Media agencies liked the reveals at the 10 Upfronts, including the strong Australian content focus, the data addition from Flybuys and the new ways to leverage the network’s increasingly important BVOD platform.
At the same time many noted the network's US-based ownership and global assets as an upside.
Pia Coyle, national head of investment at Ikon, says 10 had a real focus on home grown content, shot in Australia, that will resonate with the network’s core audience.
“Their position remains strong on being the network to deliver an all year round schedule to the under 50s, and their content strategy backs this up,” she says.
“Their data strategy is maturing and entering into partnerships with both Quantium and Flybuys represents a unique opportunity for FMCG clients.”
Kim Raicevich, group business director at PHD: “Their focus on consumer insights is the right move, particularly their new data partnership with Flybuys. This is important as we move towards a cookie-less world.
“Their increased focus on BVOD with Paramount+ is interesting, which will help them secure share of ad dollars away from YouTube and other services
“Only a few new programs were shown which was a little disappointing, with a lot of the usual returning popular shows. Interestingly, sport wasn’t mentioned.”
Daniel Cutrone, media director, Avenue C, says Ten oozed confidence, backed by clear focus on the under 50s who are making major life-changing decisions on a regular basis.
“Ten is bringing back all their major properties to Australian soil (i.e. Celebrity in the OZ outback and The Amazing Race across Australia), which should add another level of interest to Australians who are looking locally for their next travel destination,” says Cutrone.
“The new properties that Ten are launching are feel-good family programs which we believe will be well timed for 2021 and attract a number of new advertisers to these popular commercially friendly genres.
“Ten have positioned themselves as a safer and more predictable investment for 2021, with its focus on COVID-proof general entertainment properties.”
Claire Butterworth, chief investment officer, MediaCom, says the network has common themes running within key 2020 programming; positivity, overcoming adversity and people being nice to each other, all of which have resonated with audiences during these difficult times.
“In 2021, it’s clear that they will be doubling down on these efforts and I anticipate they will be successful in their efforts,” she says
“The choice of theme The Wizard of Oz allowed Ten to creatively introduce local talent and produce a whimsical Australian feel to their presentation.
“The hour was very focused on tentpole content, both new and old and single minded in an under 50 target audience. Family and younger viewing was clearly the target with the aim to maximise share of under 50 advertising revenue.
“Returning hits included I’m A Celebrity, Survivor, Masterchef, Masked Singer and the Amazing Race, all of which are being filmed locally for the first time and will undergo varied levels of season on season refreshment.
“New programming included Making It Australia, Dog House Australia and First Inventors. Both are overseas formats which will be localised, but it was very refreshing to see new content deviate from the highly saturated food, dating and renovating genres.
“Although BVOD success and new data capabilities were mentioned, we will need to wait a little longer to get under the hood of Paramount+ Or Premium Pause’s capability enhancements.
“In summary, I believe it was a very solid presentation which whimsically doubled down on their Australian centric feel good tentpole slate. I’m looking forward to understanding the data enhancements within BVOD and SVOD in more detail at a later date.”
Natasha Pelly, senior investment analyst, Publicis Media Exchange, says the network has undoubtedly had a strong year from an audience perspective, a sentiment repeated many times during the virtual event.
“I’m interested to find out more about the new Content Carousel’ and data partnership with Flybuys, to gain an understanding of what impact this could have on advertisers in the short term,” says Pelly.
“From a content perspective, the slate of new programs marks a refreshing departure from the norm and offers the genuine possibility of attracting new audiences to the network.
“For me, The First Inventors, co-commissioned with NITV, is an important recognition of the global and national mood – I hope later content announcements are as relevant.
“I’m optimistic about the performance of the Australian-based upcoming seasons of I’m A Celebrity and The Amazing Race. Although COVID-necessitated, the celebration of Australia within the promotional material for the shows I think reflects a national climate of solidarity and pride that will have a positive impact on audience engagement.”
Ben Willee, general manager and media director, Spinach: “It’s virtually impossible to watch one and think anything but ‘Wow they are going to have a great year’.
“Emotive, colourful, entertaining and more celebrity cameos than a birdcage marquee on Cup Day.
“However, people watch shows, not networks. A good upfront is about building trust so media people are prepared to make a commitment to the collection of shows that is the network.
