It is really getting out of hand again. Last night, Packed to the Rafters on channel 7 did not start until 8.40, after a combination of Surf Patrol finishing about 5 minutes late and a 3 minute sneak peek for Flash Forward – a new show coming to 7 next month in which everyone in the world blacks out for 2 minutes and 17 seconds only to awake to a world of chaos.
Channel 10 pushed Talkin’ ‘Bout Your generation out to a finishing time closer to 8.45. Both Packed to the rafters and Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation are typically the two highest ratings shows on a Tuesday night.
But one finishes 10 minutes late no doubt in an attempt to hold people on channel 10 as long as possible, while the other starts late – in an attempt to make sure that viewers coming over from channel 10 do not miss out on any of Packed to the Rafters.
While channel 10 do update their EPG (Electronic program guide) to reflect correct starting and finishing times – usually to the minute – they still use the start time of 8.30pm for NCIS even in ads during Talkin’ knowing full well that the show is not starting until after 8.40 or so. At least on Sunday nights they use 8.40 as the time they promote. Its just that on Sunday nights, 8.40 becomes 8.45 or later. Channel 7 and 9 do not update their EPGs so 8.30 still shows as the start or finish times. And according to my TV, SC10, 10’s regional affiliate also does not update start and finish times while channel 10 itself does.
At our house, we nearly gave up on Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation last night. With the EPG updating the finishing time to 8.41, and knowing we were already recording two shows after 8.30, our IQ2 rejected being able to record Talkin’ due to the fact there was a conflict after 8.30 where the IQ2 would have to record 3 shows at once for the first 10 minutes or so. It can only do two at once although can handle 3 or even 4 during overlaps – what I mean here, is that if you record two shows at 7.30 that are supposed to finish at 8.30 by the EPG, the programmed overrun of say 5 minutes will double up with the first 5 minutes of the two 8.30 shows being recorded so for a brief period the IQ2 appears to record 4 shows at once. Usually, though, one of the ends will get cut off. We don’t even watch the last 10 minutes of Talkin’ in any case.
All that aside, had I have not checked what was happening on the IQ2 just after 7.30, I would not have seen that Talkin’ ‘Bout Yr Gen had been kicked off being able to be recorded due to its late finish. We ended up watching the show live, changing channels at 8.30 at the ad break prior to the show going into its “end game”. Even when recorded, we usually don’t watch the end game. The aim here was to watch Packed to the Rafters live straight after it, but as Surf Patrol was running so late, we left Rafters to record (that was once of the two shows set to record at 8.30) and watched another recording before coming back to Rafters later.
And while I enjoyed the extended sneak peek of Flash Forward, I do not think sneak peeks should be used before shows to delay their start, especially when they are already running late. Luckily, after starting 10 minutes late, Rafters only just fit into the 10 minute overrun I had allowed on the IQ2.
It is really about time that this strategy is put to rest once and for all. Sure channel 10 does well with Talkin’, but, as was once seen in the past, if you put it against Packed to the Rafters, you’ll find that Rafters will be unaffected by Talkin’. Why start Rafters late? Why not set the example and start it on time? No doubt the growing length of Talkin’ will return back to a normal – more watchable 60 minute shows as opposed to being 70 minutes or more. Rafters is the most watched show in the country so people will be tuning in anyway. Why put two and a half million viewers (total viewers cities and regional combined) through having to wait like this?
And while it is fantastic that 10 update their EPG to show real start and finish times, what good is that to the 60% of the population who do not yet have digital or subscription TV and have to rely on printed or standard internet TV guides? On guides that say 8.30? When 8.30 is really 8.40 or so?
The networks have to start respecting their viewers by providing accurate program start and finish times and then adhering to them. All three of the commercial networks are guilty. Usually channel 9 is the worst. Back when Underbelly and the Mentalist were on earlier this year, an 8.45 start time was almost typical for these two shows which were advertised as 8.30 starts.
While I don’t watch any channel 9 on Tuesday nights to accurately comment on what happens with their Tuesday night line up I can say that I noticed that Kitchen Nightmares started more than 10 minutes late, and then the news after it was at least 5 minutes late as well. So it looks like channel 9 is running to the same sort of times as 7 and 10 are.
Finally – now that 7 are back to starting Packed to the rafters so late, I think it would be in 10’s interest to finish Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation on time. That way, there is the chance they will hold onto some of the viewers that can’t wait the 10 minutes for the next show. Conversely, with Rafters being the top rating show of the week all the time, 7 can pretty well do what they want with it and everyone will still watch, so why not just start on time? Or, if they cannot fit shows in on time because there are more ads or whatever the reason is, why not advertise the start time as 8.40?
Maybe when the code of practise is reviewed for free to air TV there will be an industry guide line for show times.