Ratings Looking Up for Channel 10

Channel 10 will make a profit in 2008, says owner Joseph Maiman in an exclusive interview with TheMarker magazine.

Channel 10 will make a profit in 2008, says owner Joseph Maiman in an exclusive interview with TheMarker magazine (in Hebrew) published today. The television broadcaster is expected to end 2007 with revenues of $90 million and a $25 million loss. Last year the channel lost $30 million.

"I will never see big money from this investment, not even an expensive car. It is important to me that it is here, [that it] exists - out of stubbornness I succeeded in building this operation," Maiman said.

Over the past few months, but mostly in October, Channel 10 has seen a clear trend of increased ratings during the week. Some say that the broadcaster's growing strength is a result of the changeover between seasons by the Channel 2 franchisees, in particular Reshet. And many industry sources think that this trend will end soon.

On the other side is Channel 10, which claims that it is about to air a long list of new productions, as well as sports, and expects to continue to show ratings gains.

It has been a long time since Channel 10 has seen such optimism, not since its "Love Hurts" series that swept viewers and critics. Suddenly there is once again something to watch, besides sports and news.

The ratings have grown - and particularly on Monday and Tuesday, with a number of new shows breaking the 10-percent barrier. And of course, Thursday and Sunday sports are still the crown jewels.

Just as important to Channel 10 is that advertisers have returned, too, they say, and are paying the same rates that Channel 2 charges. Women and teenagers are a growing segment of viewers - not only men and the middle-aged, who used to be considered the channel's main audience.

A check of the ratings shows prime-time viewing on weekdays (from 9 P.M. to 11 P.M.) is closing the gap with Channel 2.

But what is also very important to the broadcaster is the bottom line: According to forecasts, profits are expected next year, and this year's losses - shrinking but still sizable - are attributed to the rising cost of producing new shows.

However, all this talk of increased ratings has rival Channel 2 laughing. "It is not serious to look at a single month here or there," said a Channel 2 source.

"You need to look at a period, by measuring a yearly average prime time [rating], and certainly not only during the middle of the week. This is a manipulative measurement, since weekends are not good for them, and on Friday they offer no competition."

Channel 10 admits that the ratings are much less flattering if you include weekends, since that way their October rating drops from 9.5 percent to 7.9 percent - and that is a big difference.

That is why, TheMarker has learned, "Survival" will be moved to the weekend.

Channel 2 sources explain that the total increase for Channel 10 in prime time was 11,000 viewers, from a 6.6 percent rating to 6.9 percent. In previous years Channel 10 gained 30,000 viewers a year, so what is it proud of, the rivals ask. At the same time, Channel 2 added 37,000 more viewers - almost four times as many - during the same period. However, Channel 10 is making its mark with advertisers. More and more are showing interest, and the rates are rising. These revenues will grow from $60 million in 2006 to about $90 million this year.

While the amount of commercials Channel 10 has broadcast over the past two months actually dropped, some are calling this a good sign. One advertising media executive explained that the station was no longer willing to give away time or charge very low prices, and instead is keeping to its policy of receiving a fair price - even if it has to skip commercials.