Mediaweek roundup: Tokyo 2020, MAFS, David Leckie + more


• Fox Footy, Ben Cousins, A-League, NRL, Foxtel & Nickelodeon, Disney & Apple, Paul Fletcher, Brisbane FM radio, 6PR, Michael Clarke, Vogue, Stan & Foxtel + AAP

Business of Media

Seven bring back David Leckie to help win ratings war

Former Seven West Media boss David Leckie is back in the fold with the network, reports Sydney Confidential.

Four years after the high-profile media executive left Seven, the Daily Telegraph column reports Leckie has been brought in by new chief executive James Warburton on a consultancy basis.

The consulting work will not require Leckie to be in the office and it is understood to be a few hours per week.

The paper has reported Warburton has consulted Leckie since he began his top position with the broadcaster in August.

The new relationship is understood to have been formalised after those initial conversations with Leckie advising Warburton on key programming decisions.

Warburton said: I’ve been speaking to him regularly since I returned to Seven and have formalised those conversations into a part-time consulting role, where David can act in a mentoring capacity to a small number of key executives in the business.”

Leckie stood down as Seven West Media CEO in 2012 and was replaced by Tim Worner.

Seven prepares for Tokyo Games to be cancelled

Seven West Media is preparing for coronavirus to force the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics in what would be a financial disaster for the network amid struggling ratings and growing debt, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

Seven West Media paid around $200m for the rights to the 2012, 2016 and 2020 Olympics and has based its entire 2020 strategy on ratings and advertising around the Tokyo Games.

Barry O’Brien, founding chairman of advertising group Atomic 212, estimated the sponsorship deals for Seven were worth “$90 to $100m.”

However he doubted the Games would be cancelled. “I think it’s highly unlikely that they don’t go ahead. The Japanese have $5bn worth of sponsorship rights tied up in this thing. With all those big Japanese companies, I can’t see them doing it.”

[Read more]

Stan and Foxtel vie for Warners and HBO content

WarnerMedia is believed to have Foxtel and Stan vying to secure new content deals, including HBO, as the battle for premium content in the streaming wars heats up, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

Sources told The Australian Financial Review that Stan, along with Nine, was talking to WarnerMedia, owned by US telecommunications giant AT&T, about securing HBO content for the subscription video-on-demand service, as well as other Warner Bros content across the media business, including the Nine Network and ad-funded streaming service 9Now.

Foxtel, which holds exclusive first-run rights for HBO content in Australia, was also understood to be vying to keep the content beyond the two years left on its agreement.

[Read more]

Future of AAP in doubt as financial pressure mounts

National news agency Australian Associated Press is facing mass job cuts and the prospect of closure as its shareholders confront one of the toughest media markets in history, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Sources close to discussions about AAP’s future, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the operation has been under immense financial pressure and major shareholders Nine Entertainment Co and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp were assessing all options.

AAP executives will meet with Nine and News Corp Australia executives this week to make a final decision about the operation’s future. As many as 180 jobs could go as a result of the planned changes – representing the entirety of AAP’s remaining editorial operations.

AAP posted a profit in 2019 after a major restructure, with chief executive Bruce Davidson assuring it would be the last of the major editorial redundancy rounds for the news wire service.

[Read more]


Aussie cricket stars show style and spirit in new Vogue Australia

Ahead of their must-win clash against the old enemy New Zealand, Australian cricketers today appear in the fashion bible as it uses its trademark style to shine a spotlight on the women’s T20 World Cup – and examine what the tournament means for all Australians in 2020, reports News Corp’s Justin Lees.

Stars like Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry swap cricket whites for summer styling in an on-field photoshoot blending classic and cool, giving off a 1950s movie-star vibe.

In an accompanying article, cricket bosses share their strategy for grabbing worldwide attention with the culmination of the Cup, Sunday March 8 on International Women’s Day while the players reveal what the changing face of cricket means to them.

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Former Australian captain has punishing schedule on day one

Michael Clarke debuts on the Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast in Sydney on Monday with the most hectic 21-hour schedule for his first stint alongside footy legend Laurie Daley and Gerard Middleton, reports News Corp’s Phil Rothfield.

Afterwards he will rush to Melbourne to call the crucial Australia v New Zealand Women’s World Cup T20 game.

