masterchef tv ratings
Masterchef Australia (Image: Ten)

Oh dear, Australian commercial TV’s horror year just got more horrible last night, with new seasons of Ten’s MasterChef Australia and Nine's Lego Masters both slumping into flop territory from the get-go.

For that we can blame COVID -- or this year's absence of lockdown and siege-like conditions. MasterChef's national audience of 853,000 for the season launch was 45% lower than 2020’s 1.56 million, which had been the strongest start to a series for five years. Last night was the worst start for years, failing to even make the national top 10.

Nine’s Lego Masters saw its opening audience slump as well -- from 1.64 million a year ago to 1.11 million last night. The 530,000 loss was a fall of nearly a third. It seems that rather than the 2020 figures representing a comeback for these show formats, they were simply a COVID-driven aberration. The 2021 figures may signal a return to the trend of falling audiences as seen in 2018 and 2019.