Love in the time of COVID-19: Bachie to restart filming
Hugs and kisses could be off the romance 'checklist' for The Bachelor, with Channel 10 confirming the dating show is "ready" to go back into production - with special social distancing restrictions.
Locky Gilbert, a former heart-throb for two seasons of Survivor, was almost halfway through his search for love when filming was halted amid fears of widespread coronavirus infections.
But as the Federal Government moves to allow for groups of 10 or more to gather, and the network desperate to get the series back in action to meet its second quarter scheduling needs, programming boss Beverly McGarvey said viewers may have to expect changes to the way Gilbert goes about finding the one.
"We will put that show back into production very soon, and we are talking to all the right [government and health] people, but what I would say with all of our shows, we are abiding by all the States and government rules on isolation and social distancing. If you do that you can keep working … if you're willing to compromise certain things, you can get back [to work]," she said.
"And also, I think the audience are willing to change their expectations. We will adapt on The Bachelor and make some innovations on the show to accommodate those [social distancing] restrictions."
A full, new season of the network's more steamy series, Bachelor In Paradise was filmed in Fiji before the border closures and strict isolation measures came into force and promises to deliver fans with their fix of amorous and alcohol-fuelled antics.
A new Bachelorette is also expected to be announced within weeks, and is expected to air later this year.
A revamped season of The Living Room - starring Amanda Keller, Barry DuBois, Dr Chris Brown and Miguel Maestro - is also due to return to screens next month.
But the COVID-19 crisis will likely rule out a studio audience for The Masked Singer, which is also due to feature on 10's second-half slate.
"We've had a really strong year and came out of the gates really strong. [I'm A] Celebrity [Get Me Out Of Here] did well and because of coronavirus, audiences have been even better," McGarvey, recently promoted to the role of chief content officer and executive vice president, ViacomCBS Australia & New Zealand, said.
Since CoVID, overnight commercial TV viewing is up 11% year on year, with Network 10 outperforming the market, up 29%, and Channel 10 up 33% (Nine Network is up 12% with Nine up 12%; while and Seven Network is flat with Seven up 5%).
It's streaming platform 10 Play is also having its biggest year ever, with minutes viewed up 37% for the year to-date.
Ratings have also surged for the new era MasterChef and The Project, but programmers hoping to maintain the momentum will need to negotiate continued social restrictions, as well as revenue plunges across the media sector.
"It's really important for us to make sure people continue to enjoy free-to-air television and keep doubling down on the habits of watching and enjoying that shared experience. All our shows like The Masked Singer and Junior [MasterChef] are all designed for a family audience … to sit in front of the TV and watch together," she said.
"It's about flex. Are we going to have a studio audience on Masked Singer? I'd say that's probably unlikely, but the great thing about it is the format involves performing in masks. It's a show for its time."
Originally published as Love in the time of COVID-19: Bachie to restart filming