Uh oh. TV executives in charge of UK broadcasters might have decided that everybody doesn’t need good neighbours, actually.
‘Neighbours,’ the beloved and longest-running TV drama series in Australian history, has a deep and rabid cultural connection with its viewing audience in England. But that now appears to be in dire jeopardy, thanks to stalled negotiations between the show and its UK broadcaster.
Since 2008, the series has been airing on UK network Channel 5. Before that, it was a mainstay on the BBC. ‘Neighbours‘ is something of a cultural icon in the UK, and its fanbase is particularly rabid; the show regularly draws in over a million viewers when it first airs in the middle of the working day (a usual TV ratings dead zone) and pulls in even more eyes when the network repeats the day’s episode in prime time. With that said, the show has been experiencing a recent ratings decline which is, in part, fuelling its current woes.
Thanks to the network’s new US-based owners Viacom, talks on a new UK broadcasting rights deal have stalled. UK mag Sunday People cites a “source” who claims that the US owners don’t fully grasp the British audiences’ connection to the show.
“The renegotiation of the Neighbours Channel 5 deal has become very fraught and is in jeopardy. Channel 5 really want to keep the show.But the failure to reach a deal is being blamed on Channel 5’s new American owners Viacom refusing to sign off on the figures and not understanding the cultural importance of the show in the UK. Neighbours has become a British TV favourite and it would be a sad day if it were to go.”
The stalled negotiations between 5/Viacom and show producer FremantleMedia could see the series move channels in the UK, which would be a big blow for Channel 5. But further still, and even more worryingly, there is the possibility that the show could be pulled from UK TV screens altogether, which would be put the future of the series in dire straits.
Network Ten shifted the long-running soap opera to multi-channel Eleven a handful of years ago, and its ratings performance since then is a stark reflection of that. The show struggles severely in the ratings, with metropolitan audiences that routinely fail to break 200,000. This puts the show outside of the top five most-watched shows on multichannels, and well outside of the top 20 overall.
A UK broadcast agreement disappearing would leave a massive hole in the show’s budget. It’s hard to see how a production like ‘Neighbours‘ could survive on the Eleven numbers alone.
Regardless, the show does still remain popular in England, and a new broadcast deal isn’t entirely out of the question at this stage.
But there’s definitely storm clouds gathering over Ramsey Street. And should the worst happen, then what the hell will happen to Toadie? WHAT OF POOR, SAINTLY JARROD “TOADFISH” REBECCHI THEN?