Ten sales boss O’Brien: We need just one hit to turn it around

The head of sales for embattled Network Ten says the broadcaster needs just one hit to turn around its fortunes.

This week sees the network launch a tranche of new shows including Everybody Dance Now, Puberty Blues and Class Of. It is also about to launch the second series of Can of Worms with new host Chrissie Swan, and talent quest I Will Survive.

Barry O’Brien, Ten’s newly arrived chief sales officer, said that he followed the mantra of David Leckie, the man who turned around Seven’s fortunes.

He said: “I remember sitting with David Leckie when the network was not in great shape. All he said was ‘You need one.’ That’s where we’re aiming. If we got two, got three, absolute bonus.”

In the video interview with Mumbrella’s Tim Burrowes, O’Brien said that the network was focusing on delivering audience in the 18-49 demographic rather than in absolute numbers.

The interview was shot last week, before Everybody Dance Now aired to poor ratings.

Tonight sees the network’s best hope of a hit, Puberty Blues, go to air. Produced by Southern Star, previews of the nostalgic drama have been positive. Also airing tonight is Class Of, which is based on a European format and sees a group of struggling students get help from education specialists. Class Of has been on Ten’s slate for two years since it was announced alongside The Renovators, which tanked, and Don’t Stop Believing which never made it to air.


  1. NJK
    15 Aug 12
    1:30 pm

  2. They don’t need a hit, they need a slap. In the head. Seriously, who is making these terrible decisions? Advertorials on the breakfast show, launching early to compete with the Olympics, killing the Masterchef brand with overexposure…it’s just a joke-a-thon.

  3. Chris
    15 Aug 12
    1:32 pm

  4. Just a heads up in case Channel 10 are wondering.

    Can of Worms will tank (Ben Elton numbers)

    Class Of will do modestly but not enough to justify its timeslot and be moved to 6.30pm Sundays (an SBS tailored program on Channel 10?)

    I Will Survive will hover around 800,000 before steadily dropping numbers over the weeks

    Everybody Dance Now is obviously a disaster and will be dropped unless the costs of paying out the judges’ contracts outweighs the loss in ad revenue (which i think is probably the case)

    Puberty Blues will be a success but not a smash hit (only thing Channel 10 has produced that looks exciting)

  5. kelly slater
    15 Aug 12
    1:59 pm

  6. Here’s some free advice – less reality TV!

  7. Harry
    15 Aug 12
    2:03 pm

  8. So sad that a Ten executive would say only one hit is needed when the place is a shambles. Perhaps it is time for Ten to put a few people on the Board with deep television experience, define a future direction and then keep its nose out of particular program commissioning. If programs recommended by management continue not to perform then it is finally time for some senior managers to be moved on. Ten in chasing a fickle youth demographic with no major sports deals is the hardest of the networks to turn around. In the absence of sport and the acquistion of any standout entertainment formats the best bet would be to commission much more and diverse Australian drama. It is back to the 80s for Ten!

  9. digadig
    15 Aug 12
    2:09 pm

  10. dunno – but he doesn’t really seem to instill a huge amount of confidence. if he was leading my sales efforts I’d be a little worried. (maybe a lot worried).

    when talking about his plan and commitment for the role – has signed on for a couple of years and will ‘see how it goes’.

    that, and the headline quote that we just need 1 hit to turn it around is the same as a sales person saying that ‘yes, this month was a disaster and i’m sure that things will get better’.

    time to engage a search specialist to find a replacement. glad i’m not a shareholder

  11. Little Voice
    15 Aug 12
    2:20 pm

  12. … but where’s the CEO?

  13. Bit Worried
    15 Aug 12
    2:23 pm

  14. Very appealing interview !

    Don’t call us we will call you.

  15. Shamma
    15 Aug 12
    2:23 pm

  16. Give the guy a break – 7 weeks in … at least he is honest.

    Don’t judge Ten on what they’ve already done (which has been a fail) … judge them on how they invest this cap raise and liquid funds received from Eye offload. They are either going to invest in sport OR will go the US and bid aggressively for the big studio deals (which helped turn 7 around in the early 00’s through Lost/Desperate Housewives etc)

  17. ReservoirDog
    15 Aug 12
    2:40 pm

  18. Promote ‘Wilfred’ properly and it will be a hit! A US show with an Australian actor, so successful that Robin Williams, Elijah Wood, Chris Klein etc want to be in it; and Eleven puts it to air on with barely a wimper.

  19. Nichols
    15 Aug 12
    3:14 pm

  20. There are some really good concepts out there but no-one seems prepared to say… ‘hey, let’s run with this and give it the support it needs to do well’… it always seems to be a ‘put a toe in the water and not fully back decisions’ plan!

