Monday April 29, 2019

Gary Roberts on making 96FM a better station, and he’s impatient

• But it will take time, and ARN won’t act until new research is in

By James Manning

The new managing director of ARN’s iconic Perth licence 96FM, Gary Roberts, had never planned to return to radio just nine months after leaving Nova 93.7.

“It was never intended, nor was it part of the plan,” Roberts told Mediaweek just eight days into his new role.

Roberts left Nova 93.7 in July 2018 and had a non-compete clause making him off limits until January 2019.

See also:
Game on in Perth: Gary Roberts saddles up again to run 96FM

“I was lucky enough to be part of the team that launched 96FM. I came back as the program director and had a wonderful 12 years. After four I also became the general manager. It was a sensational period to be honest and we achieved a lot. We established FM in the market, launching better than any other FM station in the country. It was only when ownership changed again I decided it was time to move on. It was bloody hard to leave.

“It’s a bit weird to find myself back again. The opportunity to reignite what is the best heritage brand in the marketplace was to good to let pass.

After his time at 96FM, Roberts ran the Perth duopoly 94.5 and 92.9 and was the launch MD at the then new Perth licence Nova 93.7, which is a JV between ARN and Nova Entertainment. He was also chairman of Commercial Radio Australia for three years.

Roberts said he thought most people were surprised to learn of his new role, but added: “I have had no negative reactions to it. It might have made a few people feel a little uncomfortable.”

Roberts had discussions with ARN for some time about contract details, something he didn’t want to share with our readers!

He did however say one non-negotiable was an overseas holiday for Roberts and his wife Wendy, which will see them out of the country in May. “We are off to Europe for a month. It would cost a lot to cancel it, plus I don’t think I could afford the associated divorce.”

In the meantime, Roberts said there would be no major decisions about the future of 96FM made until he has new research data.

There are some very good people here and I have enjoyed the contact I have had with the network. They have known me for a long time because of the joint ownership of Nova 93.7. We sat on a lot of board meetings together over 16 years.”

Roberts thought it doubtful he would now sit on that board as an ARN representative.

Roberts had high praise for his new colleagues including Duncan Campbell who previously worked with him at 96FM. “Ciaran Davies [CEO & MD] is great, Michael Harvey [COO] is great and we know what we are talking about and we are all on the same page.”

While Roberts said he had not planned this comeback, he explained: “I told everyone when I left Nova, I was resigning, not retiring. I thought I would be doing something else, but this was not on my list of those things.

Roberts said it was premature to speculate who 96FM would compete with most in the future. “Nobody should have any concern about 96FM until we sharpen it into a better product than it currently is. There are things we have to address. I would expect we are being watched by Nova and SCA. Up until this point I don’t think 96FM was drawing a lot of attention. But it will now.

He did elaborate a little, noting he didn’t think 96FM would be targeting Nova’s core audience.

Roberts laughed when we asked if he wanted improvement sooner rather than later, given he is not a young man.

“Of course. I’m not a patient man either.”

Without detailing exactly what, Roberts said there were a number of things he would implement to make 96FM a better station in the short-term without needing research.

That doesn’t mean 96FM is a bad radio station, it just needs to be a better radio station.

With just eight working days under his belt when we spoke, Roberts admitted he was still on a sharp learning curve.

He has been holding one-on-one meetings with staff since he arrived on day one. “I knew a couple of people when I walked through the door so I need to get to know everyone else.”

Roberts added staff are pleased to see the station getting the attention it deserves. “We aim to get 96FM back to where it should be…and we will.”

Brand Value

Roberts must have been wondering if we were not listening properly to what he had already said about the heritage value of the station when we asked if a name change was at all possible. (We just wanted to double check!)

I just told you it is the best heritage brand in the market. Why would you change it? If you asked Nike or Apple if they wanted to change their brand name, would they be receptive? Probably not.

“There are lots of brands that do have great heritage and 96FM had it. It dominated the market place from 1980 until 1992. Lately it has had ups and downs, but there is nothing wrong with the brand.”

As to the amount he has to invest in returning 96FM to the top, Roberts said: “We will do everything that we need to do to get us where we need to be.”

