The struggles continue for Network TEN

If Hamish McLennan thinks this year has been a success for Network TEN, he is highly mistaken.

The network reported a net loss of $163.8 for the 12 months to August. While McLennan, the network’s CEO, attempted to put a positive spin on things, saying that they had improved audiences since May, I don’t see falling behind the ABC and coming in fourth place most nights since May as much to be proud of.

A key problem with TEN is their desire to be a place of event television, and while viewers do turn in for finales of Masterchef and The Bachelor, once these programs are done and dusted for the year, people are left to watch constant repeats of Modern Family, or a low rating Jamie Oliver program.

“The strategic planning and scheduling of Family Feud at 6pm has delivered strong ratings and improved audience flow into The Project, which has also grown audience in both half hours” said McLennan. While the game show has improved audience flow into The Project, I would not say that Family Feud has delivered strong ratings at all. Up against the nightly news on both Channel Seven & Nine, nobody expected the show to win the time slot, but putting it on not only TEN, but Eleven and One, didn’t help it gain any respect. The ratings for Family Feud are fine, but not great by any means. If mediocre is what they are gong for, then they are succeeding. The 6PM slot has been a problem for a while now. While they deliver their news an hour before the other two networks, it leaves a hole in the line up between the Ten Eyewitness News and The Project. Once they filled the gap with The Simpsons, which meant many viewers would switch the channel in a heart beat. While I do admit that Feud has seen a retention of audience, I don’t see it as a long term solution.

Speaking of The Project, it’s also boasted in the media release that the show had “recently posted its biggest ever audience ever”. That is true, but the feat was only accomplished with an interview from Blake and Sam from The Bachelor, after all interviews had been previously cancelled between the pair. The next night they had Sam live at the desk, which once again brought in viewers that wouldn’t normally sit through an hour of the show. At the time I joked saying I wonder how they are going to drag this out even more, and what do you know, last night we had another interview with Blake now finally confirming his relationship with third placed Louise. This got the show over the magic million mark again, something they rarely do. Can we expect weekly segments following all those involved in the relationship “drama”? I know Ten are always going to promote their own shows but there comes a time when enough is enough. (As I write this I see that tonight’s show has Sam and Lisa on, and apparently they have a “very different story” than what was told last night. That makes four shows with a focus on The Bachelor over a three week period)

“Some of TEN’s new shows have also produced timeslot growth, including Party Tricks and gold Coast Cops.”

Once again this may be true on paper, but the results of those two shows are nothing flash. While Party Tricks got the tick of approval from critics, with Asher Keddie again a stand out, it didn’t mange to hold on to a steady audience. The premier episode of the six part mini series saw 710,000 viewers tune in, a number that would of pleased those at TEN. Now half way through the series, the third episode pulled only 407,000.

The network’s other home grown drama, Wonderland, is in the same position. Last year when the show kicked of, just under a million watched to see what it was all about. Turns out nothing that special, as the show dropped in viewers week after week. The show retuned after a year off in August to air the back nine episodes of the first season, and then the show rolled seamlessly into the second season, a second season many thought they were lucky to get.

Gold Coast Cops is something new (better than a sitcom repeat?), but it’s not exactly going to be at the top of everyone’s viewing list, as many of these kinds of shows have been done and seen before. The international shows that have been fast tracked like NCIS: NEW Orleans, Scorpion, The Good Wife, Homeland, The Millers, and Madam Secretary, have not made much of an impact either.

It has already been announced that TEN will have two new shows in I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here and Shark Tank next year. While they have been hits in the overseas markets, it is going to take more than these shows to save TEN. Ratings this year have shown that viewers are losing interest in reality shows due to the excessive nature of them in Australia.

You can’t blame TEN for the lack of trying. In fact they have been trying hard to turn their situation around for the past few years. But time after time what they thought would be a hit dance or renovation show, is a complete miss. What they need to do is start from scratch, look at what their competitors aren’t doing, and be the difference in the market they once were. They need to become The Entertainment Network again.


What to do with a problem like Network Ten?

It’s unfortunate that Network Ten has now become a bit of a joke, after many years of not only coming behind Seven and Nine, but also falling behind the non-commercial ABC. I don’t know how they got to this point, but nothing is working for them. Year after year, they announce a fresh new line up in November, all ready for the new year, only to have thrown in the towel by Easter, which is seen as the closing point on the first quarter of the year. Thinking about it now, Network Ten are similar to the Melbourne F.C, in the way all hope is lost by round five.

More times than not, Channel Ten put out some quality programs. Emphases on the some. What it comes down to is a damaged brand. When people started thinking of Ten, they see them as the kind of people that are putting out The Shire, Being Lara Bingle, I Will Survive, Everybody Dance Now and the deadfall revival of Young Talent Time. We could switch, the nation’s most watched show, My Kitchen Rules over to Ten and it would do poorly there, because at the moment nobody is wanting anything to do with Ten. What I suggest is a full on face lift. Ten need to bring in the bulldozers in and completely start again. Looking at the ratings from the past four days, there is no other way to get out of the hole they have dug.

Starting with Sunday, where Ten had one of their worst days on record with its primary share of 6.2%, but with a bleak line up, what did they expect. Even Eyewitness News is their saving grace, but that couldn’t pull any higher than 500,000, which even for Ten’s standards is very bad. Taking on reality heavyweights (MRK and The Block) was Kung Fu Panda 2, as in recent weeks a movie has replaced the struggling SYTYCD. But this new move didn’t work out, as the kids flick faired even worse that SYTYCD. Elementary also failed but it had little chance when its competitors were Fat Tony & Co and Downton Abbey. Have You Being Paying Attention was a low point for the nights line up with the shows numbers coming in under 200,000. How that show is still on the air confuses me greatly.

The next night didn’t go any better with The Bold and the Beautiful doing better than Aussie drama Secrets and Lies. And even Vikings on SBS was close to beating Ten in a prime time slot. Tuesday and Wednesday was the same. With The Project, Eyewitness News, and Puberty Blues showing the only glimmer of hope.

The Biggest Loser has had its day, and if anyone down at Network Ten has a brain, it will never be seen again. I fear Masterchef will see the same fate as its network reality counterpart in the national ratings. Shows like The Good Wife, Bondi Vet, and NCIS have little appeal to the masses. I know it’s no good for me to say clear out basically their entire programing schedule with nothing to replace it, but they really do need to start afresh.