In a recent Mediaweek podcast recorded at Easter, we interviewed the executive editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, James Chessell, and the director of subscriptions and growth for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review, Dave Eisman.
By James Manning
Below are some of the highlights.
JC: His legacy will be one of bringing stability to the newsrooms. A lot of people were made redundant during that period. There were some really tough decisions on the printing side as well, and not for a minute am I suggesting it was a particularly pleasant or easy time for people that worked at any of the three metro mastheads.
The days of redundancy rounds are behind us, the budgets are healthy, subscriptions are growing, advertising revenue is growing. We are genuinely in a different era, to the point where our part of Nine is actually the fastest growing.
For us to be in the fastest growing part of a large media company is pretty amazing. It’s not something I would have envisaged seven, eight, nine years ago, and I do think Greg Hywood deserves some of the credit for that. He made some pretty unpopular decisions, but that’s what CEOs have to do.
JC: It’s been a really easy transition.
Hugh Marks pretty early on said that he wasn’t going to integrate newsrooms or tell us what to do, and he’s been true to his word, which has been great.
Yet at the same time we have probably increased the amount of collaboration we’ve done. David Rowe went to Syria, one of our camera reporters went to Syria with our great photographer Kate Geraghty.
Nine helped pay for that, it’s not cheap to send someone over there. We did some stories over there for the newspapers and David also appeared on television.
JC: There’s recognition that if you were to start interfering with the direction of the Herald or The Age, there will be economic consequences.
Our readers are very intelligent people, they don’t like to have political views pushed down their throat. They’re smart enough to make up their own minds on matters of politics or any other serious issue. If we started becoming a bit didactic, a bit more tabloid in the way that we approach issues, we would destroy the value of the mastheads, so it would be a self-defeating thing.
DE: One positive out of the merger is it’s really clarified the role of each of the mastheads in the portfolio. The role of The AFR was always clear – it’s a tool for business people and political executives and aspiring executives. What it’s enabled the Herald and The Age to do is really focus on distinctive local, national, international journalism aimed at their core subscriber base.
It’s really enabled us to send a message to the newsrooms. This is about firstly growing that loyal, habitual audience that come back to us every day because they recognise that what we do is different and not something you get everywhere. Ultimately proving enough value for them that they’re willing to pay for our journalism. Coming together with Nine has really enabled that because we’ve got a mass reach online, publication and the portfolio. It’s really enabled us to come up with a clear business strategy for each of the products.
Listen to the full podcast here: What are Nine’s plans for The SMH and The Age?
DE: Fairfax had spoken publicly about a finite lifespan for print without ever putting a date on it. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen enough hard data from a commercial perspective that suggests that lifespan is probably longer rather than shorter. The print ad performance has really improved.
We’ve seen really healthy demand in market for weekend products if we package it up appropriately. We ran a summer sale over December and January where we offered a promotional discount on a digital subscription with the weekend papers. We saw some of the strongest take up we’ve seen since we launched digital subscriptions in 2013.
DE: It’s been gradually tightened over the last year or two as we’ve built confidence in the subscription model.
JC: It’s a dynamic paywall by definition – a certain type of reader might hit the paywall quicker than another type of reader. We have also plugged the gaps in the paywall. There were big holes in the paywall at Brisbane Times and WAtoday for example.
It is a lot harder now to get huge amounts of our journalism for free.
JC: We talk about breaking news and that can mean two things. It can mean there’s a big event like Christchurch and the Herald and The Age are the place people go when there’s a big event. Readers know that we are quick yet accurate, and we’re not going to be sensationalist. But breaking news also means giving people exclusive news, news they cannot get somewhere else.
It’s an important part of the business and if your reporters aren’t getting scoops or exclusive news, it probably suggests they’re not doing their job.
The second part is setting the agenda. We have a sense of the topic areas that our readers are interested in and we want to be a serious part of the national or the state conversation for those issues. We don’t want to be a publication that just sits back, setting the agenda is really important.
