Ratings Don’t Spook Faith in Wellington Paranormal

TVNZ 2 has renewed Wellington Paranormal for a second season that will be twice as long as the first, despite a scary decline in the latter’s ratings over six episodes.

NZ On Air is committing nearly $5.1 million to 13 episodes of season two, which will screen next year.

Wellington Paranormal demonstrated that comedy with a very local focus can pull significant mainstream audiences, against strong international content,” NZOA chief executive Jane Wrightson said in a statement.

“It is really pleasing to see people respond positively to content that has such a unique New Zealand flavour.”

Given the talent behind the series — Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi were the creators — it’s not surprising TVNZ and NZOA are keen to build on the strengths of the first season.

But they also would have been troubled by how the overnight ratings eroded after the gang-busting premiere.

Against light US dramas Code Black and NCIS: Los Angeles, the launch of the Out of the Shadows spin-off averaged 5.8% of TVNZ 2’s target audience, 18-49 year-olds, which was up sharply on its lead-in (3.5% for Heartbreak Island) and lead-out (3.5% for The Mick).

It was even more popular in the 25-54 demo (7.2%) and rated strongly among 18-39s (5.3%) and household shoppers with kids (8.8%).

While episode two shed 1-2 rating points in all the core commercial demos, viewership was steady for the next couple of weeks.

But by episode five it was no longer winning its slot outright and the 18-49 rating had dropped to 3.2%, the 25-54 rating to 4.1%, and the 18-39 rating to 2.5%.

The season finale bottomed out at 3.2% of 18-49, 3.8% of 25-54 and 2.3% of 18-39.

It was still competitive, and rating higher than its relatively weak lead-in and lead-out. It’s also possible the show’s consolidated ratings remained strong and it did enjoy an afterlife online, becoming the fifth most-streamed series on TVNZ OnDemand in August.

But if audience fatigue was setting in, you have to wonder if there’s enough flesh on the bones of the paranormal parody to sustain 13 more episodes.

NZOA’s also announced funding for four other projects:

Life is Easy (TVNZ OnDemand) comes from the TVNZ New Blood initiative to support new storytellers. This body-swap comedy/drama series explores ideas of race, privilege and sexuality and is aimed at millennials and bringing more diversity to our screens (the lead characters are an Asian female and a gay male). ($259,831 for eight 15-minute episodes.)

Colonial Combat (Maori TV) will use wrestling to take an alternative look at New Zealand’s colonial past. The innovative, historical comedy series is co-funded with Te Māngai Pāho, and has been supported as a Rautaki Māori series. ($382,500 for 10 10-minute episodes.)

Undertow (Maori TV) is another Rautaki Māori series but with a more traditional grounding in history. It adapts four plays performed and filmed at Te Papa in 2017 that traversed major historical moments in New Zealand, including the New Zealand Wars, the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and our involvement in the two world wars. ($83,500 for eight 26-minute episodes.)

Mystic (TVNZ 2 and HEIHEI) is based on the work of NZ author Stacey Gregg, and is an international co-production with the support of the Screen Production Grant. ($1 million for 13 28-minute episodes.)

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3 Responses to “Ratings Don’t Spook Faith in Wellington Paranormal”

  1. I would have thought that the ratings would have gone up towards the end. I nearly stopped watching it after the first few episodes but it grew on me. Was a great series and I’m glad TVNZ and the taxpayer is doing another series.

  2. Do you think it’s been re-signed on the basis of overseas sales?

  3. International sales are a bonus for any local show but ratings, critical reaction, streaming appeal, building on an established premise and talent relationships would have been the relevant factors.

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