Australian soap Neighbours has been running on television for 36 years, but will likely end production in June. The show is in a unique position - local viewership is practically non-existent (the most recent episode on Thursday night saw just 115,000 people watching) with the show staying in production for the UK market where viewership was strong.
UK broadcaster Channel 5 were fronting most of the budget for Neighbours, airing it five nights a week across the UK. But with viewership declining, the ViacomCBS-owned Channel 5 has decided Neighbours doesn't make economic sense anymore for them.
A Channel 5 spokesperson:
“Neighbours will no longer air on Channel 5 beyond this summer,” said a spokesperson. “We recognise that there will be disappointment about this decision, however our current focus is on increasing our investment in original UK drama, which has strong appeal for our viewers.”
Channel 5 will double its spending on local UK drama. It recently had a monster-sized hit with the reboot of All Creatures Great and Small and it makes far more sense to chase shows like that.
Keeping the show in production benefits local Aussie broadcaster Network 10 as it has helped the ViacomCBS-owned network meet its Australian drama quota required to keep its broadcast licence. Ratings-wise, however, 10 could just drop in a repeat of The Big Bang Theory and not notice the difference.
What is the future for Neighbours? Real talk: it is bleak. Production company Fremantle Media wants the show to stay in production and they will now be searching for a new partner. But one would have to think that the number of possible outlets is limited. If the show is to continue on in its current form as a 5-nights-a-week daily soap, who would buy it in the UK? Channel 5 is clearly not an option. The BBC used to air the show until 2008 (when Channel 5 took the broadcast rights from the BBC in a £300m deal), but considering the financial and political pressures on the BBC, it seems unlikely it has the money or will to spend on a foreign TV show. That mostly just leaves ITV.
And you can rule out a streaming service. Daily soaps simply don't work on streamers. This was proven a decade ago when All My Children and One Life To Live were cancelled and found a new home on Hulu. The on-demand nature of streaming killed the show. Watch a soap on broadcast TV and if you miss an episode it is okay - you just watch the next night and continue on. Can't watch a new episode of a soap on streaming and you are inclined to watch that episode before the next one. But miss it for a few nights and episodes build up to the point where it is too much work to watch, so viewers just don't.
If Neighbours is to continue on (unlikely), my bet would be that the show is drastically reconfigured into a weekly hour-long drama. The market only has so much of an appetite for shows like that, which would dramatically also reduce the number of weeks the show would run for each year. That has the potential to open up the number of possible networks who might buy the show. But that sounds far less profitable than the cash cow it has historically been for Fremantle.
Right now it looks like Neighbours is facing the end of the road, or, well, at least the end of the cul-de-sac.
10 years of Netflix originals
Feb 6 marked the 10-year anniversary of your favorite show and mine, Lilyhammer. It was the first Netflix original series and to mark its anniversary. Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos blogged about it. On the initial meeting with Steve Van Zandt:
I remember that Stevie was a much better actor and musician than he was a salesman; he would humbly describe the show as “different, odd, quirky, sometimes it’s in English and sometimes it has subtitles…” almost like he was trying to talk me out of it.
It seems fitting that the first show Netflix invested money in was a foreign-made drama when you consider where the company has gone since with its programming.
We agreed to buy it and commission a second season, not knowing that Norwegian TV shows mostly only ran for one season and usually took long hiatuses between seasons if they did return. We worked out a deal.
- Netflix has ordered 10 episodes of the upcoming Goosebumps TV show. Read: Variety
- The Boondocks revival series will not be going ahead at HBO Max. Read: Dark Horizons
- Denis Leary is joining the cast of Law & Order: Organized Crime in a recurring role. Read: TV Insider
- The L Word: Generation Q has been greenlit for a third season. Read: THR
- Euphoria has been greenit for a third season. Read: THR
- Limited series Chapelwaite is now an ongoing with Epix greenlighting a second season. Read: Collider
- The Game of Thrones studio tour has now launched in Northern Ireland. Read: Variety
- Grand Theft Auto 6 is in active development, which in turn means I will be farewelling family and friends for a few months at some point in the future. Ciao. Read: Polygon
- Cast are in final negotiations for the Criminal Minds revival series. Read: Deadline
Clark is coming soon to Netflix
March 11 is when you can watch the debut of the Samuel L Jackson Apple TV+ show The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey.
Worst Roommate Ever debuts on Netflix March 1. It is less funny than the title suggests.
That's it for today. May your week prove to be better than the last.