How will TEN and Nine counteract Seven's Olympics programming?
As the Olympics near, Channels Nine and TEN have been unveiling their plans to counteract Seven's sports onslaught.
Channel Nine boss David Gyngell is already on record as conceding that "August is Channel Seven's month." So is there much point in programming tough competition against the games?
TEN network programming manager Peter Andrews was more upbeat, saying, "We acknowledge that the Olympics are going to take some eyeballs, but we will remain competitive during the time. It's two weeks and we intend to have a strong range of first-run programming. It's business as usual from our point of view."
With a demographic that skews younger, TEN might even benefit from non-sports fans keen for alternatives.
"We're certainly able to do a few little stunts here and there to younger viewers that traditionally aren't as glued to the Olympics as the broader audience," he said. "However, our focus is 18 to 49, and we want to try and hold onto as many of those viewers as possible."
"We're going to have new episodes of US Dance, AFL. We'll be doing some Simpsons stunting, Top Model continues in new eps, Burn Notice, Criminal Intent will be first run as well. Rove will continue, Dexter continues.
"Traditionally what happens is viewing returns to normal habits immediately after that two weeks, and certainly viewers are thirsty for their favourite shows. So we'll continue them through that period and then come out even stronger."
Nine meanwhile will replace Two and a Half Men with the sitcom it pulled off air earlier this year, The Big Bang Theory. And it will also bring back another missing drama, Canal Road, three times a week--a tactic designed to "burn off" the remaining six episodes.
But "big shows" will be held off until after the Olympics end.
Leading TEN's final quarter is the locally made crime drama Rush and another season of Australian Idol.
"After two weeks of wall-to-wall sport I think viewers feel a little bit fatigued and thirsting for some big, live entertainment," said Andrews. "So our idea is to basically provide that as soon as the Olympics are over."
TEN is currently teasing viewers with a sneak peek at "some" of the Top 100 in on-air promotions. Andrews is excited by another strong field of wanna-be singers.
"We mix it up a bit in terms of where we go and where we audition, and that turns over some stones of where we can find some talent."
TEN has been successful in programming the audition episodes of the reality juggernaut in back-to-back shows.
"What we have found is that viewers love the auditions, they love the light and shade, the car crashes, the outstanding performers. But what we've really found is they are keen to get into the live performance shows."
Andrews also hinted at some subtle changes to Idol, now back to three judges, just to keep the show refreshed.
"A couple of little things we'll have more from a scheduling point of view. We've got some really exciting developments in terms of that. There'll be some tweaks to the shows as well, that will be noticeable on air."
Nine will follow the Olympics with its own Aussie crime series The Strip, starring Aaron Jeffrey, shot on the Gold Coast. Georgie Parker will appear in a new drama, Scorched. Nine also has new Two and a Half Men, Kitchen Nightmares, The Chopping Block, Domestic Blitz, RPA, and Battlefronts. It will fast-track The Mentalist starring Australia's Simon Baker, and it promises Fringe, Primeval, and Eleventh Hour.
Seven is equally pumped about its slate, including Make Me a Supermodel, Packed to the Rafters, Crash Investigation Australia, Eli Stone, Border Security, Knight Rider, Camp Rock, Prison Break, Heroes, Dancing with the Stars, Find My Family, and Reaper.
As an aggressive Peter Andrews said, "It certainly will be an extremely competitive last three months."