Light at the end of Ten's tunnel
Rose Major

There are “clear signs” of TV advertising market stability and improvement, according to Australia’s Ten Network, with the company reporting 4Q (to end-August) ad revenues up 2% on the same quarter 2008.

In announcing the company’s outlook for the next year, Ten Network Holdings’ executive chairman, Nick Falloon, said: "We have previously noted evidence of a strengthening of the fundamentals in the Australian advertising market. Today, we affirm this guidance and further note a recent increase in advertising demand has resulted in more positive advertising yields. This is further supported by a lengthening of the buying and briefing cycle for the remainder of the calendar year and into 2010."

The company’s TV division, Network Ten, had EBITDA of A$142.1 million for the full year to the end of August 2009, down a considerable 32% from the previous year’s A$209 million. TV revenues were down 9.9%, from A$826.2 million to A$744.4 million.

Costs in the TV division fell 2% on the prior year, the result, said Falloon, of a “sustained and disciplined approach to cost and cash management… This was achieved through a focus on minimizing 'off-screen' expenditure while allowing for judicious investment in new programming for the main channel TEN and the launch of – and ongoing investment in – the digital sports channel ONE."

Ten Network’s Digital Media operation achieved double-digit revenue growth for the year, with its websites attracting 20% more unique visitors than the previous year and the total number of video streams viewed online up by 87%.

Grant Blackley, CEO of the television division, said: "Increasingly, our audience is consuming our content via both broadcast and online. We have invested in and developed our digital offering as an online extension of our own great content. This provides us a unique position in the market, as well as a high level of flexibility in this significant growth area.

"As viewers increasingly go online to extend their viewing experience and advertisers seek fully integrated, cross-platform opportunities, the value of the online environment created for Ten’s audience and advertisers is now proving itself. Ten Digital is the leading commercial network for catch-up TV, with over 40 programs available online. Our hit program MasterChef Australia also proved an outstanding success online, with the MasterChef website logging over 9 million video views and 36 million page views.”

Revenues across all of Ten’s activities (including its Eye out-of-home advertising division) fell from A$1,006 million to A$903 million for the year. The company reported a net loss of A$89 million, compared with a net profit of A$274 million the previous year.