Tag Archives: tv scheduling

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.

Go 99 Preview Update

In yet another example of just how hopeless the Channel 9 programming department when it comes to keeping viewers informed, as of this morning (Thursday April 30), there is no information in the yahoo TV guide online as to any of the planned 9HD day time break away next week. According to the advanced guide for 9HD posted on TV Tonight, extra 9HD beak away day time programming starts from this Sunday May 3.

It is not uncommon for the 9HD channel program guide not to be up to date in yahoo (perhaps this is because yahoo is tied up with channel 7), but you’d think channel 9 might go to a little extra effort to ensure there was adequate advertising and programming information out there in relation to this new programming. Otherwise, noone will know about it and day time viewers will most likely stumble upon the alternative shows when they try to watch Ellen and the View in HD only to see a movie on instead.

A quick check of the TV Guide that 9 MSN links to reveals the same – no alternative 9HD programming during the day. The only place I can find (admitedly I have not looked everywhere, but yahoo and ninemsn are two very high trffic locations so I would have assumed they keep there information up to date) this information in relation to 9HD is in TV Tonights’ advanced guides section – where you can see free to air TV guides as far as two weeks ahead. Usually, there is little point to look that far ahead into what channel 9 plan to show due to frequent programming changes, but this new 9HD programming is a big deal and a big step in the lead up to the new Go 99 channel later this year.

I might add, that I have not seen advertising for the programming either – not on the ninemsn web site or channel 9 itself. Maybe they are keeping it low key for now while they make sure there are no bugs, but surely, for the sake of their advertisers, they would want to attract viewers? Unless the ads will be free or endless 9 self promos (which would make the channel close to unbearable to watch).

At least there will be a day time alternative to talk, soapies, cooking and kids shows for now. If only they started the break away at 9am to provide an alternative to the morning shows. We don’t really need Kerry Ann and the mindless infomercials and content in HD – do we? 9am – 11 am are the worst 2 hours on commercial free to air TV, other than 2-4am of course. Before we had Foxtel, we would not even turn the TV on at our house until 11am for the news.

We Love Our Free TV

As part of the new FreeView campaign, the phrase “we love our free TV” is used. There isn’t much to love about free TV these days, especially where channel 9 is concerned but it never used to be this way. With 9 offereing more 20-1 than ever, I thought I’d make my own 20-1 list based on what we used to love about our free TV – mind you, 20 years ago, Free TV was the only option other than hiring movies on VHS video. Considering free TV is no longer the only option, I would have thought they would have improved as opposed to declined.

20. Adults Only was known as AO - a rating, not part of the title. 

19. Overnight you could watch news, music or old movies – no infomercials

18. Kids TV in the afternoon, sometimes till 5.30

17. There were no subscription mobile ads (and of course, no mobile phones, well at least not one smaller than a house brick)

16. Cartoons in the morning

15. Programs to watch between 9am and 11am other than talk morning shows

14. No trashy shows ever. Swearing was for the most part not allowed either (we all remember Kerry Packer ordering the Doug Mulray video show off back in the 90′s)

13. Stereo simulcasts on Fm radio for major movies like Star Wars (and I in fact connected extra speakers to my radio to make my own surround sound in 1986)

12. Timeslot changes and axings were rare and hardly ever happened the way it does now. Shows almost always remained on for their full season.

11. Reliable printed TV guides

10. The nightly current affairs shows once featured quality stories.

9. More Australian shows were on TV

8. Unmissable TV shows like Prisoner

7. Channel 9 news was the only news worth watching

6. Game shows were entertaining and watchable

5. Eddy McGuire was at home watching TV and noone knew who he was

4. 60 Minutes had hard hitting, quality stories

3. If a show was advertised as starting at 8.30, at worst, it would start at 8.31. Never 8.37 or later.

2. The first to TV Sunday night movie

1. Channel 9 always winning the ratings and known as “still the one”

And more: lets not forget those Demtel ads with the catch phrase “but wait … there’s more… ” and K-Tel selling vinyl record holders, and even records including Kamahl. And you might even get a set of free steak knives. There was still summer TV though.  But back then, way before email, mobile phones, SMS, my space, facebook and twitter, you would actually spend time with people and less time in front of the TV, your phone or computer.

Non Ratings Periods – Why?

Edited / updated as per comments. I originally stated that there was non-ratings periods in July and late September as well. This is not correct, and changes the networks make during school holiday periods are at their own judement, not as a result of being a non-ratings period.

