‘We know we have the youngest audiences’: The kids are alright for Network 10

As the 2023 ratings season ends for another year, Network 10 has a lot to celebrate. They have secured nine of the top 15 entertainment shows in both the under 50s sector, and the all-important 16s to 39s – as well as eight of the top 15 in 25s to 54s.

On top of this, four of the year’s top five performing comedy shows aired on the network, and Nickelodeon is the country’s fastest-growing free-to-air channel since launched in August.

10 is the youngest Australian network. It’s a very important demographic to serve, as both Daniel Monaghan, SVP of content and programming at Paramount Australia, and Rod Prosser, chief sales officer, know all too well.

“We have nine of the top 15 entertainment shows in under 50s which is key for us,” Monaghan tells Mumbrella.

“We’ve had a great year, again, with comedy. Have You Been Paying Attention is the number one 8.30 show, and Thank God, You’re Here was the biggest comedy launch in about four years. And then we launched Taskmaster, we did Cheap Seats again, we’ve got Gogglebox, all performing exceptionally well in that in that demographic.

The network also pulled out an impressive cross-platform play with The Inspired Unemployed, which was played on the linear channel each Wednesday after Thank God You’re Here, while the entire series was also able to binged on Paramount+.

“We tried something strategically very different with that, in that we dropped all eight episodes on Paramount+ in August, and then we rolled it out weekly on 10,” Monaghan explains.

“Now, that was a success on both platforms. It drove different audiences – it drove people who were possibly targeted more on social, a younger demographic, they were like, ‘Yes, I want to watch all eight episodes, I’ll sign up for that.'”

It also attracted the broader audiences who discovered it through the strong TGYH lead-in – or those who simply wanted to watch it for free.

“I think that speaks to a strategy that hasn’t been done before,” Monaghan said of the cross-platform launch. “And it worked so successfully.”

This week the network tried a similar play, airing the first episode of NCIS: Sydney this Monday on the free-to-air station in order to “get the show sampled” and draw people across to Paramount+, where the rest of the series lives.

“That’s not a linear play for us,” Monaghan notes. The series will, eventually, play out over eight weeks on 10 mid-way through 2024. Similarly, Paper Dolls, which debuts on Paramount+ in 2024, will also air on 10 late next year.

It’s a delicate dance – on one hand, the free-to-air channel offers a huge audience — a gateway drug if you will — but on the other hand – why pay for content that will also be available for free?

Monaghan says it’s about “making sure that we are respecting that the audience is signing up to an SVOD platform and paying for it, and then bringing it back to linear when we think it’s the right time – and if it’s the right show.”

Prosser said, that for advertisers, the reverse scenario also works wonders.

“Going from linear over to the [streaming] platform is really powerful for advertisers, particularly with our tentpole shows that are obviously advertiser friendly, and have a lot of sponsors and integration around them.

“That integration then gets seen on a different platform and arguably by a brand-new audience. So that is something now that we’ve really scaled up on Paramount+ – and advertisers are really looking at that opportunity.”

Younger demographics are also flocking to Nickelodeon, which launched in August on free-to-air, replacing 10 Shake. It airs Nick Jr. content for younger children during the night, and Nick At Nite in the evenings, aimed at teenagers and young adults – as well as more than its fair share of 90s kids, raised on the likes of Rugrats, Ren and Stimpy, and Rocko’s Modern Life.

“It’s a pay brand that’s come onto linear television,” Monaghan says of the channel, which was previously broadcast on Foxtel.

“That’s the number one multi-commercial channel, in kids in daytime, its audience in primetime has grown 12% [since launching]. It’s going from strength to strength, and we think that will continue in the new year, as well, as we double down on that Nick at Nite audience.”

In terms of free-to-air ratings, 10 falls behind Seven and Nine. But it’s clear that the network has a much broader focus in mind. According to Prosser and Monaghan, it’s about serving the audiences across platforms.

“We’re the fastest growing BVOD, and SVOD platforms,” Monaghan points out. 10play is certainly Australia’s fastest growing BVOD platform, up 25% year-on-year.

“For us, it’s about that Paramount ecosystem and keeping them inside that ecosystem, whether they watch our content on linear television. AVOD or FAST, or on SVOD,” Monaghan continues.

“We know we have the youngest audiences. So, we have gone to great lengths to make sure that we are housing them inside one of the Paramount ecosystems, because we know that they are the most engaged viewers, and also the most likely to seek out entertainment everywhere.

“So we have to keep them within that ecosystem.”

NEXT WEEK: Monaghan and Prossor look toward 2024.


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