Ten won’t rely on overnight ratings to judge its Pilot Week performance

Ten isn’t concerned about which demographics watch Pilot Week and it won’t be measuring the success of the programs solely on results from OzTAM’s overnight preliminary figures.

The network’s chief content officer, Beverley McGarvey, told Mumbrella it wouldn’t be fair to make ratings comparisons between the shows, adding the overnight data was just one of many ways to measure the success of each show.

McGarvey presenting at Tuesday night’s launch of Pilot Week

“It’s not necessarily how many tweets it has, but how people are responding to it,” she added.

“If there’s an overwhelmingly positive response, even if it’s a small number, you know you’ve got somewhere to go. And that’s true of shows that are launched as well.”

McGarvey also said the performance doesn’t have to be perfect, noting if a show was “70% right”, it was fixable.

Her comments come ahead of the launch of Ten’s Pilot Week, which will see eight new locally produced shows air one episode each, across seven nights.

The launch originally was scrutinised for a lack of female presence, which McGarvey later disputed. Now, McGarvey and her team will measure the success of each show and decide which, if any, will appear as full programs in 2019.

“We don’t have any preconceived ideas about what things will rate, because if you look across the week we are doing shows on seven nights, we have very different ratings on seven nights, all of these shows will have different lead ins, so just to look at the overnights would be incredibly unfair,” she said.

“Looking at a show that plays on Saturday for example, compared to a show that plays off the back of Have You Been Paying Attention? on a Monday – we won’t make those comparisons. It’s more about ‘did it hold its lead in’, ‘did it hold its audience across the hours’, ‘were the minute by minutes good’, ‘how did it go in the next seven days, how did the encores go’.

“It’s a range of things and also just from a programming point of view we could look at it and kind of go – that’s a good show – go old school.”

Ten boss Paul Anderson added Pilot Week will give the network a chance to see whether shows have any “bones”, but noted: “Very few shows are successful on their first episode.”

This year’s lineup will see the return of some of Australia’s former television stars and comedians to the big screen.

Ten has described some of the programming – including shows with Kyle Sandilands, former Labor politician Sam Dastyari and a stand up comedy show known as ‘Taboo’ – as “edgy”.

Very few shows are successful on their first episode, says Anderson

Anderson isn’t worried any of the programs are too risky or edgy for brands.

“Advertisers are always looking for shows that fit with their brands. At the end of the day, advertisers want eyeballs,” he said.

“These are still safe shows for advertisers. They might be a little bit more edgy, but there’s a whole lot of brands that are looking for that as well.”

And while Ten has a tendency to target the 25-54 demographic, Anderson added he didn’t “really care” who the audience were, as long as they were watching.

McGarvey sees Pilot Week as an opportunity to explore new ideas for shows and balance the Ten’s programming “life cycle”. She said Ten will “almost certainly do it again”.

“We have some thousands of numbers of hours to fill a year and we are constantly looking for anew ideas, and you can’t keep doing the same things,” she said.

Pilot Week will run from next Sunday

“It’s important for us to have shows that are all in different stages of their life cycle. To have a show like Masterchef in year 10 and to have a show like Bachelor in year five, but also to have something that’s in year zero and year one.”

Ten’s McGarvey also thinks the network is best placed to bring comedy back to free to air television.

“There’s been a cycle in the last few years where there hasn’t been a lot of comedy on free to air TV. We have shows like Have you Been Paying Attention and Gogglebox which really do a great job and our audience love it and we just want to give them more of it,” she said.

It wasn’t just Anderson and McGarvey who were spruiking the benefits of Pilot Week last night.

Former Ten television star Rove McManus, who will return to the network with his pilot ‘Bring Back… Saturday Night’, noted the struggle of getting a show to air.

“For anyone who works in this industry and for a lot of people who don’t, the idea of a pilot, it’s a test show. It’s a proof of concept when you say ‘I want to make this show’. You make a practice run of it to show to a network to prove that it can happen,” he said.

“Normally these things do not see the light of day. For a lot of people they get the excitement of ‘I’m making a TV show’ and their friends say ‘when can I watch it’ and they say ‘maybe never’.”

Anderson agreed, adding: “If pilots are being made and they are going to be broadcast, there’s a whole new different mindset for the production companies and the people making them, that they are actually going to be broadcast.”

Is Pointless pointless?

Pointless, which premiered with 493,000 metro viewers, was a replacement for game show Family Feud. Family Feud was ‘rested’ after four years, with former host Grant Denyer arguing the network was “guilty of driving it into the ground”.

Pointless replaced Family Feud as Ten’s nightly game show

Since then Ten’s Pointless has climbed 31% in 25 to 54s, 27% in under 55s and 3% in total people compared with Family Feud’s 2018 series average.

“It’s a good conversation to have in light of everything else we are talking about. The performance is building significantly in the under 40s and that’s what is interesting for us,” said McGarvey.

“We are still not happy about how it’s performing in over 40s, but over 40 audiences tend to be slower to come to something, but when they do come they stay around longer. The really hard bit is getting the young people and Pointless is doing generally well with young people, so that tells us it has a future.

Ten’s Pilot Week will commence on August 19.


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