Tag Archives: ch 7

Millionaire Vs Deal

So ch 9 have decided to put the latest incarnation of Who Wants to be a Millionaire against ch 7’s Deal or no Deal at 5.30pm Mon-Fri from April 20.

While I am happy to see the end of at least half an hour of Antiques Roadshow – a show that does not even appeal to my 70+ year old parents – I don’t think Millionaire will work at 5.30pm. Deal has been around for so long, and grown such a huge audience, that 9 really don’t ever have a hope going against it with a game show. Something like Extra, currently only seen in Brisbane, would do better at 5.30. Keep it different. There are not that many viewers around at 5.30 compared to 7, and my guess would be, that they would get much better advertising revenue at 7 than they do at 5.30.

I cannot understand why ch 9 would bother “copying” 7 by putting game show against game show. Why not go for something different? Why not put on Millionaire at 7pm where ch 9 are now coming 4th in the ratings on a daily basis? Maybe, its because some of the regionals have ACA on at 7. Usually, though, the regionals would put on the 7pm show at 5.30. The regionalsdon’t bother with 2.5 Men as they no doubt see no point. Even the regionals, like NBN, have an hour of Antiques Roadshow from 5-6.

History has proven that putting a game show against another game show does not work. The well established show will win. In this case, that is Deal. I would be very surprised, if after the first episode or 2, if Millionaire makes much of a dent on Deal. Then ch 9 will swing their well worn axe. And another game show dies from not being put at a suitable time or given a decent chance.

The other reason why it will fail at 5.30 is that the format is quite heavy for 5.30. What I mean here, is that, a question and answer show is better later when people are more relaxed, not at 5.30 when they are just getting home, just putting on dinner or generally only have TV on in the background. At 7, its more likely to be watched. With Deal, its very light. Pick a case, guess what is in it, bank makes an offer, contestant accepts or rejects. Repeat the process a few times until there’s a smaller number of cases left when it gets more exciting. For me, that’s about the time I tune in – the last ten to fifteen minutes. I switch over when 10 news goes to sport.

If Millionaire does fail at 5.30, I hope they will have the sense to try it at 7pm. With the new Home Made show now slated to be 2 one hour episodes a week, and the promised magazine style show possibly being incorporated as part of a new one hour 4.30 news format, that still leaves 7pm on ch 9 unanswered.

Sure – 2.5 Men used to rate well, and if you consider 1 million good ratings at 7pm, then it is doing OK for 9. But surely it must be recognised that the only reason it is actually doing well is due to a lack of options. Look at the choices at 7 – 2.5 Men, Home and Away, Biggest Loser and ABC news. 9 is now regulary coming 4th at 7pm. In regional markets, where ACA is on at 7pm, this is not the case. I believe, that if every one had access to ONE HD, that Sports Tonight would rate better than that. Considering that 7 news at 6 scores 1.5 million, there is no reason why a decent show at 7pm cannot do the same.

Channel 9 really need to start thinking outside the square here. Sure – ch 7 got to where they are by copying ch 9 intially – and doing a good job of it at the time – but 9 cannot expect to claw their way back by copying 7. Eddy is not going to do it for them at 5.30.

We need more game shows on TV, but don’t put them against each other.

Heroes Coming Back

According to TV Tonight, Heroes is set to return April 23 at 10.30pm on ch 7. Its been showing in the US since Feb (Click on TV Tonight to read the article there).

As a Heroes fan, I look forward to seeing the show again. Until recently, though, the 10.30 time slot meant you did not get to see it in HD while ch 7 had its breakaway HD programming. There were some Thursdays where it was “replayed” on 7HD an hour or two later, but for the most part, having the HD breakaway meant that you could not see a show after 10.30 on the main channel in HD. I think it is more important to show what is made in HD in HD rather than having a regular HD breakaway for the sake of it. Both 9 and 7 have been guilty of this.

