

“The bottom line is we are still the only medium that can drive 1.7m people in one place at one time. You cannot do that via any other medium in Australia right now.

“We think it is a great vehicle for advertisers to integrate into in a way that is not clumsy and sloppy and awful. Last year’s final was 1.952m and this year’s was 1.721m so we are down 11.5 per cent. I’ve utterly made my peace with that. I’m not going to do anything to combat the decline because broadly audiences are down across terrestrial TV.

“But what will we will do is refresh the show.”

Nic Christensen 


  1. Ingrid Harrison
    23 Jul 14
    1:33 pm

  2. Viewing audience voting is a ridiculous concept. It should be about true talent, not popularity. And maybe, just maybe, people are tiring of this type of contrived television?

  3. Lionel
    23 Jul 14
    1:50 pm

  4. I think it sounds more like typical executive complacency
    no offence Mr Swift
    ‘we’ve got something good, so lets just hype it and make people wait a little, then sit back and enjoy the ratings’
    whilst other shows continue to evolve, then it’s all of sudden
    ‘gosh, that should have done better, we’ll tweak it for next year’…
    meanwhile, it’s too late…

  5. Steven Pickett
    23 Jul 14
    2:05 pm

  6. Good grief. Fewer back-stories and more performance please. The show seemed so strung out it became tedious. And popular voting is not the answer – let the professionals do it. The first series was great but now it has been stretched and bastardised so much it is a turn-off. Hopefully, this treatment of ‘reality’ shows might make audiences yearn for the quality drama that is now so absent from our screens. As Ingrid says above “maybe people are tiring of this type of contrived television” – well said!

  7. Mark B
    23 Jul 14
    2:09 pm

  8. I lost interest because it was too drawn out – by the look of the fall in numbers before the end, it looks like many other people felt the same way.

  9. offalspokesperson
    23 Jul 14
    2:09 pm

  10. TV is down… welcome to newspapers circa 1999

  11. TG
    23 Jul 14
    2:17 pm

  12. Three free tips for Mr Swift.
    1. STOP the sob stories. Especially in the finals. We’ve seen enough after the blind rounds.
    2. STOP the endless padding. Less than 15 minutes of singing shouldn’t take up a two hours show.
    3. STOP the focus on the judges. The Voice has to be the only reality show where the judges are more important than the contestants.

  13. Ben
    23 Jul 14
    2:28 pm

  14. The format of the competition was the problem – too many nights of blind auditions, too many nights of battle rounds, too many sing offs to keep their place.

    It lost me two shows into the battle rounds and I discovered the refreshing changes they made to the Masterchef format.

  15. Ben
    23 Jul 14
    2:29 pm

  16. Oh, and too much Darren McMullen. I don’t think I’ve seen so much mediocrity crammed into one person.

  17. Steve (StevieP) Plakotaris
    23 Jul 14
    2:32 pm

  18. Nine does need to wake up and shake up The Voice. I am a life long (and still full time) marketer who also sings professionally. I don’t know a single real singer or muso that watches the Voice because its just television. Produced, directed, cry on cue non-sense and the viewing public knows it. Case in point, to audition for The Voice, you need to submit a video. Contradiction plus. TG has it right, make the show about finding Talent and to do that they need to feature talent, not the judges, iTunes or Twitter. Who knows, Nine might even start to get some real musicians watching. There are an awful lot of us out there!

  19. CW
    23 Jul 14
    2:35 pm

  20. Agree with the others. FAR too drawn out. I didn’t even watch the finale as I lost track of when it was even on. I thought the judges were fine, but what I hate is that people win these competitions and then… never hear of them again. So….what’s it all for in the end? Just getting their hopes up? Anja might be different, she was pretty amazing. But it was OBVIOUS she was going to win, and that her “just getting through” to the final was codswallop. The audience isn’t that gullible. Also, sorry, the other incredibly irritating thing is the number of ads. So we just IQ it (don’t watch it on the night it is aired) and fast forward so surely that would affect ratings.

  21. Bass
    23 Jul 14
    2:39 pm

  22. Not sure if it was just me but Will I am seemed totally disengaged like it was just a pay cheque to him – didn’t show the fire of a Ricky or Seal… If he doesn’t look like he wants to be there, why should viewers watch?

  23. Bob from Bronte
    23 Jul 14
    3:04 pm

  24. All we ever here about(brilliantly managed by network PR) is share between networks rather than the fact audience is down 11% as stated above, for all the crap print has copped surely this deserves more focus from the trade media

  25. night woman
    23 Jul 14
    3:11 pm

  26. Yes STOP the sob stories, that should not influence voting.I don’t care about who you are related to or where you come from, it is patronising. It should be about talent and passion – get on with it and cut the contrivance. Judges are great but show is way too long. I have to send my son to bed if I haven’t dropped off on the couch first.

