The man appointed to arguably the most challenging job in television — saving the Ten Network — says he already has a plan to put the network back on the map for advertisers and viewers.
Hamish McLennan, appointed as Ten’s new CEO after James Warburton was stood down on Friday, has his sights on the network’s future at a time when it is currently experiencing historic lows in ratings and advertising market share.
In an interview in today’s Sunday Herald Sun, McLennan says that Ten will step away from its long-held mantra of appealing to youth (i.e. the under 40 age group) and will take a broader approach.
“I think we can be youthful and appeal to a slightly wider audience without losing what we are good at,” he told reporter Jeff Whalley.
Ten, which used to dominate in the 16-39 age group, has since seen its position eroded by the range of new digital channels, such as GO!, 7mate and even its own secondary channel Eleven, also targeting a similar demographic.
McLennan said the network will have to spend on a “creative renewal” of its programming and promotion and is not ruling out bidding for major sports rights if the opportunity arises.
Ten last year failed in its bid to gain TV rights to the NRL, with Nine and Foxtel securing the rights for five years in a $1 billion deal.
McLennan, who will step down from his executive position at News Corporation to take on the Ten role, has also raised the possibility of the network reviving its former reality franchise Australian Idol — even though the current series of American Idol is screening on Ten to a small audience.
Any Australian Idol revival will also have to squeeze into a crowded market dominated by The Voice and Australia’s Got Talent on Nine and The X Factor on Seven.
McLennan has an emotional link to the Ten Network. In an earlier interview with The Australian Financial Review, he recalled that his father was a producer at Ten in the 1980s, when the network was owned by his current News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch:
“He brought Michael Parkinson out to Australia – it was a big program. I grew up at the old Ten studios in North Ryde, virtually. So I’ve got a strong emotional attachment to the business that goes back a long, long time. I just love the business. I’m really passionate about it.”
Russel Howcroft will be interim CEO for Ten before McLennan starts in March.