Switched off totally
I HAVE a new rule for watching free- to- air TV: if it isn’t available on an online catchup service, I’m not watching it.
This new edict has come about in response to the generally appalling attitudes towards programming among the commercial networks.
Sadly, it has reached the point where waiting to watch something as it goes to air is just too annoying.
Whatever I want to watch will inevitably start 10 minutes late, leaving me having to sit through the final 10 excruciating minutes of Australia’s Next Top Home Renovation Talent Cook- off Challenge or whatever other mindless, repetitive, cheap- to- produce drivel precedes it.
But if I attempt to record a show to watch later, no matter how long I set the timer to run over, I will miss the end by five minutes.
Then if you go to the online catch- up service, chances are that whatever show you’re looking for isn’t there.
And then there’s the insidious matter of the big networks deciding, apparently completely at random, to slot repeats into the middle of new seasons or sometimes just not show that week’s episode at all.
Well, no more. No more scratching around online for illegal copies of stuff just so I can see the final five minutes. No more staring at the TV guide or EPG wondering if tonight’s ‘‘ new episode’’ really is new. If I have the time, yes, I’ll sit down to watch my show. If I don’t, I’ll record it, and if that goes pear- shaped at least I’ll know there’s an easy ( legal) backup available.
Channel 10 and the ABC are leaders in this area, as both have excellent online catch- up services.
ABC’s iView is simply the best out there and what it doesn’t upload ( very quickly after going to air) probably isn’t worth watching, anyway.
Ten is also very conscientious about getting the bulk of its popular programming online promptly, including its multichannels ONE and Eleven.
Seven isn’t too bad, either, with an easy- to navigate website and most of its best stuff available. SBS has gotten a lot better recently, turning its headacheinducing website into something userfriendly and comprehensive.
Even Channel 9 is getting better, with its new site much simpler to find and navigate than that awful FixPlay experiment, and it’s starting to get most of its shows up there, but why it still has Sea Patrol and Rescue Special Ops up there is anyone’s guess.
Making time for ‘‘ appointment television’’ is still a fun thing to do sometimes: in season, Monday night is always Supernatural night in our house, and it’s nice to have an enjoyable routine.
But routines are increasingly cluttered these days and if TV networks insist on making it harder to watch things off broadcast, the web is the only option.
I wish I didn’t need the safety net but I’m glad it’s there and it’s good that the commercial networks are finally coming to the party.
NOT TO BE MISSED: Episodes of Supernatural starring Jared Padalecki, left, and Jensen Ackles are worth tracking down on online catch- up services.