No risk for 20-TEN

Programmer David Mott tells TV Tonight why TEN is very happy to be facing 2010 without the need to be taking its trademark risks.

talkin bout On set Shaun 2A year ago when TEN unveiled its programming for 2009 it brazenly shocked the nation when it said Big Brother would be replaced by a cooking show. And it promised other local titles including Talkin’ ’Bout Your Generation, Guerilla Gardeners, Bondi Vet and even some that never eventuated: Australia’s Hidden Genius and Undercover Boss.

Unveiling its 2010 titles last night in Melbourne, TEN programmer David Mott played it both safe and sure, only promising one new local title, the Junior Masterchef spin-off. For a network that has prided itself on taking risks (including the Big Brother brand, dropping Sunday night movies, and commissioning MasterChef Australia and The 7PM Project), it is a stark contrast.

As Mott tells TV Tonight, he is buoyant about heading into the new year from a position of strength. The network has confirmed its returning shows will be led by Masterchef, The Biggest Loser, So You Think You Can Dance, Australian Idol, Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation, Rove, Recruits, Bondi Rescue and Rush.

“That’s the good thing about where we sit today. We haven’t had to take a big risk,” he says.

“Yes a lot of it’s what we’ve known but that’s the best position for any network to be in. Because at the end of the day we’re creating television that people want. They have clearly resonated with these shows.

“Media-buyers, advertisers, key clients, they want shows they know have some audience numbers there that says ‘this demographic watches that show.'”

Mott says 2009 was all about building domestic content.

“We knew we were saying farewell to Big Brother. We knew we had a big job convincing the market and coming up with new shows. It was hugely risky.

“If you think 12 months ago when we gave a sense of a lot of new programmes, how did the market react? MasterFlop I think was the term used,” he says.

“A number of those on your site referred to it as MasterFlop but I’ve got to say you are my site of choice in terms of updates on television and to get exactly what’s happening in the industry. You’re the first site I go to. And I have absolute respect for people on that site, because you need to get a sense of what they’re talking about.

“And when I read about MasterFlop I thought ‘God have we made the right decision? These are our viewers.’ But again, people probably didn’t see what people saw in that show.”

Other titles to return in 2010 include Merlin, House, NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Dexter, Californication, Burn Notice, Bondi Vet, Good News Week, Neighbours, Numb3rs, The Simpsons, Jamie Oliver, Lie to Me, Law and Order: SVU, Criminal Intent, Medium, TEN News, AFL. They will be joined by new US series The Good Wife, The Cleveland Show and Modern Family along with the continuation of Glee.

“The benefit was while MasterChef was just launching we then went to the US for the LA screenings and suddenly we’re seeing some shows coming through and we’re thinking, ‘Now we’re starting to cook.’

“This is starting to become the network that we’ve been looking forward to for some time. We’ve never had the sum of all the parts,” he says.

Pivotal to this were the deals with CBS and the winning deal with FOX Studios.

Local drama Offspring, described as Brothers and Sisters meets The Secret Life of Us, is hoped to proceed to a series. The Hawke telemovie is also slated for 2010.

But not everything is settled. The 7PM Project has struggled to build an audience amid comment its format is still in need of change. Mott says he would be happy with 850,000 viewers.

“It’s not right, it’s not there yet,” he concedes. “But I gotta tell you, it is going to get there. The idealogy behind 7PM is absolutely right. And there’s nothing stronger in my mind that that show will be around in 5 years plus. Things may change within it, but the idea of that show absolutely belongs at 7pm. I completely stand by it.

“I’ve been very clear with that show from day one. We are completely changing the landscape of news gathering and news reporting each day. Now have we got it right? Not 100%. My view is we’re 65% – 70% there.

And as I’ve been saying to a lot of people, it’s content over comedy not comedy over content.”

TEN plans to continue the show through summer, into the new year and indeed, into the ratings year moving key shows such as The Biggest Loser and MasterChef to 7:30pm. Mott is adamant the shows will improve their pull at 7:30pm.

“Suddenly people are over with dinner and they can now sit down as a family and watch television. All the shows get a bump at 7:30,” he says.

