Just like more than 2 million other viewers each night I've been keenly tuned into The Voice. Yes it is another reality TV show and yes it is another singing one, but it is fresh and different and capturing the nation. But, is it really?
I have been swept up with everyone else, tweeting like a maniac, crying at the talent, getting goosebumps during the first battle rounds, all with rose coloured glasses planted firmly on my nose.
But like all good rose coloured glasses, they eventually slip down the bridge of the nose and let some "real" light in. I think mine may have slipped last night.
I still love the show. I love the judges. I love the judges. I love the judges. Oh, did I say that already? Well aside from loving the judges I think the format is fresh and new and works well. Those battle rounds are amazing and really force the contestants to put their all into the song. It is superb to watch.
What doesn't work for me, and I hazard a guess to say I'm not the only one, is the way in which the show is drawn out. It is far too long. The average person doesn't have a spare two hours plus each night to sit and watch television. We have lives, kids, work and it is a school night! I would have thought the television networks would have worked this out by now. Channel 9, in particular, are showing back to back reality television - this is over three hours each night.
I find these shows always seem start up with a frenzy of new and excited viewers, hoping for something different and then they serve up the same old, same old just dressed in a different sauce. A chop is a chop is a chop, no matter whether you crumb, fry or stew it!
I know television stations need to make money, hence commercials. But I also know commercial television stations need viewers, hence ratings. Sadly it feels like television stations care more about the money than the viewer. Which shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone.
With all that in mind, I write the following open letter to Commercial Television Stations.
Dear Station Owner, Manager and Program Director
I am sure I speak for 99% of Australians in this letter. If you want Australian audiences to embrace your new reality television shows, some which are quite good and entertaining, we would appreciate you keeping the following in mind:
- We don't want, nor like, extended ad breaks. We don't watch them. Your advertising clients don't get any more value for the inflated amount they pay to advertise during these shows. In fact they probably get less. Because the show is so long, we are busy trying to catch up with other things, and tend to leave the room during ad breaks.
- Have you heard of the concept of "always leave people wanting more"? No, I didn't think so. Let me explain. It is human nature to crave something we can't have right now. For example, think about that chocolate brownie you saw yesterday at the shop. You didn't buy it and now you can't get it out of your mind. Had you bought it and eaten it, chances are you wouldn't be obsessing over it today. Same with television shows. Stop the show before we've had enough. Don't let us get to the point where we just want it to be over so we can go to bed. This happened to me last night. Tonight - meh - I'm not that interested in watching The Voice. Had you stopped the show after 1 hour, I'd be dying for it to be on tonight because I wouldn't have quite had enough of it last night. An hour is not nearly enough time to watch the judges, er I mean, contestants. Leave us craving more.
- We all know all about hooks. You need to build it up before the break, give a summary, give a preview, get the hook in to hold the viewers over through the break to watch the next segment. Then, just in case you have picked up some new viewers, you need to recap what they have missed. I get this, and believe most of us do. For a compromise, perhaps you could cut this down to a few seconds rather than a good portion of that segment. I can watch a 90 minute reality television show in half an hour if I've pre recorded it. That's a lot of advertising and hooks and not a lot of actual content.
Your audiences are smart and discerning people, please treat us this way. Commercial television is no longer the only option we have, but many of us want to like it. We want to support locally produced entertainment, but gee you make it so hard for us.
Make us crave you. Not loathe you.
Your Australian Television Audience.
What do you think? Is commercial television losing us?