How important is Live TV in Entertainment schedules?

Network execs agree. Live TV, with its risk of broadcast errors, can be fun viewing. So why isn't there more of it?


They were once appointment viewing, but how many Live Entertainment shows are now pumped out by networks?

And do they think Live is of value in 2024?

While most networks shoot Entertainment shows ‘As Live’ -that is pre-recorded but largely without second takes- not many offer truly Live outside of News and Sport.

Here’s what network execs told TV Tonight...


Brook Hall, Network Head of Scheduling

“The back part of Australian Idol will be Live. I know The Voice is not technically Live but would it be any better being Live? I don’t think so.

“I think the Tonight shows in the US are too late. Like, is that a space we’re missing? Probably. But outside of that I don’t think so. Because we do have things like Dancing with the Stars. It’s not Live. It’s Live in other countries but it doesn’t make a difference to the viewers. It looks the same.

“With The 1% Club we are moving into more of a variety / comedy space there. The Front Bar is true Live -so we do have them on the schedule they just don’t get as much attention.

“Australia has The Front Bar, The Cheap Seats, The Hundred, Have You Been Paying Attention -but only one of them is actually Live. That’s kind of my point.”


Hamish Turner, Director of Programming and 9Now.

“The closest thing we have to Live in entertainment is probably Carols by Candlelight. But if you have the right talent, if you have the right idea that comes to the surface, then absolutely. So the answer is we’re not closed off to Live entertainment but it has to be the right idea.

“But it also goes back to the question, what does the audience want? I could sit up here on a podium and go, ‘This is what I think people want to watch.’ But ultimately, it’s the greatest democracy of all time. They choose with the remote and they’ve never been more selective or have the option of choice. And it’s cut-throat. So I guess what I’m saying is that we’re not going to do something for the sake of doing it, just to tick a box. It needs to be the right idea, the right execution that ultimately people want to watch.”


Daniel Monaghan, SVP Content & Programming Paramount ANZ.

“Outside of News, The Project offers an hour of Live TV in prime time six nights a week- so we clearly put a heavy value on Live. Outside of that I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!, now with Robert Irwin, is entering its 10th season of Live family, must-watch fun. It’s not an easy game these days, but when you get it right as has happened with I’m A Celebrity, it rewards with a loyal audience and a lot of actual watercooler conversations people are prepared to have the next day – because the audience presumes that if a show is Live, it’s fair game to talk about the next day. Would we like to do more, sure, what’s the show?”


Chris Oliver-Taylor, Chief Content Officer.

Q+A obviously is Live but isn’t Entertainment. I look at that show and think, ‘The ABC team can deliver live content, they do it so well.’ ….. we try and do a bunch of shows which are pretty close to Live, like Question Everything or Gruen, but they’re ‘As Live’. The Weekly I think we get very close. But again, setting up some of those sketches and things makes it very hard to do that.

“I do like the idea of live TV and some of the jeopardy that comes with it. We don’t quite have the slate at the moment that necessarily would allow that to make sense. Like, why would you make The Weekly live? We record it the day before normally. Does the audience get a better show by going live? They may or may not get a better show, in which case don’t do it.

“But I do like the idea of Live. I like the idea of an audience enjoying it in the minute at the time, Live on air with all of its wonderful -now and again- errors and mistakes. But that’s part of the fun. We will always look at that. I like Live is a good thing. I think we should do a bit more of it.”


Natalie Edgar, SBS Channel Manager

Eurovision is lots of people that get up really, really early in the morning to watch it Live. But then we see real success with the primetime audience too – people flock in wanting to watch what happened. So I think there’s a place for both. But I also think, in the world we live in now, you’re crazy just to think of one of those audiences, be it linear or digital. I think you’ve got to think of a content offering that’s wholistic, that audiences can enjoy, regardless of the platform that they choose.

“There’s always an element of risk, but also the element of fun when you’ve got that Live component. I mean, Entertainment is certainly top of our list in terms of what we’d like to commission for that all- important 25 -54 audience but whether or not it has to be Live…. okay, you’ve stumped me.

