With no My Kitchen Rules this year, the responsibility of launching Seven’s survey year has fallen to Eureka Productions and its new format Holey Moley.
The extreme mini golf series was planned to launch against Nine’s Married at First Sight after the Australian Open. With the tennis moving into February, Seven is sticking with its original launch date as it brings out its big guns post-cricket season. Eureka also has another launch on Monday February 1, its new season of Amazing Race Australia on 10.
“We are locked and loaded for 2021 and we are feeling very confident we will have a bigger year,” Seven’s director of network programming Angus Ross told Mediaweek. How much bigger? “We will have more consistency with proven tentpole formats and a Covid-proof schedule. We have banked all our shows up until the Olympics already and we are well underway with production of shows post-Olympics.”
Since the 2021 Upfront event late last year, Seven has added another format for 2021, Dancing with the Stars Allstars. “We are making it in a way that we think will invigorate the format in this market,” explained Ross (pictured above).
“We should have one more format to announce this year and that will be post-Olympics. We are bringing back the three hit formats from last year – Big Brother, Farmer Wants a Wife and SAS Australia. Joining them will be Holey Moley, Ultimate Tag, The Voice, a proven format on a competitor, Australia’s Got Talent and more of The Real Full Monty.”
Most of Seven’s 7.30pm formats run Sunday to Tuesday. There are a few more episodes of a couple of them this year – Farmer Wants a Wife and Big Brother will run a little longer with extra episodes.
Despite the delay of the Australia Open, Seven is maintaining its existing schedule, with Holey Moley launching in what would have been the first night after the Men’s Final. It now launches a week before the tennis starts and a week before survey.
Ross: “It is not ideal, but it’s not ideal for Nine either, having to move sport from its traditional home and away from school holidays. That means it probably won’t get the same result it would have in January.”
Holey Moley has big shoes to fill as it goes to air in the place of a format that held its place for a decade – My Kitchen Rules.
Ross: “Although MKR didn’t perform as we’d hoped last year, that doesn’t take anything away from what it achieved over the preceding 10 years or the people who worked on it and the great jobs they did. It will be rested, but it is still a great format.”
Seven CEO James Warburton and Ross are very confident about the schedule they have signed off on. “We are primed for growth in Q1 and Q2,” said Ross. “I am predicting a much bigger share for Seven in Q1,” he enthused.
One thing Ross did want to emphasise, picking tested formats off the shelf isn’t an easy or cheap option. “We are looking to invest in our program schedule. The great thing about James is he has given us the freedom to commission those proven international formats.”
Ross didn’t want to single out any show as costing the most to produce: “The production values across all our series are excellent. You can’t get away with making things cheaply, when you do that they very rarely work out. All of our shows are expensive and they look it. We want the audience to recognise they are watching a great looking show.”
Seven reminded Mediaweek again it is three from three with its new formats. “Versus our competitors this year we are going to be looking far fresher.”
If there is a single question mark about any lingering Covid impact it rests above Australia’s Got Talent. “We are hoping we can make it,” Ross said. “It will be dependent on us being able to get in the number of international acts that make that format fly.
“If a show might look like it has been impacted by Covid, whether it means we can’t have crowds or can’t get acts, we won’t make it.
“We are only going to make a show if it can be of the standard we require. In the US and the UK last year Covid impacted shows and they didn’t look great and the audience responded.”
There will be no impact on Dancing with the Stars which will be pre-recorded soon. It will feature former contestants with several new couples with judge’s scores eliminating contestants.
Seven remains confident Tokyo 2021 will happen, but Ross said even if the Olympics faced another delay, Seven has enough content to power through the year without disruption.