Online Guides pip Newspapers

guides 009In the third and final look at results of TV Tonight‘s Audience Inventory, we look at channel popularity, TV Guides and digital TV.

When it came to TV Guides, an Online Guide was the winner, as preferred option for 26% of readers.

21% tied both Foxtel EPG and Weekly Newspaper Guides, and 17% liked their On Screen EPG.

Whilst the popularity of an Online Guide amongst internet readers is not surprising, what was stark was the slim preference for a Magazine or Daily Newspaper Guide -just 4% each.

The appeal of a Weekly Newspaper Guide remains strong despite the fact a Daily Newspaper Guide is by its very nature, more up to date.

“Weekly newspaper guide is unreliable (not the fault of the newspaper!), EPG is pretty hit and miss,” said one reader.

“The other problem is movies listed in the published newspaper guides get at the last minute which is really frustrating. I’m not sure how you’re going to solve those problems,” said another.

Another said, “It really irritates me that I get a TV guide for the week ahead and it is completely useless- it is rarely accurate for the next day’s programs, let alone the next week’s.”

TEN was the most watched channel amongst readers at 13%, over ABC1 (12%), Seven (11%), ABC2 (9%), SBS ONE, Nine and GO (all 8%). Other channels were minimal and regional channels were all between 1 – 2%.

41% *of respondents said they had Pay TV. Of those, 79% were Foxtel subscribers, 13% were Austar subscribers, 3% Optus TV and amongst the 5% who chose Other, Select was the only supplier named (*a few chose to use Other simply to indicate ‘No Pay TV’).

A number of readers wanted more choice over providers.

“All pay television stations should be allowed to transmit around Australia. To separate cities from the bush is not the best way to go. We need more competition, not less,” said one reader.

FOX8 was the most popular Pay TV channel (11%) over Arena (7%), Comedy, TV1, Lifestyle and FOX Sports 1 (all 6%).

Said one reader, “In reality, I hardly now watch FTA because Foxtel has everything I need – sport, comedy, news – I’m pretty simplistic!”

“Watch mainly Showcase (excellent programs, widescreen, no ads, no watermarks – Heaven!)” said one fan.

But one reader asked, “Why are there ads on a service we pay for? I can’t figure this out, it is very annoying.”

Another simply said, “Why do we have ads advertising Foxtel, when we are watching Foxtel?”

Most readers were pretty happy with digital channels, with 42% indicating the offering was Good, 27% Fair, 13% Excellent, 10% Not Applicable and 8% Poor.

“GO! is a pretty good channel,” remarked one happy viewer.

Others praised multichannelling too: “I’m most excited about the new digital channels – GO! has been entertaining so far, and I’m becoming more and more attached to ABC 2. I primarily watch ABC 1, ABC 2, TEN, a little SBS and now GO!”

And: “ABC2 just plain rules, and has since I went digital in early ’07.”

It was echoed by others, “ABC2 is a win, both with their exclusive content selection and ABC1/HD rebroadcasts. GO! And ONE are completely irrelevant to me. And RIP Ten HD, you’re still missed.”

“Swap OneHD back to TEN HD so that its – Ten Digital, One Digital, Ten HD. All channels should be like that. Bring back HD shows for TEN!” agreed another.

One reader suggested, “I would also like too see that SBS do not have the situation like this year again where all they had was The Ashes and Tour De France on SBS1 and SBS2, it was annoying. Put Community TV on Digital and also put NITV on Digital, even if it means using SBS3 and SBS4 for that purpose, seems odd that these services are neglected.”

There is resentment towards Seven not launching its digital channel.

“Channel 7 needs to launch a new channel soon to compete with ONE and GO,” said one.

47% said they had a Digital TV, 26% had a HD Set Top Box, 12% with an SD Set Top Box, 11% with Analogue, and 3% indicated “Other” mostly IPTV. 80% have already made the switch to digital.

Some readers are angry about digital blackholes.