“I think for me, Live has an urgency about it. But we’re also really interested in building up that digital audience of On Demand. So I think in terms of commissioning something, I don’t think it necessarily needs to be Live.”

31 Responses

  1. The arrogance of Seven there is everythingcwrong with Aussie TV. It’s you who’ve decided formats don’t need to be live, not the viewers. The energy being live brings to any shows can’t be recreated in pre-records and if you remove viewer engagement you deserve to remove viewers too.

  2. Foxtel is still carrying a candle for live production. Fox Sports does the Matty Johns Show on Fox League and Bounce on Fox Footy live. Best on Ground last year on Fox Footy was also live. And of course all the panel & discussion shows are live, but not “entertainment” shows.

  3. I always thought “live and dangerous” was a joke because very rarely does anything juicy actually happen even when it’s live (in my experience).

    I think the people interviewed have the right idea in that it has to add something. I think live is best suited to “events” that people organically feel the need to experience synchronously, which is why the news is the obvious example everyone mentions, but also Eurovision, Mardi Gras, etc.

    It was easier for TV networks to manufacture these “events” in the pre-streaming era (e.g. Australian Idol, Big Brother, etc.) so there were more opportunities for live TV, but we’re in a different landscape now. While Live still has its place, there are less scenarios for it.

  4. Weekly live variety shows have long gone. Shows like Hey hey, Rove Live and The Panel. They provided a lot of guests, musical acts and some comedy sketches. “Like Live” shows like Enough Rope with Andrew Denton, and the short lived Frankly are gone too.

    The Front Bar does a great job with the live factor and guests. HYBPA does great as a pre-recorded show with some guests asking 2 or 3 questions.

    A shame that live tv in primetime is on the downhill trend (brekky and morning tv on Seven, Nine and ABC…. that’s a lot of live tv there, but is more “news centric” than entertainment).

  5. This does make me laugh. The trouble with listening to a bunch of Execs or “Ego’s” talk about this is that they have no more of a clue what shows will resonate with viewers and the conditions which it is made than you or I. The difference between you and I and them is that they’re just good at networking.
    If their ego’s didn’t get in the way they’d admit that no one actually knows the magic formula for a successful TV show. Truth is that not a lot of them these days have very much experience in making an actually live entertainment program and the loss of their absolute control over the content that goes to air scares them!
    I’ve been there for one or two TV shows being made and with authority I can say that absolutely nothing can replicate the electricity and energy that is generated amongst the cast, crew and anyone in front of the cameras when it is actually live. Everyone involved just steps it up a notch and usually it means the viewer is getting a better show because of it.

  6. The one thing FTA has over streaming is Live TV, it baffles me that they don’t do more of it. Yes there’s live sport and a few other live things on streaming, but I’ve been watching cricket kayo and a friend watching 7, and he’s seeing it a good 30 seconds or more before me (and spoiling it). Fine, don’t do it for the sake of it, but when shows live Rove and Hey Hey used to use it to their advantage and do interactive stuff and get people down to a location for a competition, or ‘flick your switch”, it’s great! Even just talk back radio type interaction on TV is a missed opportunity I think… breakfast radio still seems to be going ok.

  7. “Q+A obviously is Live but isn’t Entertainment” –
    Are you sure you meant to word it that way?

    The problem for TV stations/producers with live is that you cannot edit.
    And with its simplification over the last decades, it has become TV/Movie’s favourite and overused indulgement.

      1. Q&A might be “as live” but I don’t think it is “live live” anymore, only noticed because Paul Higgins cast some shade on twitter a while ago when he noticed the watches on some of the panellists didn’t match the actual time. I don’t think it’s a significant delay – a matter of minutes rather than hours – and it might just be something akin to talkback radio which has a delay, but it was an interesting comment coming from an ABC person who clearly watches his employer’s programs very closely!

  8. “I know The Voice is not technically Live but would it be any better being Live? I don’t think so.”

    Yeah ok Brook. You don’t know your audience at all. We’ve been calling out for live shows to return to the Voice and you guys keep ignoring it. Since moving from Channel 9 after the blinds its been a dogs breakfast of a show with so many cuts the viewer doesn’t have a chance to get to know the artists and before you know it the series is done. This shows complete disconnect between Channel 7 and its viewers.

