Media buyers welcome debut for Ten’s I’m a Celebrity but warn of audience drop-off

I'm a Celebrity Australia’s top media buyers have welcomed the strong opening night audiences for new Network Ten franchise I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, which was watched by nearly 1.2m metro viewers last night. 

Senior media buyers said that Ten management would be pleased to see the highly promoted TV franchise debut well, but warned that they expected a drop off in the coming days as it goes up against big reality franchises The Block and My Kitchen Rules, but added they hoped it would settle at around the one million mark in terms of audience.

CEO of UM Mat Baxter, whose clients include Coles, Coca-Cola and NSW Government, described it as a “surprising and pleasing result.”

“I think Ten would be absolutely thrilled with that result”, said Baxter. “It is better than I think the market was potentially expecting it to perform, but it will be interesting to see if the audience is carried through thought in subsequent episodes.”



Other media buyers noted the result had lifted Ten’s other shows such as Family Feud, which made its Sunday evening debut yesterday as it moves to six nights per week.

“Ten management would be stoked with this result,” said Alex Pekish, group media investment director at Aegis Media, which includes media agencies Carat, Mitchell & Partners and Vizeum. “Celebrity launched against cricket and the tennis, and for me what was astounding is the results of Family Feud as the lead in.”

Nunn Media’s Sydney managing director Chris Walton noted last night was a major TV viewing night with several shows performing well: “There were big viewing figures all around last night. Everywhere seemed to get big figures with the tennis and the cricket.

“Now people have seen it and know who is on it the real test is going to be do they come back? Is there enough glue in the format and in the people they got.”

This view was also shared by Match Media’s trading director Theo Zisoglou, who said: “While the launch carried great anticipation, it is now up to the celebrities to perform.

“It is a great result for Ten up against strong competition from the tennis and cricket, both of which also performed well, but will the content be enough to satisfy this interest for the next six weeks?’

The stripped down format and decision to run the show over six weeks, instead of the three weeks of the UK version was questioned by some media buyers.

“I think whenever you take a format and try and extend it over a protracted period of time it puts the format under additional pressure,” said Baxter. “We’ve seen that not just in Celebrity but in every franchise.

“The more distance you try and get out of the show, the more frequently its on, the more risk that audiences will tire and ratings will drop.”

Asked about this a Ten spokesman said that media agencies had largely welcomed the doubling of the length of the show: “Advertisers are pleased it is longer than the UK version. To suggest otherwise in nonsense.

“KFC and Budget Direct have signed on as major sponsors of the show. We have sold many premium spot packages into the show with companies that cannot be named at this point in time.”

Ten declined requests for an interview with its chief programming officer Beverley McGarvey this morning but in a statement she said: “We are delighted with the first night ratings for I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!. Many Australians have embraced this exciting new family entertainment show on Ten, our digital platform Tenplay and across social media.

“The action and adventure has only just started and Australians will be captivated by what unfolds, live, five nights a week.”



ZenithOptimedia’s chief investment officer Anthony Ellis praised the network for its cross promotion of Celebrity through the Big Bash cricket broadcasts, but said he expects to see a drop off from the debut, especially over the course of the week.

“Ten did a good job through leveraging the Big Bash,” said Ellis. “The tennis final was on Australia Day, which presents different viewing habits, but compared to Biggest Loser it averaged 451,000 in the 6.30pm timeslot, so its a really good start for Ten, the question is whether they can hold.

“There is no doubt that it will come backwards and the audience will stablise but anything over 500,000-600,000 for Ten would be really pleasing.”

Other media buyers told Mumbrella they had higher hopes for the Celebrity franchise with at least two senior buyers citing a figure of one million viewers.

“To be honest for it to be fighting with the big boys in the power franchises it needs to be doing a million (viewers) on a consistent basis to be consider a true competitor and contender for the The Block and MKR,” said Baxter.

“It needs to settle in at that number for the market to view it as a serious franchise that can deliver for advertisers. I would imagine that’s what Ten is hoping for.”

Pekish too said there would be a drop off, but that management would be hoping for strong audiences at the start of 2015: “Sunday might be the highest viewing night, so yes there might be a drop off on Monday night but if it settles around the one million that’s a great result for the Ten Network.”

The other ratings threat to the show will come next Sunday when I’m a Celebrity will face off against Seven and Nine’s much talked about Sydney siege news specials, in which both have interviewed hostages from the Lindt cafe.

“I’m counting on the Sydney sieges specials to do pretty well,” said Baxter. “It could have a pretty significant impact on I’m a Celebrity. My view is they will do at least a million – I mean look at what the news typically does.”

My Kitchen Rules Match’s Zisoglou agreed saying: “This will be a major issue for Ten as these specials will garner a lot of attention this week. With MKR launching tonight, Seven will be sure to pre-promote the hell out of the siege special, as will Nine within the Block.

However ZO’s investment head noted any major impact would be limited. “The two siege specials will carry a lot of audience and dent the performance of Celebrity and also (new franchise) Shark Tank – there is no doubt about that – but they are one-offs.”

Aegis’s trading boss was also less concerned arguing the ‘water cooler effect’ would help the show and that it would be tested as early as tonight.

“Tonight will be the test when Celebrity is up against the Block and MKR, but it should hold its own because of all the water cooler talk today”

Pekish also said he was not worried about the stripping of the show over six weeks.

“No I’m not worried My Kitchen Rules was extended, The Block extended, I think Beverley and the Ten team are smart enough to gauge how well it is doing and will make that decision probably one week in.”

Ten CEO Hamish McLennan, in a statement, also praised the debut saying: “This is an outstanding result on a fiercely competitive night, and our best reality series launch since 2009. It reflects a great company-wide effort, with special thanks to Beverley McGarvey and her team.”

Nic Christensen 

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that UM represented L’Oreal. The cosmetics brand is in fact represented by Carat.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.