The soap, devised by one time ATV Network executive Reg Watson, is continuing its historic low in the ratings.
Neighbours, produced by Fremantle, celebrated 25-years on air earlier in 2010 and will shortly reach its 6000th episode. The celebrations are, however, being marred by tumbling viewing figures.
Set in the fictional Ramsay Street, Neighbours has always had a loyal following in the UK, first airing on BBC One before switching to Channel 5 in recent times.
Reports suggest in Australia the show peaked in the 1990s with a ratings high of nearly 2 million viewers, however today the show is lucky to pull in 600,000. It isn’t the first time rating slumps have been reported this year. Back in January ATV covered the news ratings had dropped to their lowest ever – 450,000 viewers.
Network 10, who screen the saga, face tough competition from other networks in the 6.30pm slot, notably Seven Network and Channel Nine’s output – both airing news and current affairs programmes at the same time, one of which has over one million viewers.
Despite the declining audience Neighbours’ future is secure for the time being thanks to a couple of factors. The viewers who are watching are in the much sought after by advertisers 16-39 age group, Network 10 is required by the television regulator to produce a certain number of hours a year of Australian based drama – Neighbours fills most of that remit and the budget funding of the show cost the broadcaster very little thanks to the export sales which fund the majority of the programme’s budget.
Neighbours launched in 1985 when producer Reg Watson decided to make an Australian version of Coronation Street. He knew then that getting the show aired in the UK would help it prosper. Having founded the UK’s first full-length daily saga back in 1964 – ATV Network’s Crossroads – he knew British audiences loved their dose of daily soap.
Currently former Neighbours Executive Producer Alan Coleman, who also worked for such serials as Home and Away and devised The Young Doctors, is our Honorary President in our 55th year. Coleman was the first-ever director on Crossroads. At its peak Neighbours reached 20 million viewers in the UK and dominated the top ten TV charts.