Network Ten said on Wednesday that a softer TV ad market has contributed to a weaker first-half result and that its output deal with 20th Century Fox Television remains to be finalized.

Web reported a first-half net profit of A$42.86 million ($30.3 million), down 21.8% from the previous period. Group revenue — which includes revs from outdoor advertising arm Eye Corp. — fell 5.7% to $325.8 million for the first half.

CEO Nick Falloon said the web did not expect to match its strong result of the previous year.

“As previously foreshadowed, the weaker advertising market and the proliferation of special sporting events on other networks will prevent Ten from matching the record television result we achieved in 2005,” he said.

TV topper Grant Blackley tubthumped the web’s wins in its target 18-39 demographic with skeins such as a local version of “The Biggest Loser” and a renewed “Futurama,” which helped give the web a 35.8% share in its target demo.

He also pointed to the upcoming Australian Football League season and the return of reality hits “Big Brother” and “Australian Idol” as ratings bright spots.

But the net would not comment on how it would offset the higher price paid for the AFL after a bidding war with Nine Network. Ten and Seven paid a record $547 million for the AFL rights. The pair are in talks with paybox Foxtel for broadcast rights to help offset the costs, but no deal has been reached.

Ten would not discuss the details of its output deal with 20th Century Fox Television, saying it’s still negotiating “longform arrangements within that agreement.”

But it was positive about the pact, under which it starts to receive Fox product in 2008; Fox previously had a deal with Seven Network. “They have a development slate that is second to none, and it is product targeted clearly at Ten’s demographic,” Blackley said.