Centenary celebrations were expected to dominate TV broadcasts, but so far ratings have proven overwhelmingly disappointing, prompting stations to rethink Anzac related programming.
A number of network bosses have pulled back on their original plans at the 11th hour in response to lagging interest from viewers.
The first indignity began as early as February when the Channel Nine mini-series Gallipoli was eclipsed in the ratings by I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! This prompted The Sydney Morning Herald’s TV Critic Craig Mathieson to write, “This actually is must-see TV, but the public doesn’t appear to be responding.”
Despite heavy promotion, Russell Crowe’s much-hyped WW1 film The Water Diviner was pipped at the post by My Kitchen Rules, which attracted 1,491,000 viewers. The film, partly funded by Kerry Stokes’ Seven Media Group, rated discouragingly below million-mark with capital city audiences.
Audience figures were similarly poor for Sunday Night’s special The Power of Ten, hosted by Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith. The series focused on 10 men awarded VCs in Gallipoli, and was expensively produced, but floundered in response to its rival 60 Minutes.
There has also been talk that the Nine Network has reneged on Karl Stefanovic broadcasting from Gallipoli, sending second-tier hosts.
Another cause for concern is the recent Woolworth’s Gallipoli-themed marketing fail, which prompted such a public outcry that the networks are keen not to repeat what could be perceived as an insensitive approach to such sacrosanct material.