How soon should we expect results? “I expect the station to be judged in 2020,” Roberts told Mediaweek. “Instant change doesn’t happen overnight and radio doesn’t move that quickly unless it’s like the special circumstances involving people like Alan Jones.”

He suggested they wouldn’t be making any “monumental” changes, instead making improvements to the product.

Matt Tilley’s new radio challenge: Hosting a solo show on Nova

• Day one on air at Nova for former Fox FM and KIIS 101.1 brekky host

By James Manning

The breakfast radio veteran’s teenage children won’t be asking dad when he’s going to get a job anymore.

Matt Tilley left ARN at the end of 2017, vowing to take a year off, after co-hosting KIIS Melbourne breakfast with Meshel Laurie.

Not that he was home that much. Tilley travelled a bit and indulged some of his cycling fantasies. Those trips included visits to Belgium, Amsterdam, Northern France and then later in the year another trip took in the Pyrenees and the Dolomites.

Tilley told Mediaweek he didn’t really think too much about what his next radio role might be, or even if he’d stay with the industry. “I was too excited about having the year off.”

Matt Tilley (right) and Troy Ellis at Fox FM a decade ago. With them are breakfast guests Michala Banas and Miranda Kerr

Tilley also did some study, taking on a Diploma of Business (Governance) for not-for-profits. Tilley even launched his own charity raising money for various homelessness organisations.

“That became a fulltime job for a couple of months. It is called the Aussie Dollar Drop and the Victorian Andrews Government agreed to match every dollar we raised.”

The charities sharing the money include The Salvation Army, The Big Issue, Melbourne City Mission and Berry Street.

“The idea was that if everybody gave on dollar on one day [that day was the Victoria State Election] then that could be millions.”

Tilley ultimately decided to return to radio instead of working fulltime on Aussie Dollar Drop. “If I was to pay myself a salary from that then not enough was going to the people who needed it. I will let it find its feet and I have decided to go back to work.

I had decided I really loved radio and it felt like it was what I do. Around that time I got a call from Nova out of the blue.

That call came from Nova Melbourne PD Rohan Brown. “He asked me if I wanted to meet for lunch, tomorrow! I then caught up with Paul Jackson two days later and the deal was pretty much done.

“It all happened very quickly and I liked the idea.”

After years in breakfast radio Tilley noted mornings would be very different to a breakfast shift, first and foremost because he will be on air by himself.

“I am used to a very frenetic pace and that is not what we are looking for. I like that challenge.”

Nova is very keen to promote Tilley as the host, wanting more than just someone to announce the odd tune and a few weather updates.

“Nova has just been unbelievable. I keep saying to them are you sure about this?’ ”[Laughs]

After a long time at Fox with Austereo and then Southern Cross Austereo, Tilley said he found ARN very a big change.

“They were completely different. Their management structure through to the way they looked after people was very different.”

Tilley then suggested it was not too early to pass judgement on his new home.

“I find first impressions important and I have been amazed. Nova is a very fun, fresh place to work and everyone likes being there.

Tilley has a few former colleagues at his new workplace, none more familiar than his longtime Fox breakfast colleague Troy Ellis. “He is on air after me each day and it’s like having your little brother here.

“Rohan Brown was with us at Fox for years and his wife was the producer on my breakfast show for a while.”

When describing the Nova music, Tilley called his playlist “fun and familiar”.

He added there is no “weird-ass urban. That’s probably not a category, I just made it up.”

Is he nervous starting a new show at a new station? “For sure – particularly because it is me by myself. I won’t be able to hide behind anyone else’s bad performances.”

His brief from Nova was simple. “They want the ratings to go up. I get the feeling there is more to it though. Spotify and things like that are powerful competitors now. Just offering good music is possibly not enough. There needs to be music and entertainment.”

Andy Lee on why he and Hamish Blake say ‘no’ more than ‘yes’

• Talkin’ ’Bout Your Generation’s return key to Nine’s Q2 success

By James Manning

After dominating the TV first quarter of 2019 with Married At First Sight, Nine has reset its sights on Q2 with Hamish Blake and Andy Lee the major initial drawcards.

Although the radio-turned-TV stars work better together, Nine is lucky enough to be able to get the triple play this year with each star featuring in their own series before they come together later in the year.