The final thing is quality. If you’re asking people to pay, you need to ensure that the quality of your journalism is rather decent or better than decent standard, a high standard. That goes from the copy itself to the quality of the ideas. Because there’s a lot of commoditised news out there, there’s no point serving that up. If you’re going to write about Israel Folau, or you’re going to write about the federal election, or whatever it is, you have to be doing it in a way where people go, “You know what, that was really a quality piece of work, I don’t mind paying for that.”
DE: We would absolutely explore things like that. In fact, I think we’ve even done that in the past. At the moment our focus is on doing the best job we possibly can of selling the core value of the news products. I don’t want to speak on behalf of our colleagues at Stan, but they’ve got an incredibly strong catalogue, and they’re focused on selling that. In the future, I think we’d absolutely look to do things like that.
Listen to the full podcast here: What are Nine’s plans for The SMH and The Age?
Top Photo: Nine’s Dave Eisman (left) with James Chessell
• Australia’s #1 podcaster Andrew Denton reveals his Top 5
Two busy podcasters have been covering all things health for women who are keen to understand their bodies, their wellbeing and their hormones on a whole new level.
PodcastOne podcasters Nat Kringoudis, a best-selling author and natural women’s health expert and her long time radio host and now podcast co-host Cecelia Ramsdale love to go to the topics that nobody else talks about and discuss them with leading experts from around the globe to help their growing audience feel happier, healthier and better.
Ramsdale met Kringoudis in 2016 after Kringoudis put out a call on her social media for a podcast partner. “I had no idea who she was, but a friend told me to apply because I had radio experience and it sounded like fun,” Ramsdale told Mediaweek.
“I sent a video in answering the questions she asked and I got a call saying she had chosen me. From the first time we met we hit it off. We soon started making podcasts about fertility and health related issues for women. We used to work with Labsonics before we got the chance to work with PodcastOne.”
The duo had about 20 podcasts recorded before the move to PodcastOne where they have recorded another 50 in 18 months.
Ramsdale has a background in radio, formerly working with Fox and Triple M in Melbourne. “I hosted the Australian Music Show on Sunday nights and also worked on Tony Martin’s Get This.” Ramsdale learnt to panel with another radio and PodcastOne legend – Andy Lee. She no longer works for SCA, but has built a career as a voiceover artist.
The prolific podcast partners pump out lots of content, with a new episode dropping every week this year.
Plans for the future include a live podcast. Subjects that resonate best with their audience include how to be happier and how to have better relationships.
Ramsdale told Mediaweek Lola Berry has been a popular guest in the past and recent subjects have included financial wellness.
“The thing I love most about this podcast is the scope is endless. It started off being about hormones and fertility, but we now cover everybody with information about how to be healthier, happier and better.”
This is the first acquisition for podcast platform Acast and it claims the move will significantly expand its offering for a wider range of podcasters. Pippa is a technology company offering hosting, analytics, and monetization for podcasters.
Acast said Pippa will bring it a consumer-facing offering that will enable any podcaster to sign up to host their show with just one click, whilst also having the ability to make money from their podcast from day one through Acast’s monetisation tools.
Ross Adams, Acast CEO, said: “This acquisition meaningfully accelerates our growth and will move Acast forward in our mission to empower podcasters of every size and help them connect with audiences around the world. We were extremely impressed by what the Pippa team has built and we’re excited to pour fuel on the flames now that Pippa is part of the Acast team.”
Combined with Pippa, Acast said it will now have more than 7,000 shows covering the full range of podcasters from publishers including BBC, Financial Times, Economist and Vogue.
The Joe Rogan Experience, one of the world’s most popular podcasts, has requested to be removed from Luminary, the new $8-a-month premium podcast platform, which launched in the US this week.
Rogan joined a number of other podcasts who found their content turning up on the Luminary platform this week. Other people withdrawing included podcasts from The New York Times and Spotify.
With the first two episodes launched this week, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has launched a podcast.
