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Incoming Ten boss McLennan signals move towards 40+ audience

hamish mclennanNew Ten boss Hamish McLennan has signalled that he plans to ditch Ten’s focus almost exclusively on a youth audience to pursue a wider 40+ viewership.

In a series of media interviews given over the weekend, he telegraphed the new approach, saying Ten had “skewed too young”.

McLennan was quoted by News Limited’s Sunday tabloids as saying: “We’ve had a laser focus in a youth demographic sense. But I think we can be youthful and appeal to a slightly wider audience without losing what we are good at.”

 

McLennan was named as the new boss of Ten on Friday night. He joins on March 18, on a salary of $1.975m a year, plus a bonus scheme which could double the number.

Ten’s audience strategy is a key one for the network, which used to be profitably run on a low cost model dedicated to only targeting advertising-friendly younger demographics. Recent years saw it try to widen its appeal, driven in part by the success of the MasterChef franchise. However, as ratings began to fall, Ten returned to the key targets of 16-39 and 18-49.

The decision is critical for the network. While its younger heartland is the audience which is moving fastest away from traditional TV, moving towards an older audience will see Ten’s sales team pitted more directly against Nine and Seven.

McLennan has little experience in television. He was CEO of Y&R Brands in Australia where he led the merger of Y&R Australia with George Patterson Bates before moving to a US-based global role for Young & Rubicam. A few months ago he moved to News Corp, working closely with Rupert Murdoch with the title of executive VP – office of the chairman.

Today, saw further signals from McLennan of a shift in the network’s target audience. He told the Australian Financial Review: “I think we’ve skewed a bit too young. When we go to the younger audience, that’s the end of the spectrum that’s fragmenting most.”

He also told the AFR that there were “a lot of advertising dollars” to be taken from the 40+ market.

And in a further interview with The Australian, McLennan said: “I think the core is still good for us, but if we’re in a position where we will bid for the cricket or another sporting event by nature of the programs they will appeal to a larger audience.”

He added: “And there’s a lot of money tied uop with over-35s and over-40s. We just need to be open to that and a little bit more flexible in terms of how we create our content and programming.”

On Sunday, a source within Ten played down the comments, suggesting that McLennan was still referring to targeting the under-50 market.

McLennan’s appointment to the new role was announced by Lachlan Murdoch, who is chairman of Ten and owns about nine per cent of the company. At close of business on Friday, Ten’s market capitalisation was $763m.

McLennan could not be reached by Mumbrella for comment at the time of posting.

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