Why is your fave show on so late?

Written By komlim puldel on Sabtu, 28 Februari 2015 | 20.01

Will Stewart and Steve Flood from My Kitchen Rules talk tears and tantrums in the kitchen.

More advertising revenue ... The Block, among other reality TV shows are running later for a reason. Picture: Nine. Source: Supplied

WINTER, House Of Hancock, Gallipoli. These hotly anticipated dramas were expected to set ratings records when they debuted.

Yet when each show launched at 9pm, rather than the traditional 8.30pm timeslot, not only did they get softer-than-expected numbers upon launch, but ratings continued to drop throughout each show's run.

Viewers complained the blockbusters were on too late. But according to media expert Nathan Cook, it looks like the 9pm timeslot is here to stay as networks reap financial benefits from the time change.

With big reality franchises such as My Kitchen Rules and The Block drawing huge ratings from 7.30pm onwards, Cook says extending them by another half an hour makes sense from a commercial perspective.

"Reality programs film in the vicinity of 50 hours a week and only put about five hours to air," he explains.

"Finding half an hour per night off the cutting room floor doesn't cost anything to program in and you maximise your ratings."

NINE'S FLOP: The show that was supposed to be a rating hit

Serving up longer episodes ... My Kitchen Rules has no plans to trim the fat from the hti program. Picture: Seven. Source: Supplied

Not only that, but networks can cash in on extra advertising revenue.

"Advertising rate cards are generally divided into 30 minute blocks but once you get past 7.30 it is hourly," Cook says. "And 7.30 to 8.30 is the most expensive area followed by 8.30 to 9.30. After 9.30 it starts to decrease."

By extending higher-rating programs by half an hour, networks can then schedule more ad breaks. "And you're always going to charge the higher rate position of when the program started, which means you'll actually get more revenue," says Cook.

But while the networks may be laughing all the way to the bank with this approach, Cook warns it's a double edged sword for prime-time dramas.

"Their key programming will perform but the follow up program won't perform in the same way it would have done previously as a result," he says.

Star power dimmed ... A later start has hurt ratings for critically lauded drama Winter. Picture: Seven. Source: Supplied

Social researcher Mark McCrindle adds there's another reason a 9pm start time will hurt.

"Australians still significantly have their evening meal with a screen in the background and that evening meal is still a connection point for the family," he says.

However once that meal is over, fragmentation begins.

"People pick up their own screens, whether it's to watch time shifted viewing, to social network, to study," McCrindle explains.

"By the time 9pm has rolled around you don't sit down and watch that blockbuster program together in the way you would in times past."

So why aren't the reality shows hurting?

Ironically, McCrindle says having a multitude of individual screens in the house helps those franchises to maintain on-air dominance.

As viewers interact with MKR, The Block or I'm A Celebrity through Twitter and Facebook or watch unique website content as it's on air, the audience is engaged in a way traditional dramas fail to harness.

"We've got shorter attention spans and the new reality of having a screen in hand has changed our TV engagement from passive to active," says McCrindle.

Getting involved ... Social media interaction has helped I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here succeed in winning engagement. Picture: Supplied. Source: Supplied

"In the old days watching TV was a 'lean back' activity. Now it's 'lean forward,' and 'how can I get involved?'."

But while these reality franchises may have networks seeing dollar signs locally, Cook warn syndicating internationally could become a problem.

"We're the only developed market that does (extend the hourlong format)," he says. "If you're not actually packaging yourself into what should be a 45 minute program that they can put 15 minutes of ads into, it won't fit into other territories programming schedules."

"At the end of the day, nobody wins."


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