Mediaweek Roundup: QMS Media, The Undoing, Cricket Aus & Seven + more

The Undoing

Netflix’s data usage, Kristina Keneally’s media adviser departs, New SMH homepage, Michelle Stamper leaves Nine, and Cricket ratings

Business of Media

Outdoor operator QMS Media might be back on the block

QMS Media could be heading back to the listed market sooner than expected, with some suggesting that its owner, Quadrant Private Equity, is looking to put the business back on the block, reports The Australian’s Bridget Carter.

Quadrant purchased QMS last year in an on-market scheme of arrangement-style takeover deal for $571.6m.

However, as it has transpired, the timing could not be worse for Quadrant when it came to buying the billboard operator, with the advertising market being decimated earlier this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yet under Quadrant’s watch, QMS has won some lucrative advertising contracts, and many believe that what is under consideration is a move to spin off the MediaWorks and sports advertising operations to be sold, while also selling or listing the core media operations, which is seen as a solid performing business.

Since QMS has been bought out by Quadrant, it has won the ten-year City of Sydney contract from industry heavyweight JCDecaux.

Sources say it is also poised to win the outdoor advertising agreement from Sydney Trains – another contract considered highly valuable.

[Read more]

Optus boss takes aim at Netflix’s ‘free go’ on data usage

Optus boss Kelly Bayer Rosmarin says video streaming services like Netflix need to do more to take the pressure off broadband networks as telcos scramble to meet rising consumer demand for data, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Supratim Adhikari.

Speaking at a business outlook briefing on Monday, Bayer Rosmarin said that while the likes of Netflix were driving the data demand on networks they don’t invest directly into the upgrading the core networks.

With streaming media content and gaming driving the spikes in network traffic during the lockdowns, Bayer Rosmarin said over-the-top (OTT) streaming services must become part of the broader industry conversation around fortifying broadband networks.

“We need some sort of a redefinition of our industry, at the moment there’s a lot of OTT providers, whether video streamers or gaming companies that can have a major impact on the level of infrastructure-build that’s required,” she said.

[Read more]

Abrupt departure of Kristina Keneally’s media adviser shocks Team Labor

There are more changes afoot in Labor’s staffing ranks, report Nine CBD columnists Samantha Hutchinson and Stephen Brook.

Three weeks after Labor leader Anthony Albanese‘s office was the subject of a vicious online attack panning staff, Labor’s deputy leader in the Senate Kristina Keneally has lost her media adviser Tim Dunlop.

The departure has shocked staff. Keneally’s chief of staff Chris Owens told colleagues on Monday the decision came after Dunlop, a former producer on the Kyle and Jackie O FM radio show, took a week off.

“Tim has been thinking about what’s ahead for him and for his career … after four years as a Press Sec, it’s time for him to do something different,” Owens wrote in an email seen by CBD.

[Read more]

News Brands

Nine reveals new Sydney Morning Herald homepage design

As loyal readers have probably already noticed, the top of The Sydney Morning Herald homepage has a new look and feel, reports the paper’s digital editor Alex Rowe.

We know that the homepage is very important to our audience and the latest changes are designed to help you find more of our top content.

Here are some of the changes we’ve made and why we’ve made them:

• More stories: The number of articles at the top of the page has increased. You will notice a variety of designs built to make this happen. Some stories will have a headline and a picture while others will appear on the site with no picture.
• More context: Where appropriate, stories will be able to be grouped, allowing readers to find the range and depth of our coverage. News stories may be complemented by opinion, explainers and data stories.
• More images: The new design allows us to better showcase our award-winning photography and illustrations. We’ll be able to adjust the size of our imagery to best fit the weight of our story and its position on the site.
• Less turnover: With the ability to display more stories we will be able to slow down the pace at which we promote and demote stories. This will mean less time spent looking for stories further down the page or on index pages.

[Read more]

Television

Melbourne PR queen Michelle Stamper departs Nine

Longtime Nine Melbourne publicity head Michelle Stamper has departed the network after 14 and a half years, reports TV Tonight.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the ride, first at Nine as Head of Publicity and Marketing and most recently Director of Marketing and Partnerships across the group,” she said in a note to colleagues.

Photo: Terry Stuart with Michelle Stamper (TV Tonight)

“I feel privileged to have been a part of a company which achieved so much success, underwent so much transformation and has the best people in the business.

“I’m very proud of everything the teams I have led at Nine have achieved, in both the publicity and marketing departments, and it’s exciting to leave on a high following the launch of Marvellous Melbourne and the extraordinary success of the Footy Show Grand Final Eve: My Room Telethon,” she added.

Terry Stuart was appointed Melbourne Communications Manager in January when Michelle Stamper became Director of Marketing and Partnerships.

[Read more]

Undone and exposed, thrilling ending to Nicole Kidman’s HBO drama

Most striking about The Undoing is not what you see when you watch the episodes, but how much you miss. By virtue of journalistic need, I had the benefit of watching five of the six episodes as pre-broadcast screeners to prepare for interviews with the cast, and then re-watching them each Sunday night as they aired in the US on HBO.