Available only via Spotify, the Tech & Society podcast is promising a series of conversations on the future of technology and society. Zuckerberg and his guests take on the biggest questions about tech’s place in the world – along with the opportunities, challenges, hopes, and anxieties that come with it.
Zuckerberg launches the series with Harvard Law Professor Jonathan Zittrain at Zuckerberg’s alma mater. They cover everything from encryption and privacy to misinformation and future research areas, all in front of a special audience – Zittrain’s students.
Zuckerberg then sits down with Mathias Döpfner – the CEO of the largest news publisher in Europe, Axel Springer – in Berlin. They answer questions like: What role does quality journalism play in building informed communities? What principles should Facebook use for building a dedicated area to surface more high quality news? They also talk about the privacy-focused vision Zuckerberg laid out for the future of social networking and his ideas for internet regulation.
Andrew Denton launched his new podcast series Interview last week. It shot to #1 on the day of launch and is still holding down that position on the iTunes chart several days later.
Today Denton takes part in Mediaweek’s My Top 5 podcast series.
New York Public Radio investigating a strange world.
• Russia If You’re Listening
From ABC Radio, presented by Matt Bevan.
• The Daily
From The New York Times.
• Download This Show
Marc Fennell’s weekly podcast from Radio National.
The world’s first late-night call-in podcast, hosted by comedian and broadcaster Tony Martin.
Sky News and The Courier-Mail will host a People’s Forum on Friday May 3 in Brisbane – the first time the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader will come together to face voters’ questions in a live television broadcast during the election campaign.
Mr Morrison and Mr Shorten will take LIVE questions from 100 undecided voters as chosen by YouGov Galaxy.
Sky News Political Editor David Speers will moderate the one-hour forum LIVE from 6:30pm AEST.
David Speers said: “If you’ve found the campaign boring so far, tune into this forum. The leaders can’t hide or dodge. They’ll have to convince a room of undecided voters why they deserve to be Prime Minister. These forums have been pivotal in recent election campaigns and give everyone a fascinating look at who’s really up to the job.”
Sam Weir, Editor, The Courier-Mail said: “Queensland is the key battleground of this election and, with so many marginal seats at stake, who holds power from May 18 will be decided by voters in the Sunshine State.
“As Queensland’s most influential media brand, The Courier-Mail is delighted to partner with Sky News to host the People’s Forum in Brisbane on May 3. It’s an essential opportunity for voters from all around Queensland to put our political leaders to the test on the issues that really matter to their lives.”
Paul Whittaker, Sky News Chief Executive said: “It’s appropriate that the most highly anticipated debate of this campaign is being held in Brisbane where the Coalition is under intense pressure to hold 21 of the 30 federal parliamentary seats up for grabs at next month’s election. Queensland’s knife-edge marginal seats will play a pivotal role in the election outcome with preferences from minority parties likely to prove crucial in deciding the final results.
‘’The Sky News/The Courier-Mail People’s Forum will provide undecided voters with a unique opportunity to question the leaders on their policies and vision for the country just two weeks out from Australians going to the polls. Candid, direct and LIVE our People’s Forum debate will test the political mettle and authenticity of both leaders who will be asked to address the concerns of the people.’’
Join Sky News for coverage from 4:00pm AEST for SPEERS as David Speers anchors his award-winning political program LIVE from the venue followed by pre-forum analysis at 5:30pm AEST also featuring The Courier-Mail’s Federal Political Reporter Renee Viellaris.
Mr Morrison and Mr Shorten will then face the undecided voters for questioning from 6:30pm AEST.
Join Paul Murray at 7:30pm AEST for post-forum analysis as he examines the responses to the issues and concerns raised by the people of Brisbane LIVE from the venue.
On Saturday May 18 as Australians head to the polls, Sky News will deliver the most comprehensive coverage and analysis of the 2019 Federal Election LIVE.
