Aussie TV networks will be relying on big-name celebrities, extravagant costumes, social media buzz and inclusivity this Sunday, as they scrum down for the most fierce reality show battle yet.
Seven’s My Kitchen Rules, Nine’s The Block and Ten’s the Masked Singer go head-to-head in a highly-anticipated clash, not even the Commonwealth Games could delay.
Seven, as the official broadcast partner of the Birmingham games, fast-tracked its third-quarter tent-pole shows’ launch, despite competition still running in the UK.
David Knox, of blog TV Tonight, believes the time difference means there will be minimal impact on the reality ratings anyway.
“Most of the key (Commonwealth Games) medal events are after 8.30pm but Seven can’t afford to let The Block or Masked Singer have a free pass,” he said.
“Spending all that money on Birmingham is principally about launching its next slate of shows.”
Seven’s rebooted MKR is back after a year off. The network will be hoping the rest and refresh will return the once-ratings juggernaut to the heady days of 2010 when it was among the highest-rating programs on Aussie TV. It was a ratings disaster in 2020 with just 498,000 metro viewers on launch and dipping as low as 395,000.
The Masked Singer started slowly with 642,000 metro viewers last year, but built steadily to a peak of 771,000 tuning into the final reveal of US singer Anastacia.
The Block has stayed steady, traditionally demolishing all other programs in its wake, consistently drawing 1.2 million viewers nationally, and in 2021 peaked at 1.5 million metro viewers watching Mitch and Mark take home $644,444 at the auction.
Knox was coy about nominating who would win the reality rumble.
“The Block’s Tree Change refresh is a smart move with a site that looks like nothing it has served up before,” he said.
“It’s a massive property and the houses will be jaw-dropping by the time they are completed.”
He thinks the diversity of The Block’s cast – which this 18th season includes Muslims and Indian-Australians – together with an Acknowledgment of Country at the top of the season will resonate.
While the Nigella factor will definitely draw plenty of eyes.
“For MKR it’s all about Nigella, Nigella, Nigella, who is a fantastic coup even if she isn’t here for the whole season,” Knox said.
“The opening scene at Sydney Opera House is a nice touch and from there it’s Harry Styles music, a down-to-earth first team and definitely no bitchiness.
“Sure, the food isn’t MasterChef quality and it could have added some further format changes, but hopefully the season is half the length it used to be?”
The Masked Singer will have the social media buzz – plus it’s the shortest commitment of the three.
“It’s the one show where messaging friends while it’s on air is really half the fun,” Knox said.
“There’s more spectacular costumes, three new names on the panel and Hughesy bringing absolutely no sense whatsoever to his guesses.”
Knox said it will be quite the test of viewers’ stamina, given the marathon seasons ahead.
“It’s a reality reset for viewers who will be forced to make a decision about which show they can commit to,” he said.
“TV is bulging at the seams with lengthy episodes, multiple nights, and marathon seasons to sell ads and embed product placement.
“No one person can be expected to keep up with it all – thank goodness Gogglebox is back soon for the summaries we’ll need.”
My Kitchen Rules, Sunday, 7pm, Monday-Wednesday, 7.30pm Seven
The Block, Sunday, 7pm, Monday-Wednesday, 7.30pm, Nine
The Masked Singer, Sunday – Tuesday, 7.30pm, Ten
Originally published as MKR, The Block, Masked Singer go head-to-head