Ten’s Beverley McGarvey and Rod Prosser on H1: ‘We are very confident that we can maintain growth across the entire year’

For the first half of 2020, Network Ten announced significant growth across its business. Mumbrella’s Hannah Blackiston spoke with chief sales officer Rod Prosser and chief content officer and vice president Beverley McGarvey about the results and what’s left to come for the network in 2020.

Across the first 26 weeks of 2020, Network Ten experienced its biggest first half commercial share since 2011 and the biggest first half growth of any network or channel.

“We experienced 20% audience growth in primetime, which is great, and one of the things that we’re probably most excited about is first of all that our growth started in January. Obviously viewing increased during the pandemic, but we were already up 10% by the middle of January,” Ten’s chief content officer and ViacomCBS Australia VP Beverley McGarvey tells me.

McGarvey is confident in the rest of Ten’s 2020

Ten’s content is up across the board – I’m A Celebrity achieved its highest commercial share ever, rising 8% on 2019. Gogglebox Australia was also up 8%, Hughesy, We Have A Problem rose 11% and Have You Been Paying Attention had its highest launch ever.

But of course it’s Masterchef that really burst out of its box. The show is currently up 46% on its 2019 average and achieving its biggest audience since 2016. This from a show that many critics said could never recover from the loss of its three longtime hosts.

“All the shows are up, but we’re super excited about Masterchef and it gives us great momentum into the second half, and we still have five big shows to launch this year,” says McGarvey.

“We are very confident that we can maintain this growth across the entire year.”

Ten’s total people commercial share in primetime is up 25.8% – its biggest since 2011. Total people from 6pm to midnight is 25.6%, again, the biggest since 2011. Ten performed well in the key advertising demographics also. As of the end of June, the network holds a 30.6% commercial share with audiences under 50, 30.4% in the 25-54s, 32.0% in 16-39s and 31.3% in the 18-49s.

“We stood up at upfronts and made some serious commitments and what we’ve been able to do is, well we’re overdelivering on those commitments, which is unlike any other network at this point,” chief sales officer Rod Prosser says.

Ten made a lot of promises at its upfront event and CSO Rod Prosser says the network has been delivering

“The success of our programming has also been reflected in our revenue. Since October 2019, Network 10 has seen eight consecutive months of year-on-year revenue share growth. When you look at BVOD, our average revenue growth over the last 10 months exceeds 40%, the biggest of any network.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ten’s Broadcast Video On Demand (BVOD) service 10Play gained ten new shows, preparation for all the viewers stock in lockdown. The service is up 25% in total minutes viewed compared to 2019 and live-streamed viewing is up 199%.

“We work really hard to make sure our audiences have a good experience on 10Play, especially at the moment we want it to be even better than what they would normally get. It’s just about acknowledging what’s happening in the world and responding to our audience,” says McGarvey.

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Ten during the pandemic. The network closed its digital platform 10 Daily, resulting in redundancies across the business. Those were on top of some cuts through the sales arm as Ten merged its sakes team with parent company ViacomCBS. The network also lost a CEO.

As well as the economic impact of COVID-19, the virus and associated restrictions also wreaked havoc on production schedules. A number of Ten’s shows were forced to pause or delay their seasons, Dancing With The Stars concluded without an audience and Masterchef is currently continuing with social distancing.

When I comment on the dichotomy of good results during the difficult situation that is a pandemic, McGarvey laughs.

“It’s kind of like a duck – we’ve managed to make all our shows look great, but we have been frantically manoeuvring things in the background,” she says.

“Masterchef is the best example. It’s a really complex show, people are eating, there’s a lot of people on set. The production team have just been so clever in making it work and it’s led to some really great editorial moments.

“When Jess went home it was the first elimination after lockdown and nobody could hug her. She’s such an adorable girl and for her to walk out of that kitchen in a different way, it was quite timely because we’re all changing, everyone is a bit isolated. The show really reflected what people are thinking. The creativity and the pain that has gone into getting around the problems has made for some really impressive TV.”

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“We’ve just signed off on the casting on Junior Masterchef. I think shows like The Masked Singer and Lego Masters have shown that family entertainment, where the whole family can gather around the TV, are really appealing prospects for audiences and clients,” says McGarvey.

“We still have all the Bachelor franchises, which is great for a bit of escapism right now, The Masked Singer – it was hard last year to sell an unknown product you know, it was a big task to sell a monster and a wolf singing in a costume. But this year everybody knows what the show is, it had an epic ratings result, so we’re really excited by it and all of these shows.”

Ten will also launch a new multi-channel this year, putting it on par with the other networks which have three+ multi-channels. Ten currently only has Bold and Peach.

Prosser said the rest of the year would continue speaking to Ten’s promises at its upfronts event in 2019.

“What advertisers should look out for [in the second half of 2020] is a consistent schedule. We’ve got a really nice line-up, consistent formats and it should give advertisers a lot of confidence going into the second half with our schedule,” he says.


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