The art of programming war

2013-05-11_0140The war on programming has been at a premium lately with viewers baffled by shows listed in the EPG and print guides that just never appear.

Nine Director of Programming Andrew Backwell has revealed the network is using every strategy in the book to ensure it gets the best return for its shows.

He told the Courier Mail multi-channels and an increasingly competitive market mean networks have to do all they can to get audience share.

“We are running a business, trying to get the biggest share of advertising revenue and we are all fighting to get the right return,” he said.

“Everyone is trying to strategically look for an advantage to get as many people to watch your channel.”

Backwell said he understood the audience frustration and the network did its best to inform viewers if shows would run late, but he said the delays made commercial sense.

“We invest a lot of money in these shows so we have to put them in the slot that will get the best return.”

Seven is quoted in less detail, saying, “We have got better with our communication and advising viewers of changed times. With live and event television, it often runs over the allocated time.”

The article follows an opinion piece in The Age this week from Paul Kalina:

It’s not just a matter of false advertising, of promising consumers something it won’t deliver, which is an annoyance viewers in TV-land have come to expect, though a punishable offence in other realms of business.

It’s yet another sign, along with inaccurate start and finish times, of the indifference with which networks treat viewers as they shift their focus from building the loyalty and trust of viewers to one-upping each other in an ultimately self-defeating game of brinkmanship. Most perplexing this time, though, is that Nine seem to have forgotten that The Big Bang Theory is indeed one of its strongest drawcards. So why not simply promote that line-up? Surely that’s what running a network is all about?

Next week Nine has three episodes of The Voice and a new Big Bang Theory scheduled. Success.


  1. This is one of the many reasons viewers are deserting FTA in droves. Remember five years ago when several shows each week would rate well over 2m? Now there’s lucky to be one show per week that gets that.
    Top Gear is a classic example of why screwing around with a show will damage it. 9 kept changing and changing and disrespecting their viewers and people quickly gave up.
    Like others here, I hardly watch any ‘live’ FTA. I simply cannot keep up with scheduling changed and once I miss and episode or 2, I don’t both PTR-ing the rest of the series – I just download it.

    Australian TV stations have been treating their viewers with contempt for years and this has caused and steady decline in viewers across all networks.

  2. I voted with my remote control many years ago and now less than 1% of my regular TV viewing in any given week is anything on FTA. It’s pure insanity they think they know what they are doing. They can spin their programming “strategies” all they want, but I simply gave up trying to follow or figure out when the shows I want to watch were going to be on. I don’t watch any of their endless onslaught of big rating marquee “reality” shows so they clearly have no interest in my viewing habits. Seems plenty of people are still keen to keep playing along with their games, good luck to them!

  3. @Ronnie
    TV viewing has increased over the last couple of years because people have been going out and spending less as saving has gone from -5% to +10% of household income.

    TV has fragmented due to technology but big TV events like MKR and The Voice are getting larger audiences.

    A recent AMCA report found that 72% of people prefer to watch TV live than record it. For TV events people want to stay current and part of what is going on. Ad breaks provide opportunities to talk and play with phones and tablets.

    That is the market TV networks are are trying to lock in.

    I am with you though. I prefer to sit down and immerse myself in a good episode of TV for 43 minutes with no interruptions or distractions. But I am of no value to advertisers so the networks aren’t interested in me.

  4. One of these so called “clever” moves wins the ratings battle every night but they are all losing the war to build brand integrity and loyalty. The audiences are fragmenting and diminishing – so there’s no real growth, just this ridiculous bloodsport over the percentage share of the declining number of viewers. I am in my forties and I do not watch advertising on TV. Ever. End of. Do not understand why anyone does.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.