This is his diary:

• 2.30am Alarm, 3am gym
• 4.30am Arrive at BSB studio at Frenchs Forest
• 5.30am On-air, 9am show finishes, taxi to airport
• 11am Flight to Melbourne
• 3pm World Cup call
• 9pm Flight to Sydney
• Midnight: Sleep
• 4.30am Tuesday Back at Big Sports Breakfast

[Read more]

Three-way tussle to top Brisbane breakfast radio

Stav Davidson isn’t fazed about the three-way tussle for top spot on Brisbane FM radio, describing the system that measures radio audiences as archaic, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

Davidson, who co-hosts breakfast show Stav, Abby & Matt weekdays on Hit105 with Abby Coleman and Matt Acton, says he doesn’t care about ratings, which has helped with his longevity on-air.

“If you go chasing them you’ll end up failing. If I don’t think I’m doing the best show regardless of what it’s rating, then I shouldn’t be doing the show,” Davidson told The Australian. “I just try to do the best show I can do, and hopefully that resonates with people. The way they take the ratings is very archaic and I don’t think it’s very accurate.”

[Read more]

Radio hosts apologise to Daryl Somers over claims on 6PR

Diva demands of a furnished marquee, pricey wine and a cameo appearance by Plucka Duck dressed up as Father Christmas make for a tantalising yuletide tale, reports News Corp’s Alice Coster.

But Daryl Somers says claims he was fired from hosting Ballarat’s Carols by Candlelight last year because of his over-the-top demands are simply untrue.

The three-time Gold Logie winner aid he feels vindicated after a costly legal stoush was settled this week when entertainment journalist Peter Ford and TV presenter Basil Zempilas personally apologised for their “false comments” [made on Perth radio].

“There were a lot of false allegations made against me and I thought, not this time I need to get to the bottom of this,” Somers said.

“It came down to a full and unreserved apology been issued to me from Peter Ford and Basil Zempilas.”

Zempilas also issued an apology this week, acknowledging disparaging comments were made and that Somers was of good character and someone who had made an enormous contribution over many years.

Veteran entertainment reporter Peter Ford, who is no shrinking violet, said Somers should, um, “piss off.”

The entertainment journalist said he expected to cop a degree of flack when he so often dished it out. But Somers legal demands wore him down over the past three months.

[Read more]


Paul Fletcher warns laws must change to save local film and TV

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has warned current Australian regulations are condemning local film and TV to sharp decline and must be updated to help content producers hold their own in the era of global streaming services, report Nine publishing’s Fergus Hunter and Zoe Samios.

Fletcher said the Australian film and TV sector had an opportunity to capture a share of the growing international market for content fuelled by the rise of Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime and other services. The platforms boast 500 million subscribers globally, with the number expected to double in the next five years.

“We won’t capture that opportunity while we have a set of regulatory and funding arrangements premised on an industry structure which is long gone,” Fletcher told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

“Traditional broadcast television is facing sharp declines in viewer numbers and revenues – yet existing regulations require industry participants to spend millions on shows which fewer and fewer people are watching.”

[Read more]

Disney and Apple have a duty to support our screen economy

The issue of local content on Australian television has reared its head again with news last week that the Seven network has halted the production of children’s television and Nine boss Hugh Marks saying his network was looking at doing the same, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Nathanael Cooper.

The Australian communications bureaucracy also needs to urgently find a way to level the playing field between free-to-air broadcasters who pay to broadcast and the streaming platforms like Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime, Disney + and Apple TV+ who do it without paying and without the same regulation. Stan is making huge inroads making content here, Netflix dipped its toe in but appear to have given up. Prime has a reboot of Packed to the Rafters coming, but nothing else has been revealed. Disney and Apple don’t even seem to be aware Australian content exists. They have a duty to support our screen economy or frankly, they can bugger off. The relationship can’t only be one directional.

[Read more]

Foxtel discussions underway for extension on Nickelodeon deal

Foxtel is in negotiations with entertainment giant ViacomCBS to renew its distribution deal for children’s brand Nickelodeon as the News Corp controlled pay TV company readies the ground for the launch of an entertainment based streaming service, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Nickelodeon, which runs shows including Spongebob Square Pants and Paw Patrol, operates in Australia as a joint venture between its US parent and Foxtel. The joint venture was first formed in 1995 and was set to expire in January but Foxtel and ViacomCBS have agreed to an extension. The new length of the joint venture agreement is not clear.

“Foxtel’s support of Nickelodeon-branded businesses in Australia has been and continues to be instrumental to its two decades-plus of growth and diversification across television, digital, consumer products, live events and location-based experiences,” a ViacomCBS Network spokesman said.

