Ten execs have ‘no regrets’ on time with MCN as they look to build out an ‘agnostic’ sales team

Growing revenue share and creating an ‘agnostic sales team’ will be focuses for Ten boss Paul Anderson and newly appointed chief sales officer, Rod Prosser, once Ten leaves the MCN sales joint venture.

The pair, who yesterday announced the CBS-owned network would end its contract with Multi-Channel Network from January next year, said they would seek to build “best of breed” team which includes television experts and digital experts. But, they added, they had no regrets about the last three years of work with MCN.

Proser has been appointed chief sales officer of the soon-to-launch sales department

“This is about really taking our destiny in our own hands. The world’s changed a lot in the last three years since we entered the relationship with MCN. The ad-world has changed, the audience has changed and we’ve had a change of ownership,” Anderson said.

“It’s us leveraging the experience that CBS brings. They’ve got a very successful sales team in the US, led by Joanne Ross, and they have a whole lot of technology both in the US and here – with CBS Interactive – that we can leverage off.

“There’s no regrets at all. We sit here now at a different juncture in our history, where we have a different ownership structure and a very different revenue market as well. CBS was also very upfront that pretty unusual for a TV network not to control its revenue. Having control of both our revenue and our cost base and developing our content, there’s much more ownership directly on us the management on Ten,” he added.

Ten has been working with MCN for the last three years and currently owns 24.99% of the venture, while Foxtel which News Corp owns a majority stake in, and Fox Sports, own the rest. But last year, Ten was acquired by US giant CBS, prompting rumours about the end of the joint venture. Two weeks ago, following the departure of CEO Anthony Fitzgerald, those rumours quickly transpired before the announcement yesterday.

When the announcement of the new team was made yesterday, Ten said it would have access to CBS solutions for data, addressable advertising and dynamic trading. Prosser, who will lead the new sales department, told Mumbrella that beyond the technological capabilities of CBS, the ability to control revenue in-house will allow for a “bilingual” conversation about digital and linear television.

“This is ambitious, because I’m not sure the market is entirely there yet, but clearly we want to create an agnostic sales team that is bilingual and can have a free flowing digital conversation as well as a linear conversation,” Prosser said.

“The way we are going to achieve that – to Paul’s point – is we are actually going to look for a skill set across the whole department that will be varied.

“Hopefully that melting pot will give us the ability to have that one conversation when we get there as a market.”

His comments the same week as the announcement of OzTAM’s new ‘total TV database’, Virtual Australia, which will provide agencies and advertisers with a metric for media plans.

To achieve this, Prosser said the company would look to employ a number of MCN staff into the new sales team, as part of the disengagement plan as well as employ the broader market to ensure the team has a diverse range of skills. At the end of the disengagement plan, Ten’s 24.99% stake will also return to Foxtel.

“We’ve got to work through a disengagement plan with these guys so specifics about who and details will unfold in the coming months but the point I’d make without getting into specific numbers, it’s a large amount of numbers which will obviously be underpinned by a good solid resource that will come out of MCN. Put it this way, it’ll be a bigger team than we had before but it’s certainly going to be one that we are going to in-source to Ten,” Prosser said.

As they do now, the new team will focus on key advertising demographic the 25-54s, and will seek to build out revenue share. But when asked about demographics and where Ten sits in market, Anderson preferred to focus his view of Ten as an “alternative content offering”.

“In terms of our average age, we are significantly younger than Seven and Nine and what we are proving with the likes of Pilot Week is we are having a crack at shows that are a little bit more edgy, a little bit more what Ten used to be and being the alternative to the other networks,” Anderson said.

Prosser, who is also excited about this upcoming offering, doesn’t think the absence of Ten’s Big Bash lineup will be a challenge.

Masterchef has proven there are plenty of non-sports watchers on Ten

“Masterchef over the winter has proved that when it’s been up against Origin, which is doing massive numbers, hasn’t really impacted the numbers that are watching Masterchef. There’s a big chunk of the audience that are non sport watchers and if you put up great entertainment content – one – audiences are going to watch it, and you’ve got a whole lot of advertisers and retailers that are chasing that audience and in particular, our younger demographics.”

Prosser nor Anderson would give an exact revenue share target, but are both confident they can increase it. However the pair don’t see Nine and Seven – who finished FY18 with revenue shares of 38.6% and 38.1% respectively as their only competitors. Ten finished with an FY18 share of 23.3% while its January to June 2018 share is 23.04%.

“We are fighting for audience and eyeballs with a whole bunch of other platforms, what all of us are doing – we are trying to really own later in the evening and not just the 7:30pm franchises – shows like Have You Been Paying Attention, Gogglebox, Shark Tank, owning that later period in the evening and not giving that up to the SVOD players is a brilliant and important part of our strategy,” said Anderson.

To further build out the offering for advertisers, Anderson will also continue to focus on new digital venture Ten Daily, and working with CBS Interactive on the arrival of CBS All Access in market.

“Ten Daily is just another extension – we have endless content from our shows and the Bachelor franchise is a great example – endless stories printed on other platforms, mainly digital platforms that we weren’t monetising before,” he said.

The Ten Daily launch team: Sandra Sully, Lisa Wilkinson, Melinda Cornford, Liz Baldwin

“What you have to do is, at the end of the day, you need to follow where the eyeballs are. Whether they are older demographics or younger demographics, they all consume your content in different ways. Having your content across all platforms and having additional content that is either just digital, just short form or just catch up as well, provides other opportunities to monetise that audience.”

On CBS All Access more specifically, Anderson added: “There’s obviously been statements about it launching towards the sort of back end of this year, start of next year. We are long way down the track, we are working closely with the CBS Interactive team on that. The short answer is that it’s a work in progress.”

Arguably, yesterday’s news made CBS’ presence in Australia more prominent. For Anderson, it’s important to have the CBS team in market for agencies and brands to see and hear from.

“They are leaving us to run our own race here but they are deeply involved in all our decision making. We are taking their lead and their very basic strategy is create great content first and a pretty close second is monetise that content across all the different platforms. That goes to trying to diversify our revenue away from just linear TV and developing a whole bunch of other streams and platforms, which is an evolutionary process,” he said.



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