Last dance for Idol and Stars?

A major question mark is hanging over the future of two of TVNZ’s top prime-time performers – NZ Idol and Dancing With the Stars – with the network yet to commit to either show beyond this year.

While both shows are ratings winners, they require a huge financial commitment from TVNZ, already under significant pressure to cut production costs.

The axe has already fallen on one of television’s most popular cooking shows, Taste NZ, and rumours are rife Mucking In, another primetime favourite, could soon follow.

Adding to speculation over a future series of NZ Idol and Dancing with the Stars is a $20 million-a-year increase in the cost of TVNZ’s international programming deals at a time when the network is also facing falling advertising revenue.

TVNZ confirmed that, despite excellent ratings this year, it had made no decision about commissioning another season of NZ Idol or Dancing with the Stars. The network has an option with South Pacific Pictures for a fourth season of Idol but said it needed to evaluate the success of the current series before making any decisions.

Ratings were not the only consideration. “Our post-analysis includes a wide range of factors and differs according to programme genre and timeslot. Factors would include ratings, commercial yield, charter delivery and audience qualitative analysis,” a TVNZ spokesman said.

While no decisions had been made about Dancing with the Stars, TVNZ said it was in discussions with the BBC about another series – with a decision possible before Christmas.

Around 1.2 million Kiwis over the age of five tuned into Dancing with the Stars during its grand finale this year, won by former beauty queen Lorraine Downes and dancing partner Aaron Gilmore. Audiences averaged 800,000 viewers per episode, compared with around 740,000 last year.

The show’s original concept is licensed from the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, which led to US and Australian versions, also called Dancing with the Stars.

Martin Gillman, chief executive of media planning and buying agency Total Media said he would not be surprised if TVNZ canned both shows. The main issue was the huge production costs, he said. NZ Idol’s credibility was also an issue with none of the previous winners going on to have a career in the industry.

Idol, in particular, was costly to stage and, with ratings down this year on previous seasons, there was a strong rationale behind not taking up the option of another season.

“It is incredibly expensive and they are getting a diminishing return from it as well,” Gillman said.

There were similar issues with Dancing with the Stars but TVNZ may look at cutting costs with a “version” of the show, much like TV3 did with So You Think You Can Dance. Co-host Candy Lane said she hoped TVNZ would go ahead with another season.

South Pacific Pictures managing director Jane Millichip told the Herald on Sunday that, if TVNZ decided not to go ahead with another series of NZ Idol, it was at liberty offer the series to another network.

“NZ Idol is an expensive show, and represents a major commitment for any network, but it is also a television event like no other. Few TV shows have the ability to engage and galvanise the nation in this way,” Millichip said.

“Idol delivers huge value in terms of entertainment, ratings, sponsorship and advertising. We are very hopeful of a fourth series in 2007. ”

TV3 director of programming Kelly Martin said it would not be interested in acquiring either show.

(By Stephen Cook)

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About the author

Kyle Wadsworth

Kyle Wadsworth is a trained multimedia journalist with a passion for film and television - notably Westside and Outrageous Fortune! Also known as TuiKiwi (the name of which has also featured on Outrageous Fortune as a guest-starring beer brand).
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  • Wat tha !

    I cant understand TVNZ and their way of thinking why is it music and entertainment that get the chop, ratings from both DWTS and NZIdol are awesome and are much higher than the other shows waiting in the wings to get the chop. Sure there are some perrameters with NZ Idol should be looked at. Have it once every two years, the record company connected to Idol needs to work closer with the winners rather than lock them them up into a contract which leaves little for the performer to create…..
    Dancing with the stars is a great show.Whats great, the music, the dancing and the charity’s. In our house we really are impressed with each celebrity out of their comfert zone and giving it all they can,watching them get better and better each week shows our house they are real people and if they can do it so can we,

    PS. Please excuse my bad grammer and spelling

  • Tia.

    The best thing tvnz could ever do is to cancel that crap nz idol, its the worst idol on the whole planet, when are the morons who enter that crap show ever gonna learn they cant sing and lord the majority of them are so UGLY. American Idol they are no where near in looks or talent, and at least they get to have real super stars on their show NOT wannabes like here.
    And what happens to nz idols when they win anyway do they get recording contracts, do they win grammys i dont think so, do we ever hear of them once they win HELL NO, i am so glad we dont have to watch that rubbish this year, and as for that domonique ryan seacrest wannabe what a joke him and those stupid judges are, the one and only person who got idol right with the comments he made was SIR HOWARD MORRISON.

  • MrCynical

    Stem the tide of reality tv!