From today GO! begins its signal on digital televisions, ahead of its ‘soft-launch’ on Sunday night with an array of tasty titles.
TV Tonight spoke to Les Sampson, Nine’s Network Director of Multichannels about its programming.
GO! is structured similar to a subscription TV channel with ‘block’ programming from 3:30pm – 12am, which is repeated again the next day. The SD channel has been carefully programmed so as not to cannibalise Nine and to skew towards younger demographics.
“The model is designed so that we get maximum use of the available audience,” says Sampson.
“At the moment the schedule is ‘blocked’ but probably in the next two months we’ll expand those blocks out. It’s a work in progress.”
The channel launches at 6:30pm on Sunday with a new series of Wipeout. While Nine has 60 Minutes and Rescue, GO! begins with comedy titles such as The Big Bang Theory and Aliens in America.
“Aliens in America is a fun little show,” he says. “A family decides they want to get an exchange student, so they advertise hoping for a tall blonde Norwegian or a hot sexy German. But they end up with a guy from Pakistan. He’s not what they’re expecting so he’s the ‘alien’ in the family. It’s funny with its interaction between the eastern and western mentality. It’s a fun little show that has a sense of what the channel is. It’s a little bit risqué, with some moments that are potentially politically incorrect.
“Mondays we’ve got Dog The Bounty Hunter, Neighbours at War, Bad Lad’s Army, so it’s a ‘go get ‘em’ type theme, in a sort of blokey night. Obviously we have female-skewing shows on the premium channel with Farmer and Drop Dead Diva.”
Tuesday night offers reality with Survivor, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.
“We’re playing (Survivor) Gabon and then we lead into the next series (Tocantins). They are all new Australian premiere episodes which you wouldn’t have seen on Foxtel,” says Sampson.
“Wednesday night we’ve got Sarah Connor Chronicles, Fringe, Eleventh Hour episodes. We’ve played a few episodes before but the majority will be new. Thursday’s Gossip Girl will be a repeat because it’s been on Foxtel, but most will be Free to Air premiere episodes. There’s Moonlight and then The Hills which will pick up from where we left off.”
Fridays and Saturdays offers repeats of CSIs plus the return of Dance Your Ass Off.
“And at 7:30 weeknights TMZ will be Australian premiere episodes which we pull off the satellite everyday. They fit the channel, they’re very young, very papparazzi driven.”
TMZ will pair with Entertainment Tonight which premieres on Nine at 3pm before playing again at 7pm on GO!
In designing the new channel, Sampson says classification issues have been the network’s biggest problem.
“Foxtel have the luxury of being able to play content wherever they want pretty much,” he said. “We still have to play ‘G’ programming early evening. We can’t play ‘M’ programming before 8:30. We can play it during the day between 12 and 3, but not during school holidays and it’s the same problem on weekends.”
GO! will also screen music clips overnight as part of The ARIA Music Show. Over summer while the premium channel has a focus on cricket GO! will offer complementary programming.
In October when GO! completes its launch, it will offer the Australian premiere of Kevin Williamson’s The Vampire Diaries, as well as breakaway commercial feeds in each market. Sampson sees the channel as a ‘work in progress’ and indicates the addition of channel exclusive interstitials.
“We’re looking at doing fashion updates, snow report updates, bar and restaurant interstitials. The channel is very new so it’s a matter of developing out. It will grow.”
While shows that are dropped off Nine are not necessarily guaranteed an immediate place on GO! the upside is the channel is looking to playout its series.
“We have to forward-plan 6 to 12 months in advance. So we won’t just drop one show for another. We want to try and play out each episode of each series.”
Sampson also flagged other titles to follow inclusing Weeds, The Wire, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Hell’s Kitchen and Nip / Tuck.
“Unfortunately we can’t have everything on the schedule at once!”
GO! Channel 99
WIN / NBN Channel 88 (East Coast)
GO! Digital TV help line on 1300 152 231