The return of Rove McManus to our flat screens was something of a mixed-bag, as the veteran presenter’s new vehicle Bring Back Saturday Night pulled soft first-up audience numbers, solid critical reviews and generated a good deal of social traffic.

In a week rammed with pilots, those new shows with a test run of typically 10 episodes, Rove’s Saturday Night on Network 10 crashed to No. 8, way behind the top rating newbie Trial By Kyle.

After its first episode, Saturday Night won a national audience of 297,000, according to audience measurement agency OzTam, more than 220,000 viewers off the pace set by Kyle Sandilands’ new venture.

The headline numbers, however, tell just part of the story. Rove’s variety show is admittedly locked into a programming dead-zone (apparently people do things other than watch TV on Saturday night), and analysis of the evening’s chatter on socials would suggest Saturday Night was a talking point.

rove mcmanus
Rove McManus

Media monitoring firm Meltwater measured social activity relating to “pilot week” and found Saturday Night commanded 21.44 per cent piece of the online conversation, just two percentage points behind the leader, Disgrace.

Curiously, Sunday night’s Disgrace was the second least popular pilot in terms of audience (301,000), which means the two least-engaged shows second in terms of audience, were the top ranked shows for the Twitter generation.