• OMD’s chief investment officer on ratings numbers that matter
• Nine sales boss on the plan that delivered Nine’s best-ever Q1 ratings
• How new sponsors clamoured to be part of TV’s hottest property
By James Manning
Interviewed just before the Easter break, Mediaweek was joined by one of Australia’s biggest TV advertisers, OMD’s national chief investment officer Melissa Hey, and the sales boss of TV’s #1 network, Nine chief sales officer Michael Stephenson.
Below are some of the highlights from a Mediaweek podcast where they analyse the commercial value of Nine’s hit Married At First Sight, the rest of Nine’s schedule including the Australian Open and what Nine still has to come in 2019.
Melissa Hey also discusses the challenges at Seven and 10 and both guests talk about the changing way TV is consumed and the ramifications for TV ad revenue.
Although it may be a familiar tale to some, it is worth exploring with Michael Stephenson the genesis of Nine’s Q1 success.
“Three years ago when Hugh Marks joined Nine, he sat with me and asked what he could do to help the sales. There were two things that I spoke to Hugh about. One thing I said was having the entire business focused on the demographics – 16-39, 25-54 and grocery buyers with children. The second thing I said was we had to start the year stronger.
“To his credit, plus Michael Healy, Adrian Swift and the rest of the content team, we supercharged Married At First Sight. History will tell that was an excellent decision.
“This year was the culmination of three years of hard work and planning to get to a point where Married At First Sight could launch off the back of the Australian Open. There isn’t a better promotional platform on television to launch a year.
“That has all contributed to where we are today – at the end of the first quarter. We have had our best start to a year since television ratings began on OzTAM . It is a record and we now have incredible momentum.
“We have delivered against 25-54s which is the major success metric for any of us and we have a 43% share of that target audience. We are growing our audiences in the demos and offering great value to advertisers.”
OMD’s Melissa Hey said the Australian Open wasn’t the only factor helping Nine’s Q1 performance. “I would argue that the PR that Nine began at the end of last year started discussion around the show and then the Australian Open helped push it further.”
Hey also noted how after 10 years of My Kitchen Rules the audience was probably ready for something new. “Married At First Sight is also different to anything that is out there. Perhaps also the talent on My Kitchen Rules this year hasn’t been engaging as it has been in other years.”
As to audience trends around popular shows, Hey spoke about the changing consumer habits about choosing what to watch.
“When you have multiple major formats on television like we do throughout most of the year on Seven, Nine and 10, consumers will choose their go-to show and they will predominantly watch that live. They will then watch their alternate shows on demand. Because we have invested in the [on demand] technology it is giving consumers more choice than ever before. They are watching more video content than they ever have.”
Hey added that TV media buying still centres largely around live linear TV. “Everyone is talking about selling online streaming as an additional audience and we are currently working through how you do that.”
There was some discussion around the suitability of the Married At First Sight content for all audiences given its early timeslot.
Stephenson: “At its core, Married At First Sight is a social experiment. The couples there are genuinely looking to find love. Within this series Jules and Cam did which is testament to the fundamentals of the show. The show creates drama and controversy and creates a social currency. That is one of the reasons why it was so successful.
“Hugh and Michael and the team are conscious at all times about the tone of shows and making sure a program is right for the timeslot it is on air.
“They did a great job of capturing the drama while also making sure it was appropriate for viewers.
“From an advertising point of view we started the series with four partners and we ended with six. It is almost unheard of that during a series you will find new partners and sponsors for a format.
“We also had a record number of spot buyers coming in because they wanted to take advantage of the audience.”
Hey: “Buyers know what the show is about before going in it. If a client doesn’t want to be associated with that they say upfront and they won’t go in.”
Hey said it was the role of the agency to advise clients on what shows would be acceptable content to carry their messaging. “Clients have to decide whether they go for the ratings and the reach it can deliver or whether they will walk away from it. That is a discussion we have to have with the client.”
Nine in “great shape” for rest of 2019
Regarding the rest of the schedule, Stephenson said Nine is in great shape. “After Married At First Sight, we go straight into Lego Masters with eight episodes. Then it’s into The Voice and then Australian Ninja Warrior before we go into The Block. There is a mix between long formats across multiple weeks and shorter run series. It is all Australian-created content and family-focused at 7.30pm.
“That creates our spine for audience delivery for the entire year. Off the back of that we invest into our 8.30pm content – Travel Guides, Your Gen and Australian drama.
“The lead into all that are of course Nine News and A Current Affair.”
The ratings numbers that matter
“Total people doesn’t matter to us,” said Hey. “I don’t have one client that buys total people. People 25-54 is the metric we go on and examine.