“I’ve been in touch with my local council to see if they are going to put a digital repeater but they say they cannot afford it unless they get a government grant to pay for all of it,” said one reader.

Another: “My SBS and community TV reception have gone to the dogs and I really miss them – digital transmission for Channel 31 is a must.”

And: “Better Reception in Regional NSW & Choice of PayTV provider & FTA Commercial TV on our Pay TV for regional NSW viewers are issues of urgent & serious concern.”

51% indicated a PVR of some sort. While 40% of those indicated IQ / IQ2 and 8% TiVo, a much bigger 52% indicated various “Other PVR / DVR” with Beyonwiz and Topfield frequently named.

Comments included: “Programming is not a big issue for me as I use my Topfield to record most shows and watch as I can, as long as start and finish times are with-in a 5 minute scope it is not too bad as long as I (or ICE TV) knows ahead of time.”

Many viewers complained about not being able to read credits, and an excess of on-screen clutter:

“Most annoyed with “write-over” on other shows re something coming up. Hate all the “stuff” all over the screen – especially the station watermarks. Really dislike decreasing size of credits in order to promote something else…. it is impossible to read credits.”

“It really annoys me not being able to watch credits of TV shows, I am often looking up credits on the internet and the last to leave a movie theatre.”

“It would be really lovely for Channel 7 to provide credits that are much more legible – although this applies to all networks that choose to play promo ads during the closing credits.”

Another agreed with Seven credit issues, saying, “They are so small at the end and go so quickly you’ve got no hope of reading them. Home and Away used to have the main actors’ names at the start but now they don’t so when a new cast member joins you don’t know who they are. I don’t like it!”

“Get rid of WIN TV logos on screen covering Nine logo up!”

“Hate watermarks, and won’t watch channels which have them up top of screen unless program is exceptional. Haven’t watched anything on Arena since stupid new distracting watermark.”

“Deperately want to watch programmes the way they were made, without crawls/watermarks and the (almost certain) targeted advertising laid over the top of the vision”

Thanks to TV Tonight readers for 55% rating the site Excellent, 34% Very Good and 9% Good.  2% voted Fair and 1% Disappointing. Most readers visit the site either More Than Once a Day (40%) or Once a Day (35%).

There were many generous comments in support of the site, its independence and the survey itself, along with a few site suggestions. Thanks for the many “Keep up the great work, David!” comments. Much appreciated.

Over 800 respondents completed the survey with earlier results published at:

ABC most reliable network, Nine worst -readers and Audience anger: “Finish my show or tell me where it’s gone!”

Thanks to all who participated.


  1. Hahah thanks Jack. It hasn’t triggered any change but it’s nice that it’s noticed by media and yes, execs. The survey was picked up as a talking point across a number of media in print, online and radio. So it is you and your voice that is getting heard, via the site.

    Vic compared to other digital channels The Wire did nicely. The West Wing was on the former ABC1 before multichannelling so hard to compare.

  2. The problem I am annoyed by is that Seven and Ten’s Digital EPG’s are the hit and miss if the synopsis is in it because it can be seen easily when it is incomplete. Especially when I found it is the same descriptions in there online Program Guide. More annoying is that Foxtel do better descriptions of the Free to Air channels. As I can only hope this stage of the survey particularly can change some ways of how things are done.

  3. @neon kitten, will i do dislike the lottery results appearing during a programme as they are distracting and you usual don’t have enough time write down the results, saying that everyone who buys a lottery ticket is a gambling addict getting their fix simply incorrect.
    @paull, not sure why you would be bothered by an exclusive mark as long as the story is an exclusive, unlike channel logo marks, they at least give you information. there has been many times that i have been watching a story that i have never heard about before and am curious if its an exclusive or not, and then the exclusive mark comes up and i know. although i do agree with you about on screen advertising, although i think a black bar or blur at the bottom of the screen would be just as distracting, although it would be a good way to stick it to the networks as people wont be seeing the banner.

  4. Thanks David for all the effort in devising the survey, collating the results and comments, and writing the articles, making for very interesting reading.

