Tag Archives: mentalist

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.

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Some Shows I Watch

My own TV viewing is a mixture of shows from each of the free to air networks and Foxtel. Most shows I don’t watch live, preferring to record them to watch later, filtering out the ads. Most week nights I am working till 6 or 7, after which I watch the 6pm news from ch 7, followed by Jeopardy on W on Foxtel – Jeopardy is a 15 minute show once you cut out the ads and bypass the obligatory game show “get to know the contestants” segment appearing after the first ad break. If I have been watching 7 news at 6 live, then I’ll normally leave it on for Today Tonight, but never go out of my way to watch the show. Occasionally I may flick over to A Current Affair if I have seen a story advertised I am interested in, but usually am unaware of what is on due to the fact I watch little ch 9, and when I do, it is recorded. Of all the channels, 9 is the worst to watch live waiting for shows to start late, finish late, and putting up with ads for trash shows like Wipeout or 20-1.

Last week, unmissable television for me was seeing Obama on Jay Leno (Friday night here, Thursday in US). I am surprised that one of the free to airs did not do a deal with Comedy Channel for that show only as I believe it would have rated well. He explained alotof what is going on in terms the audience would understand.

Next on the list, and this is not really in order, is Life On Mars (Thur, ch 10, 9.30). It is different to all other cop shows no at the moment – it reminds me of old cop shows as it should being se tin 1973. With the over-supply of procedural type crime shows on TV at the moment, Life on Mars definitely is different. In a way, I am glad it only has one season, so it does not get tired and fades away, like so many shows do these days. I’m praying ch 10 will keep it on, regardless of poor ratings.

I really enjoy the Mentalist (ch 9, Wed, 8.30 – really 8.35, April 1: 9.30). It does really well in the US, and should do so here as well, but suspect the fact it is on ch 9 and starts late every time its on doesn’t help. Simon Baker helps provide for a show that has some humour, unlike the majority of the other crime procedural shows. For the record, I don’t watch CSI or Criminal Minds, Cold Case, Without a Trace or Bones as they are too similar (in my opinion, but have tried them all at some stage).

I saw on “On Demand” on my IQ2 one day a show called Threshold (SciFi Thur 8.30). Its about an agency called Threshold who deal with alien contact with humans.  Like all the crime shows, there is a group of people within the agency who deal with certain aspects of the investigation, each with their own quirks. Again, its very different and definitely entertaining.

Another one on cable is True Blood (Showcase, Tue 8.30). Interestingly, I noticed that this is on Free to Air in NZ! Story is about vampires, with a similar story line to Twilight. There’s a good review on TV Tonight from a while back (www.tvtonight.com, then search for “true blood”).

I also watch “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Comedy channel. (Comedy, Thur 9.30). Initially, I started watching it prior to the US election last year when they were discussion the issues of the election. While Bill Maher can be quite extreme in some of his views, the show is quite enjoyable and generates numerous topics of conversation at our place.

And yes, I am one of the 2.1 or so who watch Underbelly 2 (Mon, ch 9, 8.35). It’s nothing like it was last year, and there is more nudity than there needs to be, but still I find the story interesting. Again, maybe its the fact that it is set in the 70’s and early 80’s, but to me, it is different to most of what is on TV at the moment.

Which leads me to Packed to the Rafters (Tue, ch 7, 8.35). It stands out because it has nothing to do with crime. Its about a family. What else is on TV like it? It’s funny in parts, you can relate to alot of it, and its not hard to follow either. All reasons why it tops the ratings for ch 7.

Also on 7, City Homicide (Sun, ch 7, 8.30). The episodes have been getting better leading up to the season finale next week. Initially, I thought it felt out of place being on Sunday night instead of Monday. I am glad ch 7 stopped advertising new night for that and Border Patrol as every time I’d see the new night ad, I thought they would move them again. No reason to, they are doing OK at the moment, despite the higher publicity CSI gets.

And, as anyone who reads my stories will be able to tell, I am an ER fan. I am disappointed with 9 for not showing ER during ratings season. After hearing of their announcement of their 2nd SD channel launching later this year, I have some hope that they’ll put ER on that channel (not to mention countless others that have bumped or simply haven’t shown despite having the rights). I hope this channel is here sooner rather than later, but realistically, my prediction is the first week of non-ratings in summer so they can experiment prior to the 2010 ratings year. Currently, ER season 10 screens on 111-Hits, with season 11 about to start in April. I’ve also watched season 8 and 9 episodes on DVD recently.

I could go on for a while here on this subject, but will leave more for later – maybe after Easter when a few of these shows have finished and new ones fill my viewing habbits.

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.