  27. KBF
    23 Jul 14
    3:22 pm

  28. Reality TV shows are focussing so much on ‘stories of survival’ it’s become a ‘turn off!’

    You have polarised your viewing audiences by saturating our screens with stories of people who’ve either survived personal tragedy or have other stories such as the genes of ‘fame’ in their heritage… You need to process the talent without over processing – looking for any natural talent. Among them will come the those unassuming gems (who we’re drawn to & create off the chart ratings) – Susan Boyle, Paul Potts, Jessica Mauboy, Dami Im – the reason they created a viewing frenzy was because they were unassuming people, having a go. Those who genuinely didn’t realise their potential (& most importantly, showed constant humility & grace) and we as an audience decide/need to fight for them somewhere along the way.

    Your current analytical bias on what ‘was’ a good show has resulted in sending a message loud & clear to home viewers that no matter how much effort you put in or how much natural talent you have, you won’t get anywhere in these Australian Industries unless you’ve survived personal tragedy or have a story that can be moulded into a cash-cow guarantee for the networks (seriously, what a shame).

    That’s why The Block not only survives, but thrives – no sob stories, just ordinary, every day Aussies putting in the hard yakka and having a go – their contestants represent us – every day Aussies, hoping to change their lot in life by daring to dream!

  29. Ben
    23 Jul 14
    3:29 pm

  30. I agree with Lionel, we don’t need more back story, I’m so OVER, poor me, I got bullied, had no friends etc. instant turn off. we want more singing, more singing, more singing, and LESS ads.

  31. willy loman
    23 Jul 14
    3:46 pm

  32. Dire contrived drivel. Who won? Who cares? They will be driving your bus in the next few years or asking if you want extra fries. Refresh it by having 2 hours of ads and just 10 minutes of ‘talent” .

  33. Yeah!
    23 Jul 14
    3:52 pm

  34. S.N.O.R.E

  35. Here's An Idea
    23 Jul 14
    4:03 pm

  36. Less fucking recaps!!! We saw it all last week, and probably in the prior segment.

  37. chris
    23 Jul 14
    4:33 pm

  38. i could not agree more with all the comments..the first 2 years were fine with seal. the format is tired now and don’t get me started with the kids version. enough please!

  39. Richard Moss
    23 Jul 14
    4:36 pm

  40. Ever heard the term Lift your game?

    Art imitating reality imitating art. Theatre is real theatre, but it has nothing to do with reality, other than the aim of creating an appearance of it.

    Creating a television (theatre) program, requires theatrical excellence. The death knell sounds for any producer who tries to make it real, who tries to make comedy funny or who tries to make drama dramatic. This is the mark and the work of the amateur the dilettante, and though it may pass muster at first, it will invariable grind to a halt and collapse.

    The audiences may be initially gullible, but they are rarely stupid, eventually they will smell the rat and realise that they have been lead by the nose; when this happens, they stay away in droves.

    Reality shows, there is no such thing actually, as reality is not only dead boring, it is also the death of theatre, are cheaper to produce and easier for non theatre people (specifically technical people) to produce and direct. This is why they abound on television. Television has long sought the formula by which it could qualify talent by the meter or the block, and turn art into a commodity and a component of its technical production.

    My dear old Mother used to say of Modigliani, “He seems all out of proportion some how.” This is because my dear old Mother knew nothing about art or artistry, she would look at a photo or a line drawing, quite content that she was seeing reality, but of course she wasn’t.

  41. Blightfoot
    23 Jul 14
    5:13 pm

  42. Agree! with all above – cut the sob stories, focus on judges and the endless padding and recapping PLUS – it seems that this year many of the more talented/interesting people were let go early on. The finalists were above average (that’s being generous) singers but some really sensational singers were let go by the judges in the battle rounds. I lost interest after that.

  43. Tony
    23 Jul 14
    6:13 pm

  44. The format is so tired its amazing that its only been around a few years.

    The best refresh would be to take a break for a year or two then come back with something special.

    This years talent was light-on.

  45. Viewer
    23 Jul 14
    7:50 pm

  46. The Voice is going through the same problems Australian Idol did after the first two seasons – difficulty in finding enough exceptional talent to sustain a series. Also the audience deciding the winner defeats the whole purpose of a talent quest. It’s meant to be about skill, not popularity. It’s one of the most disappointing aspects about this type of format of television.