  5. It’s not just on-screen pop-up ads that are annoying – it’s the archaic and intrusive lottery results pop-ups on Seven that are truly gag-worthy. You can be in the middle of a highly dramatic scene in a drama when suddenly the bottom third of the screen is taken over my eight gigantic multicoloured balls so that gambling addicts can get their fix right away, and screw the rest of you who were watching the show.

    When Seven announced they were doing away with on-air lottery draws I was relieved. And look what’s replaced them! Bring back the dag-fest live draws, then. At least I could ad-skip past the irrelevant things.

    As for credits, biggest enemy, for me, is Ten. The network that doesn’t just shrink credits for locally-made shows – it completely removes them! Then off you have to go to their site to track down the appropriate page and download a PDF file to read them. What an insult to local actors and crew. The fact that they’d remove credits on overseas productions if they could – but aren’t allowed to – is some small comfort. Local producers should start making legible, full screening of credits a contractual condition.

    Local producers should really avoid Ten completely, since their shows can’t be screened in HD.

  6. Quoted again, yay!

    Since some of these results have been picked up by the Daily Telegraph, etc. David, any time you have an axe to grind with the way the networks are doing things, give us more surveys and publish their results! You have the power to fix Aussie TV! 😛

  7. I found it interesting the comment that EPGs are hit and miss. With my recently bought DVD/HDD recorder, it is very reliable (99%) with program information. It is updated daily including Ten time starts which are exact eg Talkin bout your generation: 7.30-8.41. The only time it is a little inaccurate is due to Live programs eg Idol, AFL. However, Nine & Seven programs are correct but overruns are not stated (what else is new!).

  8. “Get rid of WIN TV logos on screen covering Nine logo up”
    This is a joke. Do WIN TV actually think that by covering up the Nine watermark with their own (and very poorly too) they are going to make us believe that they are the main network? As if everyone didn’t know already, we’d probably find out anyway judging by how terrible they are at covering up the truth, that they are affiliated with such a company as Nine. Perhaps they’re embarrassed.

  9. Can I just say I love the new layout they have done to the Sunday Paper’s TV Guide (Pictured Above) They have made it a tad bigger and added way more info on the prime time shows and the movie section.

    Brent 🙂

  10. Unfortunately Foxtel or XYZ own most of the subscription channels or have exclusivity deals, meaning that independant providers have slim pickings – giving Foxtel & Austar a bit of a duopoly. Perhaps media ownership rules need to be extended to the number of the channels a provider can own?

  11. I can put up with sea through water marks, it’s channel 9 news’s massive coloured water mark that annoys me (same with 7 news) and the big obtrusive “exclusive” coloured watermarks on news an current affairs.

    But water marks are really nothing compared to on screen pop up ads! They are the biggest evil on tv since 7 and 9 started running programmes over time. Ten is a pretty bad offender, along with GO! and 7- they aren’t content with a small banner that advertises a show during the show, so they put up a big cut out of an actor that stars in the particular show advertised. TVs and PVRs need to get with the times and allow us to press a button that either blurs the pop ups, or allows us to position a black box over them.

  12. I have Austar….And I can not work out why Fox 8 is soooooo popular, I never watch the channel. I use the online TV guide through Austar to book in shows to be recorded. Vet easy to do, altho doing a series link never works, thats another story lol…

  13. Another interesting set of results. On the subject of credits, I find Seven to be the most legible, seeing as they are re-typed into the red strip across the bottom. I don’t like how Ten shrink them down in their original format – very difficult for me to read, especially when the show is 4:3 rather than widescreen.

  14. The weekly newspaper guide is how I still plan out my television watching for the week. Nothing better then on a lazy Sunday to still down read the guide cover to cover to make catch everything I want to watch that week. That’s what I and I am sure many of you have done over the years. It wins points for the great way its presented and for welcome addition of digital channels programming information. What I do is whenever David posts an admended schedule I just simply write in guide the change and away I go.

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