Has TV programming become more stable?

This may come as a bit of a shock…

But Free to Air TV programmers appear to have become more consistent with their scheduling than a decade ago.

At least, they are based on amendments filed here at TV Tonight.

In recent months I have noticed filing less Programming posts to advise of a “Bump” -a show that has moved from its slot. So I did some digging, and trawled back over 10 years of posts.

The highest amount in any 1 calendar year was 2010 when there were 56 “Bumped” posts. The lowest is this year at 17 thus far. Even factoring in that this year still has 3 months to go, last year was the lowest at 24 posts.

I attribute this to networks stripping Reality shows across their year, sometimes up to 90 minutes a night.

A decade ago we had far more 30 minute shows across weeknights, meaning when some didn’t work they had to be replaced. We still have failures now (The Biggest Loser: Transformed, The Last Resort, Cannonball) but they are actually fewer.

Of course, the evidence is purely anecdotal, but while programmers are often knocked for moving shows around I am quietly confident Angus Ross, Michael Healy and Beverley McGarvey and their teams have managed to steady their schedules, compared with a decade ago.


  1. Agree with others – they have nothing left to “bump” anymore, because its all wall to wall Cooking/Singing/Dancing/Dating reality formats. When there is a hole in the wall of reality – time to fill in with 10yo Youtube videos, product placement dressed up as observational documentary, grudge-made poorly scripted Australian drama (to comply with the law) or cheap to produce panel/gameshow formats.

    Commercial FM radio with pitcures!

  2. It’ll be very interesting to see where free to air TV ends up in 20 years. I watched just regular TV for decades up until the streaming services came in. I never had Foxtel. But now, I don’t really watch free to air at all. All the young ones watch youtube. There is so much content from so many avenues now…. I’m amazed that networks still have shows that rate now.

  3. If you consider stability to be on shows being bumped unexpectedly then yes – but to me I find schedules more unstable – eg Survivor Sundays and Mondays but sometimes also Tuesday and not on a night to clash with NRLGF. MKR on Seven earlier this year – Sun-Wed, sometimes Thursday. Wrong Girl on Ten – Thursdays then Wednesdays. New Big Bang on Nine – 6 different time slots in one year – doesn’t belong to any night now.

    There was a time when you’d know what night your show was on week in, week out. Usually from year to year as well. Now its much more of a lucky dip when shows are scheduled. Used to know what was on each of the main channels each night, now not so much.

  4. It has been a long time since allowed the TV networks to dictate my viewing habits. Apart from 6pm news everything I watch is DVRd and watched on delay or watched on demand via various streaming services.

  5. What got bumped most was US dramas. Now that the networks only air them when they have nothing better, there’s no point in trying to shuffling them around in search of better ratings. Local content has a lot of money sunk in it, generates local content % and for drama local drama points. So it only gets bumped if it totally fails e.g. Cannonball which they sat on for a year, tried for one ep then bumped.

  6. As written about by others in this forum the commercial channels have finally settled on producing long running and reasonably cheap to make reality TV and Family Feud type games shows, catering for those regular FTA viewers who just want a brief relaxation period until its time to go to bed. Drama show enthusiasts are gradually leaving FTA and spend their evenings streaming for content that is convenient to them not the FTA broadcaster and its advertising revenue, this makes it all the more interesting when CBS starts streaming too.

  7. This is somewhat off-topic but I couldn’t help but notice the related article “Fast-tracking will become the norm” from 5 years ago, the thing is it hasn’t and now Ten are showing signs of moving away from Fast-tracking

  8. I’d say that 90% of their content is stable and if they don’t try anything new there’s nothing to bump.
    IMO the Networks have finally recognised the types of viewers that they have left and I suspect they have an unwritten “non-compete” Gentlemens Agreement similar to our big Supermarkets (we don’t price match). It’s a matter of survival.

  9. Secret Squïrrel

    You’ve already touched on a big contributor to this – the fact that the three main commercial networks have filled their schedules with long-running reality franchises that mostly do well enough (unless they involve Seven and water). So, there are simply less shows to bump.

    But it’s also the makeup of their schedules. Most of the shows getting bumped were US dramas and they show a lot less of these now. They also have a lot more filler shows and one-offs which, if they don’t work, are already out of the schedule. Seven’s first LOL show was on at 7:30ish. I think the last one was scheduled for 9:30 but it doesn’t get a bumped article because it’s treated as a stand-alone show.

    I know you said that it’s anecdotal, but you’ve only counted ‘bumped’ articles not shows and there have also been times when you’ve not received amendments from networks.

  10. It doesn’t feel that way for the shows I watch which is predominately drama. Its not just about shows getting bumped but the variable start times which this post does not cover.

  11. It’s good news, but I think that there are numerous reasons behind this.
    Many times, when a new program is struggling, the network has nothing in the cupboard to replace it with. There are only so many episodes of “Make you LOL”.
    And, as has been shown in some cases over recent years, some programs actually improve their ratings over time (House Rules etc.)
    Slowly, the landscape seems to be settling in to the new reality- multi channels are starting to find their identity, a lot of new drama titles are moving toward the short run format and perhaps at least some of the programmers have stopped pulling the trigger too soon (in various ways)
    I remember not so long ago, if a format suddenly struck gold, it was thrashed until dead (Ramsay?). Will be interesting to see how 9 proceeds with Ninja next year.
    But great article David!

  12. One must remember a decade ago there were no multi channels and not many streaming services. These days the audience are fewer plus they can encore on multichannel. For my part l feel 90 minute reality shows are way to long. Generally these are padded out. That is why shows like MASH, Seinfeld, Big Bang Theory, etc still work today, they are only 30 mins.

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