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Why can't TCM show the Daytime and Primetime Themes on the schedule?


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The TCM programmers work hard to create daytime and primetime themes throughout the week to organize the schedule.  This “curation” of the films is one of the prominent ways TCM distinguishes itself from other movie channels.  Many of the themes are designed to feature noteworthy guests and/or specific concepts for film appreciation that try to draw viewers to watch the channel.

- Yes, there are the occasional articles at the beginning of the month that will describe a theme for a given day or month, but this in no way covers them all.
- Yes, the monthly electronic program guide lists themes, but this is often incomplete or becomes out of date by the time the programs air.  There are often last-minute changes to the schedule that never get reflected anywhere other than the raw list of films.
- The online schedule used to show the primetime themes, but that was lost when the new schedule system was put in place last year.  Even then it didn’t make sense to not show both the daytime and primetime themes each day.

By refusing to show the daily themes, TCM is missing a major opportunity to promote their brand, entice more viewers to the daily events, and enhance the viewing experience for serious viewers who seek out this information.

Not taking full advantage of the work the programmers do to create the schedules seems crazy.  Something this fundamental would certainly be worth any extra work required to update the schedule system for this feature, and it would likely be a one-time change that would require little maintenance from month-to-month.

Perish the thought that TCM would ever do away with these themes, because that’s what makes TCM what it is.  Why not shout them out from the highest mountaintop?

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I agree: the themes are very important to emphasize.  Among other things, they enhance the viewer's experience by highlighting connections between the movies being shown -- connections that can be personal (e.g., a particular actor, director, or writer worked on each movie), content-based, historical, etc.

TCM sometimes includes the themes in their on-screen "upcoming" schedules between the primetime movies.  I wish the themes would be featured in every schedule, both on-screen and text, including the daytime schedules.

Without the themes (and without the hosts and short subjects), TCM is just a collection of movies being shown on pay-TV.  It's the context provided by the themes, hosts, and shorts (the "original" productions about particular movies or actors) that help make TCM the wonderland that it is.

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15 hours ago, BingFan said:

I agree: the themes are very important to emphasize.  Among other things, they enhance the viewer's experience by highlighting connections between the movies being shown -- connections that can be personal (e.g., a particular actor, director, or writer worked on each movie), content-based, historical, etc.

TCM sometimes includes the themes in their on-screen "upcoming" schedules between the primetime movies.  I wish the themes would be featured in every schedule, both on-screen and text, including the daytime schedules.

Without the themes (and without the hosts and short subjects), TCM is just a collection of movies being shown on pay-TV.  It's the context provided by the themes, hosts, and shorts (the "original" productions about particular movies or actors) that help make TCM the wonderland that it is.

Some months ago, in a different thread, I brought up the fact that TCM used to use on-air announcers to inform viewers of the theme for that day. Why this practice was discontinued remains a mystery to me. It couldn't be simply a matter of dollars and cents--how much could it cost to do a 15-second on-air announcement? Whatever the reason, it leaves viewers in the dark during daytime hours when there's no host to tell them what they're watching.

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13 minutes ago, skipd55 said:

Some months ago, in a different thread, I brought up the fact that TCM used to use on-air announcers to inform viewers of the theme for that day. Why this practice was discontinued remains a mystery to me. It couldn't be simply a matter of dollars and cents--how much could it cost to do a 15-second on-air announcement? Whatever the reason, it leaves viewers in the dark during daytime hours when there's no host to tell them what they're watching.

I really miss the "coming up next" announcements (along with actual TIMES when films start) and while I think it was incredibly cheap of TCM to lose the announcers, it doesn't matter how long the announcement is   --  what matters is that professional talent get paid hundreds of dollars (at least) every time they do a recording.  Also, if the announcement is international (as TCM is) the costs do add up.  I assume they had announcers under a contract so that they got a better deal and that would save a few bucks.  Still, considering the revenue that TCM was/is getting via cable systems, they could well afford it.  I really, really miss those announcements and they were very cleverly written, too.  And, while we're on the subject of "the good old days," I so miss the old website.  The new one could be a website for any network and the design doesn't reflect in any way the vintage/classic vibe of TCM as the old one did.

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2 hours ago, skipd55 said:

Some months ago, in a different thread, I brought up the fact that TCM used to use on-air announcers to inform viewers of the theme for that day. Why this practice was discontinued remains a mystery to me. It couldn't be simply a matter of dollars and cents--how much could it cost to do a 15-second on-air announcement? Whatever the reason, it leaves viewers in the dark during daytime hours when there's no host to tell them what they're watching.

These folks are called continuity announcers, and they are a rare breed today in the US.  Most networks and TV stations used to use them, going back to the early days of network television, and they were done live.  They were later replaced by recorded announcements.   They've fallen out of favor on commercial networks because that time could be sold for more advertising (same reason why they squeeze credit rolls at the end, and show intros are so short).  Even though TCM is ad-free and doesn't have the same concerns as a station/network selling time, I guess in a way it's just no longer in fashion to have these.

They still use them in the UK (and some networks there even had "in-vision" announcers - they would appear on camera)

Nostalgia TV network MeTV still uses continuity announcers.  I suppose it's a throwback to the way things used to be done and fits with their overall programming.  

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It's a bit ironic that a cable channel that specializes in "classic movies" (i.e., evoking nostalgia) would care so much about what's currently fashionable in broadcasting circles, that they would abandon on-air announcers, a little bit of nostalgia that actually benefits viewers. Ironic, but not surprising. And I applaud MeTV for resisting the fashionable trend of using split screens and other devices to milk every possible second of commercial time in its programming.

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