Australian Idol reboot on track to be historic flop for Seven

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Channel Seven‘s ambitious move to resuscitate Australian Idol has come up ‘dead on arrival’ with the show on track to become one of the network’s biggest TV flops of all time.

Charged with the task of going up against Married At First Sight and Ten’s Australian Survivor, the Idol reboot has fallen flat in its first two weeks, placing a distant third and sometimes fourth in its prime time slot.

Nine’s reliable MAFS has again led the way, averaging about 810,000 overnight viewers across the five-city metro markets and 1.8million in Total TV figures – factoring in time-shift playback figures and streaming views.

Australian Idol reboot on track to be historic flop for Seven

Charged with the task of going up against Married At First Sight and Ten’s Australian Survivor, the Idol reboot has fallen flat in its first two weeks

Nine's always reliable MAFS is averaging about 850,000 viewers across the five-city metro markets

Nine’s always reliable MAFS is averaging about 850,000 viewers across the five-city metro markets

Australian Survivor is limping into second with about 450,000 metro viewers (around 760,000 Total TV) while Idol – armed with its expensive judging panel and huge production costs – has emerged as a colossal prime-time turkey with a metro viewing average of about 400,000 and a Total TV average of 800,000 viewers.

The figures fall well below Seven’s lofty expectations of the show – the return of which was heralded way back in October 2020 before the pandemic forced its delay.

However production finally kicked into gear in 2022 with Seven announcing its big-name judging lineup led by US crooner Harry Connick Jr, pop singer/songwriter Meghan Trainor and Aussie combo Amy Shark and Kyle Sandilands.

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The show was flagged as Seven’s big prime-time hope of 2023 and bravely pitted against MAFS – a gamble which has failed spectacularly with Seven insiders claiming the internal finger-pointing has already begun.

Harry Connick Jr is rumoured to be picking up 'at least $1million' for his Australian Idol stint according to industry rumours

Harry Connick Jr is rumoured to be picking up ‘at least $1million’ for his Australian Idol stint according to industry rumours

Its dismal ratings have also begun drawing comparisons to some of Australia’s other whopping duds from years past including the demise of Seven’s My Kitchen Rules in 2020, Restaurant Revolution (2015) and Ten’s infamous clanger The Renovators back in 2011.

‘It’s just not resonating with viewers…. proof that throwing money at a format, no matter how reliable it has been in the past, doesn’t always work,’ a network insider told Daily Mail Australia.

‘You could argue it is the lack of chemistry with the judges or that the standard of performances are just not good enough.

‘All of those things could contribute. Either way, two weeks in and it’s a dog.’ 

It’s understood the reboot was a passion project of sorts for Seven’s chief executive James Warburton who declared the show crucial to its core 16-39-year demographic.

Warburton admitted back in November 2022 that the network had ‘big expectations’ for the show after forking out huge dollars for the format after Ten first aired it back in 2005.

Seven boss James Warburton (pictured) admitted back in November 2022 that the network had 'big expectations' for the show

Seven boss James Warburton (pictured) admitted back in November 2022 that the network had ‘big expectations’ for the show

‘Certainly from a publicity point of view and an awareness point of view, we’re going into (quarter one) with the best awareness of a show (Australian Idol) that we’ve ever had,’ he told The Australian.

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‘We have big expectations.’

However Idol began attracting bad publicity even before its debut with some fans objecting to Sandilands’ inclusion on the judging panel given the radio shock jock was fired from the same role by Channel Ten back in 2009.

Sandilands was released from his contract over his involvement in a 2Day FM radio stunt where a 12-year-old girl revealed she had been sexually assaulted.

He incited outrage when he asked the girl ‘Is that the only sexual experience you’ve had?’ during a lie-detector segment on The Kyle and Jackie O Show.

Idol’s new 2023 ‘all-white’ judging panel also drew criticism, with fans and media observers slamming the new line-up’s lack of diversity.

Another major factor working against Seven and Idol, says one media analyst, is Nine’s Australian Open coverage which preceded the debut of MAFS on January 31 and bombarded viewers with enticing promos of the ‘live experiment’ smash hit.

Ten is posting a rare victory over Seven with Australian Survivor consistently beating Idol

Ten is posting a rare victory over Seven with Australian Survivor consistently beating Idol 

‘When Seven had the Australian Open rights they did the same thing with My Kitchen Rules and it rated its head off,’ says prominent media buyer Ian Warner.

‘Nine is now doing that with great success with MAFS.

‘And some people were saying “oh the tennis this year was a ratings fail” but I guarantee Seven would have killed for an 800,000 viewer lead-in (to Idol) that the tennis delivered for Nine.’

Warner also singled out Sandilands’ inclusion on the judging panel, suggesting the polarising radio figure is not necessarily as popular outside of the Sydney media bubble as Seven might perceive.

‘Outside of Sydney does Kyle appeal to other markets? I’m not sure about that,’ he said.

‘And the format, generally speaking, feels tired.’

Asked if Seven was happy with its return on investment in Idol, Seven’s chief content boss Angus Ross was approached by Daily Mail Australia but declined to comment.

However a Seven spokesperson referred Ross’s statement this week claiming 2023 was shaping to be one of Seven’s ‘biggest years yet’.

‘Whether you measure it across the summer or 2023 so far, Seven is the #1 total TV network in Australia and the only network growing its commercial audience shares across total people and all key demographics,’ Ross states.

‘This year is shaping up to be one of our biggest years yet, with massive new shows, the launch of 7Bravo and NBCUniversal content on 7plus, sport that grips the nation, and popular news and public affairs content that will deliver huge audiences across all screens.’

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