Duke Nukes Top Codes


NFL, NBA, MLS and AFL fans will have to look elsewhere than Duke for their sporting fix.

The TVNZ channel hasn’t renewed deals for these codes but will continue to screen Formula E and WRC this year and next.

“Unfortunately a lot of these sports failed to attract audiences for us,” a spokeswoman says. “Some of this can be attributed to the time of day they broadcast live, others may have proved too niche for our viewers.

“Duke will be looking at what role it can play with some of the larger sports we’ve secured recently – World Rugby Under 20s and RWC Sevens being examples of this.”

And on Tuesday it was announced Duke would air Heineken Champions Cup rugby matches on Saturday and Sunday mornings as part of a deal with Spark.

Despite the axing of the league, gridiron, soccer and basketball coverage, Duke’s transmission hours will remain the same.

I asked TVNZ how it described Duke’s programming philosophy. When the channel launched, it offered a distinctive line-up to the other FTAs, from superhero franchises to James Corden’s late show to alternative sports.

Now it seems to be mostly ’toons, reality and stand-up/panel shows. Is this mix likely to change or is it the way forward for Duke?

“Duke’s commercial demographic has always been males 18-39,” TVNZ replied. “The focus is on providing programming that appeals to and attracts this audience.

“Ratings are one way we access what’s hitting the mark with our demo, social interaction is another.

Taskmaster and NZ Hunter Adventures are two of the channel’s most popular programmes. The Commonwealth Games were also a big success for the channel earlier this year, particularly the broadcast of the Seven competition.”

Duke viewers will have noticed that over the last few weeks that the structure of its primetime schedule has become more conventional, with stripped repeats of popular comedies like The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men and The Simpsons anchoring weeknights.

This is scarcely charting a fresh new course when all three are endlessly looped on TVNZ 2.

At the same time, programmers have more strongly branded each weeknight, with wall-to-wall ‘toons on Mondays, movies on Tuesdays and Fridays, reality on Wednesdays and comedy on Thursdays.

It’s too soon to say if this strategy will help to rebuild viewership. Two years ago a new episode of Family Guy averaged 2.5% of males 18-49 compared to 1.4% last week while a show like The Orville averaged 2.9% — or three to four times the viewership of what now airs on Duke.

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