Tag Archives: 30 rock

Scheduling Frustrations

It’s great to see that channel 9 is now offering late night news at 11.30pm. For many of us, that is a better time to catch up on the news than 10.30 is on channel 10. Last night, I flicked over to 9 to watch the news at 11.30, only to find I had missed the start of it and therefore the first of the main stories which are usually the most important.

This is an ongoing problem for both channel 7 and 9 where programs after 11pm start early, while programs after 7pm start late. If you want to see all of the news on 9 scheduled for 11.30pm, I suggest you tune over at around 11.20 to make sure you don’t miss any. If you plan to record it to watch later in the night, then be sure to set your recorder to take into account those extra minutes before.

Channel 7 has been doing this with 30 Rock for months, which has started as early as 11.20 while still showing on both printed guides and EPGs as 11.30. On the flip side of the equation, channel 9 on Monday night, the last episode of Underbelly did not start until 8.39 and Eleventh Hour that followed Underbelly did not start until 9.45 – it was shown on the schedule as 9.30. That’s 15 minutes late. On that particular night, it was mae worse by having 3 minute HomeMade “Sneak Peaks” both before and after Underbelly, not to mention countless pop-up ads as well as extra ads during the ad breaks.

Last night, whilst working late, I left on 7HD in the background. At 12.53am, I heard the start of Deal or No Deal. After checking the 7HD TV guide on yahoo, I saw that Deal is scheduled to start at 1am. And, the show after it on 7HD – A Country Practice (and being on HD, you can see the rather low quality of the 80’s video compared to now) started at 1.17am – 13 minutes ealier than the program guide and EPG suggests.

The networks have to realise that an EPG is as good as useless if their programs do not match the time on the EPG. Most viewers rely on EPG times to either remind them of when a show starts or to record it to watch later. At least channel 10 keep their EPG times up to date most of the time. What is the problem with ch 7 and 9 – why can’t they keep their EPGs up to date? Surely the one that does stands to benefit the most from viewer satisfaction.

Both ch 7 and 9 need to be called to account for this archaic practise of running programs late or early. It is nothing more than blatant disrespect for their viewers, and such a strategy would only work if viewers watched the same channel all night. They don’t. They all have remotes. They all change channels many times during the night, and they all get frustrated at shows starting late or starting early.

Having said all that, here is my guide of what time you can expect a show to really start based on its advertised time.

Scheduled Time channel 7 channel 9 channel 10
5.00pm 4.57pm 4.57pm 5.00pm
5.30pm 5.27pm 5.27pm n/a
6.00pm 6.00pm 6.00pm 6.01pm
6.30pm 6.30pm 6.30pm 6.30pm
7.00pm 7.05pm 7.05pm 7.00pm
7.30pm 7.35pm 7.35pm 7.32pm
8.00pm 8.05pm 8.06pm 8.02pm
8.30pm 8.35pm 8.37pm 8.33pm
9.30pm 9.34pm 9.38pm 9.32pm
10.30pm 10.31pm 10.33pm 10.31pm
11.30pm 11.25pm 11.25pm n/a
12.00am 11.55pm 11.57pm 12.02am
12.30am 12.25am 12.25am  
1.00am 12.53am 12.55am  
1.30am 1.18am    

A bit of fine print:

These times are based on my own TV watching experience based mostly on
Monday to Thursday nights, although I have noticed late schedules
running on weekends as well, but not as bad as the weekdays. Times are
a rough average, off the top of my head. I have not sat down and
recorded all scheduled times for example, but have commented about many
of them on TV forums like
www.tvtonight.com.au or www.throng.com.au. Obviously these times
may vary from night to night, but for the uninitiated, can act as a
simple guide. Examples considered here include: ch 9 Mondays with
Underbelly and the show after it as much as 15 minutes late, The
Mentalist on Wednesday nights usually 7 or 8 mins late, Ellen at
11.30pm and now 12am starting early, 11.30 news starting at 11.25, 30
Rock on 7 starting as early as 11.20pm, Deal on 7HD starting at 12.53am
instead of 1am, Heroes from 10.30 – 11.25, always missing the start of
Beauty and the Geek which was on 11.30 Thursdays, and seeing it finish
around 12.20, missing the first stories on 11.30 news on 9, missing the
start of Hot Seat on 1st night and subsequent nights, seeing Antiques
and Mash start 4.57 after 4.30 news finishes, Life on Mars on 10
starting at 9.33 Thurs (now 10.30 Fri) on the dot according to the EPG,
Masterchef starting exactly on time in accordnace to the EPG, same with
Talkin’ Bout my Generation, Rove despite being after reality shows
normally starting as per EPG at say 9.06pm (although printed as a 9pm
start), not above here due to odd time, but Letterman on 10 at 11.15pm
is always on time as well, as is the show following. Yet 7 and 9 are
running early by 5 or more minutes. Obviously it has to do with the
lower volume of ads after 10.30, but the networks would know that
already and their guides should reflect it. Running late from 7 to
10.30pm though is a deliberate action as both A Current Affair and
Today Tonight finish 5 minutes late. Additional lateness, especially by
channel 9, can be attributed to extra self promotion ads thoughout the
night, especially when they through in sneak peaks like they currently
are for HomeMade.

Note that in the case of ch 10, their EPG times actually reflect the times above whereas ch 7 and ch9’s do not and only show 8.30, 9.30, etc.

