The XIX Commonwealth Games have come to a close – and while India will be congratulating itself for a successful 11 days of competition, back in Australia the Ten Network might be quietly licking a few wounds.
Not that Ten’s effort in broadcasting the Games was of any inferior nature – in fact, the network has avoided receiving scorn like that encountered by the Seven Network with its heavily-delayed coverage of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing – but rather that the network was rewarded with fairly lack lustre ratings figures for a competition that usually commands much greater figures.
In some instances, Ten was struggling to stay above ABC in the popularity stakes whereas, at the very least, they might have expected some gold medal ratings figures over the two weeks. Essentially, Ten only won victory on one night of Games competition:
* Includes premiere episode of Keeping Up With The Joneses.
Source: OZTAM: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth. 6pm-12am. Network shares include multi-channels.
But in Ten’s defence, their coverage has been up against some significant odds. This year’s Commonwealth Games appear to have been met with varying levels of indifference by Australians, possibly not helped by the negative publicity surrounding the final lead-up to the competition.
The free-to-air TV environment has also changed dramatically since the last Commonwealth Games (Melbourne, 2006) and even Olympic Games (Beijing, 2008) in that then there were only five free-to-air networks – presenting only limited alternative viewing options. This time around, there are up to a dozen other free-to-air channels on offer – with two channels, GEM and 7mate, launched only weeks ago.
Also impacting Ten’s performance is the somewhat limiting anti-siphoning legislation – meaning that even though Ten has a secondary channel with One HD, combined they could only really offer a single-channel approach to coverage – something which is often at odds with such a large competition where there are multiple events occurring at the same time – while up against rival networks offering 2, 3 or 4 viewing alternatives. Ten might have helped stop the flow of viewers to other networks if it had launched its new entertainment channel, 11, with its own alternative to Games coverage, but instead the channel is scheduled to launch early in 2011.
And adding to Ten’s competition was Foxtel – with its six channels of Commonwealth Games coverage which, in itself, is nothing new (they had a similar multi-channel offering in 2006) but the difference this time is that Foxtel was offering these channels to existing subscribers at no extra charge.
Despite the challenges, Ten will be pleased with the increase in viewing on One HD where it received some of its best ever ratings.
With the obvious pre-Games expectation of the saturation coverage delivering a ratings dividend leading into the last six weeks of ratings competition for the year, it now appears that Ten will be needing to offer some promises to make good to advertisers wanting more bang for their sponsorship dollars and, with shows like The 7PM Project, Neighbours, Undercover Boss, Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation, Junior Masterchef, Modern Family, The Simpsons, Rush and Offspring having been out of circulation for two weeks, now has to work hard to drag viewers back to the network as it heads into the home straight of the ratings survey year. And with daylight saving now part of the equation, that makes the task of attracting viewers’ attention in the early evening even more of a struggle.
Network Ten have the rights to televise the Commonwealth Games when they head to Glasgow, Scotland, in 2014.