As the Supreme Court of NSW rubberstamps US media giant CBS’s bid to take over the Ten Network, the local broadcaster has revealed its plan to redeem itself in 2018: a whole lot of love, sex, dating, marriage and romance.
The network’s slate of new domestic content for the next year reads like a list of semi-raunchy Mills & Boon titles – Bachelor in Paradise, Blind Date, Playing for Keeps and How to Stay Married.
For the viewer, that means a smorgasbord of WAGS, reality-TV rejects packed off for another crack at love and fame on a tropical island, dating game shows, and the return of 1990s sweetheart Lisa McCune.
The love-and-lust-packed lineup comes after Sophie Monk broke records in 2017 with her Bachelorette quest to find love.
“They obviously think it’s what the people want,” analyst Steve Allen, of Fusion Strategy, told The New Daily of Ten’s strategy, unveiled at a glitzy presentation in Sydney on Thursday night.
“They were caught between a rock and a hard place,” he said. “They really had to bring something to market, but I don’t think next year will be Ten’s year. I think this is a stop-gap.”
Given Ten was working with shoestring budgets and uncertainty, “they’ve done an okay job,” Mr Allen said.
“They can’t take chances, they can’t afford a failure – that’s how tight their finances are. This is maintenance.”
Virginia Hyland, founder of media group Hyland, said the reality and romance-heavy strategy has “worked really well” for Ten in the past, “so when they hit a formula that works they’re going to get as much out of it as possible”.
“Those guilty-pleasure type of shows perform very strongly with the 18-to-39s, but the only worry is if you get overkill from watching the same type of programs,” Ms Hyland said.
“It may cause viewer fatigue, and it will be interesting to see if it does give burnout.”
So what will the new local content look like?
Bachelor in Paradise
Filmed overseas – think a Pacific Rim locale with reliable booze supply – it brings together “former fan favourites and stand-out characters” from past seasons of Aussie versions of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. And yes, Osher Gunsberg will officiate.
Among the rebadged faces: Apollo the magician who failed to conjure up chemistry with Monk, sparky Matty J dumpee Tara Pavlovic and ‘Dirty Street Pie’ Laurina Fleure, her hook-up aspirations thankfully undimmed by her brush with Blake Garvey in 2014.
The 32-year-old game show is being revived with Julia Morris at the helm. Contestants ask three hidden potential suitors three questions to measure compatibility. “Expect sparks to fly and love to blossom,” said Ten.
Playing For Keeps
Ten’s acting head of publicity, Kirsty Wilson, told The New Daily the series about football WAGs hasn’t been cast yet, but the storyline screams sexy: “Affairs, mounting credit card bills, groupies, the ever-present paparazzi and an absurd amount of fun.”
How To Stay Married
Lisa McCune and Pete Helliar play a couple whose marriage has lost its spark amid a return to work for one of them and redundancy for the other, with a “man-child brother” housemate thrown in.
Also in the fresh Ten lineup are comedy shows Hughesy, We Have a Problem, with Dave Hughes, and the return of Russell Coight’s All Aussie Adventures starring Glenn Robbins.
Perennial favourite Masterchef will be back for its 10th season, but Ms Hyland noted an interesting omission is Modern Family.
“I was excited to see them show the energy and commitment to the station and to creating Australian content,” said Ms Hyland.
“I think the whole TV industry doesn’t just want a two-horse race, and they reminded us just how good some of their programming has been this year.
“Let’s call it an eight out of 10.”