Ten’s Friday night is one of the most unstable nights of programming in Australian free to air TV. It seems that no matter what they air on a Friday night, they simply don’t attract an audience, and the network is prone to react to the low figures by chopping and changing programming.
However, it is this very chopping and changing of programming that is to Ten’s detriment. You never know what you will get on Ten on Friday night, and, when they do try something new there, you never know if it will be on for anymore than a few weeks before they take the show off.
Friday nights on Ten in 2011 have featured new episodes of Law & Order, Blue Bloods, Burn Notice, repeats of Hawaii Five-O, Terra Nova encores and movies amongst others. The night has been so erratic, that nothing has lasted there for anymore than a few weeks.
The usual argument is that the network needs to respond to ratings, and that their core demographic is out on Friday nights. Sure – people do go out on a Friday night, but alot are also watching TV on Friday nights. Better Homes and Gardens on Seven dominates Friday night ratings, while digital channels like GO! and 7TWO reach large audience shares on Friday night.
So what should Ten do to gain audience on Friday nights? (and for that matter, Saturdays as well).
Well, firstly, commit to stability. Schedule the night, and let shows run their course without changing so often. As for movies? Ten simply don’t have enough titles to entice viewers without regular repeats. What ever they do, they need to accept that ratings will usually be lower on weekend nights, but if they program wisely, and don’t change the schedule every few weeks, the people are there for the taking. Maybe it is time to program weekend nights like weekdays, and air new programming?
The people are there – but they are not going to watch repeats of shows that have only recently aired or movies they have seen many times before. Encores should be left for the digital channels – one of my great disappointments with Terra Nova is not being able to see it in HD. Ten should have encored it on ONE in HD instead of the late night Friday night reply on Ten.
That aside, here is a list of ideas of what Ten could do on Friday nights to attract viewers. Some of these ideas are out there – but what do they have to lose in trying? These ideas could extend to Saturday as well, now that there will be no more AFL on Ten next year.
In no particular order…
1. Play out new shows and stick to it. No more repeats. The addition of the weekend nights give more timeslots available for new titles.
2. Animation night. Take the best of ELEVEN’s animation night and do it on Ten on Friday night – mostly for the benefit of those who don’t have digital and don’t see anything on ELEVEN.
3. Best of the digitals night – why stop at animation – play some of the shows that aired on ELEVEN and ONE during the week on Ten (and some of Ten’s on ONE in HD!). Shows like Supernatural, currently airing on ELEVEN on Monday nights, will find a wider audience on Ten. It could easily fit into a weekend timeslot on Ten.
4. Actually MAKE something for Friday night to air at say 8.30. A light comedy show? Light entertainment / variety? Reality elimination? If Pay TV can make shows exclusively for their own channels that reach a fraction of the audience of the free to air main channels, then surely making content for lower audiences could be a consideration for a network like Ten.
5. I have always wondered how Aussie scripted drama like RUSH would do on a Friday night with less competition from rival broadcasters? It couldn’t do any worse than on a Thursday night. Yes, I know, alot of the show’s fans are out, but you never know. It is last season for Rush anyway, but it is a good example.
6. Retro night. Programming from 90′s, 80′s or even 70′s? There is ALOT of content from the past we do not see now despite day time schedules of digital channels, most notably 7mate and ELEVEN, being filled with old TV shows. There is alot of Australian content from the past that never sees the light of day again (although I believe this has mostly to do with the expense of royalties when these shows air).
7. Do a deal with Foxtel and show some content usually only seen on Pay TV. Foxtel keep first to air rights, but Ten air later. Rove: LA for example would fit well on Ten. True Blood on a Friday night on Ten? Could get tricky with who owns what rights, but it is an idea.
8. Ask the viewers what they would like to see on Friday nights. Like radio stations do with listener surveys, why not try the same with TV? Listener surveys of the 1990′s in radio helped the Austerio network in particular gain traction and make its way to the number one music network in Australia.
What do you think? What would you like to see on Ten on Friday and Saturday nights. Do you even watch TV on those nights? Would you watch more free to air on the weekend if the content was there?
Feel free to comment and join the discussion.