Ten concedes ‘patchy’ performance in 2014 but pitches for ‘fair’ share of revenue

CEO of Network Ten Hamish McLennan last night made a very deliberate pitch to Australia’s media buyers to give his network a share of revenue equal to that of its audience.

McLennan made the call during his speech at the Ten 2015 Upfronts telling buyers and their clients that this was important to ensure “a vibrant and robust free-to-air TV market in this country”.

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McLennan speaking at last night’s Upfronts 2015 event.

McLennan said the network’s audience share is currently around 23 per cent across its channels, while its revenue share for September was 18.5 per cent according to the last set of Standard Media Index data.

“The only commitment we want from you tonight is that you match our audience share with the revenue share,” he said. “That’s really important for us. We think it is fair, we are not asking for too much, we are not being greedy but what we want is for you to support us in that regard. If you do that you will have a got a vibrant and robust free-to-air TV market in this country.”

The Ten CEO’s call comes at a time when Ten has appointed advisors as the likes of Time Warner and Foxtel/Discovery look at whether to invest in or launch a takeover of the network and came at its Upfronts event which saw the network confirm I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! as the lynchpin of its first quarter schedule, as well as confirming the judges for Shark Tank, a new season of The Bachelor and also The Bachelorette, Gogglebox and US shows CSI:Cyber and The Odd Couple. McLennan’s call was echoed by Ten sales boss Lou Barrett who told the room not to “excessively compensate” their rivals Nine and Seven.

“You keep telling us that you need three viable free-to-air networks and that – respectfully – means giving Ten the revenue share we deserve, and that’s a revenue share that reflects our audience share,” said Louise Barrett, Ten’s chief sales officer.

“There’s no need for you to be excessively compensating the competition. I know you all and I know what you want and what you need. And we will deliver compelling content, consistency and innovation in 2015.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 11.01.11 amTen Upfronts event saw the network emphasise the importance to its 2015 schedule of its local version of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, with a jungle theme for the night, with the network confirming it was likely to run the reality show, hosted by Julia Morris and Chris Brown, off the back of Big Bash cricket. Although Ten has also said it had not decided on how many weeks it would run.

Speaking to Mumbrella, after the event chief programming officer at Ten Beverley McGarvey said no final date had been set but that they “would be mad” not to leverage the Big Bash cricket rights to build Celebrity’s audience.

“It is a quarter one show and we would be mad not to consider using the audience that will be watching Big Bash to gain traction and feed audiences across,” said McGarvey. “But it will launch early.”

Ten’s programming boss also emphasised that its aim in 2015 was to improve on the poor performances of shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Biggest Loser in the first quarter of 2014.

“We are seeing some really good signs of growth and next year our objective is to be more strong in the first quarter which will help us gain more traction in the whole year and push us forward in the whole year,” she said. “That is why we can claim we will grow next year.”

McGarvey however, claimed they “don’t have a number specifically” for I’m a Celebrity, adding: “Compared to what we had in quarter one this year it is our absolute objective to use Celebrity and Shark Tank to grow those audiences on last year.”

Another initiative unveiled by the network is to push more brand friendly programming with Ten announcing the launch of Baby Circle, a show created for the parents of newborns to tweens which will offer parents and expectant parents advice, support, information and entertainment across a range of platforms, including a TV show.

“Lou and I have been chatting a lot about the branded area,” she said. “It seems to us that it has got a huge opportunity with clients not being serviced on TV but are being serviced on other mediums. There is lots of parenting stuff online but not on TV and there is lots of great talent that we can tap into. ”

Media buyers were generally positive around the Ten schedule and announcements. MediaCom CEO Mark Pejic commented on McLennan’s speech: “I think what you have is a good CEO doing his best in very trying circumstances.”

Asked if he was concerned about the risk of putting a show like I’m a Celebrity at the centre of the schedule five night week at the start of the year Pejic conceded: “They are obviously supremely confident that it will do well, but yes it is a risk.”

Ten set out its programming slate

Ten set out its programming slate

ZenithOptimedia CEO Ian Perrin commended Ten for its emphasis on consistency in the upfronts and for laying out their full schedule for buyers and clients.

“The market has been urging them to show consistency in the schedule and it was good to see that emphasised last night,” said Perrin. “A number of clients have been burnt in the past and therefore there is some nervousness and people will want to see Ten prove it can deliver that audience.”

Trading director of independent media agency Match Media, Theo Zisoglou said the network was right to emphasise the need for competition among the networks.

“Ten nailed it on the head that buyers are looking for a market with three viable networks to choose from and this is a smart play on their part to not look greedy and ask for the minimum, which is better than where they are at now,” said Zisoglou.

“Ten seems to understand that there is a level of confidence they need to instil back in the market so this was the right move at this point in time.”

Nic Christensen 



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