I do hope 7 will leave Heroes on, untouched at the 10.30pm Thursday night timeslot until it catches up with the episodes shown in the US. We are now 2 months behind, but gaps in the US programming means over time we’ll catch up. I still, to this day, cannot understand why 7 did not finish the whole season when Heroes was last on. There were only a few more episodes to go. The show has not been treated fairly by ch 7, being left to summer last year rather than brought on earlier in ratings season, only to have the last episodes left in limbo when ratings started. For me, the Heroes and Prison Break combination, together with ER in 9, meant there was actually some free to air TV to watch over summer.

I look forward to Heroes. I hope they also play Prison Break within a reasonable time after its US airing. Yes, I know I could download if I wanted to, but Heroes to me needs to be seen in HD. Even if I knew where to download it in HD, one episode would send my monthly internet cap over the top. Besides – if the networks did not mess around with these sorts of shows, showed them at a reasonsable time frame, did not bump them ,etc, noone would even think of downloading, would they?

And now is the time to point out this: ER on 9 used to get about 800k in ratings (off the top of my head). Heroes on 7, gets about 400k. Life on Mars on 10 gets about 500k. 7 puts Heroes on. 10 keeps Life on Mars on. 9 – who’s ER rates better than those two shows, still does not put the show on at any time. Just goes to show which network cares more for viewers.

Who Will Be the First with Three Channels?

FreeView promises 15 channels based on each free to air broadcaster being allowed to air 2 standard definition (SD)  channels and 1 high definition (HD) channel. As it stands now, ABC has two unique SD channels – ABC1 and ABC2, with ABC HD yet to offer anything but a simulcast of ABC1. Same story with SBS, with SBS1 and SBS2 (this is what SBS news will become). Over at ch10, they now have Ten and ONE HD, with the 2nd SD channel airing the SD simulcast of ONE HD. That make ch10 the first commercial to offer a 2nd SD channel as well as the HD channel being different 24 hours a day. But, in all of these cases, its still only 2 channels.

So who will be the first to have a 3rd? Ch 9 has indicated that August is a likely date for the launch of their 2nd SD channel (which will not be called 9 GOLD!). When this channel starts, if 9 offered alternative HD programming at any time, and the 2 SD channels were also airing different programs, then that would put 9 as the first to offer 3 different programs at any given time. I personally do not see this happening. It is more likely that the HD breakaway programs would end up on 9SD2 (in the absence of a real name, I’ll keep on calling it 9SD2), and that 9HD would simulcast 9’s main channel especially as more and more of their prime time programs become available in HD.

Ten has made mention of a 3rd channel as well, but I suggest the outcome there would be subject to the success of ONE HD. If the sports genre is very successful for 10, you may see the channel currently known as OND SD broadcast a combination of sports and other shows. Some people think that 10 may opt for a music channel or something more youth oriented to capture a different part of the market. Whether ONE stays as a full time HD channel will depend on its ratings and HD TV penetration into the market.

Despite David Leckie of ch 7 over a year ago indicating that maulti channeling would be exciting, has yet to announce what ch 7 are doing as far as multi channeling is concerned. Ch 7 has offered more break away HD programming than any other channel (prior to ONE HD) but have (surprisingly) used it to show repeats of their own shows, whether in HD or not, and to show old black and white movies during the day not even in wide screen, let alone HD!

Only the ABC has real plans for a 3rd channel – ABC3 which is subject to funding at the next federal budget. There is also rumoured to be an ABC4 news channel on the cards, but unless they cut back the qulaity of the HD channel, it is difficult to see how 4 channels will fit in without being very low quality. I am of the understandting that they can, but quality is the concern.

I believe the focus should be on quality and not the number of channels. While the idea of having extra channels is great for variety and choice, it should not be what its all about. Now that everyone is buying large screen TVs, the HD channel should be the focus as the main channel. This is what they do in the US, and they promote all the shows as being in HD. Any show on the main channel that is available in HD, should be shown in HD on the HD channel. And when there are shows on the main channel not available in HD (like old repeats), only then should the HD channel do anything different to the main channel as well as the 2nd SD channel.

Alternative HD viewing should only occur if the programs on the main channel are not available in HD. Alternative HD viewing should be HD content. Not 1940’s movies or old repeats. Recent movies and documentaries are one idea. I have an HD TV and would much prefer having everything in HD than to have 3 different channels just for the sake of being able to say there are 3 channels. Already when I watch ch 10, I miss having the option of viewing in HD. And, yes, I can tell the difference on my TV! I used to hate some late night shows on 7 not being in HD due to 7HD being the breakaway channel. One example is 30 Rock – which doesn’t really have to be HD, but in HD it looks much better.