“Seven used to quote total people because it was a sure thing for them. 10 have also cut the numbers that best suits them.
“From an agency perspective we have to look at them based on what our clients are buying against.”
Stephenson: “Our broad measure of success is 25-54. Also our share of audience from open to close, across four channels, from January 1 to December 31. We report on if we are growing our audience in thousands year-on-year because that is what advertisers are buying from us.
“Hugh Marks would look at our sales performance and if we can generate a share of revenue that is greater than our share of audience. That is our internal measure of success.”
When looking at 10’s results this year, Hey noted they it had been competitive with some particular programs under 50: “It will need an extra kick and I think that is coming with MasterChef. If 10 had continued with Sunday Night Take Away there would have been concerns about how they were going to pull back the decline.
“Gogglebox has been performing well and Dancing With The Stars is doing [under 50] numbers that is keeping 10 in the game.
“The Project is a good show, but it needs to be a bit more consistent. It is good to see 10 marketing it which it hasn’t done much before.”
Forget about “non-ratings” and “out of survey” weeks
Stephenson, who sits on the OzTAM board as Nine’s representative, said “survey” periods don’t matter any more. “I haven’t used the word in many years. People watch television from January 1 to December 31 and that is when advertisers buy inventory. There is no such thing as a non-survey period. It should be 52 weeks a year.
Hey added: “Clients are active 52 weeks a year. There should be no off-ratings. Networks do put repeat programming on air when the so-called survey is off.”
Hey added the non-ratings periods do cover weeks where there is less viewing because people are out and about.
Tomorrow: Nine’s expanded asset portfolio, the TV ad funnel, the future of TV measurement and regional media ad spend
Top Photo: Melissa Hey with James Manning and Michael Stephenson
TV buyers and sales directors tell Mediaweek elsewhere today that every week of the TV year matters equally when it comes to ratings.
With that in mind we note that Seven has won its second week in the past three weeks. The margins have been pretty slim. And, as is also pointed out in our feature today, all people is not where it is at. The focus is 25-54.
With that in mind, Seven is claiming the week in all demos for the primary channel and the combined channel shares.
The channel’s most-watched programs were its Sunday and weekday news bulletins. Next best were its three episodes of My Kitchen Rules screened last week. All episodes had audiences over 800,000.
Other key performers included Home And Away and The Front Bar while daytime superstars like Sunrise and The Chase continued to rack up wins.
After dominating Q1, Nine backed off significantly last week with its third-lowest share of the year. The primary channel all people share of 17.8% was marginally better than its start to 2019 with shares of 17.4% and 17.5% in the first two weeks of January.
Nine’s best performers last week were Nine News weekdays and the Sunday bulletin. A Current Affair was next best with an average of 701,000 across the week followed by 60 Minutes on 694,000.
Although 10 remained the third-placed network, it recorded its best all people share since week six back in early February.
Lifting the channel’s performance all people and in particular under 50 was the arrival of Bachelor In Paradise which ranked #1 under 50 on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The combo of Bachelor In Paradise and the final episode of this season of Gogglebox made Thursday again the channel’s best performing night of the week.
The schedule drove the biggest week of the year for 10 Play, with the numbers up 20% on the previous week.
• Singles: Lil Nas X raps past Billie Eilish with shortest chart tune
• Albums: The old vs the new – BTS narrowly beat The Seekers
By James Manning
It only lasts for 1 minute and 53 seconds, but the infectious Old Town Road from Little Nas X has unseated Billie Eilish from top spot. The simple country-flavoured rap has also set a new record for the number of global streams in a week, toppling the total number of streams Drake had for In My Feelings.
An Old Town Road remix featuring Billie Ray Cyrus (which runs for two and a half minutes) is helping chart momentum. It also helps the tune qualify for country music charts from which its was controversially banished. The song is now being called a “four-format hit” after attracting interest from four radio genres – country, pop, urban and rhythmic.
Little Nas X made it to the top after a steady four-week trip up the chart after sitting at #2 last week.
A good job there was a change at the top this week as there wasn’t a lot else happening regarding new arrivals.
Just two tracks were new to the top 50:
#10 BTS with Boy With Luv featuring Halsey. The track comes from the #1 album this week and has set a few records of its own. The video for Boy With Luv first set a new record for the biggest ever first-day debut on YouTube. Then it set three Guinness World Records – “most viewed YouTube video in 24 hours,” “most viewed YouTube music video in 24 hours,” and “most viewed YouTube music video in 24 hours by a K-pop group.” These records are getting pretty specific – most views in 24 hours by a K-pop group!
