The ratings plight of MasterChef: The Professionals is going to make it harder for Ten to improve its financial position this year, according to media buyers.
Last night the show hit a series low with 528,000 metro viewers tuning in live, a quarter of timeslot and genre rival My Kitchen Rules on Seven, and also floundered in the key 16-39 and 18-49 demographics coming twelfth and thirteenth, although the consolidated and time-shifted viewers are expected to bolster the figure.
The new format had been brought in to help springboard Ten into the new ratings year after last year’s disastrous results.
While Nine’s The Block All Stars is also failing to attract the ratings the network had hoped for, after promising 5% audience growth last year, media buyers say they have an ace in the hole with last year's ratings winner The Voice set to return after Easter, to help promote new shows.
Ten will be relying on the original MasterChef, which struggled against The Voice and The Block last year, and a revamped The Biggest Loser to bolster its schedule.
One industry insider, who asked not to be named, told B&T the plight of Ten could now drag on for a lot longer, unless they spend serious marketing dollars promoting new formats in other channels.
They added: “They were really hoping MasterChef would get them off to a good start for the year and it started well. The problem they now have is with all this competition they haven’t got enough people watching their shows to draw bigger audiences to other shows.”
The show has also been compared to ratings flop The Renovators, which failed to spark with viewers largely because “people couldn’t empathise with professional people in that position”.
At its upfront presentation last year Ten’s new programming chief Beverly McGarvey said they would not be chopping and changing the schedule to keep it more consistent for their sales teams and viewers.
However, this policy may stop the network from altering the run of MasterChef, as it did with several underperforming series last year, and put a potentially better performing show in its place.
Another media buyer said Ten was offering “tremendous value for money” on its spots, as it looks to keep advertisers and agencies on board in a difficult period.
“The challenge they have in the short-term is to make any money. They do provide some very cost-efficient audiences here and there, but clients don’t necessarily understand how we buy TV,” they added.
They also likened their situation to the digital channels, which started out with cheap prices to win over advertisers, but have been unable to really raise prices because “the market won’t allow it”.
“It’s going to be a long, long road for them,” they added.
However, the industry is still barracking for Ten to score a hit this year to reign in ever-inflating prices on Seven and Nine.