Bruce Gordon’s WIN TV will struggle to maintain its current levels of local content in regional areas when the loss of popular shows like The Voice, The Block and rugby league coverage hits its ratings and revenue.
That’s the warning from media experts following WIN’s confirmation that it will switch to showing Network Ten programs on July 1.
WIN chief executive Andrew Lancaster said his network would retain its 16 local news bulletins when its 30-year association with Nine ends and it starts relaying Ten’s shows to Canberra, Wollongong, southern NSW, Victoria and Queensland.
WIN’s five-year Ten tie-up comes into effect the same day that rival Southern Cross Austereo ditches its Southern Cross Ten branding and switches to carrying Nine’s name and programs under a $500 million, five-year deal.
Southern Cross Austereo has said it will replace its existing “rip and read” news briefs with full local bulletins. The regional version of National Nine News is likely to be broadcast from its TV facilities in Canberra.
Media analyst Steve Allen said the program would most likely run for an hour and mix content from Nine’s capital city bulletins with segments of local news beamed into each local market.
Mr Allen, managing director of Essence Media & Fusion Strategy, said a battle for local news viewers plus Ten’s prime-time content, which trails Seven and Nine in the ratings, would squeeze WIN.
“It would be folly for WIN to think they can hang on to the news ratings they currently hold,” Mr Allen said.
“And when they don’t hold on to those ratings … they will have to revisit the economics and that will either mean slimming down the amount of local news content and/or consolidating their bureaus. Within six months they will know.”
Mediaweek editor James Manning said Ten’s MasterChef, Big Bash cricket and Offspring would help WIN but local content was essential if regional broadcasters were to remain relevant.
“As streaming content from the metro market begins to grow, the only way to keep audiences watching the local signal is to offer relevant local programming,” Mr Manning said.
Waleed Aly and The Project facing cut for WIN TV local news
WIN may cut Gold Logie-winner Waleed Aly’s The Project in half to fit local news bulletins into prime-time when the Wollongong-based broadcaster starts showing Ten programs on July 1.
Mediaweek editor James Manning said WIN finding a timeslot for local news was “as big a challenge as finding the money to produce it”.
“Bumping Family Feud to another slot or channel is one possibility and it would make sense to put (news) in a high-visibility timeslot to make sure WIN viewers can't miss it,” he said. “If Ten would allow it, running the local news at 6.30pm may make sense as Ten always resets The Project at 7pm.”
Media analyst Steve Allen agreed that keeping the higher-rating second half of The Project was a viable option for WIN. “It would be a logistical nightmare but it would give them the opportunity to take the best of The Project,” he said.