Ad-man turned exec keeps the TEN faith

When he joined TEN as an exec, Russel Howcroft asked for his office wall to remove all the TV screens, except for one.

This week TEN Executive General Manager Russel Howcroft took up an invitation by ABC Radio show Mornings with Jon Faine to take talkback calls.

The 30 minute chat provided some interesting insights, including that Howcroft’s office wall has only one television screen.

“When I first arrived at Channel TEN there was the executive wall with all the TVs. But I actually got that taken down. I’ve just got one television now. I have to tell you, it’s called an HbbTV,” he said.

But the Hybrid Broadband Television capability means he can dip into its broadband features.

Asked about The Project, with new co-host Waleed Aly, he reiterated a common network view.

“It is the key show for us, it reflects who and what we are. It is, what we call, News delivered differently.”

I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! is a 6 week show, he explained, getting a lot of people talking.

“We’re pleased with how it’s going there. Let’s call it averaging at about 750 (k), and that’s what we call 5 cities. There are all sorts of numbers in Television but the one that matters to us is the 5 city number,” he said.

“And you want that to be over a million?” asked Faine.

“That’s right. It launched at over a million and I would hope it ends at about that as well. But you’ve also got to remember where Network TEN is.”

TEN was traditionally the third network, he outlined.

“It’s our job to give people an alternative and for it to be strong. We’re happy with where we’re going.”

But Faine pointed out recently it was often fourth behind ABC.

“If you go to maybe March last year, that’s true. There was a couple of nights that it did happen. That’s not what we want to be doing.”

Nationally, there have been a lot more weeks where TEN has trailed the ABC, but there was no mention of this.

He also spoke about the summer performance by Big Bash League, Grant Denyer, Shark Tank and late-running shows.

There wasn’t much mention of Recipe to Riches, which he appeared on last year, but is yet to be marked for returning.

Asked by caller why TEN’s primary channel was not yet in High Definition, he admitted,  “I’m going to have to take that one on notice and let Jon know. I can’t give you a specific answer.

“It’s a technical question that I don’t know the answer to.”

Hint: it requires govt legislation.

But the Gruen ad man is still a big believer in the commercial power of the medium.

“Free to Air television remains an incredibly strong medium. I don’t buy into the decline of Television.

“(Reports of its death are) massively over-exaggerated. It is where the numbers lie, it really is. 90% of Television is still-watched in Real Time. That’s by far the majority. Yes we catch-up and the Catch-Up service is very important and what we can do in the commercial world is monetise that catch-up.

“It’s rather wonderful when you go to Tenplay you can’t fast forward. That means you have to watch the ads. So it’s actually a fantastic premium product that we can sell to advertisers.”

Nine and Seven representatives are next to face the talkback show.

25 Responses

  1. I’d love to know if the TV execs who claim that traditional TV is not in decline truly believe that. If so, they must have their head in the sand. ‘90% of television is watched in real time’ completely discounts the percentage of programs that are now downloaded (illegally or legally), streamed and watched on DVD. It is quite apparent that many people no longer watch FTA, ratings have been decreasing for years.
    It’s purely anecdotal but I don’t know anybody – even my 60+ parents – who watch traditional TV anymore.

  2. It’s alright to be happy with being third if you’re just behind second but a distant third, sometimes fourth, is nothing to be proud of, especially when you look at where Ten was before it was kneecapped by the mismanagement of Murdoch and the Board.

    Gogglebox is not averaging anywhere near 750k. As for Ten being beaten by the ABC on “a couple of nights” in March last year, that’s only true if by a couple of nights Howcroft means every Friday and Saturday for the whole year, plus some other days. And not just last year – ABC rated 30% higher than Ten last night and twice what Ten did last Saturday.

    Here are the network percentages for the 2014 Ratings Year:

    Seven: 30.4
    Nine: 29.2
    TEN: 17.9
    ABC: 17.4

    If you just consider the primary channels Ten were fourth. If Howcroft is happy with that then I suggest that Ten may need someone else in charge.

    Oh, and you can fast-fwd on TenPlay.