Which gets me back to FreeView. As I mentioned time and time again, the promotion of 15 channels is misleading. You can read more about that in other posts or by clicking FreeView in the tag cloud.

No Programming Creativity at 9

The problems at channel 9 continue, as last night, Tuesday March 31, channel 9 came 3rd in the ratings after 10 and 7. Perhaps 9 is happy with this position, or, quite simply have no idea. Were they expecting to win the night with the Castle? The movie is over 15 years old, everyone has seen it, and would be best suited to a 9.30 Saturday night timeslot rather than the ultra competitive early weekday prime time schedules.

With Packed to the Rafters finishing its first season last week, ch 9 had the perfect opportunity to capitalise on this new vacancy. Apart from Underbelly, it was the only show rating anywhere near 2 million viewers. All Saints, which 7 moved from its Tuesday 9.30 slot to 8.30, only retained 1.3 million viewers, ch 10 with NCIS gained the most – achieving over 1.5 mil. While, over at 9, the usual Tuesday night 8.30 2.5 Men double ep barely scraped 1 million.

Now 2.5 Men has its fans, but ch 9 would be best off now resting the show for a while, or better yet, showing just one episode new episode a week so the audience does not get sick of the show. It’s low ratings (and they keep on falling) suggest that is exactly what is happening. People have had enough. Over in the US, where they do show one new episode a week, it does really well, to the point where its been renewed for another 2 seasons.

9 would have been better off last night resting 2.5 Men and putting on a first run movie at 8.30. A well chosen first run movie can do quite well. There have been cases earlier this year where a first run movie has brought in ratings of 1.4 mil or more (to clarify, I mean first run in terms of first time on free to air TV).

If 9 want any hope of winning the ratings year, they really have to become a little more creative with their programming and seize opportunities like a top rating show on another network finishing. 9 are no longer in the position to set an example as their programming is so poor and uncreative. Until they can build audiences with some of the new shows they coming up (sadly, in my opinion, most will not work well unless 9 promotes well, puts them in decent time slots, and gives them a chance), they need to look at what is happening on 7 and 10 and take full advantage of situations like Packed to the Rafters finishing.

No Joy For Regionals

With ONE HD starting in the 5 big capital cities tomorrow, the regionals, mostly serviced by Southern Cross 10, will have to wait until a so far unspecified date called “mid year”. On the Central Coast of NSW, where I am, we do get Sydney TV as well as Newcastle (with some Central Coast ads inserted from time to time) but, for some reason, the ch 10 Sydney* signal is very weak where I live and, more often than not, impossible to watch 0n a digital receiver. It works on a good day, hopefully tomorrow night will be OK so I can at least see the welcome launch.

All SC10 would have to do is allow the 10HD feed through, filling the ad gaps with their music and scenery until they get their act together with advertising agreements. Its just a flick of a switch. I have watched Rove before on SC10 HD with the scenery as the ad breaks. They can do it. Its not hard.

Furthermore, the little ONE HD I have actually seen so far (the swimming late afternoon), the ads seemed not to be region specific and could easily carry over the the regionals (except possibly Foxtel ads, but the “not available all areas”  clause can cover that).

And then there is Mondays’ press release from ch 9 detailing the launch of ch 9’s second SD channel. Interestingly, it is also scheduled for this amazing time called “mid year”. But, with this announcement, there is no word as to what 9’s affiliates WIN and NBN will do. NBN do transmit an HD channel (80) but is only always a simulcast of their main channel with HD shows broadcasted in HD (and, here on the Central Coast, does not have the Central Coast ads. Only Newcastles’). The audio, though, is usually not full 5.1. I’ve heard that WIN HD is just scenery like SC10.

There should be greater cooperation between the regionals and the metropolitan networks so a more unified national approach could be taken. It may even expedite the development of multi channeling in Australia by sharing resources and programming. Especially in the case of 9 and WIN as WIN has many programming resources 9 does not have.