Friday 3 May
• 4:00pm AEST SPEERS with David Speers LIVE from Brisbane
• 5:30pm AEST Sky News/ The Courier-Mail People’s Forum: The Countdown
• 6:30pm AEST Sky News/ The Courier-Mail People’s Forum LIVE hosted by David Speers
• 7:30pm AEST Sky News/ The Courier-Mail People’s Forum: The Verdict hosted by Paul Murray
Photo Credit: Richard Jupe/News Corp Australia
On first hearing about The Lego Movie, my response was Hollywood has officially run out of ideas. What would I know, given it went on to gross nearly half a billion dollars, with several movie sequels, albeit with waning interest. Now there is a TV series. So has television officially run out of ideas?
By Andrew Mercado
Lego Masters (Sunday on Nine) is described as a “blockbuster” series (get it?) with judge Brick Man and host Hamish Blake and a first building challenge that takes a mammoth 15 hours to complete. Thankfully, this exciting process is whittled down to just half an hour. Sadly, there is still another hour to go because every reality show now has to go for 90 minutes or more.
Given its family appeal, it’s odd that Nine didn’t start Lego Masters during Easter rather than the last night of school holidays. Casting wise though, they are hoping for a broad audience, with two blokes wearing hi-res vests who look like they were auditioning for The Block. It is also good to see a diverse mix of contestants, making it more multicultural than the all-white House Rules (Sunday on Seven) but still lagging behind MasterChef (Monday on Ten).
For some non-reality programming on Sunday, the ABC asks Will Australia Ever Have a Black Prime Minister? Hosted by charismatic actor Mark Coles-Smith, and with contributions from Stan Grant and Barrie Cassidy, this doco highlights some sobering statistics, but ends on a hopeful note with some determined Indigenous schoolchildren
The school kids from Broome are a lot livelier than the surly teens seen in The Bay (Wednesday on Seven), a new UK crime thriller. With missing kids, a small coastal town and a troubled detective, it’s been dubbed Northern Broadchurch, and it does come across a bit too familiar. There are six episodes, and the final one just aired in the UK, with the audience response appearing to be “meh”. Producers are hoping for a second series, so fingers crossed.
Also crossing his fingers is MKR (Finale Sunday on Seven) contestant Romel who is “creating a sizzle reel” for his own TV talk show along the lines of Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. It’s always entertaining when TV Week asks reality stars what they want to do next, which is usually getting their own spin-off show. Or if that doesn’t work out, there’s always more reality shows. Celebrity Lego Masters? Will Australia Ever Have a Reality Star Prime Minister? Yeah, like that could ever happen.
• Seven wins Anzac Day Thursday with AFL & The Front Bar
• Anzac Day coverage of Marches & Dawn Services rates for ABC
By James Manning
• Seven News 1,298,000/1,090,000
• Nine News 894,000/870,000
• A Current Affair 641,000
• ABC News 685,000
• 7.30 508,000
• The Project 233,000/433,000
• 10 News First 314,000
• SBS World News 151,000
• Sunrise 277,000
• Today 200,000
Seven had a good grip on Anzac Day audiences starting with Sunrise with its traditional Anzac Day from Currumbin with just under 300,000 watching.
The Anzac Day AFL coverage had a match audience of 779,000, which was the best audience this year.
The close finish and the extraordinary scenes at the end of the Collingwood v Essendon match helped push the first half of the 6pm News audience to 1.29m.
Home And Away was close to 600,000 after 7pm.
The Front Bar had its biggest episode of the year with the show going into all metro markets on the primary channel earlier in the evening. The metro audience was 428,000 with 287,000 in Melbourne. Sydney and Brisbane got the episode at 9.30pm with AFL markets getting it at 8.30pm.
The day in Sydney and Brisbane was dominated with NRL coverage on the primary channel.
The afternoon match between Roosters and Dragons did 317,000 with 198,000 in Sydney. The evening game between Storm and Warriors then did 354,000 with 188,000 in Sydney.
