How to ruin viewer goodwill: the Nine way

Like much of the viewing public, I settled down on Sunday night with an immense packet of biscuits, excited to watch the second part of Nine's terrific Howzat! Kerry Packer's War

(It was also fascinating to follow Jane Caro's tweets, as her father Andrew was the managing director of World Series Cricket. You can see a rundown of the Caro family responses to the show here; to cut a long story short, the producers of Howzat! got it pretty spot on.)

If you have the memory of a goldfish, here's how I felt about part one last week

[I]t's Lachy Hulme's show, and any doubts held about his ability to embody Kerry Packer were swiftly put to rest as the show unfolded. Who knew it were possible to make Packer even remotely sympathetic, but Hulme did it, as poor old Kerry mowed anxiously through Quarter Pounders (in polystyrene boxes [!!!], see my points above) and bottles of Fanta. Crucially, however, the show didn't romanticise the era, particularly its gender politics, or its (anti)hero: all it took was for Packer to demolish Rose's confidence ("You look like a sack of potatoes") and he was straight back to villain status. It's a nuanced performance, and sophisticated writing. 

The finale offered more of the same, tempered a little by too much focus on the fictional Warner character (whose torment at the hands of Packer wasn't really resolved other than to leave my Mum concerned that he was going to off himself). 

The quality of the show was never really in doubt, let's face it. No, the problem I and most people who watched Howzat! had on Sunday night was down to one thing only: HOW MANY BLOODY ADS CAN NINE CRAM INTO A TELEMOVIE?!

I jumped back on Twitter to get a sampling of the commentary that abounded on Sunday: 

And so on. 

I was a little worried that Anthony Hayes (the absence of whose facial hair among the Howzat! cast was noted) might break something, given his ad-rage: 

In other words, or in Kerry's own parlance, there were too many fucken ads. 

Now, long-term readers of this blog will know I've had it in for Nine for some time: they can't be trusted to show series at the same time each week, they commission terrible content, and they don't allow good content to find its footing unless it rates through the roof in its first week. 

Howzat! - particularly in the face of concern that Nine had bought the rights to make a Paper Giants sequel and would stuff it up - was a great opportunity for them to win back some viewer goodwill, by commissioning good content and letting it run free. 

By cramming the two telemovies full of ads (particularly, as Hayes noted, for House Husbands), Nine undid all their good work. 

And just how many ads were there? 

This kind fellow - a self-confessed "internet nerd" has tallied up the number of ads throughout Howzat!, as well as comparing the length of the ad "blocs" to that of the show itself. It'd be sobering reading if we weren't still so infuriated: 

Those numbers again: the shortest bloc of the show was nearly as long as the ad breaks that followed it. 

Now, I've done my Wikipedia research, I know that advertising in Australia - in terms of how long between ad blocs, and how many ads per hour - is pretty much the wild west. If Nine wants to cram its flagship telemovie full of ads then we have to put up with it, more or less. 

But by golly, if Howzat! had reinvigorated anybody's goodwill for Nine, that avalanche of ads came in and washed it away. 

And I don't think I'm the only person who's going to give House Husbands a wide berth out of little more than pure spite. Yes, two can play at that game, Nine. 

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2 comments so far..

  • Beavdog's avatar
    Date and time
    Wednesday 29 Aug 2012 - 10:11 AM
    No wonder everybody just downloads
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  • Yilgahn's avatar
    Date and time
    Wednesday 29 Aug 2012 - 4:40 PM
    Commercial TV stations have been dead men walking for years.

    When classifieds moved onto the the net (Seek, etc) that was the end of the rivers of gold that were keeping newspapers afloat.

    The AFL's decision to bypass the commercial channels and sell directly to the consumers means that commercial TV is about to start losing its life blood, Sport.

    Expect the stories about dwindling market share and revenues that are now so common in print media circles to begin repeating in broadcast land any day now.

    There will still be production houses but the awful dross that fills the airwaves to keep you watching the never ending Harvey Norman ads, dreck like a Current Affair, Today Tonight, The Morning Show et al will all soon be a thing of the past.

    Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of b@stards.
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