Commercial TV Scheduling Is A Joke

Commercial TV Scheduling Is A Joke

tvschedule It’s not likely to be news to anyone who has grappled with what passes for an electronic program guide in Australia: a survey confirms that the commercial networks completely suck when it comes to broadcasting shows when scheduled.

A survey of 800 readers on the TV Tonight blog singled out Nine as the worst offender (with 80% of respondents describing it as the most unreliable overall), while the ABC was deemed the most reliable in actually starting and finishing programs on time. The ABC’s reliability is somewhat ironic given that its ever-expanding iView service means it also offers the best chance of catching up with something you’ve missed.

Messing with start times is often used by desperate programmers as a means of trying to ensure viewers don’t switch over to watch rival channels, but increasingly has the backfire effect of annoying viewers so much that they decide to seek out shows via BitTorrent, or just abandon them altogether. That trend is particularly evident amongst tech-savvy consumers like the Lifehacker crowd, but hasn’t yet translated into mass adoption of online video — yet.

What’s your biggest peeve about network scheduling? Tell all in the comments.

ABC most reliable network, Nine worst – readers [TV Tonight]


  • My biggest gripe about commercial networks is their ordinary programming. Since getting Fox a year ago the only thing I turn on commercial TV for is sport… and even then the offering is limited. Most of my tv viewing time is spent watching Foxtel or TV series via my media centre PC and Bittorrent. The few good shows that Commercial channels do pick up usually get relegated to a stupid timeslot of 11pm, and are likely to get pulled half way through the season.

  • The commercial channels seem to have lost the plot entirely. The content is so below par that I can safely say I haven’t felt any inclination to watch Ch9 or 10 in a long time. Channel 2 and SBS have consistent quality programming, and it’s on when they say it will be.

    I’ll occasionally watch MASH on ch7, but that’s a quirk of mine 😉

  • Hmmm, I have always found Ten the most frustrating… How many times do you have to wait for Australian Idol/Big Brother/So You Think You Can Dance/etc to finish going into overtime?

    Of course, we could just remove reality tv completely… *sigh*

  • Besides putting the news on when I get home from work there is NOTHING I watch on commercial TV.
    Im frustrated to no end by the complete lack of quality programming. . .and ads!!!

    But, in saying that, I did watch three episodes of Seinfeld on the weekend on channel GO. That was a pleasant surprise.

  • I’ve had a mythtv box for 2 years now, and it is extremely rare that I even record anything from a commercial channel. There’s sometimes something good on ABC or SBS, occasionally a TV series from the ‘nets or a friend, and sometimes hire a DVD (yes, easier and cheaper than a torrent). Pity my local dvd library shut down a few months ago, but there are others nearby.

    But to be honest, I’m getting less and less interested in the TV, and more and more on the real world as life goes on (The Wire being the main exception to this 😉

  • What’s television? What’s a commercial? Is it anything like the high-def, advertisement-free quality programming I download from the US, Canada and the UK years before it shows up here cut to bits; shown in random, constantly shifting timeslots; and full of extra-loud segments where people try to sell me crap I don’t need? Viva iView and Channel Rapidshare, bring on Hulu Oz!

  • @Devren – I actually think that Seven, Nine and Ten do this on purpose. A great example is the declining-in-quality-but-still-worth-watching Good News Week. It *always* starts and finishes late, and I believe this is because they’re trying to capture those who are switching over from watching Top Gear to catch the end of the current reality-karaoke/cooking/weightloss/dancing rubbish to “generate” interest.

    Unfortunately, Seven, Nine and Ten won’t understand if people keep watching this “reality” or American-sitcom-type rubbish and advertising revenues decline. If it wasn’t for SBS and Foxtel, I’d go nuts. But overall yes my TV viewing has reduced dramatically since coming to Australia.

  • I have to agree with others that there is less and less I watch on Free to Air tv these days. In fact, we ordered Foxtel this week! Mostly because I get really tired of trying to do the right thing by waiting and watching a show on tv, only to have them constantly change timeslots, end the season two eps early, cancel the show or only give us one new ep amongst half a dozen reruns. *dramatic sigh*

    Also, I love the ABC – it’s my favourite station – but I watch less and less of it on tv now that I can watch most shows on iView at my own leisure. Even on my ADSL1 connection iView works wonderfully! *hearts it*

  • Remember when Channel 7 aired 1.5 episodes of Black Adder per week, by cutting them to fit (with ads) into an hour time slot? Because they cut away opening and closing credits (which had song lyrics matching each week’s story), they’d just try to run it all together, so either the hour started half way through a story or ended just as suddenly.