Blake was first to air this week as the host of the new Lego Masters with three episodes in its initial week.

Lee follows on Wednesday night with the second season of Nine’s version of Talkin’ ’Bout Your Generation.

Together later in the year Hamish and Andy will woo viewers in Hamish and Andy’s “Perfect” Holiday.

See also:
‘It’s going to get messy!’ Shaun Micallef on Your Gen season 2

Asked about how he was finding working on various projects these days after focusing on radio for so many years, Lee told Mediaweek: “It feels very grown up.” [Laughs]

The second season of Talkin’ ’Bout Your Generation has all been finished which means Lee’s focus in now on Hamish and Andy’s “Perfect” Holiday.

Talkin’ ’Bout Your Generation is hosted by Shaun Micallef with Lee, Robyn Butler and Laurence Boxhall the team captains.

Despite this being the second season of Your Gen, Lee said it still feels pretty new. “The pleasant thing about this season…and I hope it comes across onscreen…is that knowing each other better after the first season, makes this new series a lot stronger.

Andy Lee with his Your Gen colleagues and guests from the first episode – Angourie Rice, Christian O’Connell and The Veronicas

“It is a little like playing board games with couples you have just met. You tend to not be as competitive. When family and friends are playing, the snide remarks are better, there is more at stake and there is a bit more fun.”

Lee is coming to grips with being the Gen Y captain after years of being on of the hottest young things on radio and then TV. “Thank goodness I didn’t just slip into Gen X. Imagine being Robyn Butler [Gen X] – that would be awful. I also know that for people sitting on the other side [with Laurence Boxhall Gen Z] they are eventually going to take Hamish and my jobs. I try to give them as little encouragement as possible, telling them TV is way too hard and they should give up.”

While each team captain has a guest from the same demographic each episode, watch out for episode four this season. The guests that week are Red Symons, Pete Rowsthorn and Tina Bursill. “We had a bring your baby boomer to work day,” explained Lee. “The oldies do get their opportunity. It was a very long record because we had to stop for naps and afternoon supper.”

He indicated that having two livewires in host Shaun Micallef and Rowsthorn running amok that episode makes for a great TV.

Lee said he was lucky this season with some great Gen Y guests. “We went from Brendan Fevola one week to a Veronica the next. We had both Veronicas and they were very entertaining with their bickering and competiveness. Watching them fight with each other and then a few minutes later, like many sisters, having forgotten all about it, makes for fascinating viewing.”

Talkin’ ’Bout Your Generation is Lee’s first major regular solo role. He admitted he and Hamish get offered many things. “We have made a career out of saying no,” he said. “A lot of those shows have never seen the light of day. Occasionally some shows we look at and go, ‘Glad we didn’t do that.’ There has only been one show that we said no to that went on to be a fantastic show. And I think we might have made that show worse to be honest.” He declined to share with us what that was!

“We love making our own shows, that’s what gives us the most excitement,” Lee said, indicating he is not about to sign up to work on more solo projects. “Working with Radio Karate – [with creative and business partners] Tim Bartley and Ryan Shelton – is where we focus our energy.

“When other opportunities come up they have to fit them into that and that is why we haven’t said yes to many.

“We had a bit more time in the past two years with the break from radio and less travel.”

While Nine’s Travel Guides has rightfully been getting plaudits for drawing big audiences to a new genre, the show is by no means the first to successfully exploit a combination of fun and travel. Hamish and Andy have been doing it for years and will do again later this year.

“Our show will be very different to Travel Guides,” explained Lee. “There is always a fascination with travel, as there is with food. While food has been done to death, with travel there are always more places to go and more people to meet. In more remote places people are doing unique things to create their own fun and that is what Hamish and I like tapping into.”

While True Story is having a breather in Australia, the format is living internationally with Tim and Ryan looking after business with regard to that format. “It’s work that Hamish and I try to avoid,” said Lee. “We don’t like admin.”

They are also deep into pre-production on Hamish and Andy’s “Perfect” Holiday. The team set off later in May to film the episodes. He was reluctant to reveal where they would be heading.