“Whenever I would extend the episodes from 7:00 to 8:00 –and I did that often– with MasterChef and with Loser, you always got a bump at 7:30. There’s some switching going on at 7:30. So potentially those shows can perform even better from 7:30 – 8:30.”

One of the networks other weak points is Friday nights. Next year TEN will rollout extended episodes of Biggest Loser on Fridays with a ‘healthy living’ outlook. Based on the succes of its Friday Masterclass on MasterChef, It will include a dietician, doctor and cook.

“I think Better Homes and Gardens great show, but you know what? It doesn’t deserve the figures it’s getting. We’ve proven that with MasterChef up against it. We can knock it off.

“We are committed to doing something broader on a Friday night. It’s tough. You’ve got NRL and AFL. We’ve tried series. But I’m very open to ideas from our loyal fans about trying to find a solution there but they need to go back and study what’s gone there before. I think we’ve got the answer with extended Biggest Loser and extended MasterChef.

As for Australian Idol, Mott defends its one million viewers and its demographics. The network is yet to begin discussions with FremantleMedia on how it would adjust the show for 2010.

“All the product we try and develop nowadays is the ‘stickiness’ factor of these shows.It’s not just a linear broadcast now. That’s not what television’s all about. It’s the stickiness: online, catch-up, mobile… Australian Idol still plays a function of bringing content to consumers in a number of different ways.”

With the Delhi Commonwealth Games set for October, TEN is also considering its option for the programming of Idol next year.

Another show yet to be clarified is 9AM with David and Kim. With David Reyne departing the show at the end of the year, TEN is still considering its options for the competitive morning slot, particularly when it enjoys no significant lean-in.

“It’s like having 3 casinos in 3 shopping centres all delivering the same thing. What you need is a real point of difference there. You’ve got male / female, female, blah blah blah… all well and good. But when you’re delivering the same message in principal and the same reason why they belong then we need to create something new,” he says.

“Where we lose out in the mornings, we gain in the afternoon, and we do. Look at the numbers.

“There is a great opportunity to come up with something new and different in that timeslot and that’s what we’re about at the moment.”

Finally, TEN confirmed its plans for a new digital channel to replace ONE SD, at a time of its choosing.

“We’re assessing where Nine are at, where Seven is at, so it gives us the ability to go ‘Ok where do we see our channel going forward?’ We are technically ready.”


82 Responses

    1. Can’t confirm NJ, but don’t take that as meaning it is out. The list I did receive today doesn’t include all the titles I saw on the showreel either. Frankly if Dexter is back and it’s been 11pm Saturdays I reckon NJ will be as it is first run.

  1. wow- what an interesting discussion about this post. I am an huge fan of network 10 and was happy with there successes this year.

    But should the network should keep the The 7pm project many changes need to be made. I think they should look at modeling the concept on the View shown during the day on Nine. The hosts on The View have a variety of backgrounds, professions and ideas. The concept could easily translate with the 7pm project (mix of male and femaile hosts). Money needs to be spent on the quality of the hosts- not just a couple of ‘lame jokers’ from Rove. Have one or two Big names- people the country knows and responds too. Just off the top of my head Jana Wendt, Megan Gale and Magda along with a few others (some fellas). Maybe not the best example but you get the idea.

    Another thing that I think Ten should consider is having an animaton night once a week- similar to PayTv. The figures of shows like American guy rate pretty well at 10 pm on Seven- sometimes better than programs shown on other networks (including 10) at 7.30 the same night. Purchase these and team up with the Simpsons and such.

    Finally- Ten has the opportunity this coming year to produce a new drama series. Great to see they are considering this. Rush preforms ok and when you look at the figues on Seven- now is the time. Especially with the long running All Saints now ending.

    Anyway- thats enough suggestions- if they want me they can contact me hehe.

