What's next for Ten and Nine after Lisa's shock move?

Alicia Vrajlal

Lisa Wilkinson's latest career move from Channel Nine to Ten will shake up Australian television in a massive way.

The 57-year-old is expected to become the highest paid woman on Australian TV when she starts on The Project in January, after Channel Nine confirmed the star was leaving the Today show as the network was "unable to meet the expectations of Lisa [Wilkinson] and her manager on a contract renewal".

Contract negotiations had been taking place between the network and the star for the past six months, all the while Lisa's co-host Karl Stefanovic continued on a salary much higher than hers.

Joining The Project on Channel Ten, Lisa will make the news and current affairs program's presenting panel equal in terms of gender, as she joins Carrie Bickmore, and her male co-hosts Waleed Aly and Peter Helliar.

A statement released by Ten last night confirmed the former women's magazine editor would start her role in January 2018, which would involve hosting The Sunday Project, as well as appearing during the nightly show throughout the week.

It's speculated Lisa could have a signed a non-compete agreement with Nine and now has to undertake gardening leave, potentially explaining the reason viewers will have to wait till the new year to see the star in her new role.

Lisa will be joining Channel Ten's The Project, which already stars Waleed Aly, Carrie Bickmore and Peter Helliar. Source: Channel Ten

Her "senior hosting and editing role" will no doubt allow the broadcaster to draw on her 30+ years of journalistic experience, ranging from holding editorships at women's magazines, to covering breaking news stories on location, for a high-rating breakfast television show.

Given that The Project has helped presenters Waleed and Carrie win Gold Logies, this could be Lisa's chance to land her own statue for the coveted TV award.

As Lisa admits she's "absolutely thrilled" to embark on a new journey, her decision to leave Nine has left many of her colleagues in shock.

Admitting they were completely blindsided by the announcement, a Nine staffer tells Be that just days earlier there were no signs shown by the star suggesting she'd be leaving the network.

Lisa leaves behind some of her close friends who she's shared the screen with, including the likes of Sylvia Jeffreys and Georgie Gardiner.

Lisa Wilkinson and Today Show co-host Karl Stefanovic were paid very different salaries. Source: Channel Nine

And whether the ratings on Today will take a hit is yet to be seen.

Last year Channels Nine and Seven were set to face-off in court, after Today promoted it as the number one breakfast show in Australia.

Seven was intending to sue Nine for misleading or deceptive conduct, before the networks settled.

As for Today's impressive ratings, statistics and numbers show Lisa's popularity was well ahead of Karl's, as demonstrated with the ratings during Karl's breaks from the show in April and June, leaving Lisa to front the show with Ben Fordham.

When Ben Fordham (L) hosted the show with Lisa in June while Karl was away, ratings improved. Source: Getty

In April it was reported that Karl was taking a break as the show's ratings took a dip in the wake of his marriage breakdown.

"The Today show ratings are bad. At the moment they've done private market research at Nine into Karl and it's coming up that women have turned on him," entertainment commentator Peter Ford told KIIS FM's Kyle and Jackie O show back then.

When Ben filled in for Karl once again in June, Today's ratings were strong with the show in the hands of him and Lisa.

Today's average national ratings for the week ending June 17 when Karl was on air was 287,000, while rival show Sunrse was on 283,000.

Ratings improved the following week when Ben and Lisa fronted the show, with an average of 299,000, while Sunrise had 282,000.

Lisa's appeal to a large female audience also presents the question around advertising dollars.

Whether the gap is able to be filled with another female presenter, like speculated replacements Deborah Knight or Sylvia Jeffreys, is yet to be seen.

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