TV3’s Grand Design Comes Unstuck as Rose Loses Bloom

TV3 is relegating low-rating The Americans to late-night and shifting flagship Kiwi drama The Blue Rose back an hour.

From Monday, the former will air 9.30 and the latter, 11.15 (replacing Medium); Grand Designs Australia will take over the 8.30 hour.

The rescheduling isn’t surprising given viewership of the dramas has declined sharply since they were launched nearly three weeks ago.

In the press release, director of programming Mark Caulton says the move is designed to protect the success of The Blue Rose after changes to “the wider Monday night line-up” (meaning TV2’s success with My Kitchen Rules, The Big Bang Theory and Kitchen Nightmares).

The Blue Rose is the stand-out success story of this year’s new local drama and comedy offerings,” he says.

“We believe this move is the best way to ensure the show’s ongoing success, with minimal disruption to viewers.”

The release points out more than 1,362,200 Kiwis have tuned into the widely acclaimed South Pacific Picture production since launch (Nielsen TAM, 5+ cume) and it is TV3’s second biggest video on-demand programme after Home and Away.

TV3 will precede next week’s episode with a 10.30 Saturday repeat of the first two episodes (pre-empting Outrageous Fortune, which will screen 12.35, and NCIS: Los Angeles) and a 10.45 Sunday re-run of episode three.

Having to retool its new-season schedule so soon is a crushing defeat for TV3 and reminiscent of what happened this time last year when it flopped at 8.30 Monday with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Homeland.

But then the network kept its nerve and courageously promoted Homeland to 8.30 to provide a stark alternative to the choices on TV One and TV2.

With so much NZ On Air funding in The Blue Rose, and desperate to turn it into a hit series unique to the network, TV3 clearly felt it couldn’t risk losing more viewers at 8.30 against competition as tough as MKR.

Moreover, 9.30 is the hour when TV3’s traditionally launched Kiwi drama, so it could have a chance to build an audience in a relatively protected slot.

Programming The Americans in primetime was always a brave move.

It’s an excellent drama but one that, alas, is too niche to sustain a free-to-air peak-hour following — along with Justified, The Borgias, Damages and just about every other adult drama that makes subscribing to Sky’s SoHo a must.

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