Mediaweek Roundup: Kyle Sandilands, Nine, Seven, Ten, Foxtel, SBS + more

Rod Prosser

• MediaWorks, Tim Worner, Netflix, Seven Studios, Stan, George Calombaris, and Chris Judd

Business of Media

NZ media sale: MediaWorks looking to divest its television business

MediaWorks has announced that it intends to sell MediaWorks TV as well as its Auckland property which includes its television head office and studios.

The intention is for MediaWorks to sell the television side of the business while retaining ownership of radio and QMS. 

The Flower Street property in Auckland will also be put up for sale with a lease back option for a buyer to continue to operate television from that location.

MediaWorks chairman Jack Matthews said that MediaWorks is committed to continuing to grow its business in New Zealand while recognising that free-to-air television operates in a challenging environment.

“The ongoing success of our radio business and recent merger with QMS demonstrates that MediaWorks has a very bright future. We are in the fortunate position of having two very strong growth platforms in radio and outdoor that deliver both revenue and margin growth. Our focus now is to accelerate the opportunities that exist for those platforms.

“We are in a commercial environment and have to face commercial realities. The market that free-to-air television operates in is tough and has been exacerbated this year. This is reflected in the performance of all free-to-air television operators in New Zealand, not just us. Clearly the market – alongside the structural hindrances we operate under – has a larger impact on Three given its genuine commercial imperative.”

MediaWorks CEO Michael Anderson said: “We are very pleased with the progress that Three has made over the past five years. This year we have had record ratings and revenue share highs and we are very proud of our stellar local content.

“The role Three plays in New Zealand society is significant, from Newshub through to investment in local comedy and drama. We believe MediaWorks TV is now in a place where it can be separated from the radio and outdoor business to be operated under a new owner in a more sustainable fashion – and, ultimately, for profit.”

A former TV executive is the favourite to win Melbourne Cup

Two months after Kerry Stokes liberated him from the top job at Seven West Media, Tim Worner is a favourite to win the Melbourne Cup, reports The Australian’s Margin Call.

The serious, and seriously expensive, tilt at the race that stops the nation is Worner’s first commercial venture since he was swiftly removed from the top job at billionaire Stokes’ Seven West in August.

Margin Call can reveal Worner was a member of the wealthy syndicate that paid nearly $1.6m for fancied Irish horse Constantinople in September.

Word is that Worner – whose purchase was clearly aimed at winning the Melbourne Cup — thinks the three-year-old, David Hayes-trained horse is the best thing to happen to him since the creation of My Kitchen Rules.

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Nine, Seven, Ten, Foxtel and SBS partner on ad platform

Nine, Seven West Media, Network Ten, Foxtel and SBS have put traditional rivalries aside to develop a new joint platform which will allow media agencies to buy advertising across commercial television in one place, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

The five companies have committed to building a demand-side trading platform for big media groups and independent agencies. They have commenced due diligence to scope out a technical supplier with the expectation it will be ready for use by April 2021.

Nine chief sales officer Michael Stephenson said the introduction of Virtual Oz, a new integrated database combining linear TV with live streaming and catch-up on all devices which will be available early 2020, was the starting point.

“For agencies to be able to buy those audiences, it’s really important they have a leading piece of ad tech,” he said.

Seven chief revenue officer Kurt Burnette said the industry has been talking about a combined trading platform for a long time. When combined with Virtual Oz, he believes it will make a big difference to buying and planning television.

“One of the absolute needs is an industry platform that uses Virtual Oz in the way it can be used. We need to make it easy.”

Rod Prosser, Network 10’s chief sales officer, said Virtual Oz will be a reset moment for TV.

“As part of this reset, we’re excited to be uniting as an industry to make it easier to buy across TV. The single trading platform will utilise best-in-class technology and we’ll reveal more on this soon.”

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Netflix recovers from rocky second quarter, adds 6.8m subscribers

Stranger Things helped propel Netflix to a strong summer, but there could be headwinds for the company going forward, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The streaming giant, which now has 158 million total subscribers, on Wednesday reported that it added nearly 6.8 million members during the third quarter, 520,000 in the U.S. and 6.3 million abroad. That’s just slightly less than the 7 million subscribers that Netflix earlier forecast it would add during the three months from July to September. Wall Street was also looking for about 7 million total subscriber additions, 800,000 subscriber additions in the U.S. and 6 million internationally. Though the U.S. is becoming a softer market for the streamer as it reaches market saturation, the news was received positively and sent shares up Wednesday, where they peaked at around 10 percent.

“As we’ve improved the variety, diversity and quality of our content slate, member engagement has grown, revenue has increased, and we’re able to further fund our content investment,” reads Netflix’s quarterly letter to shareholders.

The disclosure marked a recovery for the Reed Hastings-led company after a second quarter in which it lost 130,000 subscribers in the U.S. and missed its 5 million target by 2.3 million. At the time, Netflix blamed the soft quarter on both a recent price increase and on its content slate, which lacked a Stranger Things-sized debut, and the news caused its stock to plunge more than 10 percent. Shares have been trading down around 20 percent since July’s financial disclosure.

Going forward, Netflix will start reporting membership guidance for its global audience instead of breaking it into U.S. and international reporting segments. “As we self-produce and license more original content that has global rights, we are finding U.S. vs. international segment contribution margin reporting is becoming less useful internally,” the company said.

