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Weeks Out From Paramount+ Launch Network 10 Bleeds Losses

Bleeding profits Network Ten which is owned by US media giant Viacom CBS, is desperately trying to be a player in the sporting arena with the Company targeting soccer in an effort to take on Foxtel and Fox Sports who dropped coverage of the A League because it failed to attract viable numbers of viewers.

Due to launch their Paramount + streaming service in Australia shortly Network Ten who delivered a $3M loss after considering $17M in restructuring costs is tipped to struggle, after Foxtel integrated archrival Amazon Prime onto their platform giving Foxtel subscribers easy access to thousands of new movies and TV shows as well as live sport.

ViacomCBS and Ten sales boss Rod Prosser claims he is confident that a multimillion-dollar investment in football broadcast rights will deliver returns for the network and its streaming service, Paramount+, despite unpredictable market conditions caused by COVID-19 last year, and the ongoing lockdown in NSW.

Recently the broadcaster announced a five-year, $200 million deal for all A-League and W-League matches in May this year, before securing a deal to broadcast the Matildas and Socceroos matches in June.

The network does not have a good record when it comes to sport, they lost the Big Bash League and V8 Supercars and have struggled to make money from live sport events. The network was also slammed for their coverage of the Melbourne Cup shown on Channel 10.

After the broadcaster won the rights to the Melbourne Cup Carnival for 2020 the broadcaster is under pressure to deliver the goods this year, after critics savaged its first year of hosting the Cup, calling it “awful”.

The acquisitions of soccer deals were made ahead of the launch of ViacomCBS’ new streaming service, Paramount+ on August 11.

Mr Prosser said ViacomCBS, the owner of Network Ten, intends to reinvest in buying sports rights, and that the launch of Paramount+ has allowed for a different conversation with sporting codes and clients.

“One hundred per cent [we intend to invest]. We’ve never shied away from the fact that we would always look at all rights but having a [subscription] service as well as a linear and on-demand service, has allowed us to have a different conversation with sporting bodies,” he said. “Our desire now is to certainly grow in sport, but it has to make sense from a ratings and audience point of view.”

Documents filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission last Friday show a 1 per cent dip in Ten’s revenue from $598 million to $583 million for the 12 months.

Ten’s statutory loss was related to redundancy payments and costs with the restructure of news, operations and technology as well as write-downs in the value of programming rights and onerous contracts ($30.2 million).

Nine Media reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that Ten has axed roles in several divisions since it was bought by ViacomCBS in 2017.

The most recent cuts were in the news team and included the closure of online lifestyle and news website, 10Daily.

The company also centralised its weekday 10 News First bulletins in Sydney and Melbourne, which led to the departures of Tim Bailey, Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Natarsha Belling.

Underlying profit after tax was $48.1 million. Excluding significant items, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was $53.6 million.

Ten said the COVID-19 impact came through the cancellation of the 2020 Australian Grand Prix and Australian MotoGP, and the temporary production shutdowns of The Bachelor Australia and The Bachelorette Australia. But the network said it had “adequate liquidity” to continue to operate in the current climate for at least the next 12 months.

While revenue fell in 2020, Mr Prosser said its share of the total TV market had grown in 18 of the last 19 months.

” Shows such as I’m A Celebrity Australia and MasterChef Australia had more interest in advertisers than ever before, both of which saw a record number of sponsors,” Mr Prosser said. “January delivered a huge uplift in revenue and achieved its largest share for the month since 2018. “Our second half is looking very promising, and no doubt will continue on the same trajectory as the first half of 2021,” he said.

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