Two cents blog

Are we all addicted to speed?

by Paul Cornwell on 25 July 2017

What a ratings bonanza Channel 9’s Australian Ninja Warrior has turned out to be.  In an environment of sliding TV ratings and a generational shift away from free-to-air television this new show has defied all the odds.  It’s attracted male and female viewers in equal proportions (Female – 53% and Male 47%).

It has captured ratings that have to be seen to be believed:

And last night the 2nd semi-final thumped the Masterchef final on Channel 10.  Ninja pulled in 1.54 million viewers whilst the Masterchef final attracted only 1.3million.

But why? What has made Ninja Warrior so successful?

My contention is that it’s possibly about one central theme – speed.

The series only started 16 days ago but finishes with the Grand Final tonight.  That’s only 9 episodes.  The other big franchises like The Block (56 episodes over 13 weeks), Masterchef (63 episodes over 12 weeks), My Kitchen Rules (48 episodes over 13 weeks) & The Voice (18 episodes over 10 weeks) seem to drag out their content over many many weeks and sometimes months.  Yet Ninja has a high speed ‘get in and get out’ approach which appears to be appreciated by viewers.

And each show is actually made up of a series of under 5-minute vignettes of each competitor attempting the course. There’s a quick interview afterwards and then straight on to the next competitor. The cadence of the show is…well…quite brisk.

And because each run of the Ninjas course is timed and competitors can be eliminated if they’re not quick enough, the content is high speed and very dynamic.

Even the back stories are quick.  Shows like The Voice spend quite some telling unravelling a competitor’s background and story, yet Ninja gives it to us much faster.

Then add to the speedy nature of the show some hot bodies, some incredibly impressive athleticism, some star power, a sprinkling of professional athletes, an exciting competition… and it’s a recipe for success.

In an age of short attention spans where consumers’ appetite for online video content doesn’t extend much beyond 8 seconds Ninja seems to have hit a nerve with a similar dose of speed.

Maybe, just maybe, the FTA guys are learning what consumers actually want these days and they’re finally serving it up in the right format.

What do you think? Is the secret ingredient speed?

Paul Cornwell is a Managing Director at BCM

- d. on July 25

perhaps another factor is that viewers are being treated to something they haven't already seen in two thousand identical previous episodes (??) masterchef has been going for more than eight years now. surely enough is enough.

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