Lee continues to appear semi-regularly on radio with guests spot on Triple M’s Kennedy Molly drive show. He also still records a weekly Hamish and Andy podcast which he says remains so much fun. “We always knew we were going to miss radio and we feel like it is our natural habitat – chatting to each other in a small soundproof room. We love the feedback to the podcast we are getting from listeners here and overseas.”

One of the guests on the first episode of Talkin’ ’Bout Your Generation is new Gold 104.3 breakfast host Christian O’Connell. The former London DJ credits/blames Hamish and Andy for helping him make the move to Australia. We asked Lee how he felt O’Connell has been adapting to his new home.

“He is going well. He’s a natural broadcaster and I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. He still needs to learn to talk about AFL in a convincing local manner…he will get there. We have a lot of time for that breakfast show, partly too because Jack is part of the team.” Jack Post, aka Caklin’ Jack, was part of the Hamish and Andy team for a decade.

Finalists & host announced for Siren Awards best radio ad of 2019

Finalists for the best radio ad for 2019 have been announced with 11 of Australia’s leading agencies vying for the coveted Gold Siren to be awarded next month.

The finalists are BMF, Cox Inall Change and BWM Dentsu, Meerkats, Cummins & Partners, Eardrum, J. Walter Thompson, Clemenger BBDO, Nova Entertainment, Jayworks Partnership and Leo Burnett.

The ads were undertaken for a range of clients including ALDI Australia, Bowel Cancer Australia, Dry July, Emirates, Keno, St John Ambulance WA and Reflex Paper.

Last year’s Gold Siren winning ad was by Ray Ali and Carlo Mazzarella from Clemenger BBDO Melbourne for mental health advocacy group beyondblue.

The duo are in the running again, this time for their work for Carlton Zero, and they will be competing against colleagues from Clemenger BBDO’s Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne offices.

The winning ad will be announced at the Siren Awards to be held on 9 May at The Rawson in Sydney, hosted by stand-up comedian, breakfast radio star and TV personality Lawrence Mooney.

Mooney hosts the new Triple M Sydney breakfast show Moonman in the Morning and recently had a sell-out season at the Sydney Opera House performing his show An Evening with Malcolm Turnbull. He is well known as the host of Dirty Laundry Live that ran for three seasons on the ABC, and currently hosts the comedy-driven footy show, Up the Guts, on Fox Sports.

The national Siren Awards are run by Commercial Radio Australia and are designed to recognise the best radio advertising in the country.

CEO of Commercial Radio Australia Joan Warner said: “This is the 14th year of the Siren Awards and once again the quality of entries has been outstanding.  The creativity displayed in the diverse campaigns showcases the high quality of radio advertising in Australia.”    

The winner of the Gold Siren wins a trip to the Cannes Radio Lions in June, accompanied by the client of their winning campaign. Three Silver Sirens will also be awarded for the best ads in the categories of single, campaign and craft.  The winners are decided by the Siren Creative Council, a panel of creative directors from leading ad agencies. A Client Award of a $5000 cash prize, judged by a panel of clients, will also be awarded.

Complete list of Siren nominees:

Single

BMF, Sydney, Rob Boddington & Jack Robertson, ALDI Australia – Rump Steak

BWM Dentsu & Cox Inall Change, Melbourne, John Skaro, Phil van Bruchem, Rachel Blacklaws & Alex Walding, Bowel Cancer Australia – Bill Bowelly

Clemenger BBDO, Brisbane, Christie Luxton, Cristian Staal & Shaun Conroy, Keno – Barbershop

Clemenger BBDO, Melbourne, Ray Ali & Carlo Mazzarella, Carlton Zero – HR

Clemenger BBDO, Sydney, Celia Mortlock, Dry July – Ducking Seriously?

