Inauspicious start for The Alice


Has Nine’s drama/soap curse struck again, with its attempt to convert the successful telemovie The Alice, into a series?

The Alice the series, which started last night to below average figures, had been described as “McLeod’s with Red Dust.”

Australian
viewers delivered an unwanted verdict for Nine. Despite plenty of kind
promotion in the media and on air, only 1.045 million people watched
the two-hour double episode from 8:30pm, and it was easily beaten by
the last half hour of Seven’s Mythbusters shark special and Ten’s double Law and Order programs.

Tonight it slips into the 7:30pm timeslot, aiming to boost Nine’s faltering performance on Monday nights.

The
quirkiness of the telemovie is there (with a ghost character), but the
female characters seem to have been “McLeoded.” But formularising The Alice might not be enough to convince viewers to continue watching.

Nine has dithered over the series, found it hard to finance, lost the
script writer over “creative differences” and production was divided
between Alice Springs and Sydney to slash costs. Optus is a part funder
of The Alice
in exchange for getting the series for its Pay TV channel Ovation,
along with discounted advertising. Last week, surprise, surprise, all
Nine staff with corporate mobile phones were told by email that the
network’s carrier contract was changing from Telstra to Optus.

Last night’s TV ratings

The Winners

Seven and sharks.The Mythbusters special on sharks (will
that boost tonight’s ep of the program on SBS?) ran second nationally
with 1.721 million people over 90 minutes, giving 60 Minutes its first beating of the year (1.338 million). It set up the re-run of the classic Jaws
movie at 9pm by exposing some of the myths in the movie and as a result
only 1.037 million people watched. But combined with the last half hour
of the Mythbusters special, Seven still won the vital 8:30pm to 10:30pm period to give itself a surprise win on the night. Ten’s Big Brother‘s eviction episode was a top ten finisher, and the two Law and Orders did over The Alice.
The Losers

The Alice; It only peaked at 1.31 million people and an
average of 1.045 million watched, so viewers didn’t give Nine what it
wanted – a ratings success for a program that is tonight going to try
to stop the rot on Monday nights at Nine. You are What You Eat returned
with the woman star no longer a doctor, and now a diet guru. I suppose
1.139 million is OK, but not brilliant – after all Backyard Blitz handed it an average audience of 1.341 million. Seven’s Guinness World Records from 6:30pm accounted for the two Nine programs with an average 1.307 million.
News & CA

It’s Sunday night so Nine News is popular, especially in
Sydney and Melbourne. The footy lead-ins help. Sunday morning chats
were interrupted by the pre-emption of Business Sunday and more than half of Sunday by the swimming. However Sunday did get to air eventually and had 421,000 viewers, more than the swimming at 395,000. Sunday Sunrise on Seven was down, probably because of the swimming on Nine with 255,300 people. The Insiders on the ABC lost ground on a week before and averaged 125,000 people, while Inside Business on the ABC also fell, to average 88,000 or so people. The absence of Business Sunday on Nine didn’t drive extra viewers to the program.
The Stats

Seven won easily for its best victory on a Sunday night since the
start of the year. It was a surprisingly easy win by Seven as the
network has stumbled and blundered trying to fill this gap in its
schedule. But this is a one-off. Next Sunday night the second cricket
test will again confuse the figures. Seven won with a 30.4% share to
25.6% for Nine, 24.2% for Ten. 15.1% for the ABC and 4.7% for SBS.
Seven and Nine drew Sydney, Seven won Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and
Perth. Nine was third in Brisbane and Perth.
Glenn Dyer’s comments

An old fashioned bit of counter programming, with a steal here and
an old favourite freshened up did the trick last night, pushing Seven
to a surprise win. Monday morning’s meeting at Nine will not have been
for the faint hearted. Comprehensively outplayed and nothing to show
for all the misery and angst of getting series version of The Alice to the starting line. With reported changes at 60 Minutes on the verge of happening, not a good effort last night from them, while tonight’s numbers for The Alice will be awaited with some trepidation. Nine has all but pushed the Alien series Taken into dead zone of 10.30pm Tuesday nights because of poor ratings and inserted another stop gap episode of CSI at 9.30pm in its place to stop the rot.

Peter Fray

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