As the architect of Network 10’s much-discussed Pilot Week initiative, to get four of the eight shows commissioned for 2019 means chief content director Beverley McGarvey and her team picked some pretty good projects to develop.
“To have a 50% strike rate makes us feel very happy about the result,” McGarvey told Mediaweek.
“There was something great about each of the shows and once we got into the decision-making it was clear that there was definitely more than one show that we wanted to make. Although we have announced four, we might even do more.”
McGarvey said Pilot Week will definitely return next year, although they may not develop eight different shows as they did in 2018.
“Deciding on the best shows was such a subjective thing at times. However, once we drilled down into the data there was lots of information we got out of the ratings – the specific demos, the number of people coming back to the shows after a break etc. We also needed to take into account the time of the night and the day of the week. If a show was screened at 9.30pm it is much different from getting on air at 7.30pm. We also assessed critical feedback and audience feedback.”
Among Network 10’s biggest successes this year it is continuing to find strong audiences later in the night where shows like Have You Been Paying Attention? and Gogglebox are doing strong numbers. “What we have learnt about audiences later in the evening is the genre. The successful shows are snackable and you can watch short pieces although they are so entertaining that many watch them all.”
McGarvey said the only changes to the 7.30pm timeslot are things that have been announced already with some of them screening immediately after I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! starts and then ends its season a little earlier this year.
“Celebrity will launch on January 13 – we are usually quite coy about the start date. There is no need for us to be coy this year. We have gone hard and we have gone early. We will then have Sunday Night Takeaway and Dancing with the Stars, Changing Rooms and Ambulance Australia for a second season.
“At the top of the year you will see big changes in our 7.30pm schedule with the shows joining some very established brands, all of them with star talent. That will take us through until Bachelor in Paradise and then MasterChef. Once people get to MasterChef there will be some familiarity.”
Of the new programs, McGarvey said Changing Rooms will be screened two nights a week, Takeaway once on Sunday and Dancing with the Stars once a week.
As to drama is 2018, McGarvey said: “What I have learnt about drama this year is not to look at the overnights because they really don’t tell you the full picture. We have a lot of new drama on the slate next year. When you look at the plus 7, plus 28 and BVOD ratings numbers they tell you that the right Australian drama is being consumed by broad audiences.”
McGarvey and her team are working harder to cover up the sport shortfall with no BBL this summer, and 50 weeks of original primetime action. She said the upside of that work will be attracting big audiences year-round. “The idea that people disappear for 12 weeks every summer is just not true. If we provide an alternative for the sports schedules, and we do it well, we will get audiences coming to us.”
McGarvey said it is easier to keep audiences watching an all-entertainment schedule as opposed to moving sports viewers to entertainment programs.
“We have to realise we are not just competing with other broadcasters but the entire entertainment landscape. We cannot close down for 12 weeks – it is just not viable any more.”
Renaming the multichannels to Boss and Peach allows 10 to be more targeted with its programming, said McGarvey. “10 Boss is a little older at 40+ with 10 Peach more 16-39. There are lots of shows on those channels that will continue.”
One 10’s big challenges is to keep its big news audiences between 5pm and 6pm into the evening. At 6pm the channel has tried both Family Feud and Pointless this year. McGarvey said it has plans to continue Pointless in the 6pm slot. “It is doing well in the younger demographic but it is not performing as well as we had hoped with older viewers. We will continue to examine our options there. It is a good show and Andrew and Mark have done a great job.”
10 is also going to work hard on Saturday nights next year. “We think there is an opportunity there for us. Sport does well there and the ABC also does well. But if you are not watching sport or into British drama there is an opportunity to do something different.”
Top Photo: Ten’s Paul Anderson and Beverley McGarvey with CBS’s Amando Nūnez
Photo: CBS Studios Inc / Jeff Katz Photography