By James Manning and Dan Barrett
Network Ten is not leaving any stone unturned in its quest to improve its ratings and revenue performance in 2016. Ratings grew year-on-year for TEN in 2015 and it is investing to keep that momentum going.
The broadcaster had its 2016 Upfront last night at Sydney’s Star Events Centre. The network staged the biggest Upfronts in a number of years and, after Nine and Seven have scaled back theirs, TEN remains the biggest Upfront show in town.
After a number of rehearsals this week, Ten’s Upfront day started mid-afternoon with a press call for all the channels’ major stars who posed on the red carpet and then do one-on-one interviews with media flown in from all around Australia.
At about 6.30pm, the first of the 800 guests arrive and the Star Event Centre was soon full close to bursting with media agency executives, advertisers, media and network stars.
Good to their word, the Upfront kicked off just past 7pm with the evening’s first hosts Julia Morris and Doctor Chris Brown.
The hosts of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here joked about their first year in the jungle, with Morris claiming she has never watched Brown’s Bondi Vet, before introducing the network’s new chief executive Paul Anderson. Speaking with Mediaweek earlier in the night, Anderson denied it was blowing a big chunk of its new $150m on its new format Survivor. “We are keeping costs under control. We expect them to grow about 6% next year, with most of that extra spend going to content.” On stage Anderson made a specific point that Ten were not going to treat live streaming of their channels as what he termed a “shiny toy”, but rather Ten would gradually add more content to its streaming over time.
Appearing on stage after the boss, executive general manager Louise Barrett spoke about the growing multiplatform audiences and the MCN sales deal and the opportunities for advertisers to reach a huge audience through one sales team. Barrett placed a very strong emphasis at MCN’s unrivalled ability to deliver sophisticated programatic trading.
Chief programming officer Beverley McGarvey then took the stage to run through some of the new programming. Taking the audience through the year’s schedule, McGarvey began with the announcement that The X-Files revival will kick off their year. Other highlights for the first quarter include the Chrissie Swan/Ahn Do helmed factual series Long Lost Family, the return of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, and the announcement of a new companion after-show titled I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! Now.
McGarvey looked to this weeks social media viral media success surrounding The Project host Waleed Aly’s comments on ISIL as proof of Ten’s ability to start conversations.
News of the addition of Nigella Lawson to Masterchef created a buzz in the room, with McGarvey informing Mediaweek that Lawson would feature on the show for a full week at minimum. A sizzle reel for the return of Offspring in 2016 generated huge applause in the room, along with a vocal cry of horror from one passionate fan in the audience when the video started juddering at the start of the reel. McGarvey was positive in talking up the Brock telemovie, along with the new romantic scripted series The Wrong Girl. Teasing a reveal earlier in the presentation, McGarvey concluded the presentation with the announcement that Ten will produce Australian Survivor, to air in the final months of 2016.
As the presentation came to a close, a black curtain opened behind the audience to reveal six replica sets of popular Ten series including The Living Room and Masterchef and invited the audience to explore them while enjoying some social drinks.
For more coverage on the Ten 2016 Upfronts:
Ten in 2016: Go Big or Go Home – An extended conversation with Beverley McGarvey about the next years lineup.
Ten’s Key Programming For 2016 – Insight from Beverley McGarvey on key new shows for Ten, along with details on all of Ten’s program announcements.