Ten announces shake up for Wake Up, denies it is losing its differentiation

Wake UpWake Up is to change its format with news presenter Nuala Hafner to leave her Melbourne news desk to join Natarsha Belling and James Mathison in the Manly studio.

The move is another attempt by new executive producer Steve Wood to revive Ten’s struggling breakfast program, which according to Fusion Strategy has averaged just 34,000 viewers in the official survey year to date.

It is another shift away the format established by former EP Adam Boland, who quit in January for health reasons, after the network quietly scrapped local news tailored to every state earler this year, with a spokesman telling Mumbrella: “it was not resonating with viewers”.

The network had sought to differentiate Wake Up from rivals Sunrise on Seven and Today on Nine based not only on its Manly beachside studio setting, but with its local news offering and Hafner being based in a studio overlooking Melbourne’s Federation Square, avoiding making it solely Sydney-centric.

The move was first reported on TV Tonight.

However, a Ten spokesman denied suggestions bringing Hafner into the studio now meant Ten was just mirroring their rivals.

He said: “No, Wake Up is clearly different to Sunrise and Today, and continues to offer an alternative for breakfast TV viewers. Our research shows Nuala Hafner is extremely popular with viewers.

“Having her on set in Sydney will improve the interaction between Nuala, Natarsha and James, and increase the appeal of Wake Up. Obviously we will retain the Wake Up studio in Melbourne’s Federation Square; it remains an important part of the program and will be used for news stories, interviews, etc.”

The breakfast program has struggled with its on-air chemistry with the network axing presenter Natasha Exelby just 16 days after its launch.

Ten said there was still a number of features which differentiated it from its rivals. “The points of difference are many, ranging from the obvious – that is, the beachside location of the main Wake Up studio, the hosts of the show, the regular guests on the show and so on – to the more subtle in terms of how the show is constructed and paced,” said the spokesman.

Fusion Strategy’s Steve Allen said Wake Up and its Mornings counterpart, which has managed a slightly better performance with an average audience of 42,000, were both struggling badly in the ratings. Both Sunrise and Today regularly break the 400,000 viewer mark.

“It is going nowhere and has done nothing in the ratings,” said Allen. “It has got an audience and Studio 10 has got a bigger audience but both have been successfully repelled by the incumbents. It is very difficult to break into an area well truly occupied by two competitors slugging it out.

“Ten’s problem is that it doesn’t know how to compete head-on in this particular area. They need a competitor to be weak and they’re not.”

A spokesman for Ten said they were not looking at replacing the show adding: “There has been no discussion about ‘putting something else in the timeslot’. In terms of audience targets and timeframes, clearly that is not something we would discuss publicly.”

Nic Christensen 


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