Tag Archives: free to air

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.

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FreeView in my View 4

So here comes the next round of Free View ads which will supposedly remind us of what we love about free to air TV. The same day we hear about channel 9’s new Tuesday night line up containing nothing but 2.5 Men, 20-1 and Underbelly, most of which are repeats. These Free view ads are a waste of time and no doubt take air space away from real advertisers selling real products.

Freeview are so delusional, that they call 7HD and 9HD separate channels. 9HD hardly has any break away programming and for the most part is the same as the main channel – so should not count, and 7HD is almost as bad but at least has more break away times.

And now the comment relating to more channels launching says within a year. We know channel 9 have announced their new channel, Ten is already doing ONE, SBS News has become SBS2, ABC has been given the go ahead for ABC3 (I knew thewy would) but channel 7 is still yet to announce anything.

Currently, I put the channel count at 8 – ABC, ABC2, Ten, One, 7, 9, SBS, SBS2. In regional area of northern NSW, it is 7 channels as there is no ONE yet. It will hopefully be on SC10 by July, about the same time it is rumoured Foxtel will get it for those who do not have cable. Go 99 and ABC3 will take it to 10 channels, and 7’s new channel when they announce it will be the 11th. And that will most likely be it, as I don’t see any of them then using the HD channel as a break away from the other 2 channels.

Ads Not Adding Up

There seems to ba a new strategy applied to some shows on TV now. It goes something like this: Show starts. First ads appear 20 minutes into the show meaning the first 20 minutes are ad free. Then the remaining 5 ad breaks are roughly evenly placed for the remaining 40 minutes – meaning you have a 3 or even 4 minute ad break occurring every 8 minutes. The net result is that it seems there is as much time dedicated to ads in these 40 minutes as there is to the show itself.

I gave “Pushing Daisies” a go on the W channel last week. I thought they may have arranged their ads this way because it was a new show. But, I noticed this advertising pattern seem sot be the norm on a number of shows. This can be painful if you are watching a show live (thankfully, I hardly ever watch live). The first 20 minutes is obviously fine but the rest of the show ads dominate. Channel 7 and 9 also run this ad strategy for A Current Affair and Today Tonight – no ads for 2o minutes, then 3 ad breaks before the shows finish at 7.05.

No doubt, the reason for having no ads in the first 20 minutes is to keep viewers tuned in and not flicking over to other shows in an increasingly competitive environment. But then you get into the second half of the show and start wondering why there are so many ads. If you have recorded the show, it seems you have just put the remote down from the previous ad break before having to pick it up again for the next. I think evenly distributed ads are fairer.

And while we are talking about ads on the W channel, anyone who watches Jeopardy, 7pm Mon-Fri, would notice the ads are almost twice as loud in volume as the show itself. When watching Jeopardy, my volume output is at about 60, but for the ads, I have to turn down to about 40 to make them appear at equal volume to the show. Having ads that are louder than the show is nothing new, it is just that in the case of Jeopardy the show is so quiet compared to the ads. There was a time when ads on 7HD were much quieter than the show they were airing – which was refreshing to see.

Another problem with Foxtel shows and ads is that the ad breaks appear excessive in order to make a show go for one hour. Most shows without ads are just 40 minutes. That means there is 20 minutes to fill in with ads. For the most part, advertising on Foxtel channels is not as attractive as on free to air channels due to lower audience. That means, that during most shows, there are not enough ads to fill 20 minutes in an hour. The result is countless self promotion ads both for the channel you are watching as well as others. Again, best not to watch live if you have a recorder.

In my opinion, they should reduce the time allocated to ads on some of their channels and maybe have shows starting at odd times. They’d get more shows in and possibly drive up the quality of the ads that do end up there as there would be less time to show ads.

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.