One of the problems that Ten will have with the new 90 minute Ten News at Five is keeping or attracting viewers for its last half hour from 6pm – 6.30pm when the majority of viewers looking for new tune in to Seven or Nine.
On day one of the new 90 minute First at Five news service (Monday April 4), the format for the first hour remained the same as usual – main news stories for the first half hour, recaps plus more news from 5.30, sport from around 5.40 and weather around 5.53.
Tim Bailey promised more detailed weather after 6, there was also the promise of more in depth sport after 6 as well. On top of that, there was the story on sleeping which aired (I’m guessing strategically) from 5.58 – 6.02. Although 5 seconds of dead air (a blank screen) just before they returned from ads at 5.58 would not have helped viewer retention.
At 6.02, the main news stories of the day were covered again. There was an (almost unnecessary) live cross to the house in Gladesville where a two year old was bitten by a snake in his bedroom.
Another cross to the traffic helicopter happened after 6, finance was covered again, then sport at around 6.23. Weather was last in the closing minutes, before 6.30 with George Negus got underway.
The 6pm half hour of Ten News at Five can be watched completely independently of the first hour – it is basically a condensed version of the first hour. If you have watched the first hour, apart from perhaps from the lure of an exclusive story or the promise of extra sport news not covered in the first hour, then there really is no need to stay there for the last 30 minutes.
But – if you miss the first part of Ten news at Five, then the last half hour of Ten news at Five is definitely an option to the “First on” Nine and Seven wars played out by the other two commercial networks.
It would therefore be a better idea for Ten to split the Fist at Five News into two parts – the first hour, and the second as far as coding for programming, EPGs and ratings is concerned. Even if they make it so that the last half hour is coded with a 5.57 start to get in two minutes earlier than Seven and Nine.
Whether this new format will work is to be seen – only ratings will tell the story, the first of which we’ll see tomorrow. At least, now daylight saving is over in those states that had it, early evening television audiences should grow.
As for 6.30? The content and presentation so far is the same as it was at 6pm. But – the real advantage is it is on at 6.30pm, when those who have viewed the other news services can switch over rather – like the promotions say “a real alternative at 6.30pm”.
Hopefully for George, it works out that way, and figures start to grow. Meanwhile, the late night encore remains around 10.30pm for those who wish to watch 6.30 later.