Rove McManus’ latest TV foray is in dire trouble, with Saturday Night Rove pulling in just 138,000 viewers for its second episode, sparking warnings it is “dead in the water”.
The dire second week ratings for Ten’s prime-time variety show were a sharp plunge from the 244,000 metro viewers it drew for its August 24 debut.
“In the current format, it’s dead in the water. It’s gone, buried,” TV Blackbox’s Robert McKnight, a former TV producer, told The New Daily.
“Getting viewers to watch a show once is hard enough, but when you disappoint them it’s nearly impossible to win them back.”
— Saturday Night Rove (@SatNightRove) August 31, 2019
As for whether this spells the end of McManus’s career – his last major Australian media gig was a Hit Network radio show with Sam Frost that was axed suddenly in 2017 – “you can never say anyone’s finished, but there needs to be a big rebrand,” Mr McKnight said.
“What he was doing 10 years ago hasn’t evolved. They’ve gone for a bit edgy but it’s not the right kind of edge. The skits are too long. The supporting cast isn’t as funny as they should be.
“It’s just not compelling TV.”
Ten ignored repeated requests from The New Daily for comment on the show’s future and to speak directly with McManus, 45.
He looked chipper in a tweet with Saturday Night Rove’s Judith Lucy:
— Saturday Night Rove (@SatNightRove) September 2, 2019
“People are disappointed but the silver lining is this proves Ten is willing to roll the dice and have a crack at something different,” a commercial TV source told The New Daily.
“They’re pushing the envelope and I think they’ll keep doing that. They knew it was a risk going in, so well done them for trying something new.”
McManus told the Sydney Morning Herald on August 18 Saturday Night Rove, which screens at 7.30pm, would be about disruption.
“We are the televisual equivalent of a bit of toast and then the Vegemite is smeared across the bit of wood and then the butter is there but you have to churn it yourself.”
The show was commissioned for last year’s Pilot Week on Ten, then was one of four shows chosen for a programming slot in 2019.
Ratings for the initial six-episode run wouldn’t matter, McManus said: “It’s about are you proud of the show you put to air and if you overthink anything else, it’s a detriment to what you’re trying to achieve.”
Asked if the network will cut its losses and pull the show immediately rather than wait out its planned six-week run, Mr McKnight said Ten will “let it run its course, then they’ll move on”.
Viewers took to social media to savage the show on Saturday. “Wow, worse than last week. What an Aussie embarrassment,” said one Twitter user.
“I give this show 1/10,” said another. “This show can’t be long for this world,” added a third.
I tried watching this for the last two weeks and my eyes hurt and ears are bleeding. While I loved Rove back in the day, this show is shocking. Maybe I have grown up and more mature now…. or this is just S&*T tv. I think the later. #SaturdayNightRove
— ossie (@OssieOssie1976) September 1, 2019
Sorry Rove, I tried, I watched, I won’t again. Just not entertaining!! #SaturdayNightRove
— Leanne Wilson (@Leanne581) August 31, 2019
But others thought the show was “fun, exciting” and that McManus “got his rhythm back”.
One tweeted that The Project took time to find its feet and audiences should give the show a chance.
The big problem with Saturday Night Rove is “the show doesn’t know what it is at the moment”, Mr McKnight said.
“Ten says it’s family friendly but they’re talking about masturbation, using the word s–t. Is it an adult show or a family show? There’s a lack of clarity about what it is.”
— Saturday Night Rove (@SatNightRove) August 30, 2019
Adding to the show’s woes is Ten was caught out misleading viewers in promos for the second episode of Saturday Night Rove, as pointed out by TV Blackbox.
The network used tweets that were taken out of context or heavily edited.
One used onscreen by Ten’s promo said, “Rove! Fantastic to have you back!!!”
The full tweet, by user @TdWhiteWhite, actually read: “Rove it’s fantastic to have you back, but you need to listen to your loyal fans and change the format please.”
“Amazing … funny”, is how one tweet appeared on the promo graphic.
The full tweet said, “Soo I kinda liked it, it’s not amazing but it’s funny and can we get some musical performances please?”
Ten blamed the mistake on human error.