Welcome to being the fourth CEO in just over two years. Five if you count interim CEO Russel Howcroft right now.
As a viewer I’ve watched with frustration, hope and dismay at a favourite network turn into a shell of its former self. Shows have been axed, personalities have left the building, programming decisions have left me saying “What the?” more times than Rove ever did.
You remember Rove? He used to have a show on Sunday nights. It was paired pretty well with Australian Idol or So You Think You Can Dance on Sunday nights. Now I’m not saying any of those shows should necessarily be revived, but collectively they all turned Sundays into Event viewing and a great way to promote the rest of the week.
These days TEN seems to promote the same handful of shows as to become irritating, while others just don’t get a look in. I also see very little promotion of shows on multichannels on TEN. Have you seen how cool American Horror Story is? In America that thing is getting awards while TEN is peddling Hawaii Five-0.
These days Nine has cleverly aligned itself as the new TEN by nabbing shows like Big Brother, Hamish & Andy and The Voice from under your nose. The story of the chairman refusing to up a few extra mill to get the rights for The Voice is now industry folk lore. Instead we got Everybody Dance Now, I Will Survive, Don’t Tell the Bride, The Shire and that other one that may never see the light of day: Come Date with Me.
A lot has been written about whether TEN should be chasing younger viewers or shooting for a broader audience. Seven and Nine are already in a tussle over the latter, so why try and take them on? Historically you have always been the cool network, the cheeky kid on the block, the network that takes risks and runs its own race. So why was Breakfast close to being a clone of the other two?
I realise that younger viewers are supposedly turning their backs on Free to Air, and there’s a lot of truth in that. But here’s the thing: even the 16-39 year olds will always want content. In fact they crave it. They just want it now and on multiple platforms -proof that they are going to great lengths for their entertainment. A way of addressing this would be to fast-track US content while generating more local content that premieres first on TEN. You should be directing all your energies to the audience watching Live television with social media as part of a national conversation. Zeebox, one of your best partnerships of 2012, lends itself perfectly to this and Can of Worms is a step in the right direction.
Why is 10:30 such a deadzone in television? While costs probably prohibit a late night Tonight show, think of ways to offer a low-cost Live conversation. I really miss The Panel. What kind of form would it take if a show of this kind were on in 2013? And if the Breakfast landscape is too crowded and too hard the other end of the day might be a viable alternative, especially when paired with The Late Show with David Letterman currently wasted in a dead zone.
We are all smarter Programmers in hindsight, but I can’t help but wonder what kind of numbers Mr & Mrs Murder would get if it had David Attenborough’s Africa as a lead in. Neighbours would also be a sensible alternative to News offerings at 6pm (and you could have had drama points for the last two years had it been there). Only play MasterChef once a year please.
Make a pact with the audience to start shows on time. Watch your numbers enjoy an immediate upswing as a result.
Replace the Seriously brand. I realise it hasn’t been used for about 6 months, but what is the current message? It needs to be about stability. It needs to communicate you are hearing the audience more than those billionaire board members.
Please go and give everybody working in the Drama department the day off. They have been a shining light through this instability. Puberty Blues, Offspring, Underground: The Julian Assange Story, Mr & Mrs Murder -they all have unique qualities. But let’s face it, sometimes they have been dragged down by decisions and accompanying programmes outside of their realm. Also ask them to commission a behind the scenes drama on the making of Number 96: The Story of how Australia lost its Virginity. It could be your own Howzat or Paper Giants. Who would play Abigail?
I don’t understand ONE. I hardly ever hear anybody talking about a show that was on it. How’s that working out for you?
Are you fairly represented in the current ratings system? Kindly investigate. How many TEN viewers no longer have a landline phone, which is mandatory to being in the survey panel? If you own a third of our current ratings provider, are you content it is doing in 2013 what it did for you in 2001?
Update: OzTAM advises they do have mobile households in the panel.
Modern Family should not be treated as your very own Big Bang Theory.
We still like your shows and your identities. We are trying hard not to slap them for your mistakes. We want you to get back to your rightful place as an aggressive third commercial network.
In television there are also times when there’s nothing inherently wrong with most of the content you are stumping up, but the strength of the competition overrides all else.
Remember that you don’t always need to be the highest rating network -you only need to be the most profitable.
ps. The Number 96 drama was for free, the rest will entail a fee!