It was inevitable, really. Today Channel Ten have announced that The Project (formerly The 7PM Project) will be moved to 6pm weeknights, with an extra edition scheduled for 6pm on Sunday evenings. The Sunday night edition will be a 30 minute program, while the weeknights will retain the hour-long format.
This was ultimately the only scheduling decision Ten could really make regarding The Project without cancelling it. The adjustments that have been made to the early evening timeslots following the reversal of their 2.5 hour evening news experiment meant that the foundation for the schedule had been upset. With 90 minutes of news, it made no sense to schedule a non-news program between the Ten news finishing at 6:30pm and The 7PM Project starting at 7pm, hence the move to 6:30pm for The Project and the running time extension. Now, with Ten needing to schedule a program like The Biggest Loser, something had to be done.
Channel 10 are launching their new-look schedule from Sunday Jan 22 (with The Project/Young Talent Time/Modern Family/New Girl/Homeland), with the new 6PM slotted The Project starting from Jan 23.
The schedule as it now stands
TEN NEWS AT FIVE: 5pm – 6pm Sunday to Friday
THE PROJECT: 6pm Sunday to Friday
(6pm to 7pm Monday-Friday, Sundays 6pm – 6.30pm followed by Young Talent Time)
THE BIGGEST LOSER: 7pm – Monday to Thursday (launching Monday Jan 23)
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An interesting question exists as to what’s going to happen with the scheduling of The Biggest Loser. While that looks comfortable in the Mon-Fri 7pm strip timeslot, what happens when Nine launch the celebrity infused similar series Excess Baggage (expected to launch soon)? That series features ‘celebrities’ Kevin Federline, Christine Anu, Kate DeAraugo, Gabby Millgate, Darryn Lyons, Brant Webb, Ajay Rochester and Robert “Dipper” DiPierdomenico. Following from the success of Celebrity Apprentice, this could be enough to upset the value of The Biggest Loser for Ten.
In the event that both shows launch in the same timeslot and Excess Baggage does perform better, Ten does have an avenue available to them that Nine do not – reduce The Project to half an hour and go half an hour early with The Biggest Loser. While this would not be an ideal scenario for Ten by any means (it impacts on the stability of The Project and schedules some premium content against Neighbours on Eleven), it is available to them.
The scheduling move was necessary to give Tens early evening schedule the stability it sorely needed. The Project continues to be a loyal and valuable performer for Ten and should continue to function well for them with the additional Sunday edition.