  2. If Ten wants the 7pm Project to succeed and continue, they need better hosts. They obviously overrated the popularity of the hosts they got for the show. Dave Hughes is largely maligned in most circles. Charlie Pickering is a non-entity to most people. Carrie Bickmore has little comedic skill. Ruby Rose is pointless on the show. The only person who’s really succeeded on the show has been James Matheson.
    If they really want it to build a fanbase, they need to get hosts who are Actually Popular- Hamish and Andy, Shaun Micallef, Arj Barker, Angus Sampson, Josh Lawson. That’s who people really want to see, not Hughsey and his gang.

  3. I think he’s absolutely right to move the major franchises to 7:30. It’s a much more convenient timeslot and I also recall Big Brother receiving massive audience boosts in the second half of its hour long Daily Show’s (sometimes it would gain around 400,000 from the first to last quarter). Having said that, I’m not sure whether The 7:00PM Project is the right choice for 7:00, but It’ll will be interesting to see what changes they make.

    Also great to see Ten are continuing with Dexter and Californication.

  4. 7pm is a great show, and will get better in time. 4 regulars on the desk every night would be great. 7pm to last until 2014, highly unlikely. how much faith can Ten have? 7 pm should take a break for 6 months, while loser/ masterchef are on, and improve its format. I do not like the plan to show Masterchef at 7 30.

    Can’t wait for the new season of House next year. As for Dexter, why do Ten even bother wasting such a brilliant show? Glee is one of the best shows i’ve seen in years. thank you so much Ten! please continue to treat it right.

    I think one of Ten’s main problems, is that they have poor cotent on between late July- late September. They have no new episodes of imports, and reality shows are over. Best thing they had this year was Rush, which should always be saved for a July showing. They need to find something to fill these months.

    Great interview David, and David Mott is just brlliant. So honest with his viewers and the best personality of all the Free to air programmers. Leckie and Gyngell are just arrogant and rude. let the promotion for 2010 begin.

  5. 21 episodes of Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation seems like a lot. I hope that the season is split to give the back 1/2 a boost. I thought TEN may have thought about launching Undercover Boss in the 2nd half also, but no mention, I guess moving Loser and MasterChef to 7.30 gives them a lot less slots to fill.

    As for Friday’s issues, I think a regular contestants version of Friday Night Games would be good, but again, I think only short seasons would work. Maybe an Aussie version of Saturday Night Live (renamed obviously) would work on Fridays? Or copy FOX’s Saturdays with Australia’s Most Wanted and Cps? Maybe also a 60 Minutes type program?

    7.30 The Biggest Loser/MasterChef/Friday Night Games

    8.30 SNL Rip-off
    10.00 Cops
    8.30 60 Minutes Rip-off
    9.30 Australia’s Most Wanted
    10.00 Cops

  6. @daqua_99 I vote No for Glee on Friday nights! It will kill the show… The target audience will be out having a drink with friends and the audience numbers will crash.

    I already cancel Allmy plans so that I can watch the show on a Thursday night… (My sister gave birth to her first kid on Monday, because of Glee, I didn’t visit my nephew tonight… (I visited him earlier today though, so I’m not all bad! haha)).

    If it was on a Friday I would just end up never watching it… Or my friends would not like me any more because I would never be able to go out for Friday night drinks.

    James Gleek

  7. @Billy C I think that is spot on. I think where 7pm fails is content. Considering there is never time to cover any subjects so that I feel I know anything more anyway, concentrating on the jokes would actually make it a laugh.
    The show’s pace fails because someone will be on a roll and then suddenly get cut off. Perhaps we really only need one topic per segment, instead of trying to cover everything?
    Hughesy does a fine job of joking about current events every morning on the radio, but on the TV show he just seems flummoxed. It’s like, “one liner – move on!”

  8. I have fond memories of the Golden Years of Hollywood on Ten on Saturday nights. They should look to try and revive that, with a younger host, and capture the interest of young people who have grown up without being exposed to the great movies of the past.