  • I understand that it’s getting harder and harder for FTA stations to get people to watch ads these days, and that PVR’s are a major bug bear in that respect but putting an over abundance of four minute ads into shows like Good News Week isn’t going to solve their problems. If they want to get me back to watching more regularly they need to, as mentioned on previous posts here: actually start and finnish at scheduled times, even if it does run long, at least you then know and can adjust for it. Stop treating viewers as cash cows and start treating them with respect (ads!). Finally spend some money on descent programmes, you need to spend money to make money!!

  • Bittorrented shows is the only bearable TV watching these days. Here are my gripes:

    – awful, awful content generally

    – particularly awful, awful content during prime watching hours (6:30pm – 8:30pm)

    – network news that caters to dumb audiences; in a 30 minute segment, 40% is fluff banter between the hosts, 30% is sport, 20% is weather, 10% is actual news and even then it’s mostly localised.

    – airing shows chronologically far later than originally aired in the US (*** reason #1 I took to bittorrents)

    – dropping shows mid-season for no good reason

  • Channel 9 should be renamed as the “Two and a Half Men” channel, that is all they have to offer and the show has become quite stale, that I switch off as soon as it comes on these days.

  • When I see the FACTS ads (how to complain about TV content) I often wish TV stations could be fined for aberrant scheduling.

    Unfortunately, a direct hit on the hip-pocket is the only thing they seem to understand.

  • One thing that I hate about TV Stations is that when they don’t name everything nicely for a EPG, like the Lamans 24 Hour… One had it labelled differently, which I didn’t know about until the next day when it missed a large portion of the race…

    I would have to agree that Channel 9 is the WORST with its programming schedule, why cant they change the EPG to match the shows, its not like they are live and cant work out when they will end.

    Also I have noticed that it is normally fine until after the 7pm start slot, or the 8:30pm end slot…

    I started to torrent most of my programs as Australia just doesn’t show them… And I have no idea why the American version of The Office was cut after 3 episodes… it gets better from season 1…

  • Worst offender are reality TV shows that run 10-15 minutes overtime. Ten is the worst of them, which is a shame because they have some decent stuff on occasionally.

  • Commercial TV … is a Joke!

    the three networks in Oz appear to think that, having one decent program in their lineup each season, is sufficient to retain viewing audiences.

    20 years ago that was largely true — the hard reality for the networks is, the viewing public have far more choice now than back then — internet in all it’s flavours, pay TV, and cheap home delivered movies.

    they are facing imminent extinction and clearly don’t know how to react.

  • Ergh, as a fan of the Science Fiction genre, my pet peeve is not only the scheduling of when they’ll be on, it’s IF they’ll be on.
    Yet again, it’s hard for me to think of any good shows that are on now basically. The only one that I can think of is Burn Notice, with it’s late timeslot. Even though it suits my timing on Thursday nights (uni student with some evening classes), I can’t help think about it from the situation of others, where people might fall asleep before they get to watch it.

    Reality TV shows always screw up the times. I remember a couple years back, CH7 started showing Stargate Atlantis (Season 2), for only like 2 or 3 weeks. They had advertised it at the end of the previous season to come back at Feb, and it was as late as around June. After the first few weeks, they suddenly raped the timeslot and chucked one of the Ashton Kutcher reality crap into the spot. It took about 5 or 6 months to slug through all of that, then, they had a few more weeks THEN they started continuing Stargate, so it’s like a 6 month gap between the first 2 episodes and the rest of the season (usually 20 episodes.) It’s also odd, because they tended to air the seasons so that when the boxset came out, it would have only a handful of episodes left to air. This usual rule wasn’t followed at this season of Stargate, as I bought the DVD set of it (I think) during that long break between the first few episodes.

    As a “youngster,” I remember Stargate SG-1 being shown at around 7:30 at one time on Thursdays, then later they moved it to 8:30, then 9:30, then they moved it to Sunday then moved it to 11:30 then eventually it stayed crapped up like that, but moved back to Thursday. I forget what they initially did with Firefly, but I recall they were shifting the times later and later, as I turned on the TV when it was the same time as the previous weeks, but found myself watching something that probably could’ve been smut. I also being seriously annoyed at their lateness, so I actually had rung them up, but they seemed to ignore the fact that they advertised it beforehand, and they literally told me “It’ll come when it comes.”

