The view

Television is a ruthless machine. Hits tend to land hard and loud, win acclaim and echo long after the curtain falls. Failures slam quickly and brutally, and those around them pick their bones with all the charm of a pack of vultures.

The Ten Network found that out this week when its new talent show Everybody Dance Now landed with a thud. Without a solid grasp on the ratings ladder the clock begins to tick. Channel Seven's The Master lasted a week. Channel Nine's Live from Planet Earth lasted three. How long Ten can sustain Everybody Dance Now, pared back to an hour a week and with planned ''tweaks'', remains to be seen.

But the problem is not Everybody Dance Now, though improvements could undoubtedly be made to its format, structure and production values. The problem is congestion and the local commercial TV industry's inability to manage it. For the audience, watching commercial TV is very often a case of it never rains but it pours.

The solution is not for networks to avoid putting their local shows up against one another. That may be idealistic but it is impractical. Commerce is built on the idea of competition and while Australia's commercial networks live in a licensed oligopoly - hardly an open market - they are driven by competition with each other.

At the same time, networks tend to err on the side of congestion: the launch weeks of the ratings year, the weeks after the Easter long weekend, now the post-Olympic weeks. In all cases too many programs crowd the market and casualties become inevitable. Ten, in particular, has form. The launch of The Renovators into a congested market last year proved disastrous. It appears Everybody Dance Now is destined to follow suit.

The traditional response has been to look at the show, format or audience in an attempt to understand what has gone wrong. Commercial networks would be better off looking for answers closer to home. It's the strategy that needs work. Until then, history will continue to repeat itself.

Michael Idato is on Twitter: @michaelidato

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