60 Years of QLD TV

Days elapsed since Local Edition's end.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What Seven needs at 5:30 and beyond...

Seven Brisbane has lost every week in ratings in 2010 at 5:30, along with losing the year in primary and network shares. Although they continue to lead at 6, the 5:30 slot has gone from a cashcow to poison in the eighteen months, since the Extra axing, with bucketloads of Brisbanites, treating Seven poorly, sending the once joint leader, down to third in the 5:30 slot, and repeating Local Edition's feat, of placing third out of the commercial networks in the 5-6 hour during the latter half of 2010. But there is one solution, that Seven are too silly to try, yet it is the easy way out. I can think of other things Seven can spend money on (and making advertisers shudder after recent runs of poor ratings, as well as losing 5:30 to Nine), other than propping up a national gameshow, that has been given up on by Brisbane viewers, and is being haunted by the bad memories of past local efforts.
I'm just about to show you a few of them.

Let me introduce you to my first thing I'd like to see Seven spend heavily on to regain the 5:30 lead.
#1: Luring Rick Burnett out of "retirement" to spearhead a revival of a Extra-style program.
Rick Burnett, former Extra host.
Seven needs to look at 5:30, as it does the 6pm news, with great importance. The Deal/Hot Seat war has bitten Seven's once dominative position, into two and the upcoming launch of 6:30 news on Ten will be another major factor that the network needs to consider. People are either bypassing the game shows these days and tuning in at 6pm, or are watching Ten's news, that starts at 5pm, but has more local content than 7 and 9's 6pm news ever will, or even flicking onto Rob Readings's Gold Coast news service, if they live on the Gold Coast. Thus it has come to this, the missed opportunity from 2006, that Seven never even used, of picking up Rick Burnett, and creating a local product based around the same formula as the "old Extra", with Deal (if this ever happened) most likely moving to 5pm. Hot Seat before the Extra axing was drawing 80/90k at 5pm, I'd reckon Deal would do better facing off against Antiques and first half hour of TVQ's 5pm news than a Nine Gold Coast News swelled Hot Seat figure. This would also build a solid foundation for a 7 run Gold Coast news service, something that viewers want, competition in Gold Coast local news, where Nine currently has a strong local presence, and is part of the reason why Hot Seat is so successful.

The second thing Seven should spend on is:
#2: A local Today Tonight revival.
Breaking a mirror equals seven years bad luck, but could seven years be enough wait for the return of a Brisbane version of TT? Even though Today Tonight has been successful, as a east coast edition, there is some disquiet, that the program has a Brisbane team, that is underutilised, while, politicians and businessmen across our fair state, rub their hands in glee that TT and ACA can't give them the attention they need and have craved, inbred if you will, back to the Joh days. It was once stated, Brisbanites watch more current affairs programs than people in the other capitals. This was simply, because Brisbane for the majority of the eighties clung to their local current affairs programs, instead of flocking to the hour-long news service. Now, I reckon we watch less current affairs programming per capita, even more enhanced by the loss of Extra in 2009. With Ten entering the 6:30 fray, in early 2011, it is well overdue, for Seven to keep their promise, that a locally presented Today Tonight to return (even the original QTQ (where the program ran from 1979 to 1985) TT producer, Des Power would agree) that serious local current affairs (along with investigative reporting and FOI investigations currently in the 6pm bulletin) would work just as well in that slot as they did in the eighties.

The third major thing Seven should spend on, is:
#3: Committing to a 5:30 revolution in regional QLD.
Seven also needs to heavily look at the role that they play, as the news leader in regional Queensland, especially with digital switchover happening within twelve months. Part of this would be an major expansion of Seven Local News services, into Toowoomba/Darling Downs (which can be achieved by DTV switchover), the Gold Coast (run by the Brisbane metro 7 station), and a co-funded (with SC Central) service for outback QLD. Alongside that, there would be a move to 5:30, for the news service (to allow 7 Brisbane's news to run at 6pm statewide and allow Today Tonight to air on the same night, not on 23 hour delay.) Alongside, there would be massive changes, with a larger team, with the ideal situation that eventually, 7 Local News would have local anchors (and be locally presented) in each market. The Gold Coast would also get a bonus two bulletins, with the launch of weekend local news at 6pm (something that the Gold Coast currently lacks.)

