Last night's third episode of The Block screened for the first time this season without My Kitchen Rules NZ (MKR NZ) diverting viewers to TV One, which could have been its big chance to exclusively engage viewers after a dismal episode two. But its plans were foiled by the leaders' debate.
The Block's ratings stayed at a level similar to the previous night's, a disappointingly low 264,000 viewers aged five and older.
Mediaworks group head of corporate communications Rachel Lorimer says the Leader’s Debate means last night’s ratings don’t give Mediaworks a real picture of how the show performs when it’s not up against MKR.
"With the Leader’s Debate on TV One last night 7-8pm, we’d expect normal viewing patterns to be disrupted, and that is what happened," says Lorimer. "The Leader’s Debate had a 27.7 percent share of the 25-54 demographic, which is a good indicator when it comes to the health of our democracy."
The Block will have to wait until next week to have a night alone with viewers again, without MKR or political duels tempting them over.
MKRhas a strong pull so far, with 122,000 more viewers aged five and older on Wednesday night than The Block. And according to TVNZ corporate affairs manager Megan Richards, MKR contributed to the strongest Wednesday night performance on TV ONE for three years with 27.6 percent share.
That had meant Wednesday's episode two of The Block dived. According to Throng, it was only the second time TV3′s home renovation show had dropped below 300,000, which last happened after the fourth episode of season one in 2012.
Lorimer is upbeat, however. "When you compare the reach first three episodes of 2013 with this year, it’s very much in line with the previous season – which bodes extremely well for the series," she says.
New World has given The Block its vote of confidence however, yesterday announcing it's back on board as a sponsor, integrating itself by having its 'Fresh Experts' featured on the show helping The Block teams to choose the freshest ingredients, and having The Block teams source their ingredients and room-dressing items in person from the central Auckland New World store. In a release, general manager of integration for TV3, Alana O’Neill says the support from sponsors such as New World continues to make great New Zealand television like The Block possible.
But even if the Block doesn't pan out (not that it's giving up yet), MediaWorks has something else up its sleeve to win market share. This week it announced a new agreement with US studio NBCUniversal, securing a raft of its TV shows to be screened exclusively across TV3 and Four both later this year and as part of next year's new season lineup. Programmes include Heroes, Reborn, State of Affairs, and Odyssey.
The deal also includes a first run and library feature package, including Despicable Me 2 and Fast & Furious 6.
MediaWorks TV director of programming, Mark Caulton says in a release: “This deal secures some of the very best new dramas from this year's LA Screenings for TV3 and Four audiences. It is fantastic news for the company, our viewers and our clients.”
MediaWorks will hope that this deal helps it to make up some of the ground it has lost against TVNZ. Last year, TVNZ snatched the rights to screen Aussie soap Home & Away from MediaWorks, and this move has seen TVNZ become more competitive in the 5.30pm slot.
TVNZ's dominance of television viewership in New Zealand was again illustrated in the list of the top 20 most watched shows over the course of 2013, with the network's various shows across TV One and TV2 landing the top 18 spots on the list. Comparatively, The Block, placing 20th, was the only MediaWorks show to appear on the list—a fact that once again reiterates how important the show's success is to the network.