I have always wondered, why in this day and age, there is still a so-called “non-ratings” period on Free to Air television in Australia. These periods of non-ratings generally coincide with school holidays but because school holidays vary from state to state, in some states, the non-ratings period is not in phase with school holidays.

What I don’t understand about the concept is that there is still reporting of ratings during these periods, networks still react to the ratings in these periods (think back to all the schedule changes over summer), advertisers still advertise AND people definitely still watch TV during these periods, yet the networks see it as a time to provide a lower quality schedule and give top rating shows a break. Sometimes people will watch even more TV than usual form being home longer.

In my opinion, the fact that the ratings show less people watching TV in non-ratings period is a direct consequence of the fact that viewers tune out due to poorer quality programming. The fact that subscription TV rate higher during these periods proves that point. If regular programming continued, the viewers would still be there (other than special days like Christmas and New Years for example).

I agree with programming changes on public holidays and the night before a public holiday, but I don’t agree with shows taking time off mid season just because that period of time is deemed as “non-ratings” and therefore does not contribute to the final result of winning the ratings for the year. And what does it mean anyway for a network to win the year – they can charge more for their advertising, I suppose, but wouldn’t that apply all year round?

Sure – people go away during holiday periods, but they still watch TV. And now, less will travel abroad as the result of the economic climate. So why not continue normal programming throughout holidays. Its not even two months since summer and the ratings season began and we are faced with another preiod of non-ratings for Easter.

With all the scheduling changes, as it is, it is difficult to keep up with what’s on TV in any case. Then you have the mother of all scheduling changes – non-ratings period. The regular shows take time off for no reason other than the definition “non-ratings” period. And if you are away during these periods, more often than not, your only option is free to air TV and a couple of choice Foxtel channels in your hotel room. Why not maintain the schedule?

If anyone loves a show that much, and will not be able to see it on TV when it airs, they’ll record it to watch later – holidays or not. Then again, there really is only a few shows on these days that could really be considered by many as “unmissable television”.

It’s just another example of how TV networks don’t care about viewers. I am sure, that if there was a referendum on the concept of non-ratings, 95% of all viewers would vote against it.

When will 9 show ER?

The final episode ever of ER screens in the US on April 2. In Australia, the last episode we saw was episode 1 of season 14 back in late January which puts us something like 40 episodes behind. In mid 2008, ER was taken out of 9′s primetime line up as it was not performing well. The remainder of season 13 was played out during summer after 10.30pm on Wednesdays but failed to crack top 20 on those nights.

While the show is not to everyones’ taste, it definitely has a following and a fan base who fell let down by what is happening at ch 9 with the show. Furthermore, the quality of the show has been fairly consistent over the years. A show would not last 15 seasons if it was not any good.

Channel 9 should show ER. Its not going to rate like Underbelly or CSI, but it will do better then some of the shows currently on 9. And as they own the rights to it, does that not mean they have already paid for it? Therefore no expense to show? Not sure on that point, I don’t know how that side of things works.

They could play it out 10.30pm on a weeknight, perhaps with a few double episodes or have it on twice per week so the finale could be on TV before the end of this year. I would put it to you that, if it was played at the same time each week and promoted from time to time, ER could attract enough audience to justify the move. There’s alot of hype at the moment about the series ending, with George Clooney (he was in the original episodes) and other big names returning in last episodes. All the US talk shows including Ellen and the View – both seen on ch 9 – have been talking about ER.

Surely quality drama like ER would do better for 9 than the likes of Bridezillas – which has already been scene on Foxtel? And its not just ER – what about Survivor fans waiting for the new series which is doing very well in the US. And I think 9 have the rights to the Bachelor as well – also doing well in US (and just finished with controversy).

In my opinion, if a TV network – free to air, cable or otherwise – have the rights to air a programme, they should have a reasonable time to air the show or they lose the rights, and either another network can take it on or the DVD release can be allowed. I think it should be within 12 months at the most of the date the show airs in its country of origin.

Maybe 9′s 2nd SD channel may help these shows get an airing, but then again, they’ve been doing breakaway 9HD programming for a while showing repeats and other obscure shows.

Please, channel 9, tell us when you’ll be showing ER. Tell me the remainder of episodes won’t be spread out over the next 3 or 4 summers. If you don’t want to air it, sell the rights to 111-Hits on Foxtel who are currently showing episodes from season 11 5 days a week, and at that rate, if they had the rights to the rest of the seasons, could finish the series within the next 5 months. That would keep the fans happy and pave the way for the release of the 15 season box set in time for Christmas this year.

