Why TV Shows Will Never Ever Run On Time Again

Why TV Shows Will Never Ever Run On Time Again

One of the more annoying trends in modern television is the fact that shows in prime time rarely start neatly on the hour or half-hour. The bad news? Australian TV networks have no plans to change that.

TV Tonight asked the chief programmers from almost every Australian free-to-air network about this very topic (Seven was apparently too busy making episodes of My Kitchen Rules overrun to take part). The universal consensus? No-one cares about “junctions” — the TV biz terminology for fixed programming slots like 830pm — anymore. The news on commercial TV is likely to start at 6pm, but after that all bets are off.

Every programmer interviewed suggests that it’s more important that the details provided to electronic program guides (EPGs) are correct, so that people recording shows to watch later don’t accidentally miss the beginning or the end. We agree entirely that this would be great, but the reality is it rarely happens. Adding 20 minutes or more to the recording time is still a necessary precaution — even though the vast majority of non-sports programming isn’t live. No wonder TV ratings continue to spiral downwards.

Goodbye 8:30. Programmers agree Junctions are “irrelevant” in 2015 [TV Tonight]


  • Why would they? They’re hoping that when you catch that last 20 minutes of My Kitchen Rules you’ll be sucked in and keep watching next week (tomorrow?). Instead of just giving up and changing channels or pirating the show you actually wanted to watch.

    • This. Also, being out of sync with the other channels makes it much harder to switch over between shows, meaning that each channel will get a big portion of their viewership for flagship shows to just stay with them all evening.

      • Jesus, @dknigs & Shane…. You cynical, skeptical, depressingly-insightful bastards. 🙂

  • Free to air TV is dying. These sorts of tactic by the stations are just making sure that the nails are properly hammered into the coffin. I watch about 3 hours of TV a week and stream about 12 hours. Evil changes like the “great for fans” removal of half the Formula 1 grand prix from channel Ten further remove my likelihood of returning to free to air. The first time something I’ve set on the DVR doesn’t get the whole show immediately pushes me to streaming or downloading the rest of the season. At least the ABC runs on time.

  • I assume this is about lock-in. If they mess with the end time then you are more likely to miss the beginning of a show on another station and stick with their channel.

    Two things about this strategy:

    1. They could end on time in the past, even with live shows. This seems to be deliberate on their part

    2. It causes the very thing they don’t want: downloads.

    After constantly missing the end of shows (even with a buffer) I resorted to buying the whole season on DVD from USA.

    The stations are actually making their demise quicker. Which I find hilarious.

  • and it completely screws with the recording schedule of my media center since Australia does not have a program end/start signal.
    So i have to skip though some bullshit show I have no interest in and might miss the end of the one I’m interested in.

    And free-to-air wonder why people keep torrenting everything.

  • The only free to air I watch is mostly ABC & SBS, because I know their shows start and finish when they say. Anything else is just streamed, and the shows I watch are often not shown or are delegated to late night slots on commercial TV anyway. That and I’d rather stream shows I want to watch than the glut of reality TV programs that take up the prime time viewing.

      • I can forgive 2 to 3 minutes, as is the case with ABC at times, but 15 to 20 on a regular basis is just a joke. I’m looking at you 9 & 7. I’m a little surprised that this practice isn’t reeled in by the industry board.

  • Not sure of the technicalities, but using WMC I used to try to use any available EPG sites, but they weren’t updated quickly enough, and also WMC didn’t support local guides in Aus without a bit of add-on hacking. Then I started just using the OTA EPG, and found it updated regularly enough by itself with precise timing (eg. watching F1 it would mostly check if there was an extension of the timing itself if it overran). So for the last couple of years at least, I’ve not had to +20 mins anything. Very happy.

  • And yet if you channel surf during an ad break, all you get is the ads from the other stations? I record everything, I really hate being subjected to a five minute ad every five minutes!

  • The next 12 months will be a massive hit to TV with Netflix and the like taking up viewers consumption time. Viewers will spend more time watching media when and where they like compared to being at the mercy of commercial channels regarding when they are allowed to watch content.

  • Free to air TV stations are starting to pay for treating their viewers with contempt for the last many years. They’ve been more focused on attracting sponsors than pleasing viewers with this sort of program timing nonsense, the manner that they switch to outdated programming during non ratings periods and tired unoriginal programming.

    They’ll soon be learning that Internet based channels start when you want, show what you want are still have high quality programs available during school holidays. Free to air TV still has a future but they need to treat viewers with more respect to retain their loyalty.

  • My conspiracy theory says they want people to turn off. The guys at the top have very deep pockets and have probably invested heavily in Netflix, etc, etc. Who would want to run an FTA station in Australia that is forced to make local content that doesn’t rate and whose revenue stream is from selling ads to companies who don’t want to pay and are starting to question the value?

  • this is the exact reason why i have moved onto, getting a VPN and using Hulu and Netflix as my television source, no need to wait until “dancing with the z-grade celebrities” has run over 30 minutes and has finished till i can watch whatever program is after it

  • Some great points above, and some valid reasons why so many people switch off FTA TV. But don’t forget the classic ‘live’ grand finale of some reality show. You flick over to watch the live grand finale, only to then realise that people are already posting about the winner on FB because it was shown in NSW an hour ago. WTF?

  • There is a conspiracy in Australia. All the ad breaks on Foxtel channels are mostly at the same time, and sadly these are even synchronised with commercial TV ads.

  • Similar thing happened about 15 years ago when trying to watch late-night television (eg star trek or anything else given a post 9pm timeslot). Shows would frequently run over because of some of the live shows that were playing like the Footy Show or a run of the previous nights Letterman episode. Use to throw off the G-Code start/end times so people had to manually record shows or build in the buffer to their start/end times (anyone else remember G-Code?).

    Eventually it seemed like it was fixed. Late night times were adjusted to handle the run over of ads and shows were brought back in to their designated time slot. If there was ever a spare few minutes they’d just run more commercials.

    Given that shows like My Kitchen Rules are heavily edited i’m not sure why they would have as much trouble keeping it to a certain timeslot (I mean, you can only highlight so many shots of ingredient mixing and and contestants faces while they wait for someone to say good or bad) other than, as others have mentioned, aiming to make sure that more people catch the tail of the show and tune in for the next episode.

    It will be interesting to see how Australian free to air television evolves over the next few years in the face of increased pressure from subscription services (like Stan and Netflix) and catch up services provided by the major networks.

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