    I rarely watch TV on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but I remember the commercial stations always screwing with the times unreasonably. Monday is fine, because I can hop from CH9 (Big Bang Theory) to CH10 (GNW, Dexter) and have it mostly smoothly, however I tended to “run” into some of that crappy 5th grader quiz show.
    Also, I recall during the WGA strike, a lot of seasons ended early. CH7 was still airing their season of Heroes (I’d rather get forced to eat offal than to watch a whole episode of it nowadays) but they ended it about 2 or 3 episodes early, a year and a half later, they advertised the late ones as “new” episodes (I hadn’t been too knowledgeable on torrents, but my friend torrented those episodes for me) when they should have started the new season. As such, after these 2 or 3 episodes being aired (which took the usual 1 episode per week time) CH7 took a further break of about a month before starting the new season.

    Fridays and Saturdays hardly ever have quality television (for my tastes, the sports people can disagree), at which I’ll tend to do homework, or browse the internet, and even still, there’s not that much homework (as such, but there’s reading etc), and I’ve practically run out of new good things to read/watch/listen/play on the internet.

    I can’t complain much about CH10.

    One of my friends worked for a company that held some events sponsored by CH9, and one item that my friend got was a promotional disc of “what’s coming to 9,” One show in particular was Pushing Daisies, which I don’t think ever was aired on the channel. Channel 9 aired that Terminator tv series for its first season, but neglected to air the second season, and somewhat recently, CH10 has “teasers” that related to Terminator, which may have just been an ad for the Terminator movie. There were no signs of CH10 picking up that tv series apart from the glowing red eye.

    A few of my female friends liked to watch a few of the “dramadey” shows on CH7, one being Ugly Betty, CH7 didn’t air the more recent seasons of it, which was a disappointment as that show was actually decent.

    I recently went over the Tasman to our sheeple neighbours (AKA, New Zealand) and I was surprised at what their TV was like. Basically, they had quite a few good shows (which I had heard good things about, usually from io9) at reasonable times, I didn’t have much time to check their TV, but it seemed better than ours for some aspects.

    I agree that the ABC is reliable with their timing, nothing bad to say about it.

    Sorry about the major length, Aussie tv planning and scheduling is one of the worst things I deal with, I tend to not go anywhere near the other topics.

  • i bought a MacMini + eyeTV dual-tuner + IceTV EPG in March this year. it was a revelation. for the previous decade or more, TV was mostly useless to me – i won’t have my life scheduled by TV stations.

    in the last 6 months i’ve discovered:

    – a world of factual programming (particularly documentaries) on ABC & SBS that i’d previously had to resort to downloading/streaming. now i don’t care what time it’s on.

    – ABC & SBS remain ‘living’ treasures. their news & CA are the only ones that don’t insult my intelligence & waste my time.

    – among the commercial stations, for me, 10 is killing the rest. 7 is rarely of much interest. 9 is Dead To Me (endless 2.5men? yet another mind-numbing 20to1? omg, where’s the razor blades…)

    – i rarely watch movies on any TV stations – most are of no interest. downloads (legal or otherwise) & cinema remain my source.

    – the scheduling of the commercial stations drives me INSANE, even with the DVR configured with +15min over-recording. my 30min DVR recording of ABC News ends right as the lead-out music ends EVERY NIGHT. as stated above, most of their shows also run on or close to time. what do the commercial stations hope to gain by my DVR recording ending 5 mins before the end of the show (7PMproject, GNW) if they don’t publish the *real* duration? they’re clinging to a admittedly still majority, but DWINDLING non-DVR viewership by tricking viewers to stay tuned. their tactic will speed their fall.

    – for most of my regular serial/fiction/scifi shows, legal or otherwise downloads remain the only viable option – the commercial stations are still pathetically behind US/international broadcast dates, with their too-few-too-late attempts to catch up.

    – people moan about the Apple/iTunes ‘walled garden’. but has anyone looked closely at TiVo’s 6’x6′ plot with razor-wire fence?!? i was itching for TiVo all decade until details were announced. clueless.

    commercial TV execs sit shoulder-to-shoulder with music/movie/book execs in their total ineptitude at tackling the ground that is rising to meet their fall and having the gonads to try new things & actually embrace the technology that will otherwise kill them.

    the scheme of international licensing by country/region DOES NOT WORK ANYMORE – the middlemen either need to overhaul their business models dramatically, or fate will bury them. i will not mourn their loss – we have adequate and growing alternatives now.

    just like the AFACT/7/Hollywood case against iiNet – they’re weeing into the wistful 1980s winds instead of doing their jobs. shareholders in these media companies appear to be equally clueless & apathetic. at present, their behaviour suggests there is no hope for them.

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