Lisa Squillace on reaping the benefits of I’m a Celebrity ‘risk’

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 2 February 2021
Lisa Squillace

The decision to go early with tentpole show I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! has paid off for Ten and delivered strong audience figures and advertiser demand, says national sales director Lisa Squillace.

The reality TV show wrapped up on Sunday night with an audience of 784,000 metro viewers for the Grand Finale, and a peak of 896,000 for the Winner Announcement segment, according to OzTam figures. This is compared to 803,000 metro viewers for last year’s Grand Finale segment.

Squillace told AdNews that broadcasting the show early in the year, when competitors’ schedules are relatively quiet and with The Australian Open delayed, was a “risk” but ultimately proved a network can attract a mass audience during the summer without a major sporting event.

“For us it continues to validate that audiences are looking for nonstop programming,” Squillace says.

“Sponsors and buyers are also getting involved and not really being restricted by sporting rights, as well as having the opportunity to talk to a lot of people. We are the highest rating show for January in most cases, for example for non-news. We had such a strong January, we're really happy with it.”

“We have also created our own event to promote our schedule. We're not reliant on a sporting code. We took the risk when we walked away from sports in January. We took a risk with I'm a Celebrity to move it forward and really take it on. It’s not that we don't need sports, we just don’t think sport is the only thing that launches a format.”

Squillace says this season of I’m a Celebrity, which saw Abbie Chatfield crowned the winner, has been the network’s highest rating series since 2017 with an average total national audience across TV and BVOD of more than 853,000 viewers, according to OzTam figures.

The show has also given Ten its highest commercial share in January for many years, with 46.1% commercial share in under 50s, and 44.1% in 25-54s. 

Squillace is also pleased with the strong demand from advertisers, who have been boosting overall ad spend since late last year after a quiet 2020 due to the pandemic. This season of I’m a Celebrity has attracted a record 10 sponsors, with returning brands such as McDonald’s and Bedshed, as well as new sponsors BCF, Oz Lotto, Youi and Plush. 

“There are a lot of clients that have key messaging in summer who are looking for a different angle,” she says. 

“They might not be able to buy into the cricket for whatever reason. They can’t buy into the tennis because it’s been moved. So having that general entertainment option has been really great for them and for us. 

Squillace is optimistic about the growth coming for the TV market this year, after falling 35.6% last year, according to SMI figures, saying that demand has “gone through the roof” since October. 

“We are seeing that continue right through the first quarter,” she says. 

“People are clamoring to get back on to television which is fantastic. I haven't seen it like this in years to be honest. So it's really nice to see people return to television because it works.” 

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