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Future in doubt as viewers fail to Wake Up to Ten's breakfast show

Channel Ten's struggling breakfast show Wake Up - which has around one-tenth the viewers of Sunrise and Today each - is officially "under review" and could soon be axed. 

Wake Up averaged just 32,000 metropolitan viewers last week, compared to the 301,000 people who watched Today on Nine and the 367,000 who tuned into Sunrise on Seven. 

It is rumoured that Wake Up will be replaced by a revived Good Morning Australia, hosted by Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Matt White, and that several Wake Up staff are already looking for new jobs. It was also reported that Ten's news division is facing a fresh round of job cuts, with its Morning News and Late News bulletins in peril, and that the network has slashed the size of the team it will send to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games from 15 to two. 

When asked to provide clarity about Wake Up's future, Ten's news and current affairs chief Peter Meakin told Fairfax Media: "We don't know at the moment. Clearly, we examine all our shows on a regular basis but there's no announcement on Wake Up.

"Yes, it's under review. [But many] shows are under constant review so that doesn't necessarily mean very much. It's no secret that we'd like the show to do better but there's no immediate decisions."

White's pending return to Ten "in a wide range of roles" was announced last month but Meakin suggested that a breakfast show with him and Kennerley is unlikely.


"Kerri-Anne, as much as we love her - there's nothing doing here [for her] at the moment," he said. 

Meakin confirmed that Ten's Commonwealth Games team had been reduced but refused to comment on other possible cuts to his news division.

"We're always looking at ways to manage our operations more frugally but [there's nothing to announce] at the moment," he said. 

Media analyst Steve Allen, managing director of Fusion Strategy, said Ten should axe its underperforming breakfast show, now in its seventh month on air.  

"It's not going to work," he said. "You only get one chance in television. If you mess up those first few weeks like Wake Up did - even though they found their rhythm later on - you're never going to be forgiven. Viewers just go, 'Oh well, I had a look and it wasn't very good; I'll stick with the show that I know'."

Allen said the program - hosted by James Mathison and Natarsha Belling - was plagued by a "clunky" dynamic upon its debut. Co-host Natasha Exelby was removed just 16 days after its launch. 

While Sunrise managed to overtake Today more than a decade ago by differentiating itself - and growing the overall breakfast TV audience in the process - the market is now crowded, with ABC and Ten having since launched rival shows.

Allen said Wake Up failed to live up to its promise to be truly different to its commercial rivals, both of which aggressively defended their turf by throwing money at viewers through lavish giveaways. 

"Not only are those programs entrenched, I'd argue that they basically saw Wake Up off," Allen said. "They knew Ten didn't have the resources to throw millions [at viewers]. They just occupied their territory and defended it magnificently." 

Allen said Ten could benefit even it replaces the expensive Wake Up with a cheaper program that attracts only marginally more viewers. 

"It's now a matter of, 'Do they have an alternative that's got better ratings prospects - and there's a question mark over that with Sunrise and Today going hammer and tong - and also, can they put it to air more cheaply?' If so, then there's at least a little bit of upside to replacing Wake Up.

"Wake Up's figures just haven't changed. They haven't lost or gained anything. It's just going nowhere."