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SYDNEY, April 10 (Reuters) - Underperforming Australian broadcaster Ten Network Holdings Ltd reported a smaller half-year loss on Thursday and said it would target “non-traditional” advertisers as it tries to turn itself around in an uncertain market.
Ten had the lowest ratings of Australia’s three metropolitan commercial networks last year and has failed to post sustained audience gains in 2014 despite investment in the Winter Olympics, Australian Grand Prix and Big Bash cricket series.
The free-to-air network posted a net loss of A$8.0 million ($7.48 million) for the six months to February 28. That was 97 percent better than a net loss of A$243.3 million for the same period a year ago, which was impacted by large one-off charges.
Its total revenue for the period rose 7.8 percent to A$331.6 million, with television revenue up 4.4 percent to A$315.0 million, while television costs rose 8.2 percent.
Ten shares, which have fallen 17.5 percent over the past year compared with a 9.8 percent gain in the broader market, opened up 3.9 percent after the results against the ASX index’ 0.7 percent rise.
“Advertising market conditions remain ‘short’, with many advertisers reluctant to commit to long-term campaigns,” the company said in a statement.
“As a result, the outlook for the television advertising market is uncertain at this stage.”
The company said it would expand its revenue base through the “tenplay” digital platform as part of its online strategy to target non-traditional advertisers.
Analysts say Ten has suffered more than top-ranked competitor Seven Network and second-placed Nine through the loss of eyeballs to the Internet and the growth of digital broadcasting.
The youth-focused network’s performance also comes against a backdrop of turmoil within its management ranks, with four chief executives trying to turn the company around over the past three years.
It lost one of its staunchest backers two weeks ago when Lachlan Murdoch, who owns 8.8 percent of Ten, stepped down as chairman to return to his father Rupert Murdoch’s media empire that controls News Corp and 21st Century Fox.
$1 = 1.0692 Australian Dollars Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Stephen Coates