7D Goes HD and Jono and Ben No Longer @ 10

One of TV3’s highest-rating hits, 7 Days, tonight screens for the first time in HD five years after it went to air.

The milestone coincides with the announcement that its long-running stablemate, Jono and Ben at Ten, will switch to 7.30 Fridays when it screens later in the year.

Presumably the primetime promotion will see the duo go HD, too, although that has still to be confirmed.

But 7 Days’ 9.30 Friday season premiere, which was recorded Wednesday before thousands of university students in Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium, will mark a new phase in the panel comedy that’s expected to air its 200th episode this year.

Tonight’s is episode #171 and barring a ratings nosedive or pre-emption, the show should be on air for about 30 weeks.

Producer Jon Bridges says the comedians, many of who have been with the series since it launched, didn’t know the latest season would be in HD before the cameras rolled on Wednesday.

He says because of how the show is delivered to TV3, the switchover to HD is a “massive learning curve” and logistically will be “a bit more challenging” to shoot, edit and turn around in such a tight time frame.

“The main improvement of going HD is it will bring the show into the 21st century. Most of the major programmes are in HD.”

While the new season, as of next week, will be recorded in a new studio, the set will be the same as last year — it’s the third in five years — as will the titles (which were designed in HD but downscaled for SD broadcast).

Audio will remain two-channel because Bridges says 5.1 would add scant value to a programme that’s talk-driven.

With HD now finalised, his priorities for the year are to try to have more comediennes on the show and to keep refreshing it.

TV3 is brightening up Friday nights with not only 7D in HD but also an earlier, new hour-long slot for Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce’s hit comedy.

The broadcaster calls them one of MediaWorks’ “most successful cross-platform entertainment properties”, with their top-rating TV show, a popular daily Drive show on The Rock, and great success on Facebook and YouTube. 

Along with sidekicks Guy Williams and Rose Matafeo, they will be interviewing stars, directing more celebrities in Next Actor, and performing sketches, parodies and songs when the new format hits primetime on a date still to be disclosed.

“We are stoked to get this new time slot – we had to hurt a lot of people to get here but it has all been worth it,” Pryor says in the press release.

“Moving our show to 7.30pm it means my nana, who goes to bed at 7.50pm, will be able to see 20 minutes of the show.”

Boyce agrees: “To make the move to 7.30pm, we have designed an all new show which incorporates cooking, home renovation, weight loss, singing and current affairs into one hour.

“Plus, we are honoured to be on air after Campbell Live. Now John will have to talk to us in the make-up room.”

Moreover, it should provide The Graham Norton Show with a solid lead-in and anchor Friday nights for the network.

In 2014, more than 2 million viewers tuned into Jono and Ben at Ten. Their 7.30pm special, Jono and Ben Celebrate TV3’s ••• Half Centurywas watched by an average audience of 339,400 people aged 5+, and was a winner in the commercial demographics, with a 24.4% share of the 25-54 audience and a 35.1% share of the 18-39 audience.

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