Rove McManus’ prime time variety show Saturday Night Rove has been axed after just two episodes, the same day a TV expert told The New Daily the show was “dead in the water.”
The show premiered with 244,000 metro viewers on August 24 but sank to a dire 138,000 metro viewers for its second outing
“It was clear looking at the numbers that the audience we hoped would find a freewheeling live show on a Saturday night just weren’t there,” McManus, 45, told TV Tonight.
He said he spoke with Ten on Monday, “and we both called it”.
Being on live Australian TV again “was fun, no matter how brief, and I would like to thank my amazing co-stars, the behind the scenes team and everyone at Ten who got behind Saturday Night Rove”.
Earlier in the day the show’s Twitter account shared a photo of McManus with announcer Judith Lucy at work. The host looked cheerful but Lucy’s glum face was “all of us at work today”, said the caption.
— Saturday Night Rove (@SatNightRove) September 2, 2019
A Network 10 spokesperson praised McManus while confirming his show’s axing in a statement to The New Daily on Tuesday morning.
“Unfortunately, Saturday Night Rove hasn’t resonated with viewers the way we had hoped, so Rove and Ten have made the decision to remove it from the schedule.
“Rove is a sensational entertainer and a close friend of Ten, and we thank him for all his hard work, and all the laughs, on Saturday Night Rove,” the spokesperson said.
The variety show was picked up by Ten for a six-episode season at 7.30pm on Saturday after being part of pilot week in 2018.
“In the current format, it’s dead in the water. It’s gone, buried,” TV Blackbox’s Robert McKnight, a former TV producer, predicted to The New Daily on Monday.
While Mr McKnight said “you can never say anyone’s finished”, he said the show and its host – whose last major Australian media gig was a Hit Network radio show with Sam Frost that was axed in 2017 – needed a “big” rebrand.
“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.”
McManus told the Sydney Morning Herald before his show’s debut he wasn’t concerned about ratings.
“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,” he said.
Viewers were brutal about Saturday Night Rove on social media after Saturday’s episode.
“Wow, worse than last week. What an Aussie embarrassment,” said one Twitter user.
“I give this show 1/10,” said another. “What lousy TV. No wonder people subscribe to Netflix,” wrote a third.
A widely promoted skit where McManus lost at handball to former prime minister Kevin Rudd was hated on by the audience.
All hail the king 👑 Thanks to @MrKRudd for coming on @SatNightRove, it was a pleasure having you on. It was less of a pleasure having you destroy me so severely in handball ✋🏻🎾😕 #SaturdayNightRove #RoveVRudd pic.twitter.com/I1h8rF5ug6
— Rove McManus (@Rove) August 31, 2019
“Two C-grade celebrities past their use-by. What a yawn,” one user tweeted.
Adding to the show’s woes was a PR slip up when Ten was caught out misleading viewers in promos for Saturday Night Rove’s second episode.
One tweet used onscreen by Ten said, “Rove! Fantastic to have you back!!!”
The full tweet read, “Rove it’s fantastic to have you back, but you need to listen to your loyal fans and change the format please.”
Ten blamed the mistake on human error.