Also inks 3-year supply deal with U
SYDNEY — After years of frugality, third-ranked Australian web Network Ten is raiding its piggy bank.Rescued from the brink of bankruptcy a decade ago by Canadian conglom CanWest, Ten is now one of Oz’s most profitable media organizations, having pursed a low-cost programming strategy that delivered advertiser-friendly youth demos. Ten is spending about A$190 million ($99 million) to buy Eye Corp., Oz’s second biggest outdoor advertising group. Ten has also inked a new three-year supply deal with longtime supplier Universal. U was to have moved to Seven later this year, but the latter changed its mind about the reported seven-year, $90 million deal, wanting instead to fund local fare and rely on existing import deals with Fox, Disney and MGM. Pared down Ten had Columbia TriStar as its only major supply pact as its first-look deal with Paramount will end next year, after Nine pacted for all TV series and most movies from Paramount (the first time Par has so closely aligned itself with any Oz web), augmenting Nine’s pacts with Warners, CBS, DreamWorks, Hallmark and CBS. Ten is also spending on local drama (a problem area for the web), having poached ABC drama head Sue Masters, the force behind the pubcaster’s hit Granada series “Seachange.” Already, Ten has unveiled a raft of local programs, including Granada/Red Heart sitcom “Sit Down, Shut Up” and Southern Star/Channel 4 (U.K.) drama series “The Secret of Us. Also in the mix are Oz versions of foreign formats “Shipwrecked” and “Big Brother.” They’ll be competing with Nine’s broadcasts of “Survivor 2” as well as Seven’s “Treasure Island” and a new season of Screentime’s “Popstars.” Latter format sold across Europe and North America.