Cummins & Partners, Melbourne, Chris Ellis & Chay O’Rourke, Reflex Paper – Postman

Meerkats, Perth, Rikki Burns, Gordon Haynes & Josh Edge, St John Ambulance WA – Blocks

Meerkats, Perth, Rikki Burns, Gordon Haynes & Josh Edge, St John Ambulance WA – Stairs

Meerkats, Perth, Rikki Burns, Gordon Haynes & Josh Edge, St John Ambulance WA – Water

Nova Entertainment, Adelaide, Demi Williams & Eddie Bye, Hutt Street Centre – Walk a Mile in My Boots

Campaign

BMF, Sydney, Chris Berents & Tom Johnson, ALDI Australia – ALDI Christmas Ham, Lobster Tails, Panettone, Prawns, Pudding, Turkey, Champagne

BMF, Sydney, Emily Field, Millicent Malcolm, Stephanie Allen & Rob Boddington, ALDI Australia – Always on Price – Croissants, Kombucha, Sausages

Clemenger BBDO, Brisbane, Christie Luxton, Cristian Staal & Shaun Conroy, Keno – Fun Money

Clemenger BBDO, Melbourne, Ellie Dunn & Emma Powell, QIC|GRE – Eastland Shopping Centre – Coffee with the Ex, Invite Only & Still Got It

Clemenger BBDO, Sydney, Celia Mortlock, Dry July – Ducking Autocorrect

Eardrum, Sydney, Ralph van Dijk & Tristan Viney, Commercial Radio Australia – Radio Alive

J. Walter Thompson, Perth, Tim Newton & Wilora Keeley, RAC Batteries – Non-Emergency Battery Replacements

Jayworks Partnership, Melbourne, Jack & Jeremy Wynne, Chevrolet Silverado – HSV Silverado Live Big

Leo Burnett, Sydney, Daniel Fryer & Stuart Alexander, Emirates – Emirates Department of Family Travel

Meerkats, Perth, Rikki Burns, Gordon Haynes & Josh Edge, St John Ambulance WA – Tiny Tots First Aid

Craft

Astbury Audio, Adelaide, Justin Astbury, Motor Accident Commission – Kid

Clemenger BBDO, Sydney, Robbie Balatincz (Pitchfork), Dry July – Ducking Seriously?

Cue Sound, Perth, Michael Fragomeni, St John Ambulance WA – Shiny Plastic Choking Blocks!

Cue Sound, Perth, Michael Fragomeni, St John Ambulance WA – Boiling Water in a Pot!

Cutting Edge, Brisbane, Mike Lange & Michael Thomas, Keno – Barbershop

Eardrum, Sydney, Paul Taylor (Sound Reservoir), Commercial Radio Australia – Crazy for Cars

Eardrum, Sydney, Paul Taylor (Sound Reservoir), Commercial Radio Australia – Make Cars Happen

Nylon Studios, Melbourne, Ramsay De Marco, Beyond Blue – Sound Booth

Southern Cross Austereo, Bunbury, Nat Marshall & Ethan Kavanagh, Custard & Co – Apple Song

Southern Cross Austereo, Gosford, David Horspool & Cameron Horn, Brisbane Waters Private Hospital – Doors

Becko to host rebranded Triple M Aussie Music Sunday show

Triple M’s national Sunday night’s show Homegrown will be rebranded to Triple M Aussie from this Sunday, April 28, and hosted by Chris “Becko” Beckhouse.

The program celebrates the best in local anthems and tracks from Australia’s biggest albums, delivering a curated playlist of the best Aussie music from the past decades.

Head of music for the Triple M Network Mickey Maher said, “Triple M has a long history of supporting Australian artists and earlier this year we launched a Triple M Aussie digital station. To have a dedicated show, hosted by Becko, along with a dedicated station further highlights our ongoing commitment to showcasing great Aussie music.

“It is not only important to give back to the artists who have helped to shape our music culture, but also those continuing to carry the flame.”

Homegrown has been hosted by various radio greats including Jane Gazzo and Ugly Phil.

Triple M Aussie can be heard Sunday night’s 8-10pm on Triple M Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne, and will replayed on Wednesdays from 10pm. For those listening via Triple M Aussie’s digital station the show can also be heard on Mondays from 9am.

TV Week 17: Seven and 10 improve as Nine rests over Easter

The numbers were marginally better for Seven and 10 during the second week of Easter as viewing patterns were not only interrupted by Easter, but by Anzac Day which caused additional disruption.

Viewing patterns were also upset by no major Australian reality franchises on Nine, while some broadcasters gave some of their shows a rest. One of them included a night off for ABC’s Monday current affairs line-up, which resulted in a significant loss of audience for the channel.

