Ten revamps early evening line-up, ‘no decision yet’ on The Renovators and Junior MasterChef

Ten has made its first programming changes of the new year since the arrival of new boss James Warburton in a major rethink of its early evening strategy.

News and current affairs show The Project will be moved to a “permanent residence” at 6pm, running for an hour on Monday to Friday, and half an hour on Sunday.

Ten News at Five will return to its one-hour format at 5pm, Sunday to Friday.

And in an aggressive move in entertainment, The Biggest Loser has been moved to 7pm on Monday to Thursday, putting the show head-to-head with Nine’s weight loss show XS Baggage. A love-seeking ‘singles’ version of the show will launch on January 23.

Ten’s chief programming officer David Mott told Mumbrella that the move was about “bringing closure” to Ten’s early evening offering.

“We’re confident that The Project can live and breathe as a one-hour show, having seen a 10% increase in audience in the 6.30pm time slot,” he said.

The Project was previously The 7PM Project, which followed the axeing of 6.30PM with George Negus in October last year.

“We want Ten to be the corner stone of early evening with a very credible alternative to  traditional news offerings. But we don’t expect to be consistently winning the 6pm time slot. There are great shows on other channels and we can’t compete on the same level. Which is why we’ve gone down this alternative route.”

“There is an appetite from the younger generation for news in bite-sized pieces – in the same way that Google and presents news. The first 15-20 minutes of The Project will be about delivering hard news. Softer pieces will be introduced in the second half of the show,” he added.

In a press release, Warburton commented:

This announcement continues our focus to set the agenda in 2012. We’re back where we should be, an hour of news at 5pm and shifting The Project to 6pm – 7pm is the perfect contemporary news offering against traditional competition.

Early evening stripped entertainment programming at 7pm was a space Ten introduced to the TV landscape and previously dominated. We see this move as an opportunity to reclaim that space and we have the shows to do it.

Ten have some of the best big franchise shows in the market with The Biggest Loser and MasterChef Australia and we must make more of what we’ve got. These changes compliment our recent Super Sunday programming line-up announcement and take a step closer to resetting that connection point with our viewers by offering bold and exceptional programs throughout the evening and the entire week.

Mott said that “no decisions have yet been made” on the future of two of Ten’s weakest performers of 2011, The Renovators and Junior MasterChef, which are rumoured to be axed.

“We’ll be making a call on these two key shows soon. We’ve been having some great dialogue with James [Warburton], but he needs a bit of time to put his bag in the corner of the room,” he said.

He was also coy on his own future at the network, which has been subject to speculation since the arrival of Warburton at the beginning of the year.

“I’ve very much enjoyed my time working with him since he’s come on board. He’s been terrific. You’ll have to ask him,” he said.

The first key move made by Warburton was the appointment of Mike Morrison from Sapient Nitro as chief sales officer in the first week of the new year.


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