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‘Crappy shows don’t work anymore’: Ten content boss

Ten’s chief content officer Beverley McGarvey has promised a strong line-up of domestic entertainment programs over the coming 12 months as the network faces a summer without any major sporting codes.

The network was disappointed to lose the Big Bash Cricket, she said, but will fill the programming hole with “a full domestic entertainment schedule [for] 50 weeks a year”. She also noted Ten had learned “crappy shows don’t really work anymore”.

McGarvey: We were very disappointed with how the cricket played out at the time

McGarvey’s comments formed part of an Advertising Week panel, and came ahead of speculation in News Corp papers today that Ten’s new owner, CBS, is looking to axe a number of the network’s programs.

Annette Sharp’s article in the Sunday papers also speculates McGarvey’s position is under close scrutiny by CBS.

Sharp’s article claims now that CBS has made its first big move in the local market – in the form of bringing Ten’s sales back in-house, thus ending its relationship with sales outfit MCN – it will now make its mark on the programming landscape.

“Survivor may not survive, The Bachelorette may be left at the altar and I’m a Celebrity may get out of here as America’s CBS prepares a massive shake-up of Channel Ten’s programs,” Sharp wrote.

Today’s article in The Sunday Telegraph

Also under review, according to Sharp, is Ten’s new game show format Pointless.

Speaking at Advertising Week, however, McGarvey said while the loss of the cricket to Seven and Foxtel hurt the network, it could now offer audiences alternative viewing options.

“Obviously we were very disappointed with how the cricket played out at the time,” she said. “We will invest that money [that Ten would have spent on cricket rights] into domestic entertainment.

“So what we have said publicly, and what we are doing, is we will program a full domestic entertainment schedule about 50 weeks a year… So we will effectively take a few weeks off at Christmas and go hard against sport the rest of the year – which benefits the audience. If you want to watch the cricket or the tennis, great, there’s a big audience for that – we’ll do something different.”

McGarvey also noted that due to increased competition from streaming services and changing viewing habits, local TV networks could no longer rely on international drama formats to bring in the big audiences – like Ten used to with CBS’ NCIS.

“There’s always something good to watch, there’s always somewhere else to go, so it forces us all to be better,” she said. “I think the quality of content across the board has actually got better – if you’re a consumer and you’re part of the audience, you will have really good choices. There’s something for you basically all of the time, so it’s forced us all to be better at what we do,” she said.

(L-R): Brock Hall (Seven), Beverley McGarvey, Brian Walsh (Foxtel), Hamish Turner (Nine) and Ian Hogg at Advertising Week APAC

“We use the international content a bit more strategically to do things in different parts of the platform, different parts of the schedule – but the core, the early evening prime-time, that stuff is [now] big, local products. I think interestingly for us, probably for all of us, the real trend is that… crappy shows don’t really work anymore.”

Ten, she said, would be focussing on what she thinks it does best.

“What works for us is big entertainment, mass-appeal content – good stories about Australian people really well told. That works for us. And, you know, five years ago, probably you would have seen more international products on the main schedule than you do now.”

Ten has been approached for comment about the claims in News Corp’s papers today.

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