  3. Is this available on podcast because wasn’t able to locate it on the abc radio website?

    As I haven’t heard the interview I’m not sure if he covered Australian Drama. At the moment ten is really missing a good 1 hour Australian Drama. Gave wonderland a good chance but it just wasn’t up to it. Lots of talk about reality but haven’t heard anything much about ten’s Australian Drama plans.

      1. I had already found the conversation hour by Jon Faine podcast on abc’s website (same as the iTunes version). If you look at the podcasts available abc doesn’t appear to have made the segment with Russel Howcroft available. Could it be located elsewhere on the abc website?

  4. Striving to be the third best? I am sure the Ten shareholders are pleased to hear that. One of Ten’s biggest issues is the promotion of its’ content and as an ad man Howcroft should be honing in on this. I’m A Celebrity is nipping at the heels of The Block, something he should have highlighted. The Project is struggling so saying “it is a key show for us, it reflects who and what we are…” is nothing short of moronic. One of the major points he should have sprouted was Ten’s investment in new content, I’m A Celebrity, Gogglebox and Shark Tank, something the other commercial networks have failed to do. Ten also need to focus on Australian produced dramas. It had some brilliant dramas, Puberty Blues, OffSpring, but they leave these hanging and focus on the sub-par Wonderland. The current ratings show that US dramas aren’t the drawcard they used to be; Australians would prefer…

    1. Obviously Russel made other points in a half hour discussion, so I would suggest focus on what he did say rather than what he didn’t say, unless you can find a podcast online. He also did not say “striving to be third best” and I have not written such. Thanks.

      1. I guess you can’t report everything which was discussed otherwise we would be reading a novel but surely @ Mistaken raises some valid points. We can only respond to the written article although the points raised by @ Mistaken are some of the things a seasoned leader would put forward to enhance the networks plans and aspirations.
        Surely you would have reported some of these important points if they were discussed during the interview?

      2. I’m sorry, but where in my response did I state “striving to be third best” was a quote from Howcroft or you? It’s a statement by me in response to the line in your article “Ten has traditionally been the third network’ he outlined.” As a loyal viewer of Ten, a rare species in this day and age, I think the points I raised are well within reason.

        1. Your first line implies Howcroft was striving to be third best. Yes he outlined that traditionally the network had been placed third, as historical context. But there was no suggestion of “striving” for this. Howcroft went into further detail about networks chasing demos, which is standard spin for TVT readers, but was probably enlightening to ABC listeners. He did discuss Australian productions, several of which are noted here. He also answered the questions that were put to him in the interview by Faine and callers. I dare say a longer discussion could have covered more terrain. I would recommend calling in next Thursday for those who have Seven queries and Nine a week later.

  5. “That’s right. It launched at over a million and I would hope it ends at about that as well. But you’ve also got to remember where Network TEN is.”
    So what happens between episode 1 and the finale doesn’t matter? Keep burying your head in the mud TEN.
    You certainly have become very comfortable at being the number 3 or 4 FTA network. This sentiment comes across with many posts on this site. People just accept that 600-700K is OK for a TEN program because “thats what the other show did last year”.
    Until TEN start to aim to compete with 7 and 9 with quality programs and not be satisfied with lowish ratings then they will always be regarded as a poor 3rd or 4th cousin to the other networks.

  6. “It’s rather wonderful when you go to Tenplay you can’t fast forward. That means you have to watch the ads.”
    Not with ad-blocker in Chrome. Tenplay still works with it running, where as Jump-in for example, makes you disable it before you can watch any content.

  7. The Project reflects who and what the TEN Network are. A network going out backwards.
    IaK may have people talking, but very few are watching it.
    It’s averaging 750k. Have another look Russel.
    TEN was traditionally the 3rd Network. True, but now has almost become the traditional 4th Network.
    As for giving people an alternative, it seems the people aren’t that interested. They want quality not crap.
    The bleatings of a typical TEN executive, all spin with very few facts and in denial.

  8. “It is the key show for us, it reflects who and what we are. It is, what we call, News delivered differently.”

    No wonder Ten struggle if that is their attitude as The Project is rubbish.

  9. The response to the HD question shows how that subject rates on the agendas of the FTA networks. If the general manager of a network doesn’t know the answer as to why his primary channel isn’t in HD, then it’s obviously a long way down his list of priorities, if it’s even on his list.

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