Knocking the summer television model of old

This year’s non-ratings period could signal the dawning of a new era. Steve Molk considers the It’s a Knockout model.

Normally the minute the ratings period ends, viewers switch off the television in droves. There’s usually naught on they’ve not already seen, or some extremely poor sitcom from the US. But this year, Ten have been trying a different approach as they revive a retro favourite. Welcome back It’s A Knockout.

For those unfamiliar with the format, think Wipeout meets the Olympics as teams go head to head in physical challenges.

This is the first project from FremantleMedia’s new production arm Spring, described as the Jetstar to Fremantle’s Qantas and created specifically to pump out brand-funded and digital channel content. McDonald’s has partnered with Ten to commission the program and perhaps most interesting is how the brand is integrated into the show – and what happens to the content after the series airs.

Apart from the obvious logos, and advertising, news earlier this year the fast food chain will launch an in-store TV channel across the US means the show could have a second life in the not too distant future. It’s a Knockout certainly fits with the brand’s ‘healthy family fun’ position and would provide a wealth of content if the restaurant follows suit down under.

It’s a Knockout airs each Sunday throughout summer in the prime 7.30pm timeslot and other networks will be paying close attention. If this goes well, we can expect similar brand funded productions that move beyond straight product placement. We may also see commercial networks changing their commissioning model for off season programming.

While the first episode of It’s a Knockout drew 1.03m viewers, a better result than many of Ten’s in season programs, the audience fell to 872,000 for the second outing. With the ratings off, Ten has less to lose if the decline in viewers continues but how happy will McDonalds be with the result? It appears the game isn’t changing but perhaps the rules are.

Steve Molk is the editor of MolksTVTalk.com.


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