“Looks like 10/ViacomCBS will build on their successes in 2019 and bring plenty of good quality content to our screens in 2020, taking a few risks with new shows along the way. A sound strategy.”
Nick Durrant, general manager of investment at Mediabrands’ Magna Global: “They focused on their programming which is what we as buyers need to understand in order to advise our clients. There was nothing radical in the programming but there were some nice builds on 2020 that could start to add to their schedules.
“The focus on Australia was making the best of the position they find themselves in but in the case of Amazing Race I feel could work for them, given its Q1 timing it feels much like Masterchef this year it could be right show, right time.
“The big opportunity for 10 is the programming slate and brands that Viacom can bring. Shake gives a sense of that with some key comedy and kids properties but I think it will really come through with Paramount Plus. How that evolves over the next 12 months could be critical, in particular will it cannibalise or add to their market position and a buyers audience opportunity.”
Craig Cooper, chief investment officer, Carat Australia: “One highlight was a new format called The First Inventors, which is such an important story and a big step forward for diversity in mainstream television within Australia.
“[Chief sales officer] Rod Prosser also announced, in 2021 clients and agencies in Australia will be able to access ViacomCBS Global Insights, which does feel like a real USP for Network 10, being it’s the only FTA network with international ties. For local or global clients alike, the ability to draw on more robust category or consumer insights could help drive amazing business outcomes.
“There is some knowledge gaps around shows that are not returning next year (e.g. Bachelor in Paradise and Dancing with the Stars) which does prompt us to question if this decision was based on COVID-19 or a lower than expected audience/ratings performance.
“It does, however, appear they have re-worked their content calendar, so the absence of these two formats shouldn’t disrupt any ratings cadence.
“While there are some new formats (albeit tried and tested global frameworks like Making It and The Dog House etc) the biggest drawcard for Network 10 is the sheer amount of quality tentpoles that not only drive real proven ROI for clients, but are executed brilliantly by their team.
“The data opportunities with Network 10 seem to have been solidified, and will be interesting to see how they plan to leverage this area in the future
“But, the biggest winner could potentially be Tourism Bodies and Operators, with most productions re-locating locally. The travel category has been one of the biggest economic casualties hit with the continuing COVID-19 impact, so this much needed focus (and thereby subsequent opportunities) could help stimulate life back into our domestic tourism industry.”
Nicholas Chin, head of digital for OMD Sydney: “Aussie Aussie Aussie. A strong locally produced programming calendar, built for a vital under 50's audience was the clear big headline for 2021. Despite their international ownership, Ten has made clear that they can continue untethered from any international dependencies and remain flexible, by adapting to produce their content locally in Australia.
“At a time when Australian’s have such a focus on our home soil, it was fantastic to see the return of so many strong tentpole programs with an Aussie twist. The 7:30 battleground will be a big focus for 2021, with Survivor, The Amazing Race, Masterchef, The Bachelor/Bachelorette and The Masked Singer all returning. Given the volume of programming, this is sure to be extended over a 50-week calendar and, given the strength of programming, this should carry over into growth for their BVOD platforms.
“I certainly wasn't surprised to see Ten continue to bolster their data strength in market, announcing Flybuys as their new partner and providing access to a range of shopping basket consumer data. The addition of this data set improves an already strong view of their audiences, especially for FMCG, retail and travel brands. What is exciting for me is that, along with new data partnerships, the growth in addressability and increased audience sizes means another reliable partner for audience insights as we move into the cookie-less world.
“The return of familiar household faces delivering their content with passion and flair has become a staple of the Ten upfronts over the years. It was a nice escape to see this level of entertainment return, this year in a virtual environment.
“For me, the breadth of programming across the Ten network is quite phenomenal and often understated; four free-to-air channels, three subscription channels, subscription and broadcast video means access to the under 50s audience in a range of different places. I'm looking forward to seeing how the strong programming schedule across the entire year will continue will translate to 10Play, and how their push toward 100% addressability will improve the brand's view of their customers. It's also great to see the Paramount+ brand reach Australia. I'm interested to see how the SVOD audiences and data will work to benefit the overall Ten brand, and advertisers, in 2021.
