in the latest PHDcast Nic, Stew, Zee (we’re still experimenting with the nickname – bear with us) and I talk Melbourne Cup brand activations Twitter’s flotation, the point of branded urls, strategy job titles … and the first week of Ten’s new breakfast show – which it’s fair to say has been watched very closely … by Adnews, B&T, and via a Mumbrella ratings game and by an article or two in the SMH.
the context into which Wake Up was born has been unfairly hostile, unduly challenging and way too immediately judgmental. to say that both Wake Up (and Studio 10 which follows it) launched into a crucible is perhaps an understatement, a crucible with multiple drivers:
one, the Ten financial pressure
Wake Up has been given birth by a parent with, it’s fair to say, some financial challenges. last month Network Ten reported a $285m loss and calls for $200m loan over four years to rebuild the product. TV is a cyclical game and networks will at some times be stronger than at others – but there’s no doubt the pressure is on.
two, the predecessor
launched in February 2012, Wake Up’s predecessor was Breakfast fronted by Kiwi Paul Henry, Kathryn Robinson, Andrew Rochford and Magdalena Roze.
Breakfast was axed in November of the same year after the show failed to steal ratings share from Seven and Nine. the show also came in for particular criticism of Paul Henry, who I always liked … he was, it always seemed to me deliberately divisive, callous and radically honest – which if you were in on the joke was actually rather entertaining.
whichever way you took Paul Henry, the debate and fate of Wake Up’s predecessor casts a considerable shadow over it’s launch. but in many ways the challenge that Henry in particular was tasked with addressing is the same one that Wake Up faces, that of being different …
the need to be breaking (bad) conventions
because Wake Up is also dealing with the clear and present need to challenge, break and redefine the conventions of morning TV. the opportunity isn’t to be an also-run breakfast show; another desk with other bright shiny people giving away other prize money to viewers just for being conscious and chatting about the latest political non-announcement. rather the opportunity is to create a genuinely different and distinctive morning TV offering … advertisers absolutely want it and there’s no reason to think that viewers don’t want it too.
in many ways I think this a crystallization of Ten’s current predicament: they need to be different enough to create reasons for viewers and advertisers to go with the smallest mainstream offering, but they need to stay mainstream enough to attract the largest possible (monetise-able) audience.
it’s a fine line to tread and its going to take time. time that the industry, with predictable scorning cynical superiority, isn’t looking to give the show and it’s team. it’s disheartening; as Nicola comments in the PHDcast, “I’m really disappointed, again, in the expected critique. people wanted it to fail … its a week old”.
the truth is that you could have written last week’s commentary six months ago. it was that predictable. time now to step back and give the show and it’s team the time and space they need to craft a third way for commercial breakfast TV in Australia. viewers and advertisers alike need it, it’s our choice whether or not we give Wake Up the opportunity to survive its crucible.
enjoy the PHDcast … here’s team strategy PHDcasters enjoying an awesome afternoon at Melbourne Cup. it is after all the podcast that stops a nation …