“What works for TEN is Light Entertainment and escapist,” Azar Marashian, TEN’s Head of Acquisitions told the Screen Forever conference last week.
“When you consider the competition we need noisy shows that cut through and it needs to be appointment viewing. We’re big on local productions and franchises. What we’ve learned from Survivor this year is we started it 2 nights and built it to 3 because I think the audience likes to grow with the show and the characters.
“Character is another thing that works for TEN. Positive, aspirational and an easy watch.”
In the Meet the Buyer session, TEN’s Head of Drama, Rick Maier said it was important to think about where a show being pitched best fits the network.
“If you come into us the question I’m going to ask you is ‘What do you watch on TEN?’
“If you’re not watching the network you’re pitching to you’re already at a disadvantage,” he explained. “Find out what shows there are there that you actually like and how you respond to and particularly take note of the production company or the producers or the writers behind them.
“Because if you like that, then chances are that’s your sensibility, chances are that’s where your interest is going to lie and chances are that’s probably going to be the best place to put your program idea.
“We commissioned a lot of things around The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Those shows are terrific platforms for certain styles of drama. The Wrong Girl was commissioned knowing that The Bachelorette was going to be in front of it.
“It’s an important thing to bear in mind as program makers when pitching a show to a network. What’s the lead-in going to be? Where are my promos going to sit?”
TEN places heavy emphasis on shows that generate chatter.
“The word we use is ‘noisy,'” says Maier.
“The noise that you’ll get on the train or the hairdresser or anywhere else is the stuff that’s going to make your show work. It’s basically Twitter traffic without Twitter. And so if you’re hearing them talking about it on the bus or at the hairdresser, then chances are that show is going to rate.
“Your shows have to be talked about.”
“Think of a traditional news service and consider The Project or think of Better Homes and Gardens and consider The Living Room. We try and do things slightly differently – not vastly differently – but slightly differently. We come in slightly at a different angle. We don’t come in through the front door.”
But it was also important to stay one step ahead of the game.
“You’ve got to be thinking ahead 18 months. So if you’re seeing a glut of something now, think 18 months time. Don’t chase what’s on air now because we’ve already commissioned next 12 months. So what’s working at the moment, possibly is not going to be working in 18 months time. Where’s the gap in the market, what is the thing that is not being catered for in your genre?”
Azar Marashian also spoke about the protocol in submitting pitches to TEN.
“You should be actually developing content specifically for TEN. But before you do all that work send through a couple of lines (on email). And we’ll quickly come back and say ‘Yes that sounds interesting, tell us more.’ And you can either come in or work on that proposal that is targeted to 10, or ‘Sorry we’re not in that space’ or whatever our feedback is and then you can go and think of something else,” she said.
“Obviously depending on the idea we may need to partner you up with a bigger production company. I think our preference is still for you to come to us and if we feel that’s necessary we will facilitate that as well.”
“Just come to me,” Rick Maier said of Drama pitches.
“The idea comes first, the execution comes second. So if you’re new or emerging or trying to make headway and you’ve got a great idea, we might often say “We need some security around that idea in terms of production expertise to go with it.” But we won’t recommend a production company. We’ll say to you “Watch television, find people that are simpatico with you. Go and have a meeting… if you don’t like them move to the next production company.” You’re always going to be exposing your IP to sell anything in this game, so the bits of paper that you sign aren’t worth anything and you’ve got to trust the people you’re dealing with. But we will never recommend a production company. It’s up to you to come back and say ‘We really like these guys’ and they can be the muscle behind the idea and then together hopefully go forward.
“But it’s gotta be a great idea.”