“Ten's uniqueness in platform and channel breadth means that they have a fantastic view of their audiences. The biggest impact to brands will be how they can leverage this knowledge of the customer to support their marketing applications. This includes through activation of media across their growing advertising options but also how audience insights can support brands' in their overall decision making - in conjunction with both advertiser and Ten data.
“Ten have centred their brand around an under 50s audience for some years now and, in 2021, it's refreshing to see this strategy stay on course. In fact, with the addition of some exciting new digital formats and channels, Ten's coverage across this demo will hopefully continue to grow - both in penetration and consistency across the year. For brands who engage with this audience, it should be an opportune year.”
Mark Echo, head of client services, Bohemia: “Network 10 have really built a strong platform in terms of their programming in 2020 and are looking to build on it with the return of their performing programs and the inclusion of Making It, The First Inventors, Dog House - a slate of locally produced, 'feel good' programming.
“It will be interesting to see the change of 10 All Access to Paramount+. It will take on Disney+ with the inclusion of Nickelodeon etc.
“The introduction of Flybuys is also a great addition to their current data suite. It will add robustness and granularity to their targeting capabilities.”
Aaron Hampson, senior director, investment, Wavemaker:
“Returning Programming - In recent years, 10 have built a strong suite of programs and franchises that have helped drive audience growth in their core target audience of under 50s across the key 7:30pm timeslot and through the evening, especially in 2020. Advertisers will take comfort that the likes of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, MasterChef Australia, The Masked Singer Australia, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette (but sadly for Bachie fans, no Bachelor in Paradise), Australian Survivor, The Amazing Race Australia, Gogglebox and Have You Been Paying Attention will all be back in 2021.
Next year, I'm a Celeb and The Amazing Race Australia will be 'at home in Oz', although no announcement yet about where Survivor will be filmed. Popular dramas Five Bedrooms and How To Stay Married will also be back next year.
“New Programming - Amongst the highlights of new programming, TEN will look to appeal to Aussies with a love for creative flair with new reality competition Making It Australia which showcases a range of creative Aussies showcasing their creative skills ranging from anything to art to costume design. Dog lovers will love watching our furry four legged friends find new homes in Dog House Australia. In one of the most unique new programming announcements for 2021, The First Inventors will take us back in time to showcase how ancient discoveries made by Indigenous Australian ancestors have shaped the country we are today.
“Digital Channels - 10 will continue to focus on continuing to grow Network audience share with it's Digital TV stations. 10Bold (+17% YoY) and 10Peach (+9% YoY) have been delivering consistent growth over the past year driven by hit US programs from the CBS library and classic sitcoms such as The Big Bang Theory, Friends and Seinfeld. TEN will continue to focus on growing the audience on it's new Digital Channel 10Shake with it's unique blend of programming targeting kids during the day and big kids at night.
“10Play - TEN will boost their data and targeting capabilities across 10Play with the addition of Flybuys to existing partnerships with RedPlanet, Quantium and Smartr while TEN will introduce a new premium product for advertisers to stand out on 10PLAY, the Curated Content Carousel. The Curated Content Carousel will allow brands to seamlessly blend into 10Play's homepage and joins the introduction of the innovative Premium Pause product this year providing advertisers multiple ways to cut through on the platform beyond traditional TVCs. TEN also announced that addressability across mobile and Connected TVs has increased from 10% to 85% this year, in the platform's biggest year yet, and are on track to hit 100% in Q1 2021
“Paramount+ - TEN's SVOD service will be rebranded as Paramount+ in 2021 and strengthened further with content from CBS, 10 as well as Showtime, Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central. TEN also hinted at exclusive local Australian content announcements to come. The additional content libraries will help to TEN to compete in the competitive Australian SVOD market.”
Glenda Wynyard, managing director, The Media Precinct: “Fortunes change and all networks have experienced ratings booms during COVID-19. During this time, TEN has also been able to realise the VIACOM CBS relationship, the impact that this has on its ability to deliver strong programming and the introduction of the likes of streaming service Paramount+ and Content Carousel.
“Importantly, 2021 looks to be the year TEN celebrates Australia and Australians which taps into Australian's current desire to want to support Australia, Australian Brands and Organisations.