#11 Avicii with SOS featuring Aloe Blacc. A posthumous single release from Avicii that was nearly finished prior to his death 12 months ago. The tune comes from a forthcoming album, Tim, due in June.
Plenty of action on the Easter album chart with eight new entries into the top 50.
The rush for a new #1 saw the K-pop boy band BTS battling against the Aussie veterans The Seekers. The BTS army helped the youngsters win that battle, but certainly no disgrace for The Seekers who debuted at #4, making it past the three Queen albums still clogging the top 10.
With seven tracks, the new BTS release is being described both as an EP and an album. Although the group has been around for six years, there still seems to be plenty of upside for them as their fame builds heir following into newer markets.
The Seekers’ album is a release of their 2013 Melbourne Australian Farewell Tour performance.
This week’s other chart debuts:
#14 Norah Jones with Begin Again. Another seven-track release making a mark on the chart.
#17 The Chemical Brothers with No Geography.
#19 Anderson .Paak with Ventura.
#21 Sarah Storer with Raindance. The highest ARIA chart debut for an album from the Aussie country music artist. Her previous best was #24 for Firefly in 2005 – an album that also topped the Australian country album chart.
#31 Clowns with Nature/Nurture
#49 LSD with LSD. The first album release from the musical collaboration of Labrinth, Sia and Diplo.
When a game from 2017 tops the retail video game sales charts in Australia midway through 2019, it tells you a couple of things. One, that the game (in this case Star Wars Battlefront II) has seen an aggressive sale in one or more retail chains, and two; we’re in the middle of a release lull.
By Cam Shea, editor-in-chief, IGN Australia
Sekiro, the darling of the last couple of weeks has slipped down to fourth place, while The Division 2, Yoshi’s Crafted World and The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame have all dropped spots. Behind Battlefront II, one of last year’s greatest games, Red Dead Redemption II, is back in the number two spot. Red Dead’s going to be on these charts for a loooong time.
Of course, the video game release calendar never stays quiet for long, and before April is out, fans will have the latest instalment in the ultra-violent Mortal Kombat fighting game series to play, as well as the PlayStation-exclusive Days Gone, which promises a massive post-apocalyptic open-world rife with zombies, paired with desperate, improvised combat that takes more than a cue or two from The Last of Us. Can it deliver on that lofty goal? We’ll know soon.
• After 48 episodes My Kitchen Rules finds first grand finalists
• Dancing With The Stars grand final gives 10 its biggest Monday
By James Manning
• Seven News 1,201,000/1,087,000
• Nine News 981,000/971,000
• A Current Affair 823,000
• ABC News 674,000
• 7.30 561,000
• The Project 273,000/461,000
• 10 News First 358,000
• SBS World News 153,000
• Sunrise 241,000
• Today 183,000
Leading Seven to a win again was My Kitchen Rules. It was episode #48 last night and Ibby and Romel were the first team through to the 2019 Grand Final. Their sous vide technique and modern Middle Eastern flavours wowed the six semifinal judges more than Pat and Bianca’s traditional take on some Italian classics. An overcooked osso bucco lacking in sauce sealed the frenemies fate and saw them eliminated after a good season run to get this far.
Earlier in the night Seven News averaged over 1m at 6pm with help from the Easter Monday Hawthorn v Geelong clash.
Both parts of Nine News got close to 1m. Nine then ruled the 7pm timeslot with A Current Affair starting its new week on 823,000.
An hour of Young Sheldon did 482,000 and then 348,000.
The season final of Dancing With The Stars delivered for 10 with its best Monday of the year and its biggest share on any night since the first Thursday in February.
Samuel Johnson and partner Jorja Freeman were the surprise winners after Courtney Act secured the highest scores from the judges. Johnson proved to be more popular with the 10 viewers and he and his partner secured the DWTS trophy plus $50,000 for his Love Your Sister charity.
Earlier in the night The Project at 7pm was on 461,000 after an average last week on 397,000.
Some of the regulars got a night off for the Easter Monday holiday. Subsequently ABC had its lowest Monday share since January.
A repeat of David Attenborough’s Wonder Of Eggs did 421,000 at 8pm.
Rowan Atkinson then starred in Maigret In Montmartre with 337,000.
The final episode of Queen Victoria And Her Nine Children did 238,000 at 7.30pm.
