Naughty versus nice in the ratings stakes
They’re glamorous and popular, but that doesn’t necessarily make TV stars a bankable product every time, writes Colin Vickery
NICE guys finish first. That is what the latest bunch of celebrity popularity surveys would have you believe, anyway. According to the justreleased Encore Score, Hugh Jackman is Australia’s most popular personality and Packed to the Rafters star Rebecca Gibney is a close second.
Michael Caton, Adam Hills, Eric Bana, Magda Szubanski, Olivia Newton-John, Geoffrey Rush, Simon Baker and John Clarke round out the Top 10.
Australia’s most disliked list is headed by radio shock jock and Australia’s Got Talent judge Kyle Sandilands.
Matthew Newton, Sam Newman, Ben Cousins, Brynne Edelsten, Pauline Hanson, Brendan Fevola, Alan Jones, Deni Hines and Alex Perry complete the rogues’ gallery.
The Encore list is similar to the most recent publicly available Q Score results.
That survey was headed by comedian and Gold Logie winner Hamish Blake (Jackman wasn’t included in the survey).
Gibney, Caton, Hills and Szubanski all figured prominently along with Andrew Denton.
Newman, Eddie McGuire, Daryl Somers and Matthew Johns topped the negative list.
Here’s the rub.
Some of our most popular stars have fronted big TV duds and many of our most disliked stars are critical to the success of ratings hits.
‘‘ In the past we have seen people in the Most Popular Top 10 but that hasn’t translated into ratings,’’ a TV executive says.
‘‘ People can be very popular within an ensemble show but take them out of that context and they won’t rate. Often stars are popular because of the character they play. I’ve been involved in research where viewers know the name of the character but don’t know the name of the actor.
‘‘ Would Rebecca Gibney be as popular if she wasn’t playing Julie Rafter in Packed to the Rafters? I don’t know.’’
Hills was massive, alongside Myf Warhurst and Alan Brough, on Spicks and Specks but couldn’t buy a viewer for his Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight chat show.
Szubanski was a hit playing Sharon Strzelecki in Kath and Kim but bombed when she went solo to host Nine video clip show The Spearman Experiment. Denton’s Randling is one of 2012’s biggest disappointments.
Newman is crucial to the ongoing ratings success of The Footy Show and Hanson has been a ratings wildcard — instrumental in bringing viewers to Dancing with the Stars and Celebrity Apprentice Australia.
The truth is that celebrities who are controversial and divide viewer opinion can make compelling TV.
Sandilands’ manager labelled the Encore results ‘‘ a massive load of s---’’.
‘‘ Kyle is the most listenedto radio presenter in the country and stars on one of the biggest TV shows,’’ Andrew Hawkins says.
Ten CEO James Warburton thinks so much of Q Score research that he recently signed its creator, TV researcher David Castran, to an exclusive agreement to help advise on programming.
Castran says ratings analysis tells you who is watching a show, Q Scores tell you why.
His move to Ten comes after a string of Ten flops including The Renovators, Young Talent Time and Breakfast, fronted by Brendan Moar, Rob Mills and Paul Henry respectively. Castran will be part of Ten’s new creative development unit.
‘‘ He joins the team at a time when we are undertaking a creative renewal of our content,’’ Warburton says.
Warburton recently poached popular Packed to the Rafters star Hugh Sheridan from rival Seven to host I Will Survive.
Warburton only needs to look at The Voice to realise that signing Sheridan won’t guarantee the success of Ten’s new talent show.
Host Darren McMullen is the least important element in The Voice.
The show’s massive popularity is a mix of an original format, big-name coaches and impressive talent.
No Encore Score or Q Score can predict the power of spinning chairs or the popularity of contestants Karise Eden or Rachael Leahcar, who were unknowns two months ago.
Delta Goodrem has polled well in the Q Scores in the past but who could have predicted the impact Keith Urban or overseas artists Seal and Joel Madden would have on Aussie TV viewers?
‘‘ The success of The Voice is a combination of many things,’’ the TV executive says.
‘‘ Research (Encore Score and Q Scores) is a tool. You shouldn’t take it as gospel.’’