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.