2012 was Channel 9’s best year in a long time (and they needed it to be after the annus horribilis of 2011). A lot of their reality and drama product delivered very strong ratings and they held charge with the number one show for the year – the breakout hit that was The Voice Australia. Their NewsCAFF products improved its position under new leadership, and their newest addition to their morning schedule took up the challenge and beat the reigning champion a couple of times – something even they wouldn’t have predicted. The network even ended the year on an incredible note with what looks to be a done deal over their debt equity issues (all delivered by the boss while still managing to attend the birth of his first child). Is it not surprising the entire network looks to have a skip in its step?
Consequently this year’s report card is better than they’ve received before…
The Voice Australia – Nobody could have predicted it would be as big as it was. Huge doesn’t even cover it. Nearly every episode of the show rated over two million viewers. It lit up social media and the mainstream press and everyone couldn’t get enough of the judges or the contestants. The blockbuster Ch9 have sorely needed.
The Block (S05) – The big surprise for this run around in Melbourne was just how much the houses sold for (and they needed to after the auction failure the year before). The casting was bang on again and everyone had their favourite team and style. Helped Ch9 own 7pm almost exclusively while it aired in early 2012. Here comes another one… BOOM!
Beaconsfield – Shane Jacobsen and Lachy Hulme were dead ringers for Todd Russell and Brant Webb in this telemovie of their survival of the Beaconsfield mine disaster. Haunting, compelling Australian drama.
The Today Show – If longevity on TV counts for anything then surely turning 30 is no mean feat for any program. The tussle at breakfast continued in the healthiest of manners with a few more wins than the year before to the team led by Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson.
Hamish and Andy’s Euro Gap Year/Caravan Of Courage – They learned from their US mistakes and delivered a tighter, funnier series this year. Perhaps it was the Gold Logie Hamish Blake won that gave them the inspiration they sorely needed after season one?
A Current Affair – If we could somehow manage that Tracy Grimshaw interviews someone every night/every other night then ACA would indeed be a must watch program unbeatable in its timeslot. Those moments are too few and far between sadly, yet this year saw the public affairs program win the entire East Coast, forcing a big rethink at Ch7 about how they’ll approach 2013.
Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War – The story of how World Series Cricket came into being on the spiritual home of the modern game was almost a fait accompli that it’d suceed. Casting Lachy Hulme as Packer when Rob Carlton had done such a stellar job in Paper Giants was risky but it paid off in the best way possible – tons of people watched the mini-series. Hulme’s was a stand out performance.
House Husbands – A drama about four mostly stay-at-home dads that involved pathos, challenge and heart? Never gonna work – until it does. The casting is bang on and the House Husbands have endeared themselves to viewers very quickly. Julia Morris & Gary Sweet’s on-screen relationship is a joy to watch (and what an acting find Lady JMo is!).
60 Minutes – Sixty continues to deliver big interviews with noteworthy people and it has done seemingly forever. It can be self-indulgent at times but when it fires you get all the cylinders and then somehow more.
Mornings – Hosts David Campbell and Sonia Kruger share a special chemistry on air that just makes it all work. To unseat Ch7’s unbeaten The Morning Show inside your first year and win a few days is a great start to what will be some very healthy competition in 2013.
Sherlock (S02) – SHERLOCK DIED?!?! Can. Not. Wait. for season three.
The Great Mint Swindle – Cordell Jigsaw dive into scripted drama and did a bloody good job of it.
Big Brother – The risk with Sonia Kruger as host paid off, but the WASPish casting and complete lack of technology supporting the series (no livestreams?! no telco partner?!) saw a PG-rated Big Brother deliver PG-ratings.
Celebrity Apprentice Australia (S02) – The inclusion of the Hoff turned out to be more hindrance than help, and just when you thought you couldn’t get more crazy than Deni Hines – hello Tania Zaetta.
The London 2012 Olympics – It was always going to be tough when most of the finals/medal events happened in the early hours of the morning Australian East Coast time… that’s the challenge when the Olympics are on almost the polar opposite side of the globe. We still love our sport but we prefer it live and not repeated (and with much less Eddie McGuire).
Farmer Wants A Wife – Not every Farmer gets a wife. In fact not every Farmer seemingly wanted a wife.
Tricky Business – It suffered the worst fate of all – poor/misdirected promotion. It was being built to be something else (that looked horrible) and instead was OK – to start with. Rumour has it some of the cast were even trying to get out of it after only a couple of weeks. Ch9 needed some competition to Ch7’s Packed To The Rafters and this wasn’t it. The trickiest of businesses.
Two and a Half Men – The Half-Man was right. Don’t watch the show… it’s crap.
Anger Management – Supposed to reignite Charlie Sheen’s career after very publicly burning out of TaaHM, it’s barely rating a fizzle in Australia.
2 Broke Girls – When the segment before the opening titles has the best gags, you know it’s not gonna end well.
Excess Baggage – A twist on and challenger to Ch10’s Biggest Loser that ended up being the biggest loser itself. Ch9 were forced to run it early and dumped it to GO! after a couple of weeks of lacklustre ratings – just like Loser, thought Ch10 had to hang onto it and they ultimately benefitted with improved ratings toward the end. The casting proved difficult (some stars and other contestants shone) but it was the coaches that were the real find in this wholistic weight loss show.
Underbelly Badness – Underbelly boring.
Jump In – Ch9’s second screen app (iPad only!) really didn’t manage to excite anyone. It was rushed to market at it looks it. Promises it’s being rebuilt for a 2013 relaunch at this point offer little hope in it being considered a credible alternative.
Ch9 absolutely brought their A game and benefited from a few high-profile successes. It’s amazing what a few wins back to back can do for an entire company’s overall positivity.
Overall result: B plus. A marked improvement across the board – now to turn those spikes of interest into a consistent curve. Has made the battle for the number one network in Australia a competition again.