The Project will devote more time to the day’s headlines, in a move to combat Seven and Nine’s 6pm news bulletins.
The first fifteen minutes of the show will tackle the day’s news.
From Sunday week the news-based show switches to 6pm as TEN culls its News back to one hour and reintroduces Reality formats to 7pm, beginning with The Biggest Loser.
”We’re under no illusions that it’s going to win the timeslot,” Chief Programming Officer David Mott has told The Age. ”But we’ll go for as many eyeballs as we can. The Project will reset our demographic from our 5pm news bulletin and lead into our franchises at 7pm, in the territory we once owned.”
In a separate interview he told the Herald Sun, ”The Project is the perfect choice for a younger audience who still wants news, but not in the traditional sense.”
The move caught many by surprise.
Industry observers knew TEN could not leave its 6-6:30 timeslot untouched after last year’s moving feast. Switching Reality shows back to 7pm will give grief to Nine, especially given The Biggest Loser looks set to premiere before Excess Baggage. Nine had marked out the timeslot for Reality franchises across the year, but it’s likely to face the challenge aggressively.
ABC’s The Drum, currently being trialled at 6pm on ABC1, also has added competition.
But there are already rumblings from some disgruntled fans about the earlier starting time, with many noting they won’t be home by 6pm, and others forced to choose between The Project and Neighbours.
There are even rumours TEN could return Late News (Sandra Sully or nobody please), which would complicate life for SBS. It moved its World News Australia reports from 9:30 to 10:30 after TEN vacated the slot.
The next challenge for TEN is finding a female host happy enough to sit alongside the controversial Paul Henry on Breakfast. The longer it takes to announce the appointment, the more the rumours are gathering that Aussie female presenters are decidedly cool on the position.
Meanwhile The Circle looks set to return without confirmation of a new permanent co-host. The show is expected to draw upon its many guest presenters to join Yumi Stynes and Gorgi Coghlan next week.