Channel Ten may just have to face up to the fact that there might only be room for two big morning TV shows in the Australian market. Wake Up is simply not getting any traction with its audience numbers.
But here’s one factor I think can’t have helped.
Sydney is much bigger than the beaches it is famed for.
And expecting viewers to watch a bunch of talking heads in front of the ocean while they shove toast down the kids’ throats and try to get ready for work when they’d rather be going to the beach isn’t exactly embracing the mainstream. Maybe it’s part of why Ten’s new breakfast show is failing.
There are more than two million people living in Western Sydney — average families who have bought houses they could afford. According to the 2011 census, there’s around 237,640 people living in the Northern Beaches, one of the most expensive areas in an already horribly-expensive property market.
It is also, according to the census, one of least culturally diverse.
Wake Up — Ten’s new breakfast show — is only just getting going. But so far the numbers have been terrible. Only 52,000 people watched its Monday debut, compared to the 368,000 who watched the market leader Sunrise. 189,000 watched Nine’s today.
And the numbers, for Ten — who has previously struggled with its morning offering — don’t look like they’re getting any better.
The morning shows on the major networks are not niche television. They run general interest stories, and canvass issues which affect the bulk of the population.
That’s not the say Wake Up’s error is in its content. Rather, it is in how it has tried to differentiate itself. Breakfast television is ferociously competitive and tenor and tone are all important. Its personalities form a part of people’s routines, and are often the first source of information they are exposed to on any given morning. Above all, it’s imperative that people are able to relate to them.
This is not to say that Seven or Nine are nailing either when it comes to reflecting general Australian life, but at least they’re in a more neutral environment.
But Ten tried to do something fresh that would steal audience numbers from its rivals. With Wake Up, that was putting the studio in Queenscliff surf club.
We celebrate our beaches because they are beautiful and attract tourists. The ocean also holds a special place in our national identity, though the connotation was formed when Australia was a different country: less diverse and less connected.
But to place a beach — any beach — as a backdrop of a program that’s reaching out to mainstream Australia is dissonant.
Anyone can go to a beach, sure, but those who enjoy them daily are the exception, not the rule.
And its not the physical act of swimming, going for a surf or jog along the sand that is important; rather the idea that this is a mainstream lifestyle.
Who wants to be reminded of what they don’t have first thing in the morning?
Obviously the set is not the only reason Wake Up is off to a poor start. But it can’t have helped.
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