Ten fast tracks US content to bolster schedule

Network Ten is fast tracking a tranche of US programs as the network continues to suffer under one of the worst ratings runs in the company's history.

The network will fast track 13 series, as the Autumn seasons kick off in the US. Shows to be fast tracked include Hawaii Fave-O, NCIS, Homeland, New Girl, New Normal, Merlin, Vegas and The Good Wife.

While Ten is fast tracking the highest number of US shows, it is not alone, with Nine airing seven US programs and Seven fast tracking just three.

Ten's ratings have been suffering of late, particularly after the network saw dips in the wake of the Olympics. Shows such as The Shire, Everybody Dance Now and I Will Survive did not hit the ratings the network expected, and schedule movements have left gaps that need filling.

In recent weeks the network has been consistently beaten in the ratings by the ABC.

UM chief executive Mat Baxter argued one reason Ten has needed to fast track shows from the US has been to fill gaps in its schedule which have appeared as a result of struggling ratings.

“Ten is definitely trying to plug gaps,” Baxter said. “Ten wouldn't have expected the schedule to perform as badly as it has, and so they are filling the program format.”

Fusion Strategy principal Steve Allen said: “Ten's moves have a direct relationship with the company's ratings position. Ten has to put in some shows that will lift the ratings, because it needs a lift before it reveals next year's slate.

“Ten has to show it has the ability to fight the other two networks, otherwise it is going to have trouble negotiating with advertisers for next year. Ten would want a recovery by October, because then it can go to advertisers in November and be in a stronger position to negotiate ad rates for next year.”

Meanwhile, MEC chief executive Peter Vogel said: “I think it's part of Ten's strategy to win some viewers back. It's not unexpected.”

While the desire to bolster flagging ratings seems to be a clear motive, Baxter argued that the network was also fast tracking such a high number of shows because its audience is more likely to download programs online.

“Channel Ten targets the 16-39 demographic, and this group would be the most likely to use the internet to download or stream these shows almost live, so Ten would fast track them as an insurance policy, to make sure they optimise local ratings.”

Network Ten declined to comment.

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