Ten Chief Executive pushes digital future in era of fragmentation

Channel Ten chief executive Hamish McLennan, formerly global CEO of Y&R, has underlined the significance of capturing the digital audience, and emphasised the need for networks to innovate digitally.

Speaking to Business Spectator, he said that in the era of fragmentation, the industry had to do a better job of driving digital platforms into the TV business

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“If you look at our new digital platform, the Ten Play app that we launched in six months, we’ve had 400,000 downloads of that particular app. And there are certain shows like The Bachelor which are getting as many people viewing it online as on the linear broadcast. So there are some really interesting things happening and I guess I’ve seen in my career how important it is that with your digital product you do chase that and captivate that audience,” he said.

“The next challenge for us is then to say, how can we monetise those viewers? But that’s all upside and an opportunity for us, so there’s no doubt that we are dealing with some fragmentation, but people still love watching TV.

“And the best way to reach a mass audience is still through free to air. You may think that this is quite an ironic statement, but the more the media fragments, I think the better it is for free-to-air television because ultimately there are very few mediums that can powerfully attract a large audience. And we’re the ones who still do it.”

Maclennan said that he expects the ad buying industry to grow in the coming months.

He also said he expected the channel’s own market share to grow year on year.

"Our forward projections over the next few months in the year show some growth in the market and the clients that we’re talking to are not only being supportive of Ten as a media buyer, but we’re looking for an increase in terms of our share year-on-year,” he told Business Spectator.

“And we’re pretty confident that we’ll be able to deliver it," he added.

"I’ve set myself a target to meaningfully and strategically build the business and so I can’t predict what will happen in the future.

“I’m here to improve the performance of Ten and just take time. If you look at my competitors, both Seven and Nine have had their issues over the decades. And if you look at a guy like David Leckie - whom I have great respect for and I’ve known for a long time - it took a while to fix Seven.

"It took a couple of years but he started to lay the foundation for a very successful network and then it turned over time. And let’s not forget that Channel Nine was in a position last year where it had to write off nearly $1.7 billion worth of shareholder equity. So these businesses can come back and if you believe the strategy, as we do, we think there’s a very good future for Ten.”

He said that, given the trading environment for Ten, the station was feeling confident in the short and the medium terms.

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