Network Ten fights back
Network Ten plans to take risks in its programming, invest more heavily in local content and launch a children’s channel as it strives to rebuild audiences and revenues.
That was the gist of Ten Network Holdings CEO/MD Hamish McLennan’s message to producers at the Screen Forever conference on Wednesday.
McLennan also flagged plans to introduce a Pay-Per-View element to its catch-up service tenplay although he acknowledged that initiative would not generate sizable revenues or profits in the short term.
He defended Wake Up and Studio 10, claiming the lowly ratings for both morning shows were no more than he expected initially and said Ten had made a two-year commitment to both. He conceded the network has a “bit of work” to do on Wake Up, just as it was announced that Natasha Exelby has departed as one of the three co-hosts.
The children’s channel, for which he gave no timetable, would be launched on the tenplay platform.
Outlining his overall philosophy on programming, he said, “We need to take more risks to break out of the situation we’re in.”
He said Ten is looking for local dramas that can endure for years, citing Offspring, Wonderland and Puberty Blues, and he expressed great confidence in Hoodlum Entertainment’s six-part drama Secrets & Lies, which will debut next year, accompanied by innovative second screen apps.
“In the past we have been too quick to jettison some formats,” he said, referring mostly to reality shows. “We are as committed as we have ever been (to local drama) and we will do more.” He said Ten is looking at screening local dramas in HD on its main channel.
The network is also keen to develop local comedies, while he noted it isn’t easy to “crack the code of broad-based comedy.”
McLennan said that changing the main channel’s focus to the 25-54 demographic from the shrinking 16-39 demo was essential, otherwise “we would go out of business.”
He said Ten is investing more in news and current affairs because that programming is watched live, not recorded for later viewing.
McLennan defended the government’s generosity in halving the annual license fee paid by the commercial FTA broadcasters, noting Ten has invested most of the savings in local content.
He observed that a few of the larger production companies in Australia are more profitable than his network.