What to show for a year of GO!

It's a year since GO! arrived with the promise of youth programming. But while it has the numbers to celebrate, is it also having an identity crisis?

Today marks twelve months since GO! has hit our screens.

Since being “soft-launched” on August 9th 2009 it has become the most popular multichannel on the air. 7TWO, which launched in November, may give it a run for its money, but it hasn’t toppled GO!’s stranglehold -especially with younger viewers.

It began with themed nights (sci-fi, crime, reality, female-skewed, male-skewed) aimed at 14 – 39 year olds, promising shows including Fringe, Survivor, Weeds, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Gossip Girl, The Hills, Moonlight, The Big Bang Theory, CSI: NY, Neighbours at War, Bad Lads Army, The Bachelor, Dog The Bounty Hunter, The Wire, ET, CSI, Just Shoot Me, Little Britain, Aliens in America, CSI: Miami, Eleventh Hour, Privileged, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Seinfeld, TMZ, Hell’s Kitchen and Wipeout Australia.

By it’s October full launch it added The Vampire Diaries, Nip / Tuck, Father of the Pride, South Park, Reno 911, Drop Dead Diva, Dance Your Ass Off, Bridezillas and later The New Adventures of Old Christine, The Middle, ER, Community, Eastwick, The Inbetweeners, Chuck, Crash Course, Total Wipeout (UK), Help Me Help You, Top Gear, The Listener, Side Order of Life, Stephen King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes, New Amsterdam, Tool Academy, Speeders, Hotel Babylon and Dante’s Cove.

GO’s primetime shows have been a mix of Australian premiere content, Nine reruns and titles which have already aired on Pay TV. It’s daytime schedule is unashamedly built on a “Pay TV-style” model of repeat block programming including classic sitcoms like Bewitched, Here’s Lucy and The Partridge Family.

Like 7TWO, Australian content is slim on the channel, particularly in the area of first-run content. The government has recognised digital channels need time to build revenue before they are required to meet local content quotas. The Screen Producer’s Association of Australia has pushed for minimum quotas in the future, especially in the light of the industry’s $250m rebate. GO! has added short “Newsbursts” and is promising two-minute comedies from former Chaser member Charles Firth.

With its alternative pitch the channel connected so well with viewers that by the end of the year CEO David Gyngell was even referring to it as a channel becoming “the new TEN.”  The channel share, which recently hit a high of 6.9% in a single night, has been known to outperform SBS and in a year when Nine and Seven are so tight it has often given the network the winning edge. Indeed when a tussle for demographics in 2009 was going down to the wire in the final week of November, programming on GO! was frantically reshuffled at short notice to try to help the network fall over the line.

Lately Nine programming habits have crept into the GO! schedule. The ARIA Music Show has disappeared. Advertorial content now runs late at night. Shows get dumped without notice. Anyone who has tried to watch Gossip Girl knows how infuriating it has been to keep track of new episodes. Gossip Girl along with as Nip / Tuck, Chuck, Eastwick has been elbowed out to midnight or later, replaced by 9:30 movies (indeed Chuck has had three timeslots and is out of schedule entirely). Even the movies have been pulled at the last minute in favour of marathons of The Big Bang Theory -still the channel’s most popular title.

TBBT is also a Nine brand, which blurs the channel’s point of difference from Nine. There have been other Nine brands including Top Gear, CSI and ER which hardly fit the channel’s “youth” brief. GO! is now sitting somewhere between both youth and broad programming as well as first-run and Nine repeats. For a channel that only shows first-run content for a few hours in primetime it could surely be offering alternative programming without viewers being forced to wonder if the shows are going to air or not. On this front, both 7TWO and ABC2 beat the channel hands down.

Forums on GO!’s own website -at least the handful that are available- are littered with angry rants from viewers including those who dispute the claim that the channel has “listened to its viewers and pushed back the times of some of your favourite shows to accommodate your late-night viewing habits.”

But there is some hope on the horizon.

This month it launches the anticipated first-run series Spartacus: Blood and Sand plus Human Target. It is also promising new Vampire Diaries, Community, Inbetweeners plus Hellcats and Nikita. Fingers crossed they get decent timeslots and aren’t ripped off air to be replaced by more reruns of Seinfeld or  The Big Bang Theory.

For now GO! has the numbers of the board, and an enviable brand resonance with young viewers.

Such commodities are worth protecting long term instead of just chasing a few extra ratings points for the night. After all, now that viewers have a taste for switching to digital channels, their remotes could just as easily flip to another one.

32 Responses

  1. I really liked GO when they had first run shows like Frtinge and New Amsterdam at 830 and 930 then re played late at night… I hope GO returns to this programming style soon. Can not wait for the new series of Fringe btw. 🙂

  2. As i keep saying right from the start regarding Digital channels,they are just bonus channels,nothing special about them whatsoever.The government hopes to increase new local programing on the channels,but they have no hope.If they do succeed they will end up on the Primary channels anyway.Waste of time,with more channels next year is laughable……….Foxtel Rules

  3. GO! is a reminder to all of us free-to-air viewers that Freeview will never be able to compete with Foxtel.

    I started off watching GO! most nights of the week/weekend, now I watch nothing.

  4. Wow a year for go, a year where Darwin (a capital city) has missed out. Missed out on a series or two of Survivor, now missing out on the Middle and V and who knows what else has been missed.

    You really wonder if it is 2010 that they can’t organise some sort of signal for a capital city to get a digital channel.

  5. I can’t wait for Spartacus, Human Target, Fringe, The Vampire Diaries, Nikita and I might even give Hellcats a go, but wasn’t Nikita going to be on nine?

