How to pitch to TEN

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“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.”

19 Comments:

  1. Armchair Analyst

    As I have said before! If u have something innovative & truelly fresh stay away from commercial FTA ! They don’t (even though they should) invest in anything truelly new! FTA TV industry is mainly cyclical in performance revenues and content! Nothing is new and fresh! FTA doesn’t like to take risks! If u r a producer use online! That’s where the more creative and fresh content can be distributed! Netflix is a example!

      • Armchair Analyst

        Yeah! My point is though that if u want tomget it off the ground and in mutual exposure use online not FTA TV ! That is if u have something actually new and innovative that’s edgy and risky! If its popular then maybe a FTA network or foxtel will come knocking! As for Netflix watch this space! My prediction is that they will soon enough because of there oz subscribers! Maybe in the form of SciFi!

    • Yeah and Stan and Netflix etc.. are now buying shows off the production companies that make stuff for FTA TV. You cant win. You could put something on Youtube but whats the end goal? I seriously doubt any series found online gets picked up because its a good idea, it’s usually whatever trash is popular and can make them money.

  2. This is a lot of corporate speak. And suggesting that increasing Survivor to three nights was a good idea, shows that they are out of touch with their audience. Survivor was a success despite the overkill, not because of it.

    • I’m not so sure. I was very skeptical of the excess hours and cast. I think it was clear that early on the show was getting hit hard by the competition. I have to say that increasing it probably invested the audience into the narrative & characters and ultimately saw the show succeed better than 2 eps might have. I’m possibly eating my words here and happy to be contradicted.

      • I loved it when it was 3 nights a week. I was annoyed when it went back to 2 nights a week towards the end. There is usually never anything I’m interested in watching on a Tuesday.

    • As noted down below, I really liked the 3 nights a week however I think it would have been better on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday rather than starting on Sunday nights.

    • timmydownawell

      At two nights a week, half the episodes suffered at the hands of Block reveals. At three nights a week, only a third of the episodes suffered, so overall it improved their average numbers. Bad idea? Not for them!

  3. Y can’t normal ppl give them ideas for shows , Tv tonight readers seem to no how to make channel 10 better then the big experienced people over at ten

  4. I was told by Ten you had to specifically already be or have a production company involved or they wouldn’t even consider a pitch. Which is like most of these networks.

    There should be a disclaimer that unless you have an agent, production company or friends in high places there you have buckleys chance of getting anything picked up.

    • That’s quite reasonable – can’t just have any viewer dropping in with ideas. If you’re serious about an idea you’d look at how to produce it before considering who should broadcast it.

  5. I don’t think I saw one positive comment on here in regards to the decision to increase Survivor from 2-3 episodes a week. Most seemed to agree that it was overkill. It also left Ten with several weeks of little to no new content for the last few weeks of the ratings year.

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