I have not included ABC, SBS or Foxtel here as they usually run on time with up to date EPGs and therefore saw no point to include them on the table.

Channel Tens’ Broken Promise

I always thought, that the network that puts in place a time slot guarantee, would gain respect from their viewers and thus, hopefully, ratings. That is, the network that promises a show will be on at the same time very week, on time, and not repeated for a set period of time – say 12 or 13 weeks.

Back in January, prior to the current ratings period beginning, ch 10 promised exactly that – with House. They promised that the show would run 12 weeks without repeats or interruption. This morning, as reported by TV Tonight, I read that next weeks’ episode of House will be a repeat, and that the episode that would have been on next week, will be aired one week later – when ratings return.

Channel 10 have made the promise of showing House for 12 weeks without repeats or interruption. They would have done so knowing full well that this period would carry through the Easter non-ratings period. It seems that they have decided to withhold what apparently will be a good episode purely for the sake of putting it on during the ratings season so it can count towards there ratings share for the year.  

If you make this sort of promise, you need to stick to it. Ratings or not. Its not like House is a top rating show in any case. Last week, it scored about 800,000 viewers – which is about where it sits usually. Now that the promise is broken, they can no longer use it in their advertising to promote a show. Noone is going to trust it now.

There goes a good idea, from the only network that seems to be showing some respect for their viewers most of the time. Unlike 7 and 9, 10 are the only network to update their EPG to reflect the time that shows really start as opposed to what they are advertised for. If your EPG for 10 says 8.33, then thats when the show starts – usually within a few seconds. On ch 7 and 9, if it says 8.30, its more likely 8.35. And later in the night, 11.30 means as early as 11.20. 30 Rock on 7 is a classic example. I can get the whole episode of 30 Rock record by using the “R+20″ button on the show before 30 Rock (usually Boston Legal; R+20 on Foxtel IQ2 allows you to add 20 minutes to the end of a recording) as opposed to actually setting it to record 30 Rock itself.

Channel 10 were onto a good thing here. Now its lost. Trust is gone. And all for the sake of this absurdity of non-ratings period where you still have full ratings reports, but because it does not count to the networks’ win for the year, they don’t care what they do. We the viewers always lose out.

TV Scheduling Still Frustrating

As a person who generally prefers to record shows on TV to watch later that night or the next night rather than watching them live with up to one third of the time being consumed by ads, my biggest pet hate is TV shows that do not start on time.

Every weeknight, both channel 7 and 9 have Today Tonight and A Current Affair respectively finish at 7.05 setting up a delay of at least 5 minutes that generally carried through the night until after 10.30 where less ads usually pull them back into scheduling line.

In weeks gone past, Underbelly, advertised as 8.30pm Monday night on channel 9 has started as late as 8.43, finishing around 9.45. Initially ch 7 was copying by having Desperate Housewives start late as well, but their strategy for Monday night has changed to having DH start on time probably to catch “swing” viewers waiting for Underbelly to start. And of course, channel 10’s and ABC’s answer to the Monday night dilemma is to programme their night in such as was that the show against Underbelly starts at 8.35 or 8.40 – thus opening acknowledging they are going against the late running channel 9 BUT actually telling the viewer the exact time the show starts. Furthermore, ch 10 update their EPG to the minute so its not unusual to see a show advertised for 8.30 show as 8.33 on the EPG, thus allowing it to actually record at the right time.

The story is similar on ch 7 where Packed to the Rafters on Tuesday nights always starts 5-6 minutes late as well.

The EPG / recorder I use is Foxtel IQ2, which, unless you manually set a recording time, only allows 10 minutes overtime at the end of a program. So if channel 9 run more than 10 minutes late, you miss the end of the show you were after. Surely they should understand that? It’s got to be the quickest way to drive viewers to alternative sources such as illegal downloads. 

And what is worse than late starting and finishing times? A show starting too early! Last Monday I recorded 30 Rock scheduled to be on ch 7 11.30 only to find that at the start of the recoding, I had missed half of the show. Normally I set my IQ2 to start recording 2 minutes before a scheduled start time as there usually is never any need to start earlier. This happens frequently to late night ch 7, Beauty and the Geek is another example on Thursday nights.

In my opnion, there is absolutely no excuse why starting times of shows on TV cannot be exactly what the program says they will be. TV stations know to the second exactly what they are doing, and when. Ch 10 at the moment is the only commercial channel keeping their EPG up to date to the minute.

In this age of electronic programs, recording devices that depend on elcetronic programs, remote controls and alternative viewing patterns, this 1980’s style of late program starts as well as prgrammes that start too early is grossly unfair to viewers by both forcing them to wait for a show to start, and sit through the ending of a (usually) completely unrelated programme. It may have worked 20-30 years ago in keeping viewers stuck on the one channel, but this is no longer practical now, upsetting more and more viewers, nost of whom feel they just have to put up with it all.

Its about time that 8.30 really meant 8.30 on TV. Foxtel channels do it. Why can’t 7 and 9? And if they want to continue showing 35 minute current affairs shows – which they are not really, as the last 5 minutes is ads, and the “on tomorrows’ show” segment – then they should show on their program guide 7.05, 7.35, 8.35, etc. Its really not that hard. Same deal late night on 7. If your shows starts at 11.20 or 11.25, then don’t advertise it as 11.30.