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||3.1%||7TWO||4.6%||GO!||3.3%||10 Bold||4.0%||VICELAND||1.4%|
|ABC ME||0.9%||7mate||4.3%||GEM||1.8%||10 Peach||2.4%||Food Net||1.3%|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.6%||7TWO||2.9%||GO!||4.7%||10 Bold||3.3%||VICELAND||1.6%|
|ABC ME||0.6%||7mate||5.7%||GEM||2.6%||10 Peach||2.7%||Food Net||1.1%|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||3.5%||7TWO||4.0%||GO!||4.9%||10 Bold||1.8%||VICELAND||1.6%|
|ABC ME||0.9%||7mate||4.1%||GEM||2.8%||10 Peach||2.5%||Food Net||1.1%|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||3.0%||7TWO||2.5%||GO!||3.2%||10 Bold||3.7%||VICELAND||1.4%|
|ABC ME||1.0%||7mate||3.6%||GEM||3.4%||10 Peach||2.8%||Food Net||1.3%|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.3%||7TWO||3.4%||GO!||2.3%||10 Bold||3.9%||VICELAND||1.2%|
|ABC ME||0.8%||7mate||4.1%||GEM||2.2%||10 Peach||1.7%||Food Net||0.9%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||3.1%||7TWO||4.7%||GO!||2.5%||WIN Bold||4.1%||VICELAND||1.5%|
|ABC ME||0.7%||7mate||5.6%||GEM||3.9%||WIN Peach||1.7%||Food Net||0.6%|
|ABC NEWS||1.2%||7flix||1.7%||9Life||1.7%||Sky News on WIN||1.5%||NITV||0.2%|
|MONDAY METRO ALL TV|
Thursday Top 10
Friday Top 10
Saturday Top 10
Sunday Top 10
Shares all people, 6pm-midnight, Overnight (Live and AsLive), Audience numbers FTA metro, Sub TV national
Source: OzTAM and Regional TAM 2018. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) without the prior written consent of OzTAM
Commercial free-to-air television and radio networks are the big winners from Clive Palmer’s federal election advertising spending blitz, which has now passed $31 million with four weeks still to go until election day, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.
The billionaire businessman’s United Australia Party has splashed out $31.7m on ads in prime time TV and radio and newspapers over the seven months to April 14, according to data and analytics group Nielsen.
At the same time, the Liberal, Labor and Greens have spent just $12m combined, spurred on by a state election held in Victoria in November and NSW’s state election in March.
As the focus switched to the federal election in the week to April 14, Palmer’s UAP spent $2m, compared to the Liberals’ $315,000 and Labor’s $250,000. The Greens spent just $5000.
American Media announced last week it has reached an agreement in principle with James Cohen, the owner and CEO of Hudson Media, for the sale of its newsprint tabloids, including the National Enquirer (US and UK editions), Globe and National Examiner.
The agreement also includes a multi-year service contract that will generate substantial fees for American Media to provide publishing, financial and distribution services for the tabloid brands.
US media reports valued the deal at US$100m. It was also reported that American Media’s chief content officer, Aussie Dylan Howard, will remain with American Media.
“The sale of these brands shows their vitality in today’s newsstand marketplace where they continue to generate nearly $30 million in profit annually,” said American Media President and CEO David J. Pecker. “James and his team at Hudson have a proven history in publishing and have the market-based knowledge and long-term vision needed to ensure the growth of these brands.”
“Year after year, the Enquirer has continued to be one of the best-selling and most profitable newsstand titles,” said James Cohen. “But this transaction is about more than a weekly publication, it’s about a brand with extraordinary potential across multiple platforms.”
Cohen said he plans to accelerate the Enquirer’s current collaborations with Investigation Discovery, as well as the documentary shows it produces for REELZ. In addition, he sees exponential growth and engagement through weekly series podcasts from the tabloid’s archives. The recent 12-part audio documentary podcast, Fatal Voyage: The Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood, quickly became the #2 program among all Apple podcasts worldwide with 4+ million downloads in 2018. Expanding the National Enquirer theme parks that recently opened in Branson, Missouri and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to other markets is another priority.
The agreement between the companies is expected to close as soon as possible once the necessary regulatory approvals have been obtained.
Television news producer Stephen Rice has been questioned by police while working in Zimbabwe, three years after he was held in jail over kidnapping allegations during an assignment in Lebanon, reports News Corp’s Briana Domjen.
Rice and star Channel 7 reporter Matt Doran were escorted from their hotel in Harare by police on April 15 after a doctor claimed they had attempted to kidnap him. However, they were released without charge shortly after.
The newsmen were in South Africa for the Sunday Night program, covering the story of Gold Coast woman Abigail Prangs, who was adopted by a Queensland family after being “dumped” on the road in Harare when only a day old.
Rice moved to Sunday Night in 2017 after being arrested in Beirut with 60 Minutes reporter Tara Brown, cameraman Ben Williamson and sound recordist David Ballment over the Faulkner affair.