“Their use of Australia as a backdrop, while understandable given COVID-19 production constraints, will undoubtedly showcase Australia at it's best with I'm A Celebrity, Amazing Race and Survivor in international markets acquiring the programming. I believe that this will add an extra dynamic to the level of engagement that TEN enjoys.
“Most important program on the schedule for mainstream television is TEN's recognition of First Australians contribution to the history of Australia in The First Inventors with what looks to be an excellent documentary series.
“TEN have also demonstrated that they understand their audiences and how to consolidate their high levels of viewer engagement. Their schedule across all channels is consistent with each channel's profile. They have been wise to focus on this consistency and build upon their successes and investment into core programming such as MasterChef and The Project, as well as new introductions that don't stray from this strategy with the likes of Making It.
“The level of engagement that TEN enjoys with its viewers is why they enjoy a high share of revenue from our agency. Our attribution modelling demonstrates time and time again that the strategic use of their key peak and off peak properties is highly effective at driving sales or donations. The key opportunity for advertisers is to recognise that TEN has an offering that goes beyond shares and ratings.
“There weren't any surprises, we didn't feel that there were any negatives in respect to what they presented apart from the incredibly long opening sequence using the team from The Living Room. Beautifully produced but it could have been at least a minute shorter.”
Paul Wilkinson, head of investment at The Media Store: “Overall I think the standout for me was the focus on home grown content – given the US ownership of Ten it would be easy to adopt an ‘American twang’, but this would be unlikely to resonate in Australia. Whilst this is potentially by default rather than design, I think this was a smart move and great positioning.
“On the whole, programing and content clearly took up the bulk of the presentation and I was pleased to see that Ten are continuing to take risks with new formats such as Making It & Dog House Australia. However for me the standout was The First Inventors – I doubt it will be a top 5 show, but as a viewer I think it looks really interesting and will shine a light on the wealth of knowledge our indigenous people hold.
“I was also happy to note that Bachelor In Paradise seems to have been dropped from the schedule – in my view it was getting quite trashy and is hardly family friendly which is important for mass advertisers.
“The bulk of the presentation was focused on content. This is not a criticism as such (they are after all a TV network), but I would have liked to have seen more time dedicated to other areas of the network offering such as their data capabilities, targeting and how they are continuing to evolve the BVOD & Streaming space.
“For example, how will Paramount + be of benefit to Advertisers? It’s a paid service so I doubt it will carry advertising but will we be able to use the data & insights driven by Paramount + subscribers across the network? If not, I am not sure how relevant this is to advertisers other than to announce it as a pillar of the network.
“The new programming presented was varied so there will be different opportunities for different brands, but one thing of note is the potential ease of integration into the formats presented – for example I can see a lot of opportunity for advertisers in Making It Australia and I think this show will perform well, especially alongside the existing tent poles of MasterChef, Masked Singer, I’m a Celebrity & Bachelor/Bachelorette.”
Philippa Noilea-Tani, national head of investment, from Wavemaker: “This time last year, Network 10 promised 50 weeks of strength and consistency. One year on, it’s wonderful to hear 10 celebrate 2020 success to date with solid audience and share growth YOY across both Television and Digital, despite the challenges of the past 12 months.
“Hearing Network 10’s plans for 2021, it is clear their priority is to remain true to brand, doubling down on their strategy to deliver 50 weeks of strength and consistency for audience and advertisers alike. With a distinct focus on reaching Australians under 50s, 10’s ambition is to ensure they are capturing curious and engaged audiences at a life stage when purchase habits and brand loyalty may not yet be set in stone.
“No doubt COVID has dealt up it’s fair share of challenges for content creators and broadcasters around the world. In Q1 2021, we’ll see Network 10 turn a difficult situation into a celebration of our great nation, with both I’m a Celeb and Amazing Race filmed in Australia, highlighting every corner our own Playground. A great opportunity for local Australian brands.
“With new TV channels (10Shake), strong global insights (backed by ViacomCBS), a tried and tested content slate (with successful brands such as Masterchef, Masked Singer, Bachelor and Gogglebox returning), a focus on BVOD format innovation (such as Premium Pause), a broader data set (with the introduction of the Fly Buys partnership) and a re-invigorated creative solutions department (Imagine), Network 10 remains a Vital partner for Wavemaker, and offers a complimentary audience for our brands to reach.”
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