Finally, as of writing, there is no word on ch 7’s plan for its 2nd SD channel. On Feb 26, according to www.tvtonight.com.au, ch 7 would make the announcement within the month – meaning there should be an announcement by March 26. I’d say this is the reason 9 made their announcement on Monday – to beat ch 7 to it. Maybe they can outdo 9 and 10 by involving Prime in the announcement. And, for the record, Prime is the ONLY regional to broadcast break away HD content in line with ch 7.

* There are three major relay transmitter locations on the Central Coast – one near Gosford, one near Wyong, one at Bouddi – both transmitting 8 channels (ABC, SBS, 7, 9, 10, Prime, NBN, SC10) on varying UHF frequencies. A VHF antenna in some areas will get 7, 9 and 10 Sydney, as well as NBN-3 Newcastle but usually you’d use a UHF aerial pointed to your nearest relay transmitter. Further, NBN-3’s digital component is on UHF anyway.

Foxtel IQ2 Upgrade

Anyone who has an IQ2 may have noticed two new features as far as recording programs go. First allows you to instantly extend a planned recording 20 minutes past its finish time, and shows on the screen as an “R+” for the show you chose only. This is particular useful for ch 7 and 9 who regularly run late on weeknights, without having to set ALL programs to record 10 minutes past their finishing time.

Previously, without manually programming the IQ2, you could only set overrun recording to 10 minutes, and it was a global setting for all recordings. Generally, its not really a big deal, but as most Foxtel programs run exactly to time, having the extra 10 minutes at the end of everything both uses space unnecessarily and becomes annoying when you organise a playlist – a playlist allows you to chose  numerous programs to play one after the other without user intervention.

The other feature, is that a recording will be set to start playing at the actual start time of a show. What this means, is that, if you have set your IQ2 to start recording 5 minutes early in case a show starts early, you do not have to fast forward through these 5 minutes of recording to get to the start of a show if it started on time. Of course, if a show starts early, you simply rewind back a little to find the real start. Again, these problems of programs not starting when advertised really only happen on free to air, as 99% of all programs on Foxtel start and finish on time.

On my IQ2, the series link feature rarely seems to work. I am not sure what the trick is here, but, for most shows, despite selecting series link, it is rare to get the next occurrence of the program in the recording list. Daily shows like Ellen, Jeopardy, the View, Jay Leno never work on series link – and its the daily shows you’d want to link more than anything so you don’t have to keep programming all the time. Hope I can update this post saying I have found the answer or had it fixed, but time will tell.

Freeview in my View

So Freeview promises to deliver 15 channels virtually for free, or at least without a subscription. Freeview will be offering a hard disk recorder allowing you to record 2 HD channels at once and watch another. But, according to the news so far I have read about FreeView, you will not be able to skip the ads! Honestly, what is the point of a hard disk recorder (PVR) if you cannot skip ads on commercial network shows? Since the early 80’s, if I have watched a show recorded from commercial TV, I fast forward the ads. If the FreeView box does not allow fast forwarding the ads, then who’s going to want it? This is one point that needs clarification. So far, FreeView is nothing more than an ad on TV, a fancy website that tells you little and a hot topic on TV blogs everywhere.

Its easy to see where the figure of 15 channels comes from – each of the 5 free to air networks now have the license to broadcast 1 HD channel and 2 SD channels, all 3 of which can have unique programming. 3 x 5 = 15 – easy! In fact, currently, each free to air broadcaster can actually broadcast up to 4 SD channels and 1 HD channel. Ch 7, Prime, ABC and SBS already do that, its just that all the additional channels are simulcasts, and licensing only allows 1 HD and 2 SD channels. 9 and 10 broadcast 1 HD and 2 SD channels – again – most the time they are simulcasts. And when analogue switches off completely in 2013, the extra bandwidth available means they should be able to offer even more channels or at least be able to offer say 3 HD channels. Time will tell on that one.

But the reality is somewhat different. To any normal person, the interpretation of 15 channels means 15 unique channels each containing different content for most of the day. It makes one believe that on each free to air network there will be an HD channel, and 2 SD channels broadcasting different content some time in 2009 when FreeView takes off.

