TV Networks Have No Idea How Annoying Their Schedule Changes Are

TV Networks Have No Idea How Annoying Their Schedule Changes Are

You know the feeling: you’ve set your PVR to record your favourite show, but when you finally watch it the last 10 minutes are missing, Those recordings rely on accurate information being sent by networks to electronic program guides (EPGs) — yet incredibly, if you ask TV executives if they think they do a good job of providing accurate data, the response turns out to be an overwhelming “yes”.

TV Tonight asked network programmers (who determine the schedule) at all the major free-to-air networks (plus Foxtel) how they would rate the accuracy of their EPG data. Seven, Ten and Foxtel all gave themselves a perfect 10/10 score, which seems ridiculous given how often the commercial providers mess around with their schedules and run shows over. (Foxtel is generally much more reliable with its own channels, but can’t control what the free-to-air networks tell it.) Just slightly more modestly, SBS and the ABC gave themselves 9/10 scores, while Nine gave itself 8/10.

Every programmer interviewed made the valid point that if live shows overrun, then the schedule will be messed up. However, it’s often the case that shows overrun even when they’re entirely pre-recorded and their length is known (My Kitchen Rules and The Block are serial offenders here). A more honest explanation comes from Nine’s Andrew Backwell, who acknowledges the common phenomena of running shows over time and advertising false starting times to try and avoid people changing channels when a show finishes:

There will be occasions where we make mistakes, and occasions that we think it’s better to run a promo that says 8:30 rather than 8:39 . . . In terms of us putting dodgy information in the EPGs –I’m not saying it hasn’t happened in the past, and I’ve been guilty of it — you have to have respect for the viewers.

Those two sentiments (“we respect the viewers” and “we do advertise false start times”) don’t seem very compatible to me. We saw earlier this week that Nine was quite happy to leave its programming plans unannounced until just hours before a broadcast.

Judging by the level of confidence network programmers display, it doesn’t seem we’re going to see any big shift in network scheduling habits any time soon. As such, complaints from those broadcasters when people start deciding to download shows instead are going to sound more hollow than ever.

TV Programmers rate their own EPG accuracy [TV Tonight]


  • And then we have the ads that might be missed if one were to download stuff… And the delays in seeing programs (Sherlock finished its run in the UK by the second week of January….)

    But no, we are all in the wrong and the FTA networks are just doing us a service….

  • For the past maybe 2 years they have been pretty good. The EPG will update on the fly as shows run overtime etc.
    I use windows MCE which has a rather intelligent EPG (compared to off the shelf PVR’s). I will often see when recording a show after one that has gone overtime (Australian X-idol dancing celebs), the EPG updates cause my recordings to adjusted to the new finishing time. My recordings just end up longer and I have not missed the end of a show for years.
    Agreed, it would be nice if they just kept to the schedule but you just have to work with nearly/Live TV.

    • I think from memory, (haven’t used it for awhile) the MCE uses the freeview EPG, so it will be reasonably accurate.

  • I’m never going to understand why they’re not using the available technologies (smart tvs, internet access, all the stuff that makes pirating easy) to provide content to their audience themselves, and actually make some money out of it. Ad-based or subscription services would mean they still made money from it, and making things available on-demand, especially if they made deals for international content to go live at the same time worldwide, would cut down on piracy dramatically.

    There are always going to be people who download, just like there were always pirate videos on the market, but the vast majority of people only do it now because it’s the best option. If tv channels smartened up, they could go back to being the best and easiest option, as well as being a legal one.

    At the moment, they’re failing so badly it was possible to buy Season Three of Sherlock on DVD and have it shipped here from the UK (completely legally, and sending all your money to the BBC, the content creators) before the series aired in most of Australia. That’s just not a sustainable business strategy.

