Aussie viewers abandon US shows

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 15 Maret 2015 | 23.08

The NCIS team investigates the crash of an armoured transport bus carrying Naval brig detainees after four prisoners escape, including a black market broker who is one of the country's biggest national security threats. Courtesy: NCIS: New Orleans

Aussie viewers have given drama series Revenge the thumbs up. Source: Supplied

AUSSIE viewers are turning their backs on American TV shows, with no standout ratings hit for more than three years.

Instead it is locally made shows such as My Kitchen Rules, Offspring, Love Child, The Block and MasterChef that have been viewer favourites.

Channel 10 will be hoping to beat the curse when it premieres American sitcom The Odd Couple, with former Friends star Matthew Perry, on March 23.

In the top ten ... Viola Davis in How To Get Away With Murder. Source: Supplied

But the glory days when CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Desperate Housewives, Two and a Half Men, Lost, and Grey's Anatomy ruled the local ratings are long gone.

In 2015, the only US show to crack one million viewers in Australia is The Big Bang Theory — and it is all downhill from there.

Revenge is the next most successful US show with around 850,000 (consolidated) viewers across Australia's five capital cities — but that is around half the viewers it averaged three years ago.

America's hot new drama, Empire, is a bonefide US sensation in its homeland, seen by around 15 million people, but can't buy a viewer over here.

LATE NIGHT: Is 9pm the new 8.30pm for networks?

US smash .... But Empire, starring Jussie Smollet as Jamal, Terrence Howard as Lucious, and Bryshere Gray as Hakeem, can't take a trick here in Australia. Source: AP

A whole swag of US shows — NCIS (806,000), How to Get Away with Murder (762,000), Forever (744,000), NCIS: Los Angeles (659,000), and State of Affairs (649,000) — perform solidly but not spectacularly.

And US sitcoms have done even worse. Modern Family still rates but Ten's The Millers stiffed, Seven's The Goldbergs was relegated to late night, and Vicious was shunted on to one of Seven's digital channels. Mixology and The McCarthys never even made it to air.

US reality stalwarts American Idol, Survivor and The Amazing Race - once the backbone of Australian network programming - are on the slide, relegated to graveyard slots or digital channels.

For fans only ... American Idol (Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr) has been relegated to Eleven. Source: Supplied

"There hasn't been an American breakout hit over here in more than three years," media analyst Steve Allen says.

"Because of that, the importance of US shows (to programming schedules of channels Seven, Nine and Ten) has diminished greatly."

But within the bad news, there might be some good news for the local industry.

Channel 9 recently announced that it will expand its investment in Australian drama over the next two years.

One of the major reasons for the move is that Nine's US drama slate isn't a powerhouse anymore.

The Mentalist is old hat. Hostages tanked. Gotham got some good early numbers but faded. Person of Interest is late night. The Following and Arrow had limited success.

Nine persists with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and CSI: NY but it is a law of diminishing returns.

Success story ... The Big Bang Theory is one of the few American shows to rate big in Australia. Source: Supplied

Despite a stumble with Gallipoli, Nine has had much more ratings success with local dramas, particularly The House of Hancock, Love Child and House Husbands.

"US drama doesn't rate as high as it used to," Nine's head of programming and production, Andrew Backwell says.

"I remember the time at Nine when we had CSI pumping. (That is why) we are going to increase our output of (local) drama significantly over the next couple of years."

Foxtel has grabbed some of the most talked-about American shows in recent times, including Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones but even it is expanding its roster of Aussie shows with Wentworth and A Place to Call Home.

This year, Ten has launched NCIS: New Orleans to moderate success. Law & Order: SVU and The Good Wife are still an important part of its line-up despite modest ratings.

The first series of Under the Dome was a hit but series two stalled.

Elementary and Hawaii Five-O have been pushed back to late night. The first series of Scorpion showed promise in the 6.30pm Sunday timeslot.

"US programming remains an important element in the programming mix we present to our viewers across Ten, Eleven, One and tenplay," Beverley McGarvey, Ten's chief programming officer, says.

Seven got one year's worth of strong ratings for Resurrection but it now screens at 11pm. Ratings for Castle, Bones and Grey's Anatomy have been slipping and Parenthood is in its final season.

Former powerhouse ... It is a decade since Desperate Housewives (starring Vanessa Williams as Renee Perry, Felicity Huffman as Lynette Scavo, Eva Longoria as Gabrielle Solis, Teri Hatcher as Susan Mayer and Marcia Cross as Bree Hodge) ruled the ratings. Source: Supplied

Seven is set to launch new local drama 800 Words, with Erik Thomson (Packed to the Rafters), later this year. Another series of Winners and Losers is also in the wings.

"Australians are still embracing overseas dramas but the way they are watching is changing," Angus Ross, Seven's program chief, says.

"Dramas get the biggest boost on time-shifted viewing — often over 30 per cent. All other program genres outside drama (eg reality) are watched 95 per cent live.

"We believe the right shows from overseas can continue to resonate in the Australian market."

US shows such as Tattoo Nightmares (7 Mate), American Dad (7 Mate), and Auction Hunters (Go!) are niche successes on the digital channels aimed at men and younger viewers.

Mr Allen says the fracturing of viewing across digital channels, and the push back to 9pm or later has hurt US dramas.

Piracy and repeats are other issues.

"The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family have been used, abused and caned to death (by Nine and Ten respectively)," Mr Allen says.

"Networks also make the mistake of warehousing many US shows for months on end which is infuriating to viewers. Right now, US shows are not very valuable to Australian TV networks."

THE TOP 10 US SHOWS IN AUSTRALIA

1. Big Bang Theory

2. Revenge

3. NCIS

4. How to Get Away With Murder

5. Forever

6. NCIS: LA

7. State of Affairs

8. Law & Order: SVU

9. The Good Wife

10. Empire


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