The detail you pick up on second viewing is staggering. Those almost-missed fragments of scenes, and glimpses of character nuance, made the second pass an illuminating process. And like all great whodunits, the answer to the mystery is in front of your eyes the whole time, if only you could see it.

As each episode of The Undoing ended, the question – who killed Elena Alves? – had to be re-asked. And each episode brought with it enough new clues, or red herrings, to leave you guessing and guessing again.

[Read more]

The Undoing beats Game of Thrones as Sky’s biggest US series launch

Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant have won an unlikely battle against the forces of Westeros, at least in terms of ratings in Europe, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The opening episode of HBO’s glossy limited series The Undoing has reached a cumulative 28-day audience of more than 2.78 million viewers for Comcast’s European pay-TV giant Sky, making it bigger than the launch of Game of Thrones on Sky in 2011.

With the first three episodes attracting an audience of more than 2.5 million, Sky has now said that the David E. Kelley-created psychological drama – due to reach its finale on the network November 30 – is now on track to become the biggest US series to ever launch on its Sky Atlantic channel. It has already surpassed recent US shows includes Watchmen, True Detective and Big Little Lies.

[Read more]

Sports Media

Seven seeks Australia and India emails as TV battle goes to court

The broadcasting dispute between Cricket Australia and Seven West Media has escalated dramatically, with the network filing papers in the Federal Court on Monday seeking access to correspondence with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Foxtel and state governments, report Nine’s Jon Pierik and Chris Barrett.

Seven confirmed it had lodged an affidavit with the court in Melbourne in a pre-discovery action, as the media company attempts to prove its contention that CA breached its contract with a raft of scheduling changes this summer.

At the heart of Seven’s complaint is a belief that cricket administrators gave preference to the wishes of the BCCI, the sport’s most powerful governing body, as well as its other domestic broadcasting partner Foxtel.

If successful in proving before court that CA breached its $450 million contract with Seven, of which Seven pays $70 million in cash per year, the network could be awarded tens of millions of dollars in damages or look to terminate its deal, which has three years to run. Foxtel’s deal also has three years to run, having paid the bulk of its overall $1.18 billion contract with Seven.

[Read more]

Court battle with Seven looms as unwanted spectacle for cricket

The latest development in the Seven-Cricket Australia feud is significant not just because the network has gone down that route but because of what might be made public as a result of it, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Chris Barrett.

Seven’s request for documents concerning CA’s amendment of the international and Big Bash League schedule for the 2020/21 season stands to potentially lift the lid on some of the game’s most crucial relationships.

Among the emails Seven wants ahead of claiming CA breached its contract with the fixture changes this summer are those between Australian officials and their counterparts from the powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India, including its president Sourav Ganguly, the ‘Prince of Kolkata’.

The network’s lawyers are also eager to see correspondence between CA and Foxtel, believing the interests of India and the News Corp-owned pay television provider were favoured over Seven’s in the limited-overs portion of the men’s international season being placed before the Test series.

[Read more]

See also: Cricket Australia, Channel 7 legal fight: Broadcaster says BCCI manipulated schedule

By News Corp’s Ben Horne and Peter Lalor

[Read more]

Record-breaking audiences deliver hot start to summer on Fox Cricket

The Summer of Cricket has started with the first two games of India’s Tour of Australia achieving record ratings on Fox Cricket, with Sunday’s audience of 585,000 the highest rating One Day International ever on subscription television and the third most-watched sports program on STV of all time.

With a live audience of 585,000 across all Foxtel platforms, the second Australia vs India ODI surpassed previous record STV audience in 2015 for Australia’s World Cup Final win over New Zealand. Sunday’s audience was up 41% on the top rating ODI of the 2018/19 Australia vs India series (Game One).

Women’s cricket is also going from strength to strength with the WBBL|06 Final between the Melbourne Stars and Sydney Thunder, the most-watched WBBL game on STV ever with an audience of 131,000 across Foxtel Platforms, up +24% on the 2019 Final.

Steve Crawley, executive director Fox Sports, said: “How good’s the cricket. The women are the best in the world and now Australia’s ODI men’s team is performing better than we’ve seen in modern times against top-rated India and Virat Kohli – it doesn’t get any better.

“Beginning the summer with the white ball has proven to be a hugely successful formula for Cricket Australia. On Wednesday, we’re off to Canberra for the final men’s ODI then three T20s, all exclusive to Fox Cricket leading into the First Test. It’s a ripper schedule and already fans are loving it.”

India’s Tour of Australia continues with the final ODI match on Wednesday from 1.45 pm AEDT, leading into three T20’s from December 4 and the Australia A v India day-night Tour match on December 11 – all live and exclusive on Fox Cricket, before the first Test on December 17.

Fox Cricket’s coverage is available live only on Foxtel, and to stream on Foxtel Now, Foxtel Go and Kayo.

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