"Capture the minds of children, and you'll have the adults forever"
I don't know who said that, or who made it so well known. But it is a poignent statement right now. Ten announced, at their launch on Wednesday night, their plan to shake up the breakfast market with a return to the adult breakfast genre, that Ten abandoned in late 1992, when the original Good Morning Australia ended (and the GMA title was given to a mid-morning program originally entitled "The Morning Show" with Bert Newton, that started that year, and ended in 2005) and Ten's reliance on the younger audience began. But, let's go with a brief history of this move by Ten, which began in early 1993 before we talk about the future.
What was the story? the shows Ten had in mornings prior to Toasted TV.
The first attempt at morning content catered at kids in the former Good Morning Australia slot itself by Ten (after all, Ten had previously, The Early Bird Show leading into GMA when it was a breakfast show, but it was at 6am), was the little remembered "first incarnation" of The Big Breakfast (with Tim Bailey, now Ten Sydney's weatherman, hosting) on Ten, (later to be better remembered as 7's post-Agro attempt at a hybrid of news/cartoons, which eventually led to Seven choosing news over cartoons in the morning) in 1993, followed by a time, where there was no program, then finally, in 1995, they launched a program, that they stuck with for ten years. Cheez TV, was the springboard, for Ten to take the ascendancy, after the failure of the Seven version of the Big Breakfast, along with Ten picking on the anime revolution, like Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon, Digimon and other shows that proved their worth for Ten (in ad spend, especially for products related to these programs) and sealed the overall quality of the content: Cheez TV was world class, especially in a era when pay TV in Australia was at it's infancy, and digital channels hadn't even been thought of. As time wound on, Cheez lost that "edge", ending with a bang, when Jade and Ryan left in December 2004, but the real end for Cheez was in August 2005 when Ten launched a new program, to replace the now hostless Cheez TV.
The Toasted era: 2005-today
Toasted TV started in August 2005, with high hopes. But, other than a production shift to Queensland, and to the Gold Coast's theme parks, along with a toning down of the "edginess" Cheez TV had, it wasn't recieved well by Cheez viewers, who longed for the stability of Jade and Ryan, as Toasted TV was stable for the first three years, then changed hosts, like one changes their underwear. Not only was presenter stability an issue, so was scheduling, along with the increase in the love for the old Cheez product by people reminiscing on their childhood, where there are now hundreds of groups and pages on Facebook dedicated to Cheez TV, shining it in a positive light, all saying that the current product was inferior, a "it was better in the good old days" reaction if you will, towards Cheez TV and Jade/Ryan, which leads us to today.
Wave bye-bye to Toasted TV for... Breakfast?
Ten's plan for 2012, will be to launch a three hour breakfast show entitled "Breakfast", hosted by Dr Andrew Rochford, and a female co-host to be announced closer to the program's start in January. There have been many a comment, on what Ten will do with Toasted TV, as their C/P content, (which is a legal requirement, that needs to be on the main channel) will likely move, to later in the day again. Specifically, there are two camps of people who have a vision, in what Ten should do with Toasted TV, when Breakfast is launched, either: a move to Eleven where it can be improved, or the unfortunate situation, of 10 axing Toasted TV, and risking that programs that were on Toasted TV the time of the axing, along with any back catalogue of cartoons that are still available, to Ten, if "Breakfast" tanks, and Ten retreats. I will detail each of these camps now:
Camp 1: Toasted TV moves to Eleven.
How this solution would work, would involve Ten replacing the reruns of series like JAG and MacGyver that Eleven airs in the morning with a rebooted Toasted TV, expanded to include a rerun of the previous night's episode of Neighbours, to try and emulate the success of Couch Time, Eleven's hosted lineup of older content (and first run episodes of Neighbours), with cartoons. It can be cheaply done, as Ten have invested in a set for Couch Time, in Ten's Brisbane studios, which can be used for Toasted TV, along with a move to a faster flowing live format (inc. social media, something Couch Time does very well, even possibly "viewers decides the lineup" events) instead of shooting at theme parks, weeks in advance, and fixed schedules.
Camp 2: Toasted TV is axed, to make way for "Breakfast"
How this solution would work, would be Toasted TV finishing up in December, then going into a "best of" season, until Breakfast launches. However, it won't turn up on Eleven, instead having all the rights to the various programs Toasted TV aired, that Ten hold, be sold off, along with the program being axed. This is one solution that Ten must avoid, as it could be detrimental, to any effort to promote Breakfast, but some content may get a new home. There is a major chance however, if the axing scenario were to play out, that some flagships of Toasted TV, may no longer be on FTA. Another consequence of a axing scenario, could be, if Breakfast is a failure, and Ten ends up re-introducing cartoons, some of those properties (particularly, Pokemon, and the Nickelodeon shows like Spongebob, which are likely to be valuable) may not be available for any new Ten children's product: and could hurt it's chances.
The main problem for Ten right now, is uncertainty concerning their childrens output. They need to confirm Toasted TV's future soon, as viewers could turn on Ten, if say, they did a switch like was done for Cheez TV to Toasted TV, (where one day it was unhosted Cheez, the next it was a hosted Toasted TV) for Toasted TV, to "Breakfast". There are even websites dedicated to guides for cartoons on Toasted TV e.g: Cartoon Central Australia has operated since Cheez's heyday, and will be likely to lose visitors, if suddenly, instead of Pokemon, or Avatar, there is news aimed at adults airing, without any due notice.
Australia gained a world champion in the Pokemon TCG this year in San Diego, and we have a popular Australian based Pokemon website to call our own, PokemonAus, what's going to happen, if fans (especially those fans who have been critical of Toasted TV stripping out the Sinnoh League Victors season, one episode at a time over the last 12 months, and Ten having no time frame for the Australian premiere of the new Black/White anime season that debuted in the US in February 2011, and in the UK in June 2011) are no longer able to see the Pokemon anime in Australia on FTA? Those same fans want to represent their country in the Pokemon Video Game World Championships, they want more events for the video game, and they can be vocal. That's the situation Ten needs to avoid, all these websites, currently promoting Toasted TV and all these loyal viewers, suddenly turning on Ten, and causing bad press for Breakfast.
It's not just a matter, of Ten putting a video up, or sending a tweet, or feeding the media, about their plans for Toasted TV. Unlike 2005, social media is now a large part of peoples lives. A bad decision can be panned by many, within minutes, not hours or days. Not to mention, places like PokemonAus, and TV Tonight who will end up having comments galore, when Ten announces what's going on with Toasted TV, from viewers from many backgrounds. It's just a matter of Ten not screwing up this tectonic shift, back into adult breakfast, by not catering for the Toasted TV viewership first.