Seven won its second consecutive week, albeit with a primary all people share close to where it has been for much of the year – just over 20%. The usual suspects continued to draw the biggest audiences – Seven News and My Kitchen Rules – although Seven’s coverage of the Anzac Day AFL match was over 800,000, giving it a place in the top 10. It was also the biggest crowd for an AFL game this year.

Nine’s sole programs in the top 20 were Nine News and A Current Affair.

Further down the chart followed 60 Minutes, The Big Bang Theory, Paramedics and Hot Seat.

The Nine schedule fills out though from this week as its bets the first week of post-Easter ratings on Hamish Blake and Lego Masters.

Nine recorded its lowest primary channel share of the year on 17.3% in week 17.

10 has enjoyed a second successive week of primary channel share over 10%, something that hasn’t happened since January. The channel’s best was Dancing With The Stars, which wrapped its first season on 10 as a key contributor to the channel’s under 50 focus.

The next best performers were episodes of Bachelor In Paradise and The Project 7pm.

With MasterChef launching Monday there will be some disappointment if share isn’t up substantially this time next week.

10 Play reported its biggest week of the year with Bachelor In Paradise averaging 168,000 on BVOD, up 23% on the same point of the 2018 series and its live streams were up 9%.

The ABC’s best was Anh’s Brush With Fame, ABC News, 7.30, the final episode of Restoration Australia and The Weekly.

On SBS the biggest crowd pleaser was a tie between Great Continental Railyway Journeys and Jack The Ripper: The Case Reopened.

The channel recorded its equal highest primary share since weeks one and two.

ARIA Chart Report:

• Singles: Lil Nas X #1, Birds Of Tokyo fly, Lil Dicky charity tune
• Albums: Billie Eilish #1 again, Rolling Stones & 10 Tenors debut

Singles

Old Town Road gives Little Nas X a second week at #1.

There were two newcomers to the top 10:

#11 to #8 SOS from Avicii featuring Aloe Blacc after two weeks.
#13 to #10 Someone You Loved from Lewis Capaldi after six weeks.

One of the bigger movers this week was Ava Max with So Am I up from #22 to #14 as the singer/songwriter visits Australia. She has been in Thailand and Singapore in the past few days ahead of her first Australian TV appearance on Sunrise Monday morning.

Birds Of Tokyo attracted plenty of media this week with their gig at the AFL Anzac Day clash. That has helped spike interest in Good Lord, which jumped from #36 to #25, a new peak after six weeks on the chart.

The only chart debut in the top 50 was Lil Dicky with Earth at #46. The charity tune is being helped along with a video featuring voices including Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Shawn Mendes, Halsey, Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brendon Urie and Miley Cyrus.

Albums

It is the second time at the top for Billie Eilish with When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? after spending a week at #2 last week. It has now spent three of its four weeks on the chart at #1.

Highest new entry belonged to the oldest of chart veterans – The Rolling Stones crashed the chart at #15 with Honk. The compilation album features a broad choice of tracks from the early 70s up until material from two years ago. Live tracks featuring special guests are available on a deluxe edition of the album and are taken from stadium shows on the band’s 50 And Counting, Zip Code and No Filter tours. (A version of Wild Horses featuring Florence Welch is worth tracking down.) The Stones last charted in 2012 and are working on their first new studio album since A Bigger Bang in 2005.

Beyoncé has turned up twice in the top 20 this week. Firstly with the chart re-entry of Lemonade at #17, her sixth album, which is getting more plays after it turned up on streaming services Spotify and Apple Music for the first time.

She also charts at #19 with Homecoming: The Live Album which is a soundtrack for a documentary released last week on Netflix which features her performance at Coachella in 2018. The documentary and the album feature a performance from Destiny’s Child too.

The highest new entry from an Australia artist this week belongs to The Ten Tenors with Love Is In The Air new at #27. This is the vocal group’s eighth time in the top 50 and as well as a version of the John Paul Young classic, their new album also interpretations of songs from Ed Sheeran, The Beach Boys, John Legend, Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper.

