Channel 10 shows to face axe in dramatic overhaul by new US owners
SURVIVOR may not survive, The Bachelor may be left at the altar and I'm A Celebrity may get out of here as America's CBS prepares a massive shake-up of Channel 10's programs.
It appears Ten's honeymoon with new owner CBS is over with television executives on notice the broadcaster will soon fall more closely into line with its American parent company.
That was the word from television insiders following CEO Paul Anderson's announcement last week that Ten had dissolved its relationship with outsourced sales group Multi Channel Network in favour of a policy that will see it "more closely align with CBS across all platforms".
In the nine months since CBS acquired the bankrupt company, Ten has consistently and aggressively denied rumours CBS executives would play a more hands-on role in directing or managing the company in the future.
Yet last week sources said Ten's Chief Content Director Beverley McGarvey has found herself under increased pressure to arrest Ten's declining market share with CBS executives now keeping a watchful eye on programming decisions.
"The feeling at CBS when they bought the company was that they'd observe Ten for a year before intervening," a television source said.
"That year is up in November so they are now monitoring the content for 2019 more closely."
The loss of the popular Big Bash League Cricket to Fox Sports and Channel 7k has significantly weakened Ten's sports schedule and, along with it, McGarvey's position, the television insider claimed.
With her programming budget bolstered by the unspent $100 million-plus cricket budget, Ten's content director has been on a spending spree to fill the holes in her schedule.
Among new shows is a rebooted series of Dancing With The Stars, a local version of fly-on-the-wall UK show Emergency and also of British program Sunday Night Takeaways.
Seven other new programs will be tested by the network in its inaugural Pilot Week from August 19, with comedy a priority, although Ten has been broadly criticised for overlooking women and failing to develop new talent during the pilot experiment.
Under review for 2019 is said to be its underperforming new game show Pointless, which recently replaced Family Feud in Ten's schedule, The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, with sources claiming Ten executives believe the two shows are too similar for both to survive and Survivor, which premiered with only 716,000 viewers on Wednesday against soft competition.
A cloud also hangs over I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here with Ten expected to bring the show back in 2019 - in January and against Seven's Australian Open - but reduce the program significantly from a six-week season to four. It follows the show's lacklustre ratings this year when it shed a massive 50 per cent of its finale night audience compared to two years prior.
McGarvey, who has access to CBS's vast drama portfolio, is also on the hunt for a high quality local drama to replace the much-loved Offspring which wrapped in 2017 and whose success has proven hard to imitate.
The news - coming a week after Ten's rival the Nine Network shook the media landscape with plans to merge with Fairfax Media - coincided with the release of new ratings figures showing Ten had shed 12.9 per cent of its national prime time audience (All People 5 cities) compared to the same period in 2017 (excluding Easter and the two-week Commonwealth Games). By comparison Nine's audience decreased by 8.2 per cent and Seven's by 1.9 per cent.
Beverley McGarvey denied the shows were on the chopping block.
"The claims made in The Sunday Telegraph today are ill-informed, misleading and completely wrong. We were not asked to comment on these claims before they were published. If we had been, we would have furnished the reporter with the truth," McGarvey said.
"The facts are clear. Network Ten's audience has increased strongly over the past three months, thanks to the success of MasterChef Australia, Have You Been Paying Attention?, Shark Tank, Australian Survivor and other shows. Last week, Ten had the #1 show of the week in total people with MasterChef Australia The Winner Announced and four of the top six programs of the week in our key target market of people 25 to 54.
"To claim Australian Survivor, The Bachelor Australia, The Bachelorette Australia, I'm A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! and Pointless are under review is total nonsense.
"We are very pleased with the performance of the new season of Australian Survivor. After two nights, it is up 6% in total people year on year and it ranks #1 in its timeslot in total people and 25 to 54s.
"The new season of The Bachelor Australia, with Nick 'Honey Badger' Cummins, starts on 15 August and it is set to be a fantastic season. The new season of The Bachelorette Australia with Ali Oetjen will follow later this year. The claim that we think the shows are too similar and that there is only room for one is naïve and false.
"I'm A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! performed very well for Ten in early 2018 in our core target market and it will be back in 2019, while Pointless is generating good growth for us among younger viewers.
"Overall, Ten is performing well and we are looking forward to launching the new seasons of all the shows that are allegedly 'under review'. To suggest otherwise is just plain wrong."