THE Voice and its revolving chairs are Channel Nine’s latest chance to reverse a horror start to the year as the next wave of big-gun TV shows hit screens Sunday night.
Nine’s slew of 2016 ratings failures — Australia’s Got Talent and Renovation Rumble among them — have been compounded by the network’s 60 Minutes Beirut kidnapping debacle.
But as the latest wave of reality shows unfold across all three commercial free-to-air networks, industry pundits tip The Voice might provide some relief.
“The Voice just has to do better than Australia’s Got Talent, which had already been dropped twice before in its history here because of poor ratings,” says media commentator and editor of industry trade publication Mediaweek, James Manning.
“The revolving chairs are The Voice’s gimmick early on, and to keep the audience engaged it needs to uncover some real talent.”
The Voice is entering it’s fifth season in Australia, with a new addition to its mentor panel this year as Ronan Keating replaces Ricky Martin and joins the popular Jessie J, Delta Goodrem and Madden brothers Joel and Benji in the big red chairs.
Last year The Voice averaged 1.47 million viewers across five cities, and while those figures aren’t as impressive as the show in its glory days, a repeat of them would be enough for a new series of an old format.
Tonight’s stand-off of the big gun reality shows will reveal whether revolving chairs, renovations or rookie chefs rule the nation’s remotes.
By 7.30pm The Voice, Ten’s new season of MasterChef and Seven’s House Rules will be going head to head.
Seven ushered in the first episodes of House Rules last week to soft ratings, but tonight’s show is a ‘renovation reveal’ episode, which traditionally attracts more interest.
And Ten is relying on MasterChef, which last season saw a ratings revival, to continue to satisfy the appetite for cooking reality shows evidenced by the lasting success of My Kitchen Rules, which shaped Seven’s barnstorming start to the year.
Manning says signs are MasterChef, which has combined its formula of keeping it simple with rolling out the world’s biggest celebrity chefs like Nigella Lawson, Heston Blumenthal and Marco Pierre White.
“MKR is not dissimilar to MasterChef and both have elements that appeal to different, yet broad, audiences,” he says. “Viewers certainly aren’t done with this format yet.”
Seven will watch MasterChef’s fortunes with interest, with another foodie offering up its sleeve — Zumbo’s Just Desserts, planned for later in the year.
While House Rules always starts its season with soft numbers, Manning says ‘big cracks’ are appearing in the reality renovation format — as evidenced by the spectacular failure of Renovation Rumble which ended on Nine last week with just 249,000 viewers in five cities tuning in for the grand final.
“Subscription TV audiences still lap up specialist shows like Selling Houses and Grand Designs though, because they keep it focused on the subject,” Manning says.
“House Rules keeps it relatively simple, which is why the program usually improves across the season. But imagine what would happen on MasterChef if all of a sudden the contestants went off and had a game day. Would anybody watch?”
If there’s a sleeping giant on the reality TV scene, it’s the rise of ‘relationship reality’ shows.
Nine hit a high last week with the finale of it’s popular Married at First Sight — which ended its season with 1.1 million viewers last week, throwing shade on the first episode of House Rules, which drew 718,000 sets of eyeballs across five cities.
Seven this year has seen good traffic with both First Dates and the controversial Seven Year Switch, which is nearing the end of its run.
Waiting in the wings are Seven’s Kiss Kiss Bang and Ten’s new series of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.