Tag Archives: channel 9

ONE HD 2 Weeks To Go

With the launch of ONE HD set to debut in capital cities on March 26, those who only receive regional television are still left wondering when the likes of Southern Cross Ten will carry the first commercial full time secondary channel.

So far, multi-channeling in regional areas has been left behind their capital city counterparts – not that there is much there either. Only Prime (that I know of) carries a simulcast of 7HD complete with the 7HD watermark but inserting their own ads. NBN broadcasts an HD channel, with no watermark but does not carry any of 9’s (very limited) alternative HD programming. Southern Cross 10 occasionally broadcast a Channel 10 show in HD but without the ads. The ad breaks, and pretty well most of all other times, SC10 HD broadcasts music and country scenery they call “HD demonstration”.

So the question remains – when will the regional networks pick up their game with digital multi-channeling? And when 7 and 9 launch their 2nd SD channels later this year, will the regionals be onboard immediately as well? Perhaps its additional expense, but surely it could be as simple as re-broadcasting the captial city version of the additonal channel, even if they leave the ads from the capital city feed. Two years ago, the Prime HD feed on the Central Coast and Newcastle came from Wollongong complete with ads catered for southern NSW and Victoria.

Sadly, it seems these days, there is a lack of willingness for television networks to keep their viewers up to date especially in relation to multi-channeling. We understand times are tough financially which may be a reason holding back networks with their multi-channeling plans, but a simple press release emailed to a few journalists, costing vitually nothing to write and send, would keep us up to date with what is happening. Surely they all do have an idea of what they are about to do.

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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.

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.