Tag Archives: ch 9

FreeView in My View 3

So there will be no FreeView EPG until the end of the year. Channel 9’s new channel will launch some time in August. ONE HD is already here for anyone who lives in the 5 capital cities. FreeView branded equipment will be on sale from May 1. And FreeView will launch more ads from April 26.

Exactly what do they hope to achieve with these ads? More confusion? More empty promises? Brand awareness? Confusing the already confused?

In my opinion, what really needs to happen is to have everything sorted out before they wast anymore time advertising and further confuse TV viewers Australia wide. Given that the EPG will not launch until the end of the year, how will the product work in any case? And there is still the cloud over the ad skipping capability on the FreeView branded PVR. I can understand why they would not want viewers to skip ads completely, so why not base the system on Foxtels’ IQ2 where you fast forward ads? If you see an ad that is interesting, you stop and take a look. Making people sit through ads when they are not watching live TV just won’t work. And being called FreeView will mean nothing.

Since the FreeView name was introduced late last year, saying “coming soon in 2009”, there has been little or no development to the system leading many to write it off as a pointless waste of time. This is now the stigma they are stuck with and will be very hard for them to work their way out of it. FreeView is seen as misleading and a series of empty promises. As I have written in other posts here, we will not see 15 unique Free to air channels any time soon.

Here’s what should happen now, in my opinion, if FreeView is going to revive itself:

1. Do not advertise at all until everything is in place for the product.

2. Set deadlines with manufacturers for FreeView branded equipment, and get them into the market place by a certain date.

3. Educate retailers about the system.

4. Deadline when the extra channels come. Ten has ONE HD already. 9’s 2nd channel is due in August, 7 is yet to announce, but should ideally do it about the same time as 9.

5. Get the EPG up in line with extra channels.

6. Include community TV (where available), and maybe even some of the channels in the 44 group in Sydney extending to other cities and areas – that gets more channels (Available frequencies may be an issue though).

7. Make sure that the regionals are on at the same time – unlike what happened with ONE HD, still yet to appear on SC10.

8. Publicise these dates in the media and on their web site. Keep the public informed. back up promises with actual content and detail. So far, one of the biggest problems with FreeView has been the lack of any actual content to back up their promises.

9. Any additonal services that will come with FreeView – such as on demand services – should be confirmed with launch dates as well during this time.

Once everything is in place, then will be the time to release FreeView as a complete system with 10 (say) channels including all other features it will have working rather than “coming soon”. That way, the consumer will know they are getting a complete product and not some expensive box with little or nothing over what they have now or can obtain much more cheaply.

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7 Behind 8 Ball of 9 and 10

Added: April 14th: There’s a romour going round, as reported on Tv Tonight, that 9’s 2nd SD channel will be called Go!99. That’s not yet official. Time will tell. I liked the idea os something like E9, 9 Plus or 9 Extra as it keeps some branding with channel 9. And the regionals would just substitute the “9” with WIN or NBN. Whereas, with “99”, they have to do something else – such as “88”. Or how about “86” – then we could have 86 and 99 working together like in “Get Smart”. We await more information.

While updating now, there is still no word from ch 7 about their 2nd SD channel – which is basically what the article below is about.

I found this quote in an article on whatsonthetube.net and thought I’d share it:

“The Seven Network has had success with its new channel with chief executive David Leckie saying, “The HD channel is getting some advertisers and viewers and will break even this year, but it is not the main game. The main game is the new standard definition channel. That will be exciting.”

The remark is made in reference to 7HD, which was up and running since Mid October 2007. The article, published on whatsonthetube.net March 10, 2008,  was about 9HD’s launch mid March 2008, and makes comment about the fact that the 2nd SD channels were allowed to be on air from Jan 1, 2009, and that 2009 would be exciting for TV.

As I write this article, there is still no word yet of ch 7’s plans for its 2nd SD channel. As we all know, ONE HD and its SD counterpart start full time at 7.30 Thur March 26 (now adjusted to 7pm in Melbourne due to the change to the AFL coverage). So that is channel 10 sorted for now.

And earlier this week, ch 9 announced its plans for an entertainment channel even though details were somewhat vague to say the least – with no definite confirmation – or even indication – of a launch date other than some time in the 2nd half of the year.

That just leaves channel 7. Given Leckie’s comment one year ago, you would have thought channel 7 would have been the first to launch its 2nd SD channel. No doubt they are more cashed up than the other networks, being the number one rating network of 2008. Or, maybe ch 7 has decided there was no need to address having a 2nd SD channel for that reason – no need to do anything extra to stay number one. With poor programming generally on ch 9 and ch 10 aiming for the younger demographics and therefore not winning overall ratings, that leaves ch 7 1st every week. Perhaps it is ch 7 waiting to see what 9 does and what success ONE HD has before making any commitments.

But why wait for what the others do? Why not go out on your own like ch 10 has. Even 9’s idea sounds like a free to air version of a cross between FOX8 and TV1 (in their own words), but, even though vague, at least there is some indication.

Still, with all the time these networks have had to get their proverbials together as far as digital multi channeling goes and the time and money they have spent on the FreeView campaign, there is no reason why in March 2009 ONE HD should be the only new commercial extra digital channel. It just continues to be the viewers who lose out time after time and none of them seem to be making any effort in clearing up the digital confusion.

Someone should step in and simplify and unify the process for all of Australia. Set a date for all channels to be up and running – metro and regional – and, as for FreeView, clean up the mess they have created and give the viewers what they want.

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.

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.

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.