On 8 May this year, Network Ten under the leadership of Interim Chief Executive Officer Lachlan Murdoch relaunched its 24-hour free-to-air digital sports network One HD, into a male skewing general entertainment channel with premium sport, known as ONE. At the announcement of the relaunch, Mr Murdoch said,
“ONE was underperforming from a ratings point of view; rating below a single share point was simply unsustainable and unable to contribute to our earnings…We were at a dead end with ONE as it stood.”
Ten’s action plan on One HD was brought about to some extent by its success with Eleven, which launched in January and has commanded a respectable ratings share, including being #1 digital channel in the key demographics of 13.29, 16-39, 18-49 and 25-54, according to OzTAM data presented in Mr Murdoch’s address to the Macquarie Australia Conference on 5 May this year.
In that presentation, available here, Mr Murdoch also confirmed that ONE would be seeking a 2.5%+ ratings share average, which would enable the station to contribute meaningful earnings to Ten Network Holdings for the next financial year. The strategy deployed to grow the channel has included introducing consistent weeknight programming, underpinned by targeted factual shows, drama, movies and premium sport. Some of the male skewing programs that have been introduced into the schedule since the relaunch, include Cops, Ice Road Truckers, the highly acclaimed Sons of Anarchy and An Idiot Abroad. These programs combined with One HD’s already established sports magazine shows such as RPM and the Game Plan, and coverage of AFL, Formula 1 and MotoGP appear to have changed the fortunes for the channel.
Whilst it is still early days since the 8 May relaunch, Frost Global.com has examined the OzTAM ratings data of ONE to see the exact effect of the relaunch on ONE’s ratings.
The above graph shows the same three-week period of May 2010 (Red) and May 2011 (Blue). The relaunched brand appears to have been the right move by Mr Murdoch as the three-week period for May 2011 has generated stronger ratings for ONE than the corresponding period last year for One HD. The spike for the red graph indicates the 3.9% ratings share that One HD generated on 16 May 2011 when 322,000 people watched Mark Webber win the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix.
The 9 May 2010 to 30 May 2010 period had an average ratings share of 1.49% of the total audience compared with an average ratings share of 2.95% for the 8 May 2011 to 29 May 2011 period. Network Ten have on a year-on-year ratings increase of 1.46% for the three-week period in May, and the current average ratings have put the network north of Mr Murdoch’s target of at least a 2.5% ratings share.
Even examining the period from 3 April 2011 to 7 May 2011 (when the channel was still One HD) compared with the three-week period starting 8 May 2011 when the relaunched occurred, there is a clear shift towards ONE , as a much stronger channel in the free-to-air sector. The period 3 April 2011 to 7 May 2011 had an average ratings share of 1.93% of total people verses 2.95% share for the period 8 May 2011 to 29 May 2011.
During the period before the brand change, there was a shift towards non-sport programming and the decision to carrying through with a full relaunch and rebrand has paid off, based on this data. There has been a clear positive ratings trend immediately prior to and immediately after the rebrand, as the above graph indicates. In fact over the period 3 April 2011 to 29 May 2011 there has been a 65.42% increase in ONE’s average ratings share.
Whilst under the One HD moniker, the channel did generate strong ratings with simulcast coverage of the AFL, coverage of premium sporting events such as Formula 1, MotoGP and the Commonwealth Games, there was a lack in consistent programming performance week-on-week. The relaunch has seen premium sports coverage continue to generate strong ratings on weekends, whilst during the week programs like An Idiot Abroad have achieved solid ratings. For example An Idiot Abroad had 278,000 viewers on Monday 16 May. This stronger programming slate from ONE has given it greater ratings consistency and as a result making the channel more attractive to advertisers.
Ten Network Holdings‘ first half EBITDA for this financial year was $106 million, down 9.8% on the corresponding first half data for the 2010 financial year. Ten will be hoping that the immediate growth in ONE’s audience, thanks to a shift in programming focus and a fresh rebrand will help grow the channel into a strong performer for the media group.
The early signs are good and with digital penetration rates now at 90% across the 5-metro markets, according to the latest OzTAM data. The growth of ONE should continue along with the rest of the free-to-air digital channel offerings hearing toward analogue switch-off in 2013.
Ratings Data Source: OzTAM and Mediaweek Magazine’s Morning Reports
Graphs produced by FrostGlobal.com using 5-city metro data only.