  • One of my favourite shows “Raising Hope” was just started again this week. I thought I’d check to see if it was behind… Seems the entire 4th season has been aired already..! I’m not saying it’s a show I just have to watch, it’s not THAT funny, but I do like it, and now I’ll watch it all on my terms… 🙂

  • And then there’s the fact that they run half a season of a show, then repeat ad nauseam. How many times have I randomly tuned in to a show I occasionally watch, only to have seen the same episode 1-2 times before?

    • I had to stop watching McGyver because in a given week, they would repeat the same episode about 2 times and two parters were not honored.

      The amount of repeats was insane. Almost like that randomly selected an episode from a pool of about 10.

  • I ditched broadcast TV a long time ago, because of this, and random cancellations or skipping of episodes. WIN TV would show Show X as 11:30, then Show Y at 12, but Nine would show Show Y at 11:30, and Show X at 12. And these weren’t time sensitive shows either, these were repeat, import shows from the US (Whose Line? etc.)

    Plus, it’s a liberating feeling, having your favourite shows when you want them. I don’t need to wait for Breaking Bad to appear on TV so I can record it and watch it later, I just connect to my media server and start playing. As many or as few episodes as I want.

  • I remember ringing ch7 many years ago complaining about this. Well before mainstream PVRs even came out and I was using MythTV and Shepherd to parse all the programing guides and give me accurate(ish) times.

    When I spoke to them and complained that a program I wanted to view and I wanted to get a copy of because they ran 25 mins OVER time so I missed the last 10 mins even though I allowed for it normally.

    Anyhow the rude answer I got was no you can pay $100 to get a copy of the program and you should not be taping it and started threatening me with a law suite so I just hung up. I was very angry and upset that they would do this when they can’t even seem to get their act together..

    However it does seem that the problem has been getting worse and worse and worse over the past few years. As for caring about the viewers? HA! don’t make me laugh!

  • Hey I think you got your headline wrong, i fixed it up for you though, it should read:

    “TV Networks Know Exactly How Annoying Their Schedule Changes Are”

    You’re welcome.

  • I don’t think they care at all. They don’t respect viewers’ precious time in order to stop people changing channels or looking at more ads. I not only change the channel, I record the program with a half-hour buffer (or better still, stream it) and whizz through the ads. I also get turned off watching the station altogether as they become so unreliable and rude, cancelling programs and running them late. So the tv goes off and I surf the net … or , spend quality time with my partner.

  • I brought my mother a really nice PVR a while back and was a bit surprised to find just how bad this stuff can be. She still likes it because she can record like a supercharged VHS and the timer works, but after she discovered the advanced recording features I found I had to download a lot of shows she’d recorded.
    I’m not going to say this justifies my attitude of downloading TV shows and then buying the box sets, my way just works for me on a level they’ll never be able to compete with, but they’re dropping the ball on one of their last chances to deliver a satisfying service to people who would prefer not to download.

  • I think the reality is that they don’t want us using PVRs.

    I’ve used MediaPortal now for around 2 years, and to be honest, we now very rarely watch ads. We watch everything around 30 mins (or more) after it has aired, and skip straight past them.

    The networks are trying to counter this by switching up the break length, and having “extra” content in both MKR and the Block – this tricks you into thinking the show has returned.

    The cricket is perfect for delayed watching, skip the 30 second ads with one button press.

    Main downfall, is you do have to stay off your social media feeds, as they can sometimes give it away.

  • I set the clock on the PVR 3 minutes early and the end time of each show about 15 mins later.
    This usually catches the whole programs.

    • The point is…. you shouldn’t have to.. if this was a train schedule or bus schedule… imagine the fines they’d be incurred for running late services.. imagine the uproar from the commuters every day… I mean seriously.. TV execs need their heads read if they think this is any kind of acceptable.

      • In a busy life style I have to agree. When you can only spare an hour every few days and they stuff up their scheduling it can be quite annoying and does make you give up on them. And the advertisements. I know they pay for the shows but when a program that runs for 42 minutes and ram 48 minutes of ads in and start it 15 minutes late. Seriously just get fucked.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!