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November 26, 2007 / Amy Bradney-George

Television Tricks

I knew there was reason to be excited by the idea of shows being broadcast online, and I realised tonight what that reason could include: the trick tv stations play to get in as much advertising and ratings (which amount to about the same) as possible.

Tonight, I was watching one of the few shows I regularly tune into at 8:30pm. Or, actually, I watched the last five minutes of the show before it because the show I wanted to watch didn’t start until 8:35pm. This is a technique used so that ratings will go up for two shows instead of one, should people with ratings boxes tune in at the programmed time. I’ve read about stations doing that for a couple of years, so I know it’s fairly routine these days. But after a while you start reading 8:30pm as meaning 8:35pm or even 8:40pm, and on the rare occasion that they are running on time, you miss part of the show you wanted to watch. Annoying.

But there’s more. The other thing commercial tv stations love to do for their viewers benefit (of course), is squash the credits into one half of the screen and advertise the next programme. I wonder if they do this to remind people of the former technique, a way of saying “No, silly viewer, your show is still on, we’re just running it a bit later, hahaha”. Or maybe it’s another attempt to boost (moneymoneymoneymoney) ratings. Tonight, they took this one step further and actually squashed the end of the show into half the screen, muted it and went into a “see this show next (but miss out on the end of the show you’re watching while we advise you to watch the next show which will be on after this advertisement for it because we’re cutting off the end of the show you’re watching…)”.

Seriously. That is bad advertising, bad programming and bad PR. Sure, try and get ratings by running a show 5 minutes later than scheduled, or squashing the credits (which I enjoy reading, thanks very much, I can definitely read the small, skewed print you substitute for full-screen credits), but not cutting off the end of a show. That’s like starting a joke and not…

See what I mean?

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