Ten's Wake Up a turn-off

New breakfast programs see low numbers of viewers

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Free-to-air broadcaster, Ten Network Holdings' (ASX: TEN), plan to move into the morning TV segment appears to have backfired, with an audience of just 52,000 on Monday.

Ten has launched the Wake Up breakfast program, followed by Studio 10 in the mornings, as competition against the market leader Sunrise on Channel Seven, and Nine's The Morning Show.

At 61,000 viewers, Studio 10 fared slightly better than Wake Up, but both pale into comparison with Sunrise's 368,000 viewers and The Morning Show's 189,000. What's worse is that ratings dipped on Tuesday to just 39,000 for Wake Up, and 45,000 for Studio 10, suggesting the new shows are hanging in there by their fingertips.

Seven West Media (ASX: SWM) and Nine Entertainment, the owners of Channels 7 and 9 respectively will be cheering the news. Nine especially, as it looks to list on the ASX in the near future. Nothing would've looked worse than if Wake Up had managed to scrape past The Morning Show into second place.

Still, it's early days, and Ten CEO, Hamish McLennan has defended the show's ratings, saying, "anyone who's been in the business knows these shows need to build and that takes time." In an interview with the Australian Financial Review (AFR), Mr McLenna said Ten had seen a 250% uplift in its audience from the 7am to 8.30am time slot, and a 60% lift in the 8.30am to 10.30am time slot, compared with the average this year. All I can say is, wow, numbers must've been pretty terrible before that.

According to the AFR, breakfast and morning TV advertising is worth about $150 million a year, so there are some big bickies on the line if Ten can get it right. The AFR reports that all of the advertorials for Studio 10 are sold out for 12 months, which is a good sign – as long as the show stays on the air that is.

Foolish takeaway

Ten is likely to persist with its morning programs, at the very least it gives the company another opportunity to promote other shows on its free-to-air and digital channels.

Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

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