Australian Spartan, Channel Seven’s attempt to compete with the success of the Nine Network’s Ninja Warrior, has been shunted off the air after two episodes for failing to secure the ratings required in the ongoing network wars.
After debuting to a disappointing 816,000 viewers on February 25, the Sunday night show paled in comparison to fellow 7pm timeslot occupant, Nine’s Married at First Sight.
Late on Monday night, Seven director of programming Angus Ross issued a statement announcing Spartan would take a two-week break, to return during the Easter non-rating period.
“Despite the best efforts of a great team on both sides of the camera, the show has not done the job it needed to do in its current time slot,” Mr Ross said.
“Australian Spartan will take a two-week break, before finding its new home in the primetime schedule, in line with the kick off of the 2018 AFL season.”
When it was first announced, Spartan was accused of being a blatant ripoff of Ninja Warrior, which set a ratings record in its debut season by pulling an average national audience of 3.087 million.
The similarities were so striking Nine considered suing Seven for stealing its successful concept. The network later confirmed it would not proceed with the legal action.
Based on audience reaction to Spartan, the show was doomed from its first five minutes.
Immediately after Spartan‘s premiere, betting outlet Sportsbet was already offering odds on the show not returning for a second season.
Cannot believe it took that long to make that decision. As an avid channel 7 viewer I just found the concept of Australian Spartan to be so non interesting and certainly not a Sunday night show.
— rustyhawk (@rustyhawk) March 5, 2018
There are like, ten tweets about this show. No one is watching it. #AustralianSpartan
— 🌈Arkady 💥🌷 (@Arkady2009) March 4, 2018
Fans of Seven’s My Kitchen Rules were also furious the reality cooking show had been booted from the Sunday night slot to a Monday to Thursday run in order for Spartan to air (MKR will now return to its usual Sunday spot from March 11).
But seasoned TV writer Scott Ellis has a far simple explanation for Spartan‘s downfall.
“It’s just Married at First Sight,” Ellis told The New Daily.
“You could put a press conference on saying aliens have landed in New York City and if it was at 7pm on Sunday no one would even notice or care because of MAFS.”
Ellis said “no one” was coming close to getting the kind of numbers MAFS is pulling.
“Not even MKR is doing it and they’re the giant killer,” he said.
“The entire Spartan audience in week two (524,000) is roughly the same figure MAFS is getting on top of the audience of its competitors. It’s unbeatable.”
As for whether Spartan‘s failure was a result of poor execution, Ellis insisted it was just a matter of timing.
“It’s a good concept and a good format, it’s just wrong place, wrong time.”
This is the third time Seven has had a show bomb out in the past 12 months – quite literally with water adventure show Cannonball in September 2017 and with the heavily criticised Yummy Mummies in July 2017.
Both were moved from primetime slots when they failed to pull numbers over 500,000 a night and Yummy Mummies was lambasted as “the worst show on TV”.
Inexplicably, the latter was renewed for a second season to air in 2018, but this time on the network’s steaming service, 7Plus.