It was the year they almost did it. Nine have been surging through 2013 with some big programming results and their NewsCAFF product has more than become competitive again, regularly winning in SYD & MEL and taking it to the line in BNE. They’ve purchased ADL & PER from WIN so that now the Network is truly national for the first time (ahead of the company’s launch on the stock exchange before Christmas). All this on top of the sad loss earlier this year of Peter Harvey, one of Nine’s more iconic journalists. Nine are doing their darndest to take it to Seven and while that worked for a fair chunk of the year they also had their share of missteps too.
Another year that their report card is one they can be proud of…
The Voice Australia – It returned and more than did its job for Nine again this year. A massive result again where this time the judges became as important as the contestants: Seal continued to bring the crazy, Delta occasionally opted for clothes, Joel may have been outed as a casual drug user (IKR?!) and Ricky was the gun charmer. All they were missing was Timmy the dog. Congratulations to Harrison Craig.
The Block (All Stars & S06) – A risk in that two series of the reality renovation show could have pushed the market into the same kind of fatigue the contestants usually feel after the first week, but somehow we were all engaged as past teams renovated four houses in Bondi and then as five teams renovated an old multi-storey hotel in South Melbourne. Again 7pm was Nine’s while The Block ran thanks to the program being stripped across the week.
Big Brother – Nine’s second season and they cast it perfectly – Tim stole the show almost from day 1 and was only really temporarily threatened by the kind-hearted Ben. While some of the tasks were dull and Tully cried WAY too much it still showed the franchise has legs. An excellent run in the latter half of the year for the series (even if the twist was a bit forced).
The Great Australian Bake Off – A surprise hit for Nine in the wake of the semi-demise of MasterChef – a cooking show that was pretty much just about the cooking. Dan Lepard & Kerry Vincent divine as the judges with the highest standards yet personalities that made them entirely endearing. All it missed was a drill sergeant pacing demanding the contestants “Bake, dammit – BAKE!”.
Hamish and Andy’s Gap Year Asia – They won’t run out of countries to visit for some time, so expect more shenanigans in 2014. They’ve refined their TV schtick now so much it’s everything we expect and people still love it.
A Current Affair – While maintaining the rage against shonky tradesmen and love rats it lifted against Today Tonight and took the lead in a way that has their opposition rethinking their entire 6-7pm line up. Job. Done.
House Husbands – New Aussie drama that improved week on week, drawing in the viewers and reminding us that no one is better at telling our stories than ourselves.
60 Minutes – It was challenged in the latter half of the year as Sunday Night went head to head with it, yet still manages to be the go-to long form current affairs program for the big/famous/important interviews.
Mornings – It’s straight out fun. The chemistry between David Campbell and Sonia Kruger is now cemented, and the fill-in hosts while Kruger was on BB duty were perfect (how good was Jane Kennedy?!). Nothing too serious and that’s the way a morning program should be.
The Ashes (English Series) – Stellar move by Nine to run the English Ashes series on GEM in HD. It meant the highest ever multi-channel figures were recorded and it proved people will watch sport in HD when presented it, no matter when it’s on (being live helped). More in 2014, please.
The Today Show – It’s gain on Sunrise has slipped away and public knowledge of behind the scenes turmoil is never going to help. They let the badly mis-handled Mel-to-Sam changeover on Sunrise go past without so much as a ratings blip. EP Neil Breen didn’t survive e the 2013 ratings year.
Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch Story – The casting was perfect, and the script more than reasonable. So why didn’t it rate better? Are we over Packer-driven drama? Patrick Brammall was a stand out as Rupert Murdoch, as was Luke Ford as a young Kerry Packer. Perhaps it was simply a case of one too many?
Australia’s Got Talent – Despite the best efforts of the amazing Julia Morris as host securing AGT from Seven’s dumpster and resuscitating it was never going to make it a smash hit. Additionally scheduling it to run against The X Factor was never going to help (but then crying about the scheduling in the media was never going to help either). A worthy winner in Uncle Jed though that was more luck than anything else.
Arrow – “America’s Newest Hero” started with great numbers but then when everyone realised he basically had two tricks up his sleeve (shooting those tennis balls with an arrow and the climbing chin-up thing) it just got tired.
The Following – The story dragged and it bounced around in Nine’s schedule too much. How did they expect for it to get a following?
The Big Bang Theory – There’s only so many times you can see nine or ten episodes (all repeats) in the weekly line up and expect to be pleased about it. While they still rate well(!) it’s unimaginative and treats the audience with contempt.
The Bible – In the beginning it was a little bit interesting and then the ratings came in and proved Australia is not middle America.
Super Fun Night – It’s still on, so I guess that’s a thing.
Jump In – Late in the year it transformed from being a second-rate social engagement tool to being a second-rate catch-up portal as well. At least there’s signs it will improve.
Celebrity Apprentice Australia (S03) – Can you remember who won (It was Stephanie Rice). Can you remember who else was on it (There’s a list, but it’s just depressing).
Underbelly: Squizzy – It was better than 2012’s Badness but barely. Why did we care about this puny turn of the twentieth century gangster? Short answer is we didn’t.
Parade’s End – It had the makings of a bodice-ripper yet it managed to be the most bland and boring series the UK has produced in some time (and that’s saying something from the home of period drama). Not even Benedict Cumberbatch could save it.
2 Broke Girls – They are still on air. Chuck Lorre has a lot to answer for.
The Taste – The reality cooking show that never was. It was going to be the next big thing but it never eventuated. Will it reappear in 2014? Probably.
Return to Eden – Dumped, and probably for the best.
Overall result: B plus. More wins than losses for Nine in a year that needed them to deliver. They’re still in there, doing their best. Can they push it over the top in 2014? Time and a successful float on the stock exchange will indeed tell.