TVNZ’s new kid on the block debuted this month to mixed reviews. Are we ready for a social media centred current affairs programme?
TVNZ’s choice to ditch its regular 7pm show ‘Close Up’ late last year and replace it was controversial to say the least. There was to be no more of Mark Sainbury’s mustache and the replacement show would apparently appeal to a younger audience – New Zealand’s current affairs lovers held their breath.
During the final weeks of Close Up, the new show ‘Seven Sharp’ embarked on a huge advertising campaign across all mediums, including Facebook. Then it arrived. On Monday the 4th of February, Seven Sharp kicked off on channel One to an impressive audience of 500,000. In order to appeal to the younger demographic the show is light hearted and has a very strong integration with social media (well just Facebook and Twitter). Because social media is the only thing that appeals to young New Zealanders? Hmm.
The hosts (Ali Mau, Greg Boyed and Jesse Mulligan) each have an iPad in front of them, and tweets and Facebook comments on the Seven Sharp page are filtered throughout the 30 minute show. Sound appealing so far?
Being able to interact live with the hosts, ask questions and make statements is supposed to make the show fun for the social media savvy, and for some it does. But you just have to Google ‘Seven Sharp’ to see that for most people it’s a little too much.
I can see where the creators are coming from, social media is a huge part of our lives and New Zealand has been recognised as one of the most involved countries when it comes to social media. It all seems like a great idea, but the only problem is that the people watching the 6 o’clock news are typically not the people who spend a lot of time on social media. 6 o’clock news watchers want to hear about current events and see what the weather is going to be doing tomorrow. Following the news, ‘Close Up’ basically gave the news viewer another source of in-depth current affairs. Now all of a sudden they are hit with news stories directed at a different demographic and comments from sources that they don’t believe in.
There are some big generalizations in there but perhaps the show would have been more successful during a later time slot? If they want to have social media play such a strong part in the show then it should be aired when the largest percentage of social media users are watching TV – 7pm is just too early for the average Facebook user. Even better, why not make it an online show? Seven Sharp is clearly aimed at tech savvy social media users, so an online forum would make a lot of sense. It is available to watch online at TVNZ ondemand, but perhaps if they ditched the TV version and hosted it exclusively on the website, they would have more success.
The stories that Seven Sharp cover are far from the serious, straight lipped news bulletin style that Close Up offered. Instead, the show focuses on light-hearted and fun New Zealand news. One of the clips on the first show gave us an inside view of John Key’s daily life and included some very funny moments from inside the big man’s office.
Seven Sharp has been absolutely drilled in the media for moving too far away from the traditional 7pm current affairs show. According to many Kiwis, the interaction between the public and the presenters through social media does not deserve a place on our television.
The Seven Sharp Facebook page has 32,000 likes and the show has only 1000 followers on Twitter (lower than expected). The show has got what the creators were after – a younger audience. However, most of the critics don’t fit in to the ‘younger audience’ demographic.
The Seven Sharp ratings have been all over the place, but as the presenters are finding their feet I hope the viewers are adapting to social media becoming a part of our current affairs.
The future of the show will be interesting. Light hearted stories and social media are two areas that certainly pique my interest, so I hope it lasts. Do you?