Climate change-focused independents, including Rob Oakeshott and Zali Steggall, are banding together under the guidance of firebrand former Fairfax journalist Margo Kingston, reports News Corp’s Annika Smethurst.
The centrist candidates are targeting Coalition-held electorates and claiming the Liberal and National Parties are being overtaken by climate-change deniers and business lobbyists.
Kingston, who describes herself on Twitter as a “frightbat queen”, was a political writer for The Sydney Morning Herald in the 1990s before she quit to write a book about One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, who she argued was misunderstood and unfairly demonised by journalists and politicians.
Ahead of federal election night, one big media secret can be revealed: commercial TV bosses have been putting the moves on the ABC’s election expert, Antony “The Oracle” Green, reports The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.
Green told The Australian he rejected the offers because he felt commercial networks were too preoccupied purely with the election night TV coverage itself, and not enough with the years of painstaking preparation that goes into making that coverage work.
10 will make a big comeback to a full election night coverage on May 18, after six long years in the political wilderness.
That means Waleed Aly will headline a who’s who of 10’s top talent on election night, which also includes his colleagues on The Project, Lisa Wilkinson and Hamish Macdonald. Other network stars on 10’s election night roster will include newsreaders Sandra Sully and Chris Bath, Hugh Riminton, and its political editor (and this paper’s contributing editor) Peter van Onselen. 10 has also landed a big political catch: Defence Minister and government numbers man Christopher Pyne on the very last night of his 26-year political career. Other network expressed interest in Pyne, but 10 got him across the line.
News Corp’s Angela Mollard has written a profile on Today show co-host Deborah Knight for Stellar magazine:
After being overlooked, first at Network 10, where she lost her newsreading role to Sandra Sully, and then on Today where both Sylvia Jeffreys and Georgie Gardner were promoted ahead of her, this year has seen Knight finally land the plum role many believe she has long deserved.
Snaring the seat vacated by Karl Stefanovic was always going to generate interest, particularly when Nine Network executives made the unprecedented decision to have two women helm its flagship breakfast show.
But if five mornings of gruelling breakfast television wasn’t enough, Knight has also held on to her role reading news bulletins on Friday and Saturday evenings, prompting speculation she’s keeping her options open if the new Today line-up doesn’t work out.
As to conjecture that she and Gardner don’t get on and are locked in a battle for the top spot, Knight said:
“We’re not schoolgirls in a schoolyard,” she points out with barely concealed exasperation. “We’re professional people and it shouldn’t matter that we’re two women. It disappoints me that has to be the focus.
“Georgie and I have enormous respect for each other,” says Knight. “We’re very different people, but I think that’s a good thing because we bring different approaches.”
Eddie McGuire has revealed the late Kerry Packer’s advice to him about giving away money on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, reports News Corp’s Nui Te Koha.
Typically, Packer, the former Channel 9 titan, prefaced his guidance with a scolding. It was 2003, and music guru Molly Meldrum had walked away from the game show with $500,000 for charity.
Packer phoned McGuire at home the following night. “‘What are you doing giving all my money to your f—ing mates?’” the network owner barked. “‘I saw you last night; you were helping him!’”
McGuire denied Packer’s charges, and reminded him the show was for charity, which calmed the media boss. Packer then shared his ethos for the show with McGuire: “Don’t be looking after those lawyers or doctors from Toorak or Bellevue Hill. Look after the battlers.”
Then-Nine bosses Ian Johnson and David Leckie earmarked McGuire to host Millionaire. The Australian version of the show, overseen by Red Grundy Productions, based on a hit format already airing in Britain, launched in 1999.
“I had to go to Grundy school to learn the format,” McGuire said. “You weren’t allowed to stray too far outside the lines. We had the dark suit, dark shirt and dark tie.
Three contestants have won $1 million on the show: Rob Fulton (2005), Martin Flood (2005) and Edwin Daily (2016).
Bachelor in Paradise star Brooke Blurton says she is not a fake lesbian, reports News Corp’s Briana Domjen.
The fan-favourite reality TV contestant, who also appeared on Nick Cummins season of The Bachelor, has hit back at critics who have questioned both her motives and sexuality.
“I have been called a fake lesbian quite often and people say I pick and choose whether I am going to be with men or women depending on the circumstance,” the 24-year-old told The Sunday Telegraph.
“I have genuinely had two girlfriends in my life and I was with both of them for a substantial amount of time and I have also been with men. But I don’t put myself in the bisexual box.”
When asked whether she was temped to put her hand up for a third time at finding love on TV, the Aboriginal mental health first aid instructor said, “No”.
“No more dating shows for a while. Definitely not. No.”