Apart from the ABC which has plans for ABC3 (if funding is approved), it is extremely unlikely we’ll see any network provide 3 unique channels at once in the near future. Why would they? During the nightly prime time ratings dog fight, most shows are able to be seen in HD – as they should be for those of us with HD TVs. And for those who do not have access to HD, the same show has to be shown on an SD channel. And for those not yet on digital, it also has to appear on analogue. That leaves only the 2nd SD channel left to offer alternative programming. Then it is likely that the 2nd SD alternative would be programmed in such a way not to detract from the main programme being screened – by showing repeats or niche programming. Therefore, the result would be only 2 shows on at once on any free to air network.

We can already see an example of this: Ch 10, ONE HD and ONE SD. Even the FreeView web site lists ONE and ONE HD as separate channels. As ONE SD is nothing more than the SD simulcast of ONE HD, it cannot count as a separate channel. The reason is obvious – if you have an HD TV, you’d be watching ONE HD and never ONE SD. If you do not have an HD TV, you’d be watching ONE SD and cannot get ONE HD. ONE channel broadcasted over 2. This limits channel 10 to 2 channels, not 3. So straight away, the 15 channels FreeView promises begins to fall apart.

And then there’s the question of what 7 and 9 will do.Yes, at some stage, they’ll launch their 2nd SD channel, but the HD channel will still show prime time in HD and may possibly offer further unique programming late night as they already do. It would not surprise me, though, if alternative HD viewing disappears altogether, with the shows that used to be there seen on 2nd SD channel, and maybe some of those shown on HD at the same time – resulting in an HD channel showing content form both the main channel and the 2nd SD channel from time to time.

 Therefore the number of unique channels would work out as:

Ch 10 and ONE HD / ONE SD simulcast – 2 channels

Ch 9 SD and 9 SD2 with HD simulcasting 9 SD most of the time – 2 channels

Ch 7 SD and 7 SD2 with HD simulcasting 7 SD most of the time – 2 channels

ABC1, ABC2, ABC3 (let’s assume it goes ahead) – 3 channels (assuming ABC HD is ABC1 simulcast in HD)

SBS and SBS news (assuming SBS HD remains simulcast of SBS) – 2 channels

Total: 11 channels. Not 15.

In my opinion, this is extremely misleading and the claim of 15 channels should be reworded. I note now on the FreeView web site it says “up to 15 channels”. To me, the whole FreeView campaign is pointless and a waste of money – and why have it as a brand and a separate PVR? While I am a great advocate of extra channels, I don’t think it should the main priority. In the US, the focus is on HD content as opposed to extra channels each free to air network offers. All the major shows in the US are HD, and the daily and nightly talk shows make a big deal about being in HD. Here, there’s little emphasis on HD at all. While multi-channeling and FreeView seems to work well in the UK, lets keep in mind over there the population is 4 times larger than Australia, in a space smaller than one of our states – so its alot more viable.

I think the focus over the next few years should be digital take up overall without fancy brands and campaigns like FreeView. We should be making sure that all households have digital TV prior to the switch off in 2013 and legislating that all TVs must be sold with a digital tuner – like they have been doing in the US prior to their switch off in June. Until we are forced to buy only digital TVs there will never be adequate digital TV take up in Australia to warrant the networks bothering with alternative viewing knowing full well such viewing cannot be seen by all viewers. Then again, if consumers knew there was additional free content on digital television, they might switch  over. Bit of a catch 22.

Again, the lack of information offered about multi-channeling from the networks (other than 10) can only draw one to the conclusions above. We don’t know when 7 and 9 will start their 2nd SD channel and we don’t know if they will offer alternative HD viewing on top of that. Until some facts come out, the 15 channels of FreeView is really only 10 or 11.

And you can get these channels on ANY digital HD TV regardless of brand. Any set top box that can decode a HD channel will receive ALL digital channels. You do not need FreeView for this, regardless of what they say. FreeView is nothing more than a hard disk recorder with a twin HD tuner, like Tivo and many others you can buy off the shelf. Only difference would be how they interact with electronic program guides. Another subject for another time!