There’s a bit of an
adage in TV programming which says “never give viewers a reason to not
watch you”. But by moving the still very watchable Backyard Blitz from the attractive
Sunday evening 6.30 pm timeslot into the almost dead Friday evening 7.30 pm timeslot – effective tonight – Nine is doing
just that.

It’s taking a double-edged
gamble that people will tune in on Friday night, and remain loyal to
Nine for the replacement program, a new thing called Clever. The move may pay off, such is the continuing attractiveness of BB, even if
it’s now getting a little too predictable.

Tonight it will go up against Seven’s Better Homes and Gardens and
will almost certainly help shred that program’s timeslot winning position. But at what cost?

The network hasn’t a good recent track record on Friday nights with
garden-based reality shows. It killed off Burke’s Backyard under David
Gyngell, and then the poorly rating Our Place with Scott Camm (of Backyard Blitz
fame) after only a couple of weeks last
year.


BB
is a far better program than either of those, but I wonder if the
fact that it’s a production of Mr Burke’s company
might be a factor in making the switch.

Certainly, Clever does sound interesting – like a cross
between Einstein Factor (ABC) Brainiac (TEN) Mythbusters (SBS). Scott Camm is
a part of the “team” to be fronted by Georgie Parker, ex-Seven and All Saints. Camm was on Renovation Rescue,
which ended up in summer programming, which is the equivalent of the Sargasso
Sea of TV. (That will be one for Sam Neil to solve
later in the year).

Bert Newton is also on Clever, and 20 to 1 and Family
Feud
. Overexposure anyone? And people worried that Ray Martin was on too many programs!!

The Backyard BlitzClever move is a risk for Nine – a risk that didn’t have to be taken. Clever could
have waited, or rather Backyard Blitz could have waited until autumn, it’s timeless and it’s got a high profile with viewers.

The move is really a sign that Nine wants to go flat out in
resisting Seven’s ratings assault and is throwing as much ammunition into the
battle: but what will it have come May and June and then the back half of the
year?

Peter Fray

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