Last Saturday night, November 6, Ten scored its lowest primary channel and network shares for as long as I could remember.
Ten’s main channel achieved a share of just 9.3%. Add to that the 0.7% share for ONE and the result is a 10.0% share for the Ten network for the night.
Nine, on the other hand, had a primary channel share of 25.4% – two and a half times that of Ten, and a network share of 34.2% thanks to a combined GO – GEM share of 8.8% which itself is just 0.5% behind what Ten scored for the night.
Meanwhile, Seven pulled 20.6% which became a network share once 7TWO and 7mate’s combined share of 8.1% was added. Total digital channel shares for the night was 20.6%.
9.3% for a primary channel may not be so bad if you had two digital channels as part of the network pulling similar figures – I’m all for the idea that the concept of primary channels will diminish as digital take up increases – which will no doubt happen in the future possible resulting in three channels reaching similar lower shares adding to one big network share – but under Ten’s current situation, niche channel ONE barely makes it over 1.0% and Eleven not on air until 2011, so Ten get. Eleven I would expect to do similar business to GO or 7mate.
Yes – more people are watching digital channels now – so shares for these channels should be on the rise – but 9.3% for a primary channel when the two other commercials are pulling more than double that for their primary channels should be a major concern for Ten.
Sure – the introduction of Eleven in 2011 will help lift the network’s shares on nights like these, but, unless Ten make some fundamental changes to their Saturday night programming philosophy, they risk being left stuck in permanent third place being Seven and Nine regardless of how the network revamps its weeknights.
And the argument that Ten rates so badly on weekends being the result of their target demographics not being at home – I simply don’t buy. If you look at GO – squarely aimed at the same demographic as Ten, Saturday night is one of GO’s biggest nights in shares.
In fact, if you removed from the shares anyone who has not made the switch to digital, I would even go as far as suggesting that GO did better than Ten on Saturday night.
The real problem why Ten is doing so poorly on the Saturday nights in particular is that they simply just don’t seem to have the range of movies to keep Saturday nights as movie nights for the whole year. Many titles repeat more than twice in a year, and those that they do play are not exactly the most popular movies anyway.
Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer has been on a number of times before, as has Miami Vice, both were watched by just over 300,000 this weekend. Figures like that are much the same as a good movie on one of the digital channels pull. The Karate Kid on 7TWO a few months back managed 408,000, while another movie on GO over that same weekend was watched by about 380,000.
Last Saturday, The Benchwarmers on GO was watched by 266,000 and Zoom 206,000. Heartbeat on 7TWO 226,000.
Perhaps it is time Ten ditch the idea of Saturday night movies. Now that there are movies on GO, GEM and later in the night on 7mate, combined with so many other options on digital channels, unless Ten are able to air some decent free to air premiere movies, the shares for Ten will continue to be almost lost amongst the digital channels.
In order for Ten to compete with Seven and Nine on Saturday night, their programming needs to stand out. Currently, it is no different to GO or GEM that also show movies all Saturday night. It might well be time they start treating Saturday nights like any of the week nights and programming accordingly.
Ten should seriously look at either some quality first run programming for Saturday nights, or at least shows that have not already been heavily repeated before. Merlin comes to mind as a series which would work well at 6.30 on a Saturday night, even Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation would find a good audience there – possibly over a million if they took the risk of playing first run episodes on a Saturday night.
Premiere episodes of any of the Law and Order franchises Ten have the rights to could help lure some viewers to Ten, maybe even some of that new content they are holding off until Eleven arrives. Although, with just two weekends left ratings 2010, nothing will change now.
It will be interesting to see how Ten programming evolves in 2011 on weekends when Eleven is on air. As Eleven is aiming for the younger demographics, Ten will be able to work on an older age bracket and program accordingly. With the extra channel and a change in direction, Ten should not have to sink as low as 10.0% for the network on any night ever again.
Then there is the James Packer factor. What comes out of Packer joining the Ten board is yet to be seen but one thing is for sure though – if he has any say in what goes on in Ten programming – he would never allow ratings to drop that low – not on any night.