Network Ten’s new boss Hamish McLennan has said plans to capture a wider audience will not see the broadcaster walk away from its core youthful demographic.
McLennan told B&T that the Ten brand will remain “fun, playful and irreverent” as it looks to capture a share of the over-35s and over-40s.
“All we are saying is that there was a laser focus on extreme youth that led to programming choices that I think, in hindsight, didn’t fit us well,” McLennan told B&T.
“What I mean by that is Being Lara Bingle and The Shire.
“We just need to moderate our approach a little bit and be careful that we don’t alienate consumers and then also, where possible, look for a slightly wider demographic.”
McLennan, who now owns 3.13 million Ten shares, said his first priority when he joins Ten on March 18 will be to stabilize the schedule and invest in the network’s programming.
“I think our recovery has to be a programming led recovery ultimately,” he said.
“It is not ultimately about dramatic cost cutting but we will always be prudent where we need to be.”
McLennan said there were no cost-cutting plans but then added, “I haven’t even officially started yet so it is too early to tell”.
“But the reality is we have a tight ship to run but, as I said before, we are looking at how we invest in the business and get our programming right.”
Sport – particularly cricket – is a focus for Ten as McLennan believes it will help the network capture viewers that are outside of its “fragmenting” and “fickle” core audience.
“By virtue of getting a property like that we are going to end up with an older male demographic and I think there are good business reasons why that could suit us well.”
Asked if Ten would be competitive in the fight for cricket, McLennan said: “We won’t tip our hat to what we are exactly going to do but, as you know, our balance sheet is the healthiest it has been in years and we will think creatively around how we bid for those rights.”
Earlier today, Ten announced that chief marketing officer Tony McMaster had left the business but McLennan remained tight-lipped on any future staff changes.
Media analyst Steve Allen told B&T earlier today that it is Ten's board which is "culpable" for the network's poor performance. Allen said the board are "flipping and flopping" when it comes to the broadcaster's strategy.
McLennan declined to comment on board matters but added: "My initial discussions with the board have been nothing but positive. They are deeply committed to the success of Ten and I have been really impressed by all that I have met."