Tag Archives: packed to the rafters

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.

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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.

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.