Channel 9 axes The Footy Show
CHANNEL 9 has axed The AFL Footy Show after 25 years on TV.
The network confirmed the decision in a statement last night as the iconic program battled the worst ratings in its history.
The announcement was made just an hour after the show went to air.
"It is with regret that The Footy Show will no longer be produced," Nine's Melbourne managing director Matt Scriven said.
"It has been a tough decision to end the program that has been such a trailblazer, but sadly the new show has not captured audiences in the way we had hoped.
"I want to thank the current hosts, Anthony Lehmann, Neroli Meadows, Dylan Alcott, Brendan Fevola and Shane Crawford, the former hosts of The Footy Show, and the hard working crew for their great contribution."
The Footy Show first aired in 1994 and was Australia's longest-running sports entertainment program during prime time as it produced 735 shows. However, it lasted only eight episodes in 2019 before Nine pulled the plug.
This year it underwent a drastic shake-up to reverse its alarming ratings slide but fewer viewers tuned in than ever before.
New hosts Neroli Meadows and Anthony "Lehmo" Lehmann, along with Aussie wheelchair tennis star Dylan Alcott, were inserted as longtime Footy Show staples Eddie McGuire and Sam Newman left the program. But the fresh faces have been unable to save the show from its death.
This season's bold revamp was designed to re-energise a tired format and give it a much-needed boost in the face of stiff competition from Channel 7 rival The Front Bar, but the change-up hasn't paid off.
Last week The Footy Show attracted just 53,000 viewers in Melbourne - the lowest number in the show's history. In comparison, The Front Bar had 278,000 viewers in the Victorian capital on the same night.
The show's demise comes after former Footy Show host Craig Hutchison urged Channel 9 to ignore the ratings and focus on the quality of the program, knowing it would be nearly impossible to beat The Front Bar and Channel 7 in the first year with a new-look team.
"If I were Channel 9, and I think the same applies to The Today Show, it's just impractical to think they can win in their first year. It's not possible, behaviour is built over time," Hutchison said on The Sounding Board podcast.
"I would be spending all my time thinking about the quality of the show, as opposed to its impact. Whether it loses by 200 or 180 or 170 (thousand) it's not really going to matter at the moment versus do we think it can get to a point where it can win?"