No doubt there are many people who, like myself, can think of nothing worse than being awake and watching TV before 6.00am every morning but, obviously, there are many others whose day has started well before the sun rises, and may want to tune in to something other than US morning shows on delay, televangelists, or the Japanese news on SBS.
And now, for the first time, Australian TV is doing something for those early risers – all in the name of trying to get ahead in the ratings.
Nine‘s Today has had a few rough years of late, due to the Seven Network‘s popular Sunrise taking hold of the timeslot, and Nine’s struggle to main a strong defense to the competition, though some promising ratings increases have followed the appointment of co-host Lisa Wilkinson (pictured) last year.
Nine’s latest strike in the breakfast TV battle is to shift the starting time of Today from 6.00am to 5.30am, giving it a half-hour head-start over Sunrise. The earlier starting time had been piloted in Queensland, due to that state not practicing daylight saving, where Today has been airing live there from 5.00am, while Sunrise has continued to start at six. The experiment showed, apparently, that there were enough Queenslanders switching on Today before 6.00am to justify the change across the country.
Changing start times is nothing new in breakfast TV – Today, Sunrise and the old Good Morning Australia all had and tried different start times over the years – but to break the 6.00am barrier is rather a significant change as the first acknowledgment that there is an audience at that time of the day and that they may want a more substantial program than what is being offered in that timeslot now.
Though, realistically, this is more just a case of Nine wanting to get the edge over Sunrise by being able to claim they are ‘first’ to air each morning. No doubt it will only be a matter of time before Seven decides to react with a similar timeslot change.
Today. Weekdays 5.30am. Nine.