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Channel Ten reveals who will be the sharks of Shark Tank Australia

- November 14, 2014 3 MIN READ

Last night Channel Ten announced its new line-up of programming for the coming year at the “Ten Upfront” event in Sydney.

Amongst the new line-up of reality programming was the much talked about Australian version of Shark Tank, based off the hit American program created by Mark Burnett. And the big question on everyone’s minds was: who are the sharks?

It was revealed that co-host of Studio 10, Sarah Harris would be hosting the series when it airs next year and will be accompanied by the sharks who are Steve Baxter (PIPE Networks, StartupAUS and River City Labs), Janine Allis (Boost Juice, Salsa’s Fresh Mex), Andrew Banks (Talent 2 International), John McGrath (McGrath Real Estate) and Naomi Simson (Red Balloon).

In a statement on the Channel Ten website, Head of Programming, Beverley McGarvey said that the Australian version of the show would appeal to a wide range of age groups:

“The Australian version of Shark Tank will be an accessible, compelling and highly entertaining show that will appeal to all age groups,” said Network Ten Chief Programming Officer, Beverley McGarvey. “Viewers will be captivated by the passion, enthusiasm and drive of our inventors – and by the incredible ideas they will present to our Sharks.

The production company behind the show, Shine Australia, should be commended on the diversity factor it has achieved in the casting element of the sharks. All have very different businesses and backgrounds and have expertise across varying industries.

For technology startups, having Steve Baxter in the mix is a massive win. It is, also by way of association, great for StartupAUS of which he is a board member and of course the co-working space he founded in Brisbane, River City Labs.

The casting news comes just one day after American ‘shark’ Kevin O’Leary got on stage at the INCMTY Tech Conference and told the crowd that Shark Tank is the most successful Venture Firm on Earth. “At 33 percent return, we’re the most successful venture firm on Earth,” he said.

Whilst there is no doubt that there is no Venture Firm like Shark Tank, some from the Silicon Valley investment community were skeptical of the claims, saying that there was not nearly enough data on the show yet to verify that fact. In a piece published in Techcrunch yesterday, partner at Greylock, Josh Elman was quoted as saying that O’Leary’s number at 33 percent was actually not a good one.

That sounds like a good sound bite but exactly what does that number mean? “Is he saying he’s losing two out of 3 deals?” asked Greylock  partner Josh Elman, “That’s a pretty bad number.” We don’t have real numbers from all the investments the show has ever made so it’s tough to figure out what O’Leary was referring to here. “Most firms don’t report their funds publicly so it’s hard to say,” agreed Cowboy Ventures  partner Noah Lichtenstein. “It’s also a function of time. How long are the returns spread over? Funds are often 7-10 year returns so [it’s] not really fair to judge them until they have matured,” he added.

Shark Tank went on the air five years ago in the U.S. That 33 percent return number puts the show into the top quartile for the length its been around, but not necessarily as “the most successful” of all venture firms in the world. It simply hasn’t been around long enough to make that claim, according to Elman.

A venture firm typically realizes a return when the company goes public. That could take 7-10 years. Elman would rather give a company a good 10 years, much longer than Shark Tank has been on the air. Also, most investments don’t go the IPO route. While some of the companies that got funding through the Shark Tank crew have been acquired by other companies (Jamba Juice bought up Talbott Teas, for example) none of them have gone public.

It will be interesting to see how the audience engages with this local version of the hit television show. Shark Tank on ABC (American Broadcasting Association) is actually watched by many Australians even though it does not technically get syndicated here. Given that the current audience, which is actually quite large, have formed a habit over a period of about seven years of watching the show online, I hope part of Channel Ten’s strategy is to have a massive digital presence for the brand as well as promoting it primarily via digital touch points because that is where the bulk of the audience lives.

This digital nous of Australian viewers, particularly in the 15 to 40 ages groups, was highlighted at the ABC’s look ahead for 2015 programming event, when it was revealed that hit TV shows such as Josh Thomas’ Please Like Me and Chris Lilley’s Jam’ie: Private School Girl television programs did not perform particularly well on free-to-air but broke records online via the companies iView platform.

Shark Tank Australia comes to our screens early 2015.