And finally:
#4: A full refresh of the weekend advertorials.
There is nothing, I and many other people want more, than Seven refreshing the weekend advertorials from top to tail. But with this, I am also suggesting, Seven ditches Creek to Coast, as it is often pre-empted for sport, and the resources the program uses not to mention budgets, could be used elsewhere. As for talent, some people would be shifted, with the ultimate goal, of having separate core teams (i.e, EP's, camera operators and presenters), for Queensland Weekender and Great South East, with commitments to a full on shooting schedule, that cannot be filled with Creek to Coast remaining in it's current format. Simply, every week there should be a fresh episode of GSE, taped during that week, with Queensland Weekender getting away with "travel show" definitions, being a month or two turnaround from location shoot, to airing. The longer form specials, would be phased out of the 5:30 Saturday slot into the 7:30 Friday slot, with Better Homes And Gardens taking a week off, six times a year (with Queensland Weekender hour-long specials quarterly, as well as a preview for the Brisbane Festival in late August, and a Gold Coast 600 live event) with Better Homes catchups, done outside primetime, and eventually 7Two. With this, there is also a need to bring the websites for the advertorials into 2010. 

There has been no major changes to www.greatsoutheast.com.au , since 2004's addition of Queensland Weekender, while the internet has gone from a static medium, to one involving heavier amounts of video, even full episodes, while sites like the highly successful OurBrisbane.com portal, now provide weather segments from Nine News, and the heavily promoted Yahoo7 Queensland portal now provides local ratings and press releases (which used to be released to a number of sources, but until now, never, as publicly as the network, who posts all national media releases at Seven Corporate, alongside investor releases for shareholders), as a attempt to bypass the middleman (which rarely reads 7's local releases, and often uses 9's local releases instead, which are usually made public via a middleman), and try and make public "localised" data the norm, as well as, TenSeven and Nine all launching local Twitter accounts, along with 9 Brisbane spearheading the Twitter charge, with most people there now tweeting. Yet the advertorials probably look at the growth in social media and the web as "threatening" to their core product. Extra used the web for for nine years to their advantage, moving with trends (most importantly, introducing video in mid 2008), after being beaten onto the internet, by GSE and Local Edition in 2000.

So 7, It's Time... to review 5:30, and review what the station needs in the way of local content. You have had the worst year in the critical 5:30 lead-in slot in many years, now it's time to revive what many have said is a death slot... Can you do it? I (and many other viewers) think you can.


  1. Sorry I don't have any of the specified accounts so I'm Anonymous for now...

    I've been reading comments you have made over quite a few places over the years and stumbled onto your blog after you replied to a comment I made on TV Tonight about BTQ taking a back seat while ATN ran the show this week that looks to have given QTQ the boost it has needed for some years.

    Turning back now to this post, I think the 'Network' will sit and hold out for as long as DOND gives out reasonable numbers Australia wide. Until then, I think they'll leave BTQ's lagging 5:30 alone for at least the next 12 months. I'm sure you probably agree with me that in doing so they are obviously ignoring that with an eroded lead-in for 6 and the fact QTQ has massive momentum behind it now it will make their national figures look quite bad.

    Like you I would like a BTQ produced show to run into 6, but I haven't seen the demos for the 5/5:30 slots so I'm not sure what would work best.

    Also, I know we can't go local for TT, so we're out unless the Network localise their digital channels a bit more...would be great to lose the sterilised feel of them! I'd love to see News-TT-State Affair, just something better than the tin pot ABC Stateline with a modernised format.


  2. @MrEmbargo: Exactly what I am feeling. Seven Brisbane has a perfect storm coming.

    I have a feeling that BTQ is fearing Monday January 31: likely to be Deal's first new episode of 2011. If they lose to 9 on that night, and more critically, lose to Ten leading into 6pm, and leading out of 6pm, then the wheels of a 5:30 change will likely start to roll...