During the Masterchef final the other week, Ten made the unusual step of scheduling a new DIY show (The Renovators) during the finale.
Bold, maybe. Stupid, heck yeah! Here’s why:
While this cynical attempt to get viewers to sample the new show could be considered a short-term success attracting 1.25 million viewers, it certainly hasn’t translated into much else while potentially also dealing damage to the Masterchef brand and Ten’s already flagging reputation.
The role of programming whether it’s on television or radio is still very much about funneling viewers from one day part to the next, but what Ten’s and other programming departments haven’t quite grasped is that the audience is not as captive as they once were. Not only are viewers now spoilt for choice with the rise of award-winning niche content on specialist networks (think Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad) but the proliferation of PVRs, smartphones, tablets and the ubiquity of high-speed Internet not to mention the grand daddy of them all – the remote control – means that viewers have the freedom to consume media when and where they want. The idea that you would force your content upon them precisely when all they want is to find out who won is ludicrous!
Despite what some so-called experts say, the television audience isn’t shrinking in favour of other technologies – it’s actually growing. We are consuming more television content than ever before, except we are doing so across multiple media channels and augmenting the experience with social media.
The disrespect shown by Ten towards the Masterchef audience resulted in a huge social media backlash that spilled over into the mainstream arguably causing even more harm to The Renovators who’s ratings only continued plummet in the wake of the debacle. If Ten is serious about rebuilding their share of audience and advertising, they should focus less on using tactics designed to artificially get people to watch their programs and start respecting them and focus on creating genuinely compelling content.