Nine’s AFL Footy Show recovered a little this week with 157,000 in an earlier timeslot with 93,000 in Melbourne.
Bachelor In Paradise did 433,000 and managed to rank #1 entertainment show under 50.
The Project also did 433,000 with Birds Of Tokyo appearing after their controversial booking earlier in the day at the MCG.
Escape From The City was just outside of Adelaide and made the top 10 programs with 446,000.
The UK drama Doctor Foster followed with 221,000.
Combined coverage of Anzac Day marches earlier on Thursday made the top 20 with 389,000. Coverage of the Gallipoli Dawn Service then did 258,000 followed by the Villers-Bretonneux Dawn Service on 193,000.
Jack The Ripper: The Case Reopened did well at 7.30pm with 267,000.
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.7%||7TWO||3.4%||GO!||4.6%||10 Bold||4.7%||VICELAND||0.8%|
|ABC ME||0.7%||7mate||3.3%||GEM||2.7%||10 Peach||2.2%||Food Net||0.9%|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.9%||7TWO||4.6%||GO!||2.6%||10 Bold||4.7%||VICELAND||1.8%|
|ABC ME||0.8%||7mate||4.3%||GEM||2.0%||10 Peach||2.4%||Food Net||0.8%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||3.0%||7TWO||3.5%||GO!||3.1%||WIN Bold||3.8%||VICELAND||1.7%|
|ABC ME||1.5%||7mate||5.4%||GEM||5.2%||WIN Peach||1.9%||Food Net||1.0%|
|ABC NEWS||0.9%||7flix||1.1%||9Life||1.9%||Sky News on WIN||1.8%||NITV||0.3%|
|THURSDAY METRO ALL TV|
16-39 Top Five
18-49 Top Five
25-54 Top Five
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
Just days before TV garden and design guru Jamie Durie returns to the Seven Network, he has joined Mediaweek for a new podcast.
After four years as a regular contributor to 10’s The Living Room, Durie has revealed to Mediaweek his role on Seven’s House Rules is only the first part of a new deal with Seven that will see him back on screens in another series too.
Durie, who has hosted or guested on an amazing 52 different TV shows, talks about his judging role on House Rules and working alongside his new colleagues Johanna Griggs, Wendy Moore and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.
Also covered in the interview are memories of his days on Backyard Blitz, his continuing friendship with Nine’s Scott Cam, his long-time manager at Bravo Talent, his time in the US working with Oprah and then the HGTV and FYI networks plus his work as an author and design consultant.
Optus is considering entertainment and drama as the next pillar of its content strategy, building on its focus on European football and National Geographic, which chief executive Allen Lew says is helping win new customers and retain existing ones, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.
Lew said the telecommunications company would not buy a huge array of diverse content; instead, it would focus on niche areas with high engagement.
“Optus is going to build this strategy around being very focused, being deep and delivering exceptional content in one, two, maybe three areas at best,” Lew told The Australian Financial Review on Thursday.
In a nod to the growing importance of video content to Optus, the telco recently poached Seven West Media executive Clive Dickens for the new role of vice-president of television, content and product development.
A new printing arrangement between media heavyweights Nine Entertainment Co and News Corp has suffered a hiccup after two pages of The Sydney Morning Herald were printed in its rival The Daily Telegraph, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jennifer Duke.
The error appeared in the country edition and was later corrected for metropolitan versions. It prompted the Telegraph to apologise to readers on social media for the mistake it said occurred during the production process.
Sources close to Nine said the media company would not be requesting any compensation from News Corp over the mistake and described it as a “human error”.
A News Corp spokeswoman said “all steps” were being taken to ensure the error did not happen again.
A Nine spokeswoman said the issue was “corrected as soon as it was identified”.
“We hope the early edition readers of the Tele enjoyed our Sydney Morning Herald editorial,” she said.
Married At First Sight stars keen to extend their 15 minutes of fame are hitting the road for a national tour, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.
