Here Come the Habibs Again

Yesterday, TV Tonight reported that Channel 9 sitcom Here Come the Habibs, now two-thirds the way through its first series has been renewed:

Nine has renewed its new sitcom Here Come the Habibs! for a second series.

The series launched to 1.25m in overnight metro viewers, although Nine cites almost 3 million nationally including repeats and catch up. Last week the number had settled on 796,000 in overnight viewing.

But the show has also attracted some good reviews and plenty of press, as Nine’s only new hit of 2016. It was a risky move to attempt a commercial TV comedy, but it is one that has paid off.

We don’t normally pay much attention to ratings, but after all that OUTRAGE about Here Come The Habibs before it had even aired, there was a noticeable decline in audience numbers. And it seems the while the OUTRAGE helped (or didn’t hinder) the Habibs to pull a crowd for the first episode (1.25 million according to TV Tonight) since then it’s been all ratings slide…

TV Tonight on the ratings for episode 2:

The Habibs drew 944,000, down by 305,000.

TV Tonight on the ratings for episode 3:

In their third outings, local titles Wanted and Here Come the Habibs have done good business for Seven and Nine respectively -an encouraging sign for local content.

Both dipped slightly, Wanted was down by 23,000 to 899,000 and the Habibs down 48,000 to 896,000, but given their post 8:30 timeslots both have performed well.

TV Tonight gives the ratings for episode 4:

5 City Metro: 800,000

A browse through TV Tonight’s Timeshifted Ratings also shows a significant dip in viewer figures there.

To be fair, even with the declining free-to-air and timeshifted ratings, Here Come The Habibs remains one of the most-watched shows on Tuesday nights, so the renewal does make some sense. But then we read this on The Australian website:

Nine Network’s new hit comedy Here Come the Habibs will return next year.

Here Come the Habibs has paid off for Nine, averaging 1.115 million metropolitan viewers across its four episodes so far this year and has reached 7.593 million Australians in total.

The first episode had a national audience of close to 3 million, including encore and catch-up viewing.

More than 7.5 million Australians reached? WOW! No Australian show ever gets that number.

Hang on…”reached”? What the hell does that mean? And is this like Facebook’s definition of “reached”, which is, roughly speaking, “people who scrolled past your update in their feed as they moved between an update about their friend’s new baby and a LOLZ cat video posted by a former colleague”?

The Australian weren’t the only news outlet to cite the 7.593 million Australians reached figure. Mediaweek also reported it, adding:

The first episode attracted a national audience of almost three million viewers (including encore screenings and catch-up streaming on 9Now). The show has proved to be successful with younger viewers, ranking as the #2 program with People 16-39 for each of its four episodes.

Ah, we understand now. This renewal’s about the youth audience, historically a difficult demographic for Channel 9 to, er, reach. But what does this “reach” mean, again? 7.593 million is presumably the number of views the show’s had over multiple platforms, rather than the number of people who’ve seen the series at least once. Or are Channel 9 seriously claiming that a third of Australians have watched the Habibs at some point in their lives?

While we’re here, is anyone else reminded of the way the ABC used to justify bringing Chris Lilley back for a new series every couple of years, by telling people that it’s not about the ratings, guys, this show appeals to the kids, yeah, and we measure the kids’ interest in a show by different measures, okay?

And speaking of Lilley, is anyone also reminded of the way the ABC used to promote new Chris Lilley series, by fanning the flames of controversy before the show went to air? Presumably, the ABC at its PR worst has been some kind of benchmark for the folk down at Nine when it comes to publicising a new comedy then justifying its renewal after a ratings dive. Your eight cents a day at work, there!

And, like the ABC’s shitter comedies, for all its hype, Here Come the Habibs hasn’t been much of a show. It may have started off as a kinda promising “fish out of water” sitcom, but it’s rapidly turned into a weird mishmash of broad gags, slapstick, set-ups that don’t quite work, and teen soap-style romantic sub-plots. The stats gurus and PR wonks at Channel 9 may think it works with the 16-39 demo, but we’re not convinced. Largely because we’re in the demo, and we haven’t laughed at this program since episode 1.

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2 Comments

  • Billy C says:

    You’re missing the most important point. Drama points.
    It gives them points and okay ratings. Win Win.

  • Bean Is A Carrot says:

    From Mumbrella:

    Nine comedy Here Come The Habibs slumped to just 662,000 metropolitan viewers last night, a result close to half the 1.249m it drew on debut.
    It came on a Tuesday night when My Kitchen Rules dominated with an audience of 1.513m, and the final two episodes of the Rebecca Gibney drama Wanted drew 872,000 and 764,000, respectively, in the 9:00pm and 10:00pm time slot.
    Despite five weeks of consecutive declines, The Habibs remains one of the most time-shifted shows – with last week’s result of 764,000 viewers picking up another 137,000 over the past seven days for a result of 934,000.