Channel 9 a One Hit Wonder

Wow – 9 wins the ratings every Monday night of the back of Underbelly. Series 2 is the most watched show on television at the moment beating its closest rival – Packed to the Rafters on 7 on Tuesdays – by at least 400,000 viewers. Love it or hate it, its doing really well. Perhaps its the language, the nude scenes or just the fact that, when you look closely at it, it is actually something different to everything else on TV at the moment. With so many crime shows dominating the ratings top 20 weekly (NCIS, Criminal Minds, CSI, Lie to Me, etc) Underbelly is different and in my opinion, being based on fact attracts so many viewers.

But what else do 9 have to offer? Their next biggest show each week attracts less than half the viewers that Underbelly does for most weeks. 9′s much hyped “Farmer Wants a Wife” and its flagship “60 Minutes” struggle to win their respective timeslots and barely contribute to 9 winning the night they appear on. And consistant lateness and sudden programming changes are not helping them one bit.

9′s problems start at 5pm every weekday afternoon and continue from there. In Sydney, 9′s 6pm news struggles sometimes coming 4th after the news on 7, 10 and the ABC. While I am not a big believer on lead ins these days, it definitely makes a difference if the show leading into the news is one worth watching – which Antiques Roadshow is not for most of us. Even Family Feud and the axed Million Dollar Wheel of Fortune used to do better.

9′s 6pm news is barely watchable compared to 7′s and 10′s and constantly try to lure viewers in with so-called exclusives even to the point where they attempt to pin the story on the back of the success of Underbelly. While A Cuurent Affair in my opinion is slightly better than Today Tonight, most viewers stick to 7 after watching the news – usually because you’ve seen the ads about what is on it and decide “ok, I’ll stick to it!”

At 7pm, the success of  Two and a Half Men can only be attributed to a lack of options. I mean, if you’ve already seen the news, why watch it again on ABC at 7pm, and as for channel 7, Home and Away is not for everyone. There was a time when 7pm on all networks was the time you’d show your best locally produced content. Back in the (late) 80′s it used to be Sale of the Century on 9 against current affairs on 7, with Neighbours on 10. Interestingly, Home and Away was originally on at 6.30 and at some stage swapped with Neighbours for time slots (one moved to the same time and within a week, the other moved away from it).

And then there is the rest of the night… with numerous programmes aimed at the lowest comman denominator (such as Wipe Out, Ladette to Lady, 20-1, etc) and others not doing as well as they should – such as CSI and the Mentalist, 9 should be taking a good hard look at what they are doing. Perhaps it is the fact that all their shows on weeknights start at least 5 minutes late or they are now attacting the stigma of being a “trash” channel which is bringing down the success of shows that otherwise would do well. The Mentalist is one classic example of a show that should do better, being the highest rating show in the USA other than American Idol, yet here it barely cracks 1 million and never wins its time slot.

So what should channel 9 do? In my opinion, the trash shows should either be kept to one night and not even promoted on other nights or taken off altogether. Perhaps these shows would be best left to themed nights on their 2nd SD channel if or when that happens.

Another idea that just might work – is to break away from copying 7 once and for all with news and current affairs. They are losing in all markets to 7, so why not? Try this: 1 hour news at 6pm. A Current Affair at 7pm. 7.30 and subsequent shows start on time. 7.30 sharp – not 7.35, not even 7.32 (yes, I know – the lateness issue again – my pet hate!). Why one hour news if half hour is failing? Well it would give them more time to cover local news, go into more detail with sport and fit in so called exclusive stories without detracting from the rest of the days’ news. Furthermore, in regional northern NSW, NBN (9′ affiliate) leads all other networks convincingly from 6pm – 7.30pm with one hour news and ACA at 7pm. And you’d be surprised how many people watch both Today Tonight and A Current Affair when they are on at different times (even though most stories are the same or similar).

And finally, apart from making sure all their shows start exactly on time, 9 would need what I call a “time slot” guarantee” where if a show is scheduled in a certain time slot, it remains there for say 12 weeks before changing. Also they’d need to make sure that once the deadline has passed for printed TV guides, they do not change their schedule at all. Most people still get their TV information from printed guides, and I’d have to admit, despite already knowing what is happening in the TV guide from the Yahoo TV guide, my Foxtel EPG and TV Tonight, I still flick through the printed guide from the Sunday paper and still have that by the side of the lounge to refer to each night. Yes, its quick and easy when you’re not at a computer.