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Seven Studios receives NSW Export Award for international success

Seven Studios, the content production division of Seven West Media, has been awarded the Premier’s New South Wales Export Award for Creative Industries.

The Award acknowledges outstanding international success across all creative industries, including music and performing arts, film, television and radio, software and interactive content such as VR and AR, writing, publishing and print media, architecture and design, and visual arts.

Therese Hegarty, CEO of Seven Studios, said: “With our productions reaching over 190 countries globally across broadcast and streaming platforms, Seven Studios has established itself as a truly global player. This award coincides with Seven Studios furthering its international presence at MIPCOM 2019 in Cannes, France, selling our productions to a global audience.

“The Premier’s New South Wales Export Award for Creative Industries is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the Seven Studios team. From writers, producers, directors and crew, as well as the world-renowned Australian stars that features in our productions, Australia has the very best talent in the world, and this award demonstrates that.

“Seven Studios is thrilled to be recognised with this prestigious award, and we celebrate with our team both in Australia and abroad that have made this possible.”

As an award winner, Seven Studios automatically progresses as national finalists to the Australian Export Awards. The Australian Export Awards is a national program where industry winners from all states and territories compete for an Australian industry award, including the coveted Australian Exporter of the Year.

Stan announces third season of No Activity US adaption coming soon

Stan has announced that all eight episodes of the third season of the US adaptation of its original comedy series No Activity will be available to stream from Thursday, 21 November.

Following last season’s disastrous bust gone wrong, season three finds detectives Nick Cullen and Judd Tolbeck back in uniform with a revolving door of quirky new partners and even quirkier criminals, while robots edge in on Janice and Fatima in dispatch.

Co-developer, executive producer, writer and star Patrick Brammall will reprise his role as Detective Nick Cullen, a low-level cop who has spent far too much time in a car with his partner, Detective Judd Tolbeck.

Among the new guest stars this season are Beth Behrs (The Neighbourhood), Joe Keery (Stranger Things), Keegan-Michael Key (Dolemite Is My Name), Dylan McDermott (American Horror Story) and Paula Pell (Stan’s A.P. Bio). They will be joined by returning guest stars including Sunita Mani (Glow) as dispatch operator Fatima, Jason Mantzoukas (Big Mouth) as an undercover FBI agent, Amy Sedaris (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) as dispatch’s mother hen, Janice, and Academy Award-winner J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) as Leon, the internal affairs investigator with a fondness for deep sea fishing.

No Activity is produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Funny Or Die, Jungle, and Gary Sanchez Productions, and is based on the Stan Original Series produced by Jungle. The series is co-developed and executive produced by Trent O’Donnell and Patrick Brammall, alongside executive producers Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Joe Farrell, Mike Farah, Joe Hardesty and Jason Burrows. Nina Pedrad serves as co-executive producer. As in previous seasons, Trent O’Donnell will direct all episodes.

George Calombaris says ‘brutal’ career lows cleared the skeletons closet

George Calombaris has paid tribute to his “superwoman” wife Natalie and family as he returns to the kitchen following a “brutal” period in his life, reports News Corp’s Jackie Epstein.

Calombaris said Natalie, the mother of their two children, had been his rock of support through recent tough times when he was fined for underpaying staff and exited MasterChef after 11 years.

“That girl is an absolute fricken superwoman,’’ Calombaris said.

“You say you love someone and that’s all good and well, but what she’s done the last six months … I’ve kept it together with incredible humans around me. They’ve had to go through all of my pain.”

Calombaris, who this week launched his new book, Just George, isn’t sure what the future holds.

While rumours swirl that his former MasterChef cohorts Matt Preston and Gary Mehigan are being courted by Channel 7, Calombaris said he was focused on working at Hellenic Republic in Brighton.

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Kyle Sandilands on “absurd amount of money I get to do something I love”

Kyle and Jackie O negotiated their new ARN contracts separately and have parity when it comes to their base salaries, reports News Corp’s Andrew Bucklow.

However it’s understood both hosts negotiated individual allowances linked to survey and revenue performance.

Speaking to after the announcement, Kyle was uncharacteristically coy about his huge pay day, saying, “I don’t discuss the absurd amount of money I get given to do something I love”.

“Don’t get me wrong, the money’s fantastic, but what really counts for me is the acknowledgment that what Jackie and I have created is one of the most successful shows on earth,” he said.

“There is no secret to the show’s success,” Kyle told “Ultimately it’s genuine chemistry. I love working with Jackie and that simply can’t be created; it’s either there or it’s not.

“A lot of other stations throw strangers together and scratch their heads when it fails miserably. Radio’s actually really easy, it’s just bad programmers that make it unnecessarily difficult.”

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Sports Media

Chris Judd departs Nine’s Footy Classified ahead a major revamp

The winds of change are blowing through Footy Classified with Brownlow Medallist Chris Judd departing the Channel 9 show, reports News Corp’s Scott Gullan.

That’s unlikely to be the only change with a major revamp planned for 2020 including extra shows and new hosts.

After a tumultuous season in the hot seat where he struggled to combine it with his role as Carlton’s football director, Judd decided to walk away after the final show of the season last month.

The question now is whether Judd will be the only major change from the line-up?

Original host Craig Hutchison’s business commitments continue to expand while Caroline Wilson has also been on the show since its inception in 2007.

Eddie McGuire’s JAM TV produces the Monday night show and is looking to shake it up with an increase to at least two nights a week on the agenda for next year.

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