Broadcast programming


Broadcast programming

Broadcast programming or scheduling is the practice of organizing television shows or radio programs in a daily, weekly, or season-long schedule. Modern broadcasters use broadcast automation to regularly change the scheduling of their programs to build an audience for a new show, retain that audience, or compete with other broadcasters' programs. In the United Kingdom, this is known as TV listings.

Television scheduling strategies are employed to give programs the best possible chance of attracting and retaining an audience. They are used to deliver programs to audiences when they are most likely to want to watch them and deliver audiences to advertisers in the composition that makes their advertising most likely to be effective (Ellis 2000 p.136). Digitally based broadcast programming mechanisms are known as electronic program guides (EPG).

At a micro level, scheduling is the minute planning of the transmission; what to broadcast and when, ensuring that every second of airtime is covered.

Contents

Programming History

Initially, television programming only was concerned with filling a few hours each evening. From the beginning of 1946 television began to be seen during the day time as well as weekend hours. As air time increased so did the demand for new material. With the exception of sports television, variety programs became much more important to prime time viewing.

Scheduling strategies

Block programming

Block programming occurs when the television network schedules similar programs back-to-back. The concept is to provide similar programming to keep the viewers.

Crossprogramming

Crossprogramming involves the interconnection of two shows. This is achieved by dragging a storyline over two episodes of two different programs.

Bridging

Bridging is being used when a station tries to prevent the audience from changing channels during a junction point - the main evening breaks where all channels stop programs and shift gear (Ellis, 2000). This is achieved in a number of ways including: having a program already underway and something compelling happening at a junction point, running a program late so that people ‘hang around’ and miss the start of other programs, or television advertising the next program during the credits of the previous.

Counterprogramming

Counterprogramming is used when a time period is filled with a program whose appeal is different from the opponent program because it is a different genre or appeals to a different demographic.

Dayparting

Dayparting is the practice of dividing the day into several parts, during each of which a different type of radio programming or television programming appropriate for that time is aired. Daytime television programs are most often geared toward a particular demographic, and what the target audience typically engages in at that time.

Hammocking

Hammocking is a technique used by broadcasters whereby an unpopular program is scheduled between two popular programs in the hope that viewers will watch it. Public television use this as a way of promoting serious but valuable content.

Hotswitching

In Hotswitching, the programmers eliminate any sort of commercial break when one program ends and another begins; this immediately hooks the audience into watching the next program without a chance to change the television channel between programs.

Stacking

Stacking is a technique used to develop audience flow by grouping together programs with similar appeals to "Sweep" the viewer along from one program to the next (Vane and Gross, 1994, p.175).

Stripping

Stripping is running a syndicated television series every day of the week. It is commonly restricted to describing the airing of shows which were weekly in their first run; The West Wing could be stripped, but not Jeopardy!, as daily is the schedule for which it is intended. Shows that are syndicated in this way generally have to have run for several seasons (the rule of thumb is usually 100 episodes) in order to have enough episodes to run without significant repeats.

Tentpoling

In tent pole programming the programmers bank on a well-known series having so much audience appeal that they can place two unknown series on either side, and it is the strength of the central program that will bring the others along to victory.

Theming

Having special theming days (such as for a holiday), or theme weeks such as Discovery Channel's Shark Week.

Scheduling strategies

A typical scheduling strategy used in Argentinian radio and television is called "pase" (Spanish for a "pass" as in a player passing the ball to another player of the same team). A few minutes before the end of a live broadcast show, followed by another live broadcast show, people from both programmes will share some air time together. This may be used for people from the starting programme to anticipate its contents of the day, or to participate in an ongoing discussion in the previous show, or simply for an entirely independent debate or chat that will not be furthered after the "pase". On the radio, where newscasts are usually broadcast every thirty minutes, often in coincidence with the end of a show, the "pase" may take some minutes before the news, and sometimes some minutes afterwards, too.

Alternatively, if there is no "pase", light jokes or comments can be made in a show involving people of the following show, so that some viewers or listeners might be interested in hearing what the reply will be.

Also, when a station has a new show starting, or if it needs to boost its ratings, part of its cast will be featured in other programmes in the same station, inserted in the dynamics of the programme they are in. For example they will participate in game shows, be interviewed by the journalists of the station, make cameos in a series, substitute for the usual staff of other shows in their habitual functions, etc. Additionally, hosts of live programmes may mention repeatedly the new show and its time slot, trying to encourage their own viewers to watch it.

See also

References

  • Eastman, S. T., and Ferguson, D. A. (2009). Media programming: Strategies and Practices (8th ed.), Boston: Thomson Wadsworth.
  • Ellis, J. (2000) Seeing Things: Television in the Age of Uncertainty, London: I.B. Tauris.
  • Vane, E.T., and Gross, L.S. (1994) Programming for TV, radio and cable, Boston: Focal Press.

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