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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 Will.i.am 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 

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