    1. Agreed. Brooke really doesn’t know her audience at all. The Voice would be much better Live. No mass culls, viewers vote every week, much better viewing experience. It should be once per week also. The results can be done in the first 15 mins of the next week’s show. No padding between performances. That’s what we the viewers want.

      1. He / him actually. I know with DWTS Seven maintains it couldn’t get that quality of cast if it were Live every week, but as a more compact shooting season it is more achievable. Probably the same for Voice coaches. I’m not saying it is ideal, but that’s part of the logic.

  9. “The Project offers an hour of Live TV”.
    Maybe, maybe not! One episode I was in the audience in South Yarra, around half the show was pre-recorded, including a celebrity interview that (to the folks at home) appeared live to air. A lot of segments such as vox pop were tapped. So it was a bit disappointing watching the TV monitor in the studio rather than the hosts out front!

  10. Gone are the days where FTA had live nightly shows —Hey Hey, Midday, In Melb Tonight, Popstars just to name a few. The Footy Show may have shown live, but on some occasions, they would delay it due to conclusion of Origin telecasts in southern states.
    Apart from live sport/news/special event, there is barely any live entertainment shows. Though I’m a celebrity, and Idol still have live

  11. Fair play to 10 still making I’m A Celebrity live from South Africa. They could easily have gone the same way as the other reality shows – especially after covid when they filmed in Oz – but they have stuck to their guns. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think it is now the only live reality show on TV.

  12. If we are talking live tv for reality tv, just look what has happened to Big Brother. It went away from live coverage of the house, voting and evictions and now it is nothing but an after thought. If there is a public vote needed, it has to be live. If its a judge vote or non publicly voted eviction type show, there is no need for it to be live. As for entertainment tv, I just miss the 9.30pm stuff – IMT, Don Lane, Vizard etc etc. Come on networks, throw us boomers a bone…

  13. Besides much live news and sport, its the ease of editing these days (with Avid/Adobe etc) which gives powerful options that you don’t get doing live TV. Also, I grew up watching Don and Bert live twice a week. It’s a pity we don’t have a live tonight show here with interviews of the stars and famous music acts. The US still has several of them, and has done since the dawn of TV.

  14. Live tv is more expensive to make. Networks can film 3,4,5 episodes per day 5 days a week of HYBPA and WILTYau etc and have a series done in a month. Filming every episode weekly involves day/s to assemble sets and film just one episode like the Front Bar and The Weekly. Shows that rely on news content must be filmed weekly and it’s more economical to avoid filming everything else live.

    1. … “Live tv is more expensive to make”? not entirely true … a one-hour program recorded these days can involve multiple takes that uses up maybe four to eight hours in a studio followed by countless hours in post-production … drama and comedy in particular come to mind, but a lot of entertainment programs are also done that way …

  15. In the UK, many “live” shows now have a time delay, such as our version of I’m A Celebrity, which slightly defeats the supposed unpredictability of live television. From recollection, even the live episodes of EastEnders a few years ago carried a time delay.

    Very surprised to learn that Dancing With The Stars is recorded in advance as that’s one programme over here which airs totally live with no safety net.

    1. DWTS was aired live when it first broadcast in Australia. Since it moved networks and then moved back to its original home of Seven it’s now pre recorded.

      It was well known to run over when it was live.

    2. Not quite true – some things like Awards Shows do but most live entertainment shows are broadcast fully live.

      We don’t have as much as we once did either but there are at least 5 big entertainment formats a year broadcast live across multiple weeks, and they’re amongst the highest rating shows on TV.

  16. “The Voice is not technically Live but would it be any better being Live? I don’t think so.” – Hall (7)

    Shows the disconnect they have from the viewer and why the 7:30 slot is dying.

    Not only is 90% of reality television not live anymore, but the *multiple endings filmed and contestants have to fake their reactions multiple times* absolutely makes it less “better”.

    How did Big Brother work out for you?

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