  9. @ Justin – They could always move to 8:30pm weeknights … I like doing these, so these are my ‘predictions’

    Sunday: 6:30 – Merlin / 7:30 – The Biggest Loser Weigh-In / 8:30 – So You Think You Can Dance / 10:00 – Supernatural
    Weekdays: As-is with News at 5, Simpsons, Neighbors and 7PM Project. From 7:30 onwards…
    Monday: 7:30 – The Biggest Loser Elimination / 8:30 – So You Think You Can Dance Elimination / 9:30 – Good News Week
    Tuesday: 7:30 – The Biggest Loser Warehouse/Challenge / 8:00 – Bondi Rescue / 8:30 – NCIS: LA / 9:30 – House
    Wednesday: 7:30 – The Biggest Loser Temptation/Walk / 8:30 – NCIS / 9:30 – Lie To Me
    Thursday: 7:30 – The Biggest Loser Major Challenge / 8:30 – Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation / 9:30 – Law and Order: SVU
    Friday: 7:30 – The Biggest Loser ‘Lifestyle Format’ / 8:30 – Glee / 9:30 – ??

    This doesn’t take into account The Recruits, Bondi Vet, Rush, Dexter, Californication, etc but it seems to be the best way to do it unless they cut down The Biggest Loser/Masterchef from their daily line-up, which, going by their ratings, would be an idiotic move.

  10. I totally agree that the 7PM Project show is too short, especially when they’re interviewing someone who’s in the country to promote a film. What Ten could and should do, is move the crap Neighbours show to 6pm and have 7PM
    Project air from 6.30 – 7.30 pm.

  11. If ten are to revive its a knockout I say don’t put it on friday. How about sunday 6:30 it would work. We already see Wipeout dominating on GO! Its A Knockout could do really well. But don’t make Fitzy a host. Please! Get someone good and don’t make it all about the hosts make it more about the knockouts!

    I also think in the later half of the year ten should give Undercover a Boss a go! It looks really really good in the states and its something that is actually working here in Australia with other similar concepts like; Secret Millionaire – although thats a documentary I think Undercover Boss could be a bit of fun. Go On Ten give it a go!

  12. Thanks for the interview David – interesting reading.

    Jason I agree Friday Night Live was a solid performer on Fridays, something you could retire to after a long week and just throw out your brain. It always did around 900k which is up to 500k more than they’re currently getting in that timeslot. Goonies I’m pretty sure the FNL spin-off was with celebs. Naturally they were Z-list with teams like “Australian Idol contestants” or “Football players”.

  13. Thanks David, reading that interview was refreshing and a nice contrast from arrogant Tim Worner the other day. The only disappointing part was reading that Idol will be back in 2010. Looks like they are intending to drag it out and do it to death or beyond…
    I would say that I am against a 6pm news bulletin for Ten, and to keep The Simpsons, because 1) The Simpsons is the ideal alternative to news, 2) Ten would get killed against 7 and 9 News, and 3) there’s nothing wrong with the existing timeslot (i.e. Ten News wins constantly).
    Well done and long live Network Ten.

  14. David M , how bout a variety style show for a Friday night, something akin to CH 4’s in the UK Sunday Night Project, or hamish and andy doing “saturday night takeway” style show(i think i read about that a few years back) Soething the whole family can watch and is funny but dosn’t have to relay on crappy humour like HHIS

  15. Re: The 7pm Project – I honestly think the problem is it is too short. You just start getting interested in what people have to say about an issue and then it’s on to the next subject. I think it needs to be an hour long, keep up the special guests as I often tune in just to see who is on (I’m sure others do too)…

  16. I have a Friday night suggestion – one of the best performing Non-Better Homes shows was Friday Night Live, if they could revive the Friday Night Games format but stay away from celebrities and instead have regular people on. Regular people don’t protect their image the way celebs often do, it would make for more rivetting television.

  17. I would like to see 7pm become a better show – how about starting with the hideous set David M? I think the panel should be extended to four people all the time too. I think Charlie is a good host, mainly because he isn’t afraid to have an opinion about things – sick to death of Rove type hosts who just sit on the fence (I feel Andrew G is doing that this week).

    Not happy Idol is back, and not too sure about Junior Masterchef. Do not remove Neighbours from 6.30 and do not implement 1.5 hours of news please.

    I agree that a Retro Friday is a great idea, Melrose, 90210, Macgyver etc.

    You can do it channel 10, I believe in you 🙂
    (and I hate having to watch 7 & 9, you get treated like a moron)

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