Ten, Facebook explore alliance

Julian Lee April 14, 2012

Analysts and media buyers have been wondering what Ten had up its sleeve digitally.

Analysts and media buyers have been wondering what Ten had up its sleeve digitally.

TEN Network and Facebook are in advanced talks about forging a strategic alliance in which the two media companies would share content, audiences and advertising revenue, sources have confirmed.

Such a deal would see Facebook emerge as the digital entity that would allow Ten to go to market with a full suite of media assets to sell to advertisers.

It already offers advertisers the ability to simultaneously book ads on DMG's radio network, which is half owned by Ten's chairman, Lachlan Murdoch, and includes the Nova and Classic Rock brands, on outdoor sites through its Eye Corp division, and obviously on its TV network.

According to those familiar with the talks, the relationship would involve Ten integrating content for some of its larger shows onto the Facebook platform in a way that goes beyond traditional display advertising on the site or the simple proposition of a Facebook page. It would also put it in a strong position to talk to its target audience of younger Australians where they are congregating online.

For Facebook the deal would give it greater access to Ten's content and allow it to be at the centre of the conversation around ''event TV'' - the term for marquee programs such as Ten's MasterChef, Seven's My Kitchen Rules and Nine's The Block.

It would also give Facebook a fillip to its business here in Australia, which boasts some of the highest penetration levels in the world, with 10.2 million users - of which more than half log on daily. Media buyers estimate Facebook Australia is expected to book revenues of $50 million to $60 million this calendar year, through trading through apps and selling display ads on its site.

Analysts and media buyers have been wondering what Ten had up its sleeve digitally. Unlike its competitors Nine and Seven, which have had their own digital platforms for years, in Ninemsn and Yahoo7! respectively, the market has marked down Ten for its lack of a digital strategy.

At Ten's results on Thursday chief executive James Warburton flagged that it was exploring a number of ''digital options'' and that there would be an announcement soon. Some analysts have speculated that it will be a joint venture with News Limited's digital operations because of the link between Ten's chairman, Mr Murdoch, and News.

Landing a player as large as Facebook would be a major coup for Mr Warburton. Facebook executives have been holding informal talks with media buyers about the partnership.

While details, including the trading terms, are still being worked out, one person with knowledge of the talks questioned the wisdom of the deal. He said that Facebook would not want to lock itself in with one player in the media but would prefer to deal with them all.

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