With the tour named Still Looking For Love, the likes of Cyrell Paule, Mick Gould, Melissa Lucarelli and Ning Surasiang from the last season of the reality show will take to the stage in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney next month.
Dean Wells from the 2018 season is being billed as a special guest “bad boy” for the Enmore Theatre event on May 19.
“Now Cyrell, Melissa, Mick and Ning spill the beans on what else happened when the cameras were on, and just as importantly, when they were off,” a press release read.
The tour promoter is DRW Entertainment – the David Roy Williams Entertainment Group was established by Shock Records founder, David Williams.
There’s no one like Chris Lilley. He creates boldly original characters that come to life in meticulously curated environments. And he doesn’t just play characters, he inhabits them, reports The Age’s Debi Enker.
In his new series, Lunatics (Netflix), he creates six new ones and directs all 10 episodes. As has been the case with many of his previous shows, he also co-produces and writes the scripts as well as the theme music, score and songs. His fingerprints are everywhere.
Some of the new characters work better than others. Several aren’t very nice. To apply a crude division, they run the gamut from insufferably arrogant to naively deluded, and they’re frequently oblivious to their impact on others.
When Netflix released a trailer for Lunatics, howls of protest erupted, with accusations that Lilley was once again being insensitive.
Lilley’s genius lies in the empathy he can conjure for his often foolish and initially unsympathetic creations. Deftly and unexpectedly, he makes us feel for them, worry about their humiliation and celebrate their triumphs. We see the vulnerability buried beneath the bluster.
Lilley is audacious and unapologetic. And he’s allowed the odd misfire – like S.mouse and Gavin – because when he hits the bullseye, as he does with several of the characters here, it’s magic.
As MasterChef enters its 11th season it’s very much a case of “if it ain’t broke…” At the same time, striking the balance between keeping things fresh and keeping on doing what works is probably a greater challenge than just making a new show from scratch, reports The Age’s Melinda Houston.
In 2018 executive producer Marty Benson decided to give a little tweak to the Mystery Box challenge. Then at the end of last year he thought, well, Shannon Bennett has been the resident “mentor” on the show for four years. The longest anyone had been in the role. “It felt like that was an area we could refresh,” Benson says. Problem was, there aren’t many chefs better than Shannon Bennett in Australia.
“So it was staring us in the face,” Benson says. “We should have past contestants. But one past contestant? Over Shannon Bennett? It didn’t really make sense. So we thought, ‘How about we get a crack team of past contestants that are popular with the viewers, have a wide range of skills and kind of cover all seasons?’ ”
Australian football is set to have a greater free-to-air presence as a network looks to double the number of A-League games shown live each round as well as purchasing the rights for Socceroos and Matildas fixtures, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Dominic Bossi.
Network 10 are the frontrunners to land the free-to-air component of the A-League broadcast deal, which is up for renewal for next season, and could purchase a higher stake of live football from pay-tv provider Fox Sports.
Football Federation Australia have previously said they are talking to the three major networks – 10, Seven and Nine – though it’s understood Network 10 have shown the greatest appetite for purchasing the A-League rights.
The $120 million Australian bid to take over English League One side Charlton Athletic appears to be back on, reports AAP.
A representative of the south London club, who have struggled on and off the field since relegation from the Premier League in 2007, said at a fans’ forum event this week that an international group are in the “final stages” of completing the purchase of the club.
Club representative Lieven De Turck confirmed the Australian Football Consortium (AFC) is one of three parties in the hunt to buy the Addicks from hugely unpopular owner Roland Duchatelet, who’s been trying to sell the club for almost 18 months.
The AFC is headed by Gerard Murphy, a management consultant who has previously worked with AFL clubs Geelong, Richmond and Port Adelaide along with West Ham United and the England rugby team.
He is joined by Philip Aiken, a London-based Australian business executive and Essendon board member Andrew Muir, the former head of The Good Guys retail chain.
Charlton are fifth in League One on 82 points, and have secured a place in the end-of-season play-offs to reach the Championship next season.