James Warburton on why Seven has suggested pausing overnight ratings

James Warburton

• Plus: Daily BVOD data, Seven’s SVOD future, and the relaxing of anti-siphoning laws

Last week the Seven Network held an update in its offices in Sydney’s Redfern. As the halfway point of the year approaches, Seven is claiming victory in the national television market, both in audience share and revenue share.

Using the results from the television survey year that wrapped up on June 18th, Seven are claiming #1 network in total people, 25 to 54s, and 16 to 39s. This dominance also extends to all age groups in regional markets after the acquisition of Prime Media.

See More: Seven claims #1 in total TV and broadcast, calls for daily BVOD data

After the address, Seven West Media managing director and chief executive officer, James Warburton, spoke to a room of journalists for a media briefing and touched on several topics including his calls for daily BVOD data to be released, whether or not Seven is looking at launching an SVOD service, and the relaxing of federal anti-siphoning laws.

Why has Seven suggested pausing overnight ratings?

“I’m not talking about taking away overnights, I’m talking about removing them to move everyone to the new currency and then having them come back in so you get it all. 

“VOZ will be fundamentally different. VOZ will be as big a change as when we went from diaries to people meters. That’s why we’ll work with Media Federation and the AANA – they will start getting data this year, and they’ll have to be plugging it all in and looking at the changes between the two systems. It will be fundamentally different to what we’ve had before, so I think it’ll be an interesting time.”

Is this move driven primarily by clients or by Seven?

“It’s a combination of both, I don’t think there’s any argument from anyone in the industry that viewing has changed – all we’ve done is really shine a light on the fact that we’ve been reporting the same way for 22 years. 

“We’ve all built good BVOD businesses very quickly, so clients are using them because they’re very effective in terms of the combination with free-to-air.

“The tipping point is when it gets into the reach and frequency systems and they can actually analyse it. That’s the game changer.”

How long will it take before BVOD becomes the way most people watch TV? 

“I think it’s going to be a long time before it gets to that tipping point. We’ve done a lot of work on the whole broadband initiative around whether the NBN can carry signals, etc. There’s still an enormous amount of Australia that either caps out really quickly, or they don’t have good enough broadband. 

“Linear television is always going to be around and very, very strong and it’s actually the combination of both that works. Prominence will be a really important part in terms of pushing 7Plus – 56% of televisions sold are connected TVs, and it’s growing at a rate of knots.”

As talk of a recession hits the news cycle, has Seven seen any change in advertiser behaviour?

“With all the publicity and the cost of living pressures, everyone is considering it and a little uncertain in terms of what is actually going to happen. 

“I feel it’s a bit of an overreaction by the market in terms of the media sector, probably globally, but certainly here in Australia. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be as bad as perhaps that reaction is, but we’ll have to wait and see. 

“There is a lot that clients need to do in terms of brand building, particularly if there are price rises and things to pass on. I think we’re best placed to weather it.”

Has Seven got any plans to acquire or launch an SVOD platform?

“If we could find the right partner we would.

“We’ve always talked about the fact that we’re the barker channel with a massive platform to actually help someone launch in Australia. I’ve never ever, ever subscribed to last mover advantage, but maybe at this particular juncture, there needs to be consolidation in the sector. Maybe that’s a good thing for us in terms of how the market plays out. 

“It makes sense for us with our platform to get into it if we can find the right partner, but it’s still on the to-do list.”

Australia’s anti-siphoning laws are being relaxed, what does that mean for Seven? 

“Labor gave us a much, much stronger commitment before the election, both the minister and the Prime Minister. They are absolutely, unequivocally committed to strengthening anti-siphoning, and their view is that sport should be available for free. We need to have the discussions to make good on those election promises.”

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