Defending the delay – Why Sky 1 are airing Flash, Arrow & Legends of Tomorrow in March.

Post by:
02 Feb 16

DCs Legends of Tomorrow

Explaining the delay with Flash, Arrow & Legends of Tomorrow on Sky 1

We get a lot of imported tv shows in this country, and one of the major complains we hear on the site daily is the gap between (mainly) US imports and UK air dates… The delay with Flash, Arrow & Legends of Tomorrow on Sky 1 this year has particularly upset people e.g. “So yet again the uk have to wait…”, “Are you taking the mick?… I WANT IT NOW!”, “Nearly 6 weeks after US air date????” etc…

Firstly i’d say, deep breaths… 6 weeks isn’t an eternity, it’s just longer than you’re used to. Secondly, Sky aren’t doing it out of spite, there’s a pretty sound and logical reason for it.

US scheduling is somewhat of an erratic thing… I’m not taking about the mid-season break, which is when they split a season’s run into two distinct halves. I’m talking about the breaks within the normal week-on-week run. Shows can be on one week, skip two weeks, back for a week, off for a month, back for three more, then take a break again… This can happen for various reasons. Sometimes it’s a US holiday we don’t celebrate over here, or big sporting event and they don’t want to air a show whilst people are off doing other things. Sometimes there are production issues which means shows haven’t actually finished the episode by the time they need to air it (e.g. when Carol Ann Susi, the voice Howard’s mother died, they delayed filming so they could rewrite episodes to cover it in the show). The other common reason is something called ‘sweeps’…

The ‘sweeps’ periods, which usually occur around November, February, May, and July, are the points in the US scheduling where special rating are taken to use to work out adverting rates across the TV networks. For example, if you have a show where there’s a huge storyline which culminates in a major character being killed off, you may want to hold on to that massive episode so it airs in the middle of ‘sweeps’, as it’s likely to bring in extra viewers. More viewers makes that time slot more valuable to advertisers. What’s ridiculous is even if you were then to go an air an hour long show about paint drying in that time slot a few weeks later, the numbers say that time slot is more valuable. Yes, it’s a stupid system, but thats what they do… Sweeps can also have the opposite effect, where a network may choose to hold back an episode of a show so it’s not having to compete in a sweeps battle. Everyone else is putting out their ‘best’ stuff, so they’d rather hold a show back a week or two, than battle some live extravaganza put on by the competition.

In the case of Flash, Arrow & Legends of Tomorrow, there are two more breaks planned in the US scheduling between now and the end of the run, and that essentially is the problem for Sky…

If they stick to airing the shows within a week US it makes the UK schedule as erratic as the US. That means Sky have the headache of filling random one hour time slots every few weeks with repeats, or find other ‘one off’ shows to fill the gaps. This also causing complaints (i.e. why’s Flash not on this week?!) It’s far easier for them to squash all the breaks out at the start. That means we have to guess if it’s going to be a new episode or a repeat each week, and also gives Sky a clear block of 6 or 8 weeks when they can slot in an uninterrupted run of something else.

As we go through this run of Flash (1st March), Arrow (2nd March) & Legends of Tomorrow (3rd March), we will catch up with the US air dates as they take breaks. We’re just getting all the gaps in a block at the start rather than mixed throughout the run. I know that means avoiding spoilers, but that’s not impossible to do if you’re careful. Remember your training, and listen to Yoda… 😉

Defending the delay - Why Sky 1 are airing Flash, Arrow & Legends of Tomorrow in March.