When The Challenge went global, longtime fans were perplexed. Apparently, no one was more confused by this decision than Australians.
In the country, the show has been axed from Network 10 due to declining ratings. The Challenge: Australia started out with 257,000 viewers in its primetime slot, making it the 20th most-watched show on its debut evening. By episodes 5 and 6, the show dwindled to 96,000 and 72,000 viewers respectively (those episodes aired back-to-back on the same night).
Apparently, the Australian audience doesn’t know what to make of this program. So the remaining four episodes will be airing on 10 Stack, a video-on-demand service and digital graveyard. Network 10 only sends its worst performers here so fans can finish the program but use its timeslot for a rerun that’ll perform better.
So why did this happen? Is it because Australians don’t know about The Challenge?
Kind of. While the concept might be unfamiliar to the nation, reality shows certainly are not. Franchises like Survivor, The Bachelor, and Big Brother (though different than the American version) have become popular. And Aussies are smart enough to realize that the show will put their favorite Z-list celebs will be in a drama-filled competition. If I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here can become popular, there should be potential for The Challenge.
More likely, this is because The Challenge didn’t understand Australia.
If you watched The Challenge: USA, you’ll know the show was very competition-focused and less drama-focused. The Australian audience is accustomed to reality TV being trashy and full of fights. That used to be the case in the US, but recent changes have branded the show as “America’s fifth sport” rather than the guilty pleasure it ought to be.
So, production tried to add in some drama (at least, more than we saw on The Challenge: USA), and apparently the cast was messy. But the final edit felt rushed and the stories felt underdeveloped. Cheating scandals that would have rocked shows like Love Island Australia (a feeder show for The Challenge: Australia) were quickly mentioned, then the show continued.
As the Global Tournament approaches, it’s clear that the audience will be less global than intended. We will definitely have representation from Australia, UK, and Argentina on the show, so it will be interesting to see how the final product is edited. I’d imagine it will cater to the US audience, as The Challenge: USA was a lukewarm success, but production will need to remember other nations have different expectations when it comes to reality shows.
We also need to remember, not every show will be a success. If The Challenge enters three new countries, it’s unlikely it will stick in all three. The UK adaptation likely has the most potential, given the fact that it’s fed so many competitors into the flagship show in the US. If The Challenge: UK don’t catch on, I don’t have any faith in this global experiment.