Did Ten make the right call in benching The Masked Singer and The Bachelor?

Channel 10 dropped two bombshells on reality TV show fans this week when it announced that neither The Masked Singer nor The Bachelor will be returning to screens in 2024.

Although The Masked Singer was one of the shows announced at Ten’s upfront earlier this year, the network has since decided to bench the beloved singing program/guessing game.

It’s worth noting Warner Bros International TV Australia produces both shows. It’s also worth noting that cost is obviously a factor in these decisions.

Whether it’s hiring former ASIO officials to man security, paying to use The Who’s ‘Who Are You’ for each celebrity reveal, or creating ten-to-twelve elaborate character costumes each season – The Masked Singer certainly doesn’t come cheap.

There there’s the cost of paying 12 different celebrities — all of whom are “contractually obliged to lie to their family about where they’ve been”, a Warner Bros executive told the Herald in 2019 — plus a celebrity panel featuring the likes of Jackie O, Dannii Minogue, Lindsay Lohan, Urzila Carlson, Abbie Chatfield, Chrissy Swan, and Mel B  — “all stars in their own right”, as Dave Hughes pointed out when spilling the beans on 2DayFM this week, and it all adds up.

As Hughes surmised on air yesterday, “the Channel 10 budget this year doesn’t have enough money for it. Apparently it’s an expensive show to produce.”

But does it rate well?

To make sure we compare apples to apples, all figures will be the ‘total viewers’ for the episode, across free-to-air, BVOD, and catch-up, while all nightly ranking will be based on ‘consolidated ratings’. Each episode of The Masked Singer spikes at the end, during the mask reveal’, which will be the figure shown in brackets.

Last year’s The Masked Singer ran for 12 episodes, stretched across nine weeks (one episode was a best of).

It debuted to an impressive 819,000 viewers (982,000 viewed the reveal), while the final episode was viewed by 829,000 (965,000). Seems fairly consistent. However, when you look at the middle(ish) episode — episode six — only 561,000 watched, which leaped to 782,000 for the mask reveal. The least-watched episode was episode five.

While these viewing figures are solid, when compared to other shows on Mondays and Tuesdays, The Masked Singer failed to perform.

The highest-viewed episode, the finale, was only the tenth most-watched program on the night (jumping to seventh-most for the winner reveal), while the show routinely hovered in the mid-teens, rankings-wise.

The first season of The Masked Singer was a smash, regularly topping the evening’s ratings, with close to 1.5 million tuning into see Cody Simpson win the finale. (season one spoiler alert!)

What about The Bachelor? This production is also very pricey, what with those helicopter dates, and more roses than the Rose Parade.

This latest season messed with the format somewhat, with three different bachelors (a concept introduced the previous year), and production moving from the Gold Coast to Melbourne – which, perhaps might have been the first sign of trouble, given they only moved production from Sydney to the GC a year prior.

Network 10 also crammed the show into three weeks, airing four episodes each week, compared the previous season’s luxurious five-week stretch. The season before enjoyed a seven-week run.

Oddly, Ten ran two seasons of The Bachelor in 2023, Season 10 in January and Season 11 in December. This seems like overkill – and it was.

Ratings started badly for Season 11, with just 408,000 total viewers watching the first episode on Sunday, December 3 (ranking 13th for the night), figures that had dropped to 149,000 by episode four, aired on Wednesday, December 6. Viewers continued to fall from there.

There was an 18-month gap between Season 9 and Season 10 – which feels like the right amount for this show.

So that’s the ratings? But what do the experts say? We asked TV Tonight’s David Knox.

“The cost of The Masked Singer, both in terms of rights and production, versus the output of just over two hours a week makes it less attractive than other shows which can be stripped across successive nights,” he told Mumbrella.

“It’s unfortunate because it’s one of the few entertainment shows that compels you to watch live for the big reveal,” he says, recalling during season one how  “you would have text messages flying back and forth between friends, trying to guess the act.”

Knox isn’t surprised to see The Bachelor gone, given it “relies heavily on its lead star and has suffered from fatigue no matter, how many ways Tehn has tried to rejig it.”

According to Knox, Ten “still has some competitive properties in MasterChef, Australian Survivor, Gogglebox and the show everybody wants, Have You Been Paying Attention? But the punishing ad market right now is hurting networks across the board, and makes execs very nervous about taking new risks.”

Ten’s big play in 2024 has been resurrecting old properties — Wheel of Fortune, Ready Steady Cook, Gladiators, and Deal Or No Deal have all had a return run this year — so it makes sense that the flipside of this strategy is benching shows for a while to allow people to miss them.

And stay tuned to Mumbrella for the inevitable announcement of The Bachelor: Space Capsule — coming to Ten in 2030.


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