What is Bridging?


Introduction

Bridging is the practice of discouraging the audience from changing channels during the ‘junctions’ between specific programmes. This can be done, primarily, by airing promos for the next programme near the end of the preceding programme, such as during its credits.

Bridging is a scheduling strategy.

What is the Purpose of Bridging?

The host of the next programme may similarly make a brief appearance near the end of the preceding programme (sometimes interacting directly with the host) to provide a preview; in news broadcasting, this is typically referred to as a ‘throw’ or ‘toss’.

Owing to both programmes’ news comedy formats, the Comedy Central programme The Daily Show similarly featured toss segments to promote its spin-off and lead-out, The Colbert Report, in which host Jon Stewart would engage in a comedic conversation with the latter’s host, Stephen Colbert, via split-screen near the end of the show.

In some cases, a channel may intentionally allow a programme to overrun into the next half-hour timeslot rather than end exactly on the half-hour, in order to discourage viewers from ‘surfing’ away at traditional junction periods (since they had missed the beginnings of programmes on other channels already).

However, this can cause disruptions with recorders if they are not aware of the scheduling (typically, digital video recorders can be configured to automatically record for a set length of time before and after a schedule’s given timeslot in programme guide data to account for possible variances).

For a period, TBS consistently and intentionally engaged in this practice under the name ‘Turner Time’, scheduling all programmes at 5 and 35 minutes past the hour (rather than exactly on the half hour). This also served to attract viewers tuning away from shows that had already started on another channel, so that they could easily catch the next programme due to the offset scheduling.

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