Best of British Suffer Second-Class Antipodean Fate

TVNZ won’t be airing Coronation Street in HD “in the near future” but daily double-episodes are a possibility.

For the next three weeks at least, starting today, the primetime institution will shift to 5.25pm weekdays, ostensibly so TV One can strip post-7.30 weeknight instalments of MasterChef Australia: The Finals.

It’s a controversial move that many suspect is a strategy for justifying Coro St’s shift to a slot where it can deliver One News a larger lead-in than anything else TV One’s tried while freeing up 7.30pm Tuesdays and Thursdays for more ratings-lucrative fare.

Like any serial, Coro’s ratings vary, depending on the competition and storylines.

Last Tuesday’s episode drew only 7.6% of TV One’s target audience, 25-54 year-olds, whereas Thursday’s rated 8.3%.

These ratings were considerably lower than those for the network’s Monday night double-bill of Border Security (14.4%) and The Force (12.3%) but competitive with Wednesday’s Fair Go (8.9%) and SPCA Rescue (9.2%), and much higher than Friday’s Rugby World Cup analysis (4.4%).

Last night’s first 7.30pm screening of MasterChef Australia rated 9%, so already it’s more popular than either of last week’s Coro St episodes, and its audience will build as the grand finale looms closer.

TVNZ insists it’s yet to make a decision about Coro’s long-term fate. As unlikely as a move back to 7.30pm seems, if permanent it’s surprising the broadcaster didn’t offer Street stalwarts a consolation prize: double-episodes, to help close the 19-month gap between NZ and UK transmissions.

Instead, it’s pairing the serial with re-runs of Kath & Kim.

“But Coro Street moving to an hour remains a distinct possibility in the future should Coro stay in that time zone,” a spokeswoman says.

As for an HD switchover: “It is unlikely that Coro will air in HD in the ‘near’ future.”

In the UK, the upcoming Siege Week special kicked off HD transmissions on 31 May 2010; tonight’s episode first screened on ITV on 23 April 2010.

Meanwhile, jubilation over Prime tonight debuting series two of Downton Abbey only a month after its UK premiere is tempered by it again screening here in SD.

Hopefully, Universal Pictures NZ will be as quick to release it on Blu-ray as it did series one.

If so, it should go on sale before Christmas; if you don’t want to wait that long, or risk it not coming out until early 2012, is taking pre-orders for its November 7 UK release (£26, free shipping to NZ).

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