[Read more]

Viewers make switch and turn the telly off

The number of people tuning into prime time free-to-air television is in freefall as the commercial networks struggle to retain fracturing audiences in the face of increasing competition from streaming services, reports The Australian’s Lachlan Moffet Gray.

Nine’s Married At First Sight might have come out the winner against Seven’s My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals and Australian Survivor: All Stars on 10 last Monday (February 24), but there was little cause for celebration.

Just over 2.1 million people in OzTAM’s five-city metro ratings tuned in – well down on the 2.645 million who tuned in to watch MKR, MAFS and 10’s Dancing with the Stars at the same time on Monday, February 25 last year.

[Read more]

Hollywood ‘talent accelerator’ in Australia to feed streaming beast

One of Hollywood’s most successful independent production companies is coming to Australia in a bid to unearth new talent to satisfy the explosion in demand created by streaming, reports The Age’s Karl Quinn.

Imagine Impact, an offshoot of Ron Howard and Brian Grazer‘s Imagine Entertainment (winner of 46 Emmys, 10 Golden Globes and 10 Oscars), is launching its “Silicon Valley accelerator approach” to development in Melbourne, the first iteration of the scheme outside the US.

“We’re looking to discover creators whose work connects with wide, global audiences – the future George Millers and Rebel Wilsons,” says Tyler Mitchell, who founded Impact with Howard and Glazer in 2018.

The program runs as an intensive eight-week workshop in which “creators” (new writers) are paired with “shapers” (established writer-producer-showrunners). It culminates with a pitch day at which at least some of those projects will hopefully find willing buyers.

Applications for Impact Australia open March 3. Details:

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Sports Media

NRL signs key Hisense deal for Thursday Night Football

The National Rugby League has signed a new sponsorship deal with electronics company Hisense as a naming rights sponsor for Thursday Night Football and major sponsor for the State of Origin series, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

NRL boss Todd Greenberg has confirmed talks with US-based digital streamers Amazon and Facebook as well as setting a deadline to finalise his own contract negotiations with NRL chairman Peter V’landys.

With Thursday Night Football to run every round in 2020 following strong ratings performance, securing Hisense naming rights for the fixture and as a major sponsor for State of Origin is a win for the NRL in what is the toughest ad markets in years.

[Read more]

Premier League supremo tells A-League how to kick revenue goals

If there’s a man who can help the A-League navigate through the current fog of streaming and sports rights wars, it’s Richard Scudamore, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

The former executive chairman of the English Premier League who helped the competition become No 1 in the world and pulled off a sport’s rights deal worth more than $10bn is now working with the A-League in an attempt to bring it up to standard.

Even though Australia’s top-flight soccer league is entering the exciting championship stage of the season, it has been experiencing a decline in crowds, ratings and, some would argue, overall quality that has been an unfortunate recurring theme for soccer leagues in this country.

Scudamore told The Australian he thought the quality of A-League play was comparable to other leagues around the world, but it needed to grow and “earn” that growth by putting on a better show for the fans.

[Read more]

Ben Cousins’ secret TV mega-interview coming on Seven

He has won a Brownlow Medal, done jail time, associated with some of Perth’s most notorious underworld figures, and been one of the country’s highest-profile drug addicts, reports The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.

Six months after his release from prison, tortured former AFL star Ben Cousins has granted the country’s most sought-after sports interview to Seven’s Basil Zempilas.

Tabakoff understands the “no question off limits” interview took place in secret over five days in Perth last week, and will screen later this month as a feature-length special.

The special is being produced by Mark Llewellyn who returns to Seven as a fly-in, fly-out “super producer” on big event specials like the Cousins interview.

[Read more]

Gogglebox favourites Adam and Symon hosting show on Fox Footy

Gogglebox favourites Adam Densten and Symon Lovett are hosting a new show on Fox Footy, reports News Corp’s Jackie Epstein.

The pair who left the Foxtel hit show last year, will front Premierships and Footy Trips, an engaging and fun talk show that reminisces on the glory years.

Each week the boys, who work as physios, will sit down with a legend of the game, sharing stories fans have never heard before.

“It’s always a leap of faith but it is time for us to grow up,’’ said Lions fan Adam.

“The basis of the show is trying to find out urban legends and mythical stories that people never worked out are true or not.

“We are big footy heads so it’s a match made in heaven.”

[Read more]

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