  47. Benross
    23 Jul 14
    9:26 pm

  48. A dog scratching its nuts deserves better ratings than this pile of drivel.
    Exploiting aspiring artists, admittedly artists foolish enough to participate, to sell adds to toilet paper manufacturers and toothpaste companies, by telling them constantly they will be ‘stars’ then kicking them to the curb after one shitty single and album makes me want to vomit.
    And Kylie can’t sing

  49. Karen
    24 Jul 14
    7:38 am

  50. Carrying the teams format right to the end means that you lose good singers while other, lesser talents get through – such as Sabrina on Ricky’s team. At some stage, they all just need to go up against each other so that the best ones are chosen, preferably by the judges. (Note that the viewer votes for the final went to four blokes … clearly a reflection of the predominantly female make-up of the voting pool). Channel 9’s other problem was moving the grown-up version to Monday night and putting the kids on Sunday. That’s my two cents worth as the average viewer!

  51. Bec88
    24 Jul 14
    8:01 am

  52. Couldn’t agree more about the comments regarding LESS background stories and more singing. Viewer interets is loss between the recaps and the amount of ads. What turns viewers off is the length of the show due to those two factors.
    I also believe the shift of the program to Monday night to make way for The Voice Kids was not a wise move – as the show runs to late for viewers on a Monday night.

  53. Here's An Idea
    24 Jul 14
    9:04 am

  54. @ BenRoss. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your singing career and have all your CDs and videos in my collection.

  55. strak66
    24 Jul 14
    9:15 am

  56. No surprises. Lessons on how to pollute a good product, get something successful and then make it smell. Hello TV content directors/producers, don’t push out the running times, don’t go for the advertising money grab by squashing in more commercials. Don’t eat up one third of showtime with recaps. Don’t look shocked when viewer numbers fall off a cliff. Do yourself a favour and watch the first few episodes of the Voice season one and then watch some of this seasons episodes. If you don’t see the difference them your missing the point.

  57. Big Fella
    24 Jul 14
    4:31 pm

  58. What is it with you people????
    There are millions of Aussies who love the show!
    It’ll be tweaked, improved, polished here & there & millions will still love it.

    For me, simply the kids version was overkill.
    That’s simply Gyngell milking the format for all its worth….

    Its the commercial world we live in.
    All of you take a break & have a Kit Kat.

  59. Jim Loveday
    26 Jul 14
    10:52 pm

  60. There is not enough hidden talent in Australia to supply top quality new stars for the various talent competitions that pervade out TV screens.

    The talent unearthed in Australian Idol #1 was fantastic, not bad in #3, after that nothing much until they mercifully put it to sleep..

    The other talent shows actually seem to be about the celebrity judges more than the overrated artists.

  61. Jennifer
    26 Jul 14
    11:08 pm

  62. More singing, less fluff and, for god’s sake, cut it down to a reasonable length.

    We do NOT need to be told what happened before the ad break. We were there. Stop wasting my time. It doesn’t “build drama” it just annoys the heck out of me.

    Less ads. Yes, you are commercial television, but the ad breaks are now almost longer than the segments of the show itself. I had time to make a cuppa and get interested in something else while the ads were on.

    Keep the episodes to 1 hour. 1.5 hours max. Running the final episode from 7:30pm until nearly 10pm? You’re a reality TV show, not Lord of the Rings. By the time you reached the end I no longer cared who won. I just wanted it to be over!

  63. matt
    27 Jul 14
    11:10 pm

  64. Darren M. is a very average Host. Nothing Star quality about the guy really. Why dont we try and “unearth” an Aussie newcomer who could do better….other than massaging his EGO

  65. @Matt
    28 Jul 14
    9:27 am

  66. Matt, I would humbly like to suggest your good self to host The Voice. You clearly have an in-depth knowledge and appreciation of how simple it is to host live television, which is backed up by your extensive experience and body of work.

    I look forward to next season.

  67. peepee
    28 Jul 14
    5:53 pm

  68. Deserved? DESERVED!? D E S E R V E D !!!

    Really, isn’t that nice of Mr Swift, Nine’s director of development and digital.

    Since when did commercial television start regarding its offerings with such arrogance that it actually thinks it DESERVES a bigger audience.

    Such hubris, such out-&-out HUMBUG is simpy emblematic of the vapid mind-numbing wasteland of Australian commercial television (OK, global commercial television) in this post-Berlusconi era.

    DESERVES! Ha, excuse me while I dust off my modem and head for the fertile fields of broadband. My time matters!