Will the new breakfast show succeed ?


Wake Up, Ten’s new breakfast show, has announced its launch date – November 4.

In an article in The Age, Director of Ten's morning television, Adam Boland, says viewers have told him Sunrise and Today "are seen as AM radio, complete with the shock jocks that come with that. In contrast, we're at the beach, we're going to be more casual and emphasise same-day conversation."

"(At Sunrise) we used to lock and load the program the night before and just hit go in the morning. Our show will actually be made on the morning it goes to air," said Boland.

"We're designing a show for 2013. We even have four social media producers on our team."

Former CEO of Austereo, Brad March, wrote the below piece a couple of months ago when 'Wake Up' was revealed as the new TEN breakfast show. Will the new breakfast show succeed ?

Network Ten recently announced its new breakfast show, ‘Wake Up‘, and its line-up featuring James Mathison, Natarsha Belling, Natasha Exelby, and Nuala Hafner on news. Ten’s Executive Producer Adam Boland (who, interestingly, seems to be more famous and gets more promotion than the actual talent) may have got the strategy right this time.

Here’s why …

The show's under 40 appeal flanks Nine’s Today and Seven’s Sunrise, which are targeted 35 to 54. The new show is further differentiated by being broadcast from outside a ‘studio‘ – on location at Manly Beach – an unusual choice, given Sydney is fairly divided by its beaches in the North and East, and also considering that Melbourne, for instance, is a fairly parochial market.

However choosing to broadcast from a non-studio set is not exactly ground breaking. It has been done in the UK and US and also on Australian radio and television breakfast shows with great success.

‘Wake Up’ is another Zoo / Crew format, which originated from US radio and was introduced to Australia with Richard Stubbs and the XY ZOO on Melbourne’s 3XY. The format has been replicated on FM radio countless times around the world – and in Australia the many current variations include Eddie McGuire’s Hot Breakfast on Triple M Melbourne, the Nova network’s Meshel, Tim and Marty on drive, The Bunch on Mix 94.5 Perth, Nova 106.9’s Ash, Kip and Luttsy in Brisbane – and in years gone by The Cage, The Morning Crew, The Grill Team, and television shows like The Panel and The Project. 

Announcing the show this early will allow Nine and Seven to make adjustments to their current breakfast shows. One early move was replacing Melissa Doyle with the younger Samantha Armytage in an attempt to freshen the show and appeal to a younger audience. You can be sure that both of the existing breakfast shows will be doing significantly more outside broadcasts when Wake Up starts – and, if they’re smart, long before. And, to defend against the newcomer, they’ll once again be using another radio concept: cash contests – which have now become a breakfast television staple.

The current breakfast shows on Nine and Seven have a reach of around 1.4 to 1.5 million viewers a week Monday to Friday across the five Capital Cities*. By comparison The Today Network of Breakfast shows have a national cumulative audience of about 1.8 million** and The Nova Network Breakfast shows have a weekly national audience of just over 1.6 million**.

The Breakfast television revenue market is worth $100 million – around twice the entire Perth radio revenue market and half the Sydney radio market. ‘Wake Up‘ is its own profit centre for Ten. Although it will deliver lower ratings than Nine or Seven, it will also be a lower cost model than its competitors. If Ten can achieve 1/2 million weekly viewers after the first 12 months it could achieve 15 to 20 % of the television breakfast revenue market. That’s between $15 and $20 million additional revenue.

Given Ten’s current breakfast line-up of Entertainment Tonight and The Bold & the Beautiful barely attracts any viewers at all, there’s plenty of upside for Ten. Ten’s previous breakfast show with New Zealand’s Paul Henry rated very poorly and was a spectacular failure.

One challenge that is different with breakfast television when compared with breakfast radio is ‘place-of-listening’, which significantly impacts sampling. With breakfast radio there are three ‘places-of-listening’: at home, in the car, and at work. When launching a new breakfast radio show we’re always aware that the first point of sampling is most likely to be in the car as people flick around while driving to work – and the place-of-listening that is most difficult to change people’s habits is at home (this is the place they’re least likely to flick around and try something new). To grow your audience with people listening at home takes time and patience – and considerable marketing spend and word-of-mouth, which can now be amplified through social media. 

With breakfast television it is all at-home-viewing, so it is an even more steep and treacherous mountain to climb. This is why it makes good sense for Network Ten to target a demographic far away from the audience already well served by Nine and Seven. Without this different targeting, a different approach to content and fresh new talent, Ten’s new show would stand little chance up against the incumbents – a key and fairly obvious reason why Ten’s previous program didn’t succeed. Fortunately, early signs indicate Ten has got it right: now it will come down to execution, constant content innovation, and speed-to-market***.

I like the brand name ‘Wake Up‘ and I like the line-up. James Mathison is a strong choice and Natarsha Belling from Ten News is a good talent. If this new team create strong chemistry the show will work. One of Ten's other shows, the Late News with Hamish Macdonald, Hermione Kitson and Brad McEwan, is a great example of creating strong chemistry on television. If you include the talent from The Project, Wake Up, and Late News, Network Ten now have quite a formidable line-up of future stars – a new generation that will help the Network improve its ratings position.

I’m looking forward to seeing the new show. ‘Wake Up‘ is another great example of television adapting successful entertainment radio principles.


* Important note : Radio and TV use different methodologies, each with pros and cons. Using the nearest possible comparison to the radio methodology’s version of reach (“each person that listened for a least one quarter hour”), Sunrise has a national weekly reach of just under 1.4 million and the Today Show is just under 1.5 million. 

** Source: Nielsen Survey 4 2013

*** If Ten allows too much time for Nine and Seven to ‘block’ through adjusting content and target demographic appeal, this show will also stall. Speed-to-market to establish new innovations before competitors can move to block them is critically important.


Brad March is a former CEO of the Austereo Network and is Managing Director of Marchmedia.

Thanks to Scott Muller at MBOS for his input into this article.


Scott Muller is Director of mbos consulting group, a creative strategy consulting firm. He can be contacted in complete confidence here.



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