Nothing Trivial about the fate of local TV

21:51, Nov 27 2013

Well, this news sucks: TVNZ have announced that Nothing Trivial has been cancelled and will not be returning in 2014. "We absolutely love Nothing Trivial and are really disappointed people didn't come to it this year," TVNZ said in a statement shared at Throng, "but we have to follow the lead of our audience. If they're walking away from a show in significant numbers we have to pay attention."

The announcement is disappointing, especially considering that it came with two episodes still to air (next week is the season finale) and considering the third series apparently ends on some kind of cliffhanger, if social media chatter among the cast and crew is to be believed.

But it isn't entirely surprising. The show has rated badly in 2013, averaging 258,000-ish viewers (5+ overnight) per week - a massive drop from the 412,000-ish the show averaged last year. And suggestions that it has suffered without the strong lead-in of New Zealand's Got Talent are wrong too: analysis proves that Aussie drama A Place To Call Home is averaging more viewers with a weaker lead-in than Nothing Trivial did in 2012 with the near-million viewers NZGT provided.

In that context, it's hard to blame TVNZ for making such a decision.

For myself, I'm actually more concerned for local scripted drama and comedy in general. Nothing Trivial is just the latest local scripted show to be cancelled this year: Go Girls, The Almighty Johnsons, The Blue Rose, Harry, The Radio and Sunny Skies have all been given the chop. Those last four shows were all brand new this year.

Furthermore, according to this story, New Zealand On Air are "concerned about the challenges facing dramas", with an NZ On Air rep stating that they were examining the various trends around consumption of drama, and will be talking to local networks when that process is complete. I'd be concerned if I were them, too.


There are a few returning shows - Agent Anna rated well for TV One, Auckland Daze is back for a second season next week, and Shortland Street is a stalwart at 7pm (albeit not funded by NZ On Air). There are a few new shows, too: Christchurch earthquake drama Hope & Wire joins the TV3 lineup, The Down Low Concept are back with a new comedy in Cover Band, TV2 are taking a chance on dramedy Step Dave, and Prime are co-producing Anzac Girls.

But that's only seven shows, the same number of shows that have been cancelled already this year. And certainly, as a fan of local television - heck, of television in general - it concerns me that viewers are staying away from local shows. The only way to ensure that our local television industry grows is by supporting the shows that are currently in production. It would be different if we were avoiding bad shows, but we're not; the shows being cancelled are genuinely entertaining, well-made and original productions from an industry that has been strong and vibrant for a number of years now.

If you are interested in trying to get Nothing Trivial back, there is a campaign under way - you can check out the Facebook page for details. But without the support of viewers, these campaigns are doomed to fail. The only way to grow the local television industry is to support it. And that responsibility is on us.

Were you saddened by the cancellation of Nothing Trivial? Are you worried about the future of local scripted shows?

One trend that NZ On Air will be looking into is the growth of the web series - to try and help with development in that area, Script To Screen are partnering with Ngā Aho Whakaari to run the 2013 Hokianga Filmmakers Workshop, focusing on the creative possibilities offered by the format, which is being held on Sunday 8 December.

The workshop will be led by Auckland Daze creators Kerry Warkia and Kiel McNaughton, and is open to anyone, from beginners to experienced filmmakers - and in true Kiwi style, it's free if you bring a plate. Full details on how to register are available here; make sure you check it out if you're in the area, as it promises to be a whole lot of fun.

Make sure you like On the Box on Facebook and add Chris on Twitter.
Or, feel free to
 email Chris with any questions or ideas.
This is a spoiler-free blog - please comment responsibly.