Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hogg on Seven Sharp

Colin Hogg is a veteran TV reviewer. And his verdict on Seven Sharp will bring TVNZ no comfort whatsoever; Hogg opines:

Where's the bottom? TV One's Seven Sharp must be wondering. Since the new show launched two weeks ago, down and down their ratings have sunk.
And no, there is no light at the end of this tunnel. But hopefully there is a point in the darkness where they can try to clamber at least some way back. It's humiliating and awful and oh so stupid because it need never have happened.
TVNZ, at the top so long, bored with the same view, seemed to become concerned with a new theory of excellence - personal best. After all, when you've been on top forever the only way to measure your success is against yourself.
And, after all, the ratings for Seven Sharp's long-serving predecessor Close Up had slumped. But slumping is nothing compared to what the new show has done. Seven Sharp has plummeted, actually halving its start-up audience.
Next to it Close Up was a runaway smash. And now Seven Sharp's previously unthreatening competition on TV3, Campbell Live, is on the rise - just by sticking to its knitting and delivering passionate and populist journalism.
The show was on form by the end of last week, delivering solid stories to a growing audience hungry for such things as an investigation into supermarket prices.
But at TVNZ, the thinking about what current affairs is and should be has become hopelessly polluted, increasingly trapped in a strange new world where news, entertainment and advertising are meant to be a happy threesome.
Seven Sharp seems to have demonstrated what an unappealing concept that is. By the end of last week the show had adjusted itself from its bitsy beginnings - with longer items, less banter, more of a magazine show full of items that could have run almost any old time.

Colin Hogg's last comment is right on the money in our ever-humble opinion. The 7pm slot is the ideal place for extended coverage of the issues of the day; longer stories than the 6pm news can provide. Thus far, Seven Sharp is not doing that. Instead, Hogg's description of Seven Sharp as a "magazine show" is spot on.

Ratings are important, because they drive advertising revenue. If Seven Sharp's ratings do not improve quickly, and if advertisers vote with their budgets, change is inevitable.

Newstalk ZB can attest to that. When they changed format in 1987 and brought Paul Holmes in to replace Merv Smith ratings plunged, and at one point the former 1ZB was rating only seventh in the Auckland breakfast market. Newstalk ZB hung in and put their faith in Holmes, and the rest is history. TVNZ's dilemma is that Seven Sharp doesn't have a Paul Holmes.

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