The Ten Network's plan to launch its new studio-based talent show Everybody Dance Now before the curtain was fully down on the London Olympics has backfired.
Despite a heavy promotion campaign Everybody Dance Now, hosted by former Australia's Next Top Model host Sarah Murdoch and featuring US celebrity judges Kelly Rowland and Jason Derulo, drew only 598,000 viewers nationally.
Ten had hoped that with the major swimming and athletic competition wrapped up, Nine's and Foxtel's Olympic firepower was all but spent. That gamble did not pay off.
Everybody Dance Now was slammed on every side: Nine's Olympics drew 1.45 million and 1.30 million people to two programming blocks, the ABC's Grand Designs Revisited drew 944,000 people and Seven's US fairytale drama Once Upon A Time drew 883,000 people.
Ten will try to emphasise the most positive aspects of the result: Everybody Dance Now's peak audience of 928,000 and coming second in the 16-39 and 18-49-year-old demographics. And in pure ratings terms they are solid indicators.
But in broader terms the ratings are dangerously soft for a debut episode and make the challenge of recovery - that is, building the audience from 598,000 to something closer to the waterline of one million viewers - almost impossible.
The difficulty of that challenge is amplified by the fact that the next two weeks are the most congested since the launch of ratings at the beginning of the year.
Nine is launching new series of Big Brother and Underbelly tonight, and for the next two Sundays Everybody Dance Now will have to contend with Nine's highly anticipated miniseries Howzat! Kerry Packer's War, tipped to be a ratings blockbuster.
Seven is also launching a new season of The X Factor next week.