  21. DC
    15 Aug 12
    3:30 pm

  22. so lets just recap their brilliant programming choices of late:

    Being Lara Bingle – crap
    The Shire – more crap
    The Breakfast Show – crap before it started
    Everybody Dance Now – even more crap

    Seriously if someone is being paid to come up with this tripe on national tv, that’s the biggest joke of all.

  23. Cognitively Dissonant
    15 Aug 12
    4:23 pm

  24. Let’s not forget the Circle: very watchable TV, some great talent, Pam Barnes running it

    Then they axe it because it’s not making money. Idiots.

  25. Shabba
    15 Aug 12
    4:27 pm

  26. A refreshing bit of honesty in this murky world of egos and hidden agendas. If Barry came out and said all was rosy in the garden he would have been slammed…and rightly so…..ok

  27. Shamma
    15 Aug 12
    4:44 pm

  28. “Then they axe it because it’s not making money”

    How dare they … if all businesses did this, well imagine what the world would be like.

  29. Charlie
    15 Aug 12
    5:06 pm

  30. If the powers at Channel Ten are too scared to tell Lachlan Murdoch that EDN is a lemon and that his talentless wife is a huge part of the problem… I’ll do it!! FOR FREE EVEN!! I’ve already been practising by telling her on Twitter, so I know exactly what to say.

  31. Alex
    15 Aug 12
    5:16 pm

  32. O’Brien might as well be punting on the horses, all he needs is one winner to come in & he’ll break even for the day…

  33. Paul the freelance writer
    15 Aug 12
    5:43 pm

  34. Time to bring back Fredd Bear and Roy Hampson Survive Holiday Island and Dancing With Matlock Police.

  35. DC
    16 Aug 12
    11:14 am

  36. Puberty Blues did well last night.. long way to go till it becomes a star but promising opening night

  37. Harry
    16 Aug 12
    12:00 pm

  38. Puberty Blues was as slow as a wet week and should have rated much better. For a set up opening episode the verdict has to be “good do better”. And the soundrack is tedious. There was a golden opportunity with this show, as there was with the Milperra Bikie story but both lack any kind of narrative drive. Lazy writing seems to be the problem and it is endemic across the networks with Aussie drama. I suppose it is all the same production companies using all the same people.

  39. I wonder
    16 Aug 12
    12:24 pm

  40. “You only need one” reminds me of a desperate pokie player trying to win back their money for dinner.

    From the outside looking in Channel Ten seems like it has lost its way and decided to come up with 15 different plans to find it again. The issue is all 15 different plans are being done at once with the resulting terrible execution.

    As an example Everybody Dance Now was an interesting concept that was never explained to the viewers, it had two huge stars with viewers spending most of the show trying to work out what was going on. The worst talent there was the host, Sarah Murdoch who was stilted.

    I would suggest to Channel Ten that they pick a plan (one) and stick to it until they’re comfortable they’ve achieved what they set out to or feel it isn’t working.

    Keep calm and carry on.

  41. Ruby
    16 Aug 12
    12:36 pm

  42. They get rid of the shows that are actually working and rating well, and keep the ones that are tanking and aren’t very good quality… so, good luck with finding that hit.
    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the network is bankrupt by the end of year.

  43. Bob Shanks
    16 Aug 12
    12:55 pm

  44. Hey! Come on you guys, I’m liking what I’m seeing!
    Fond memories!

  45. TV Advertiser
    16 Aug 12
    2:44 pm

  46. Really does he have any idea what he is doing? Why no mention of all the other content TEN is hoping will work? And this guy is the Chief Sales Officer. 7 weeks in is no excuse…..and as far as ‘Ive signed for a couple of years and will see how it goes’ is hardly a commitment to the channel. Here for a good time & not a long time is the message I got.

    I’m gonna spend my money elsewhere.

  47. Basil Faulty
    16 Aug 12
    4:44 pm

  48. As Ten go through one of its darkest periods, and their share pirce is languishing around 45c, why have we not heard from their CEO? Ten’s CEO is leaving it for his Lieutenants in his Chief Sales Officer and Chief Programming Officerr to answer all the questions. How long will it be before the 3 wealthy board members will want to see some return on their investment which has dropped some 70% since they bought in. Ten’s performance since January has been horrific, and looks like it will only get worse…….where is JW, or has he already left the building?

    I bet I know who’d love to be back at 7 at the moment!

  49. Quality content said
    16 Aug 12
    6:34 pm

  50. I know little about the internal turmoil that exists at 7, but if the same people that have been green-lighting the programming of recent times are still making the decisions, then there are dark days ahead indeed. The issue of course is reality-TV is so much cheaper to make than quality content, but there comes at point when someone must ask at what cost to the brand. Ten was always the youth focussed challenger, but there was always watchable programming. Will give Puberty Blues the benefit of the doubt, but really it’s slim pickings after that.

    BoB is a good guy and probably the best man for the job over there. But he ain’t a magician. The best salesman in the world can’t sell dud product.