The Ten Network has officially confirmed today that its third digital channel, entitled Eleven, will be launched next year, paving the way for a shake-up of the network's programming and operations.
Announcing the new channel this morning, Ten said that Eleven would target "distinctly youthful" viewers aged between 13 and 29, with a range of entertainment programming designed to set it apart from the primary channel Ten and the sports channel One HD. Airing on channel 11, the new addition to Ten's arsenal will begin broadcasting early next year.
Ten is also seeking approval for a joint venture with CBS Studios International to provide content to the new channel.
Grant Blackley, Ten's chief executive, said that Eleven's conceptualisation had been the culmination of "due diligence, combined with our ongoing evaluation of the market" in free-to-air television.
"Network Ten is the most strategically targeted network. Our three multi-channels create a suite of highly appealing and clearly distinguished offerings, with each channel presenting a real point of difference in the Australian free-to-air commercial television market," he said.
"Together, Ten, One and Eleven will attract a broader range of consumers and advertisers who are seeking fresh, quality and – most importantly – truly entertaining content, now and in the future. It will also attract advertisers seeking efficient delivery of distinct audience groups on One and Eleven, as well as mass audiences in key advertiser demographics on Ten."
The proposed joint venture with CBS is subject to approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board. The joint venture plans have been in the works since late 2009, when discussions between Ten and CBS began.
"The joint venture will ensure long term continuity of this prolific US content pipeline, underpinning the sustainability of Eleven and also delivering continued supply of high quality international programming for Ten," Blackley said.
Early evening reshuffle on the cards
The launch of Eleven will have visible implications for Ten's programming, resulting in a major early evening shake-up. Earlier speculation over a channel switch for the weekday soap Neighbours has been confirmed: the series will now occupy a prime-time slot on Eleven.
"We believe Neighbours is perfectly suited to Eleven's audience strategy and will find a successful and enduring home on Eleven," said David Mott, Ten's chief programming officer.
[Also in TSR: Neighbours moving to Eleven]
The Simpsons will also move to the new channel. With entertainment going out the door in the early evenings, Ten intends to throw down the gauntlet to Nine and Seven when it comes to news, signalling that it will go head to head against the two networks.
Ten will now introduce a national 6:00pm news-based programme on weeknights in addition to locally produced bulletins at 5:00pm. Another local Ten News bulletin will then follow at 6:30pm on weeknights. On weekends, local Ten News bulletins will directly compete with Nine's and Seven's offerings.
[Also in TSR: Ten News throwing down the gauntlet]
Ten has confirmed a range of programmes that will be aired on Eleven. The network said that shows such as Futurama, The Cleveland Show, Supernatural, Stargate, Dexter, Smallville, The Office, Nurse Jackie and 90210. Other programmes will be drawn from CBS's library of programmes, including Everybody Loves Raymond, Sex and the City, JAG, Frasier, Judging Amy, Happy Days and MacGyver.
Media Spy discussion: Eleven