It was lauded widely lauded as a groundbreaking, ambitious drama, and renewed for a second season before it even went to air. But the ratings for the ABC’s Cleverman have been lacklustre.

Last night’s episode had 370,000 national viewers (241,000 metro/129,000 regional viewers). That is close to half the audience for the opening episode of 643,000 national (452,000 metro/191.000 regional viewers). There are two more eps in the story to go.

Even though the ABC does not necessarily look for ratings, there is a limit to the forbearance. Tractor Monkeys and Randling, two panel comedy programs from recent times, were turkeys and were eventually put of out of their misery. Cleverman is different, being a co-production,with an Aboriginal storyline, which does make it hard to sell to mainstream Australian TV audiences, even for the ABC.

Rebecca Heap, the ABC’s head of TV audience and digital, says the ABC was “incredibly proud of Cleverman“.

“It’s an ambitious drama that stands out from the pack. For all of our programs we consider the consolidated performance (rather than overnights) including ABC iview, and the overall impact of the show on our national conversation — which as you know, has been very strong,” she said. “We consider Cleverman to have been been a great performer for us, and we’re looking forward to the remaining two episodes, and then the next season.”

Peter Fray

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