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Analysis: Shiny floor talent show audiences tumble while renovations hold firm

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 1.19.23 pmAudiences for ‘shiny floor’ talent shows have been among the worst hit of the reality TV franchises this year, with The Voice and The X Factor posting double-digit audience declines compared to their 2013 runs.

However, some reality shows like House Rules, Masterchef and The Block have enjoyed a renaissance, posting strong audience growth this year, an analysis of consolidated OzTam ratings of the sought-after 16-54 demographic by Fusion Strategy has shown.

The oldest of the formats, Ten’s The Biggest Loser, lived up to its name, shedding 45 per cent of its viewers in the demographic in its run this year. However, Ten’s Masterchef  was the biggest winner, rising 31,91 per cent compared to last year.

The figures, which show X Factor dropped 19.97 per cent and The Voice 13.64 per cent in the demo, led Fusion’s principal Steve Allen to suggest Seven and Nine may find it hard to “do a Masterchef” and reinvigorate those formats. “We don’t think their formats will ever be dead, but when it comes to the talent shows there are very few levers you can pull that make a substantial difference,” said Allen.

“When The Voice upped the ante by bringing out global stars that elevated the status and the knowledge of the viewing public about the show but The X Factor were on to that straight away and the one thing cancels the other out.

“The challenge is if they retire these shows how do they come up with another 50 or 60 hours of television?”

Earlier this year Nine’s reality TV boss Adrian Swift acknowledged the ratings for The Voice had been disappointing but vowed to refresh the show for 2015, although he has since departed Nine for the ABC.

Nine also elected to axe another shiny floor format, Australia’s Got Talent, after its ratings plummeted last year.

“On these big tent pole programs some that have seen double digit rises and some that have seen double digit declines,” said Allen who argued that it would be difficult for Seven or Nine to “do a Masterchef” reinvigorating an old format in the way Ten did this year, with the cooking show up 31.91 per cent in audience in the 16-54 consolidated demographic.

Source: Fusion Strategy

Source: Fusion Strategy

Allen also cited the success of House Rules (up 13.41 per cent in 16-54s) and The Block Fans vs Faves (up 4.83 per cent) as a sign of the popularity of renovation programming at the moment.

“The appeal of home renovation shows is very clear when you look at these figures,” he said. “They are in the top 10 programs of the year and are holding or growing audience.”

“In the case of The Block they are up to Season 10, they are a long way in, but they have tweaked it the whole way through but on something like The Voice and X Factor we don’t think they can do a Masterchef.

“We think if they again have double digital declines then (the shows) probably should be rested for a year or two.”

The media analyst noted part of the reason for the mixed result on the network’s tent-pole programming was the intensity of the ratings war between Seven and Nine, adding: “Nine Network in particular refusing to let Seven get away with anything. The result is that they are starving Ten for audience.

“The reason MKR went down is only because Nine put The Block directly up against it and quite deliberately against it.”

The Bachelor, which garnered massive media publicity and strong finale ratings on the back of the break up of bachelor Blake Garvey and contestant Sam Frost, was up 3.3 per cent year-on-year across the series in 16-54s and 4.8 per cent in total people.*

As the year finishes Allen said Nine were firmly ahead to claim the ratings crown and the Seven Network was unlikely to be able to catch up.

“Nine will win the year unless The Big Adventure can really hit its straps but we can’t see anything else that can knock them off,” said Allen.

“We think the ratings (for Big Adventure) are a little disappointing but Nine clearly ran a spoiler against it running The Embassy and making sure it didn’t launch really well.

“Seven are experimenting with The Big Adventure but we don’t think the format is sufficiently different to become a 1.5m to 2m rating program.

“It has been fiercely close. While Nine has come close in the 16-54 this will be first year that will have had a clear win in 16-54s.”

Seven has dominated the ratings winning every year since 2006.

Nic Christensen  

*A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that The Bachelor had seen a decrease in audience.

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