Late yesterday afternoon, it was announced that US giant CBS Corporation had completed its acquisition of Ten Network Holdings, marking its entry into the Australian market.
During an interview for Mediaweek and Sky News Business, Ten Network CEO Paul Anderson revealed not everything relevant to the 2018 schedule was previewed last week at the TEN Upfront.
“There is some we can’t talk about yet. There are some [more] things we are pretty excited about,” said Anderson, referring perhaps to key properties or programs CBS would be pursuing. Revamped news strategy or breakfast TV plans perhaps?
The timing of the 2018 Upfront was not ideal, given it was held just 12 hours before a court approved the transfer of the Network Ten shares to new owner CBS.
Top photo: President of CBS Studios International Armando Nuñez [L] with Ten execs Beverley McGarvey, Rod Prosser, Paul Anderson and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield [second from right]
Here are some highlights from the interview.
Was there CBS involvement in the schedule?
Of course we have been speaking to them. This has been in the planning for some time – it’s not something we do in a couple of weeks.
Do you have places to run nine new shows?
We only really had one hole [at 7.30pm] which was after I’m A Celebrity. Bachelor In Paradise will fill that slot and The Bachelorette has been off the charts on both linear television and in the catch-up numbers.
We have four narrative comedies this year and we feel that space is ready for more as we have had Gogglebox and Have You Been Paying Attention? performing extremely well. These new shows will play somewhat later in the evening.
How has it been running the channel during administration?
Our staff are amazingly resilient. The media industry is always going through change although this has been a little bit unusual. What we do day-to-day and what people see onscreen each night hasn’t really changed. That is a real credit to all of our staff.
Was it challenging juggling interest from different potential owners?
We just stuck to the job. We had a process to work through and we did that as an executive team. What was important was the content we have onscreen every night and it was pleasing the ratings for the last five months improved for us on the prior period.
Did you get much feedback from advertisers or via MCN?
MCN has done an amazing job and the advertiser and agency support has been extraordinary. The clients are buying our audiences so we have been doing our very best to generate as many eyeballs as possible every night.
There have been supportive comments from both Seven and Nine about your survival.
This industry needs to work together. Having three strong FTA networks in this country is great for everyone. CBS’s investment in Ten will be a good thing – not just for Ten, but the whole media industry.
What are CBS’s immediate aims?
That has yet to be seen and they will speak about that at the appropriate time. It is the most successful US television network and content comes first with them, although monetising that comes in a very close second. They have similar challenges and the same business model as we do. We just do it with a smaller population.
What parts of the business could CBS impact on first?
The CBS experience on how and where viewers are watching and how they are adapting to the changes will be hugely beneficial to us.
Will CBS be spending more when survey 2018 begins?
Our marketing clout has been pretty good and has changed a lot over the past few years. What you are seeing in the new schedule is new shows that will have the benefit of the Big Bash League, one of the best marketing platforms this country offers over summer.
Do you feel CBS will be a long-term holder of Ten Network?
You would have to ask them that question, but I suspect they are. They are very successful and have been around for a long time, and I expect they will be, yes.
Are you looking to hire talent in addition to Lisa Wilkinson?
We are always looking for more talent.
Will CBS be going after the cricket rights?
We have done lots of work on sports rights even before [CBS arrived]. Our team has done an amazing job with the Big Bash League. We have helped Cricket Australia grow that brand and we have a great relationship. There is a process to go through for that and we will see how that plays out.