    Channel 10 really need to get there third channel going so i can see Smallville, Supernatural, Stargate Universe.

  6. It started off with such promise. Survivor, Nip/Tuck, Dante’s Cove had me praising GO!. But it’s decision to move new episodes of Nip/Tuck to 12am, replacing it with D-Grade movie flops like Date Movie was pathetic. And now endless repeats of shows that Nine shows endless repeats of, what’s the point.

    Hurry up Channel 10 with your new channel so i can start watching Monk, Psych, Smallville

  7. I don’t get all the hate for GO! sure it stuffs around its viewers and changes timeslots but Just think where we would be without GO! if they were screened on 9, shows would stay on the air but to be taken off altogether with no return for a year or so. at least with GO if it isn’t rating well they still keep it on but at a later timeslot, sure 12am is late but at least they get played out and the dvds get released soon after. Vamp Diaries and Fringe stayed in their slots through their whole seasons, thats not bad at all. also, with GO playing non stop repeats and movies throughout the week, I think of it more like a summer break where they are filling in a gap before New shows are available. they want to fast track more shows like they did with Vamp Diaries and Fringe so there will be more to come.

    thanks to this channel we have caught up with so many shows!! don’t be ungreatful, at least theres an alternative to 9’s crime shows! without go we would be so far behind with Weeds, Nip/Tuck, Curb, Survivor and so much more – just look at the long list of shows they have aired over a span of 12 months!! theres a lot there but they would get No shot being played on nine!!

    so just be greatful, sure the channel has made mistakes but they would learn from them.

  8. Any way you look at it, GO is a success story for Nine. Last night it drew a 7% share, pulling Nine’s total audience out of a very big hole. The really interesting story is how badly Nine would be doing overall without it.

  9. Great article.

    It really shows how GO! hasn’t improved over the year.

    I do like The Nanny, but its on 7 days a week and there’s too much TBBT. 4 episodes in a row is a bit too much, its a shame that they can’t put anything else on. Repeats of Caroline in the City, ER from the beginning, Gilmore Girls, Everwood, Joan of Arcadia just to name a few.

    Channel Nine really made a mistake with Gossip Girl as if you don’t have other ways of accessing it you may as well just wait for it come out on DVD and that way you can watch the season without any interruptions.

    More movies would be good and I miss TMZ and ET not repeating at a good time at night.

  10. If you class copying FOX8, (including poaching the programming director and most of it’s schedule) as original then Nine is indeed breaking new ground.

    7two and Go might be successful in the ratings, but are not really providing anything new and can’t be helping their multichanneling case in Canberra.

  11. Great article David. 🙂

    It’s funny how so many people on this site are hating GO! at the moment, yet it still manages to be Australia’ most-watched digitial multichannel.

    GO! has done well to create a very strong brand that resonates well with the younger demographics. The new line-up is looking promising – especially Hellcats, which looks just as over-the-top as Glee (not saying that that’s a bad thing). Plus new Community and Inbetweeners should do well, especially the latter. However GO! seriously needs to find a permanent slot for each program, and stick with it for the entire season, otherwise it won’t go down well with viewers. Maybe GO! should try a weekday afternoons show similar to Saturday Disney, but for teens? No cartoons, but my fave Fresh Prince, and then have young presenters doing segments between shows like on Sat. Disney?

  12. This article just re-inforces to me how frustrating it is watching programmes on GO! I now record both Nip/Tuck and Gossip Girl, because of their later starting times, and neither has been broadcast in weeks.

    Strange business this thing called television.

  13. It’s a secondary channel, 9 isn’t going to load their heavyweights onto it, they wouldn’t spend big bucks to get a TV show to air, only for it to get like 2-300,000 viewers.

    Reruns, cancelled series, and once-were-great series is what should dominate prime time for GO!, as it should be for the other channels I might add.

  14. Pushing back the shows to “appeal to people” is Ridiculous. and took it from being the youth station to the unemployed station. absolute bollocks.
    You were very kind about it (professional more so) mine would be full of colourful references to the braniac behind these dumb programming decisions.
    I make it very public my distaste for the new Go! it’s as foul as the taste of the new Chokito.

    So if the networks sue people for downloading TV Shows, do we have grounds counter sue for them dicking us around? 😀

    And you left out the part about how it stooped so low as to put shopping adverts on, but then dived even lower with sex shop ads, on a youth channel. and not even on school nights, on saturday mornings, when I don’t know about you, but when I was 10, That’s when i was watching TV… yes, for the boobies, ok?
    Anyways, good article 🙂
    cheers, Bob – Go! Rant #92783

  15. Go! started great, but has been doing downhill for a while now. It’s still probably my most watched (or rather Tivo’d) show.

    I’m looking forward to watching Spartacus, new Inbetweeners, Hellcats and Nikita. I just hope they screen each and every week in a consistent timeslot and that Go! doesn’t just turn into Channel 9, except with 2.5 Men repeats replaced by “Big Bang Theory” repeats.

  16. Couldn’t agree more.

    In the space of a year GO! has gone from one of the most loved channels to one of the most hated.

    Nine have got to treat them like seperate channels and stop using Big Bang Theory repeats solely to boost their overall ratings share.

  17. GO is a great example of branding to a youth market. The way they have marketed and sold themselves screams out youth (and I am not one).

    I have noticed that their advertising seems to be excessive. Seems like they are more frequent and longer ad breaks. Do they still have to comply with advertising law (if such things still exist)?

  18. Good summary David!

    Remember when it promised so much?

    I believe it has failed dismally in providing Aussies with an alternative. Nine’s programmers have stuffed it up big time.

    No more Seinfeld or TBBT!!

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