The chart’s other debut this week is from American rapper LizzoCuz I Love You. Her third album, but her major label debut, is new at #38. Expect to hear a lot more from her. The New York Times celebrated the release on the weekend, labelling Juice, a track from the album, “a retro-funk explosion” from the “flute-playing, twerking, social-media-dominating rapper and singer”.

Top 10 Game Charts: World War Z fights its way to #1

Team-based zombie shooter World War Z came out of virtually nowhere to feast on top spot of the Australian games charts last week.

By Luke Reilly, games editor, IGN Australia

Similar in a host of ways to the fondly-remembered and hugely-popular Left 4 Dead games, World War Z is a basic but confident zombie blaster where players work together in squads of four to survive. Loosely connected to the world of the 2013 sci fi thriller of the same name, World War Z may appear to be several years late to the party – but developer Saber Interactive has taken a decent stab at bringing the World War Z movie’s relentless, swarming piles of the undead to life in its game. That effort, combined with a slow week of new releases, appears to have paid off on the sales charts.

2017’s Star Wars Battlefront II’s surprising cameo at the top of the charts the week before last is well and truly over; it’s gone from the all-formats top 10. Also gone is recent critical and fan favourite Sekiro, with momentum perhaps slowing around the acclaimed but divisively difficult hit.

Expect a shake up next week following the recent release of both Mortal Kombat 11 and new PlayStation 4 exclusive Days Gone. Reception for the latter has been mixed but, with the sheer amount of PS4s in homes, it’s unlikely that Days Gone won’t at least make an appearance in the top 10.

TV Ratings Analysis April 28:

• Nine’s LEGO investment builds massive Sunday audience
• How Seven might have done Nine a favour last night
• Monday showdown next: Jamie v Hamish v Garry, Matt and George

Sunday: Week 18 2019 – Q2 off and running

By James Manning 

• Seven News 1,167,000
• Nine News 962,000
• ABC News 607,000
• Insiders 333,000
• The Project 222,000/316,000
• 10 News First 243,000
• Offsiders 175,000
• SBS World News 166,000

Breakfast TV

• Sunrise 267,000
• Today 178,000

Seven

Could Seven have done Nine a favour last night as it delayed the start of its My Kitchen Rules final until 8pm? That allowed Nine’s Lego Masters to avoid a direct clash early in the night with the cooking show’s Grand Final. However it also allowed MKR some cleaner air later in the night, which after checking the overnights, looks like a good decision.

However caught in the ratings crossfire were the House Rules launch and 10’s Bachelor In Paradise.

House Rules season seven started with the six teams arriving in Sydney on the way to a secret inner-city warehouse. They were being driven to the location in a fleet of sponsor’s cars – this year Suzuki. Host Johanna Griggs then welcomed them to what is the show’s new home base. It was also the start of a renovation project that kicked off the first episode. The highest-scoring team get an advantage when the competition proper starts. They had three days to complete the warehouse renovation.

While the night was being billed by some as Jamie Durie v Hamish Blake battle, the new House Rules judge didn’t make an appearance. Viewers will have to wait until tonight for the warehouse reveals to see him in action.

Meanwhile the season seven launch did 782,000 which probably isn’t a bad result given there was an average audience of 1.37m watching Lego Masters. It’s an even better figure when you note its better than last year’s launch audience of 607,000 (+29% this year) or any of the episodes in the first two weeks last year. House Rules is a notorious slow starter.

On the final episode of season 10 of My Kitchen Rules, the cooking didn’t stop until just before 10pm with the result pushing close to 10.15pm.

Listening to the judges giving their final appraisals viewers might have thought the show was headed for its first Grand Final tie.

The Newcastle cricket mates Matt and Luke got off to an average start in the competition, but their solid partnership saw them peak at the right time, winning People’s Choice at the final location challenge and coming in second on the Ultimate Instant Restaurant ladder. Their opponents Ibby and Romel had been the team to beat all along and last night they served a menu “full of attitude”, “skill” and “flavour”, but perhaps a little heavy on the spice leaving judges’ palates fatigued. Meanwhile Matt and Luke saved their best until last according to Pete, and with the record number of 10 judges describing their food as “elegant”, “stunning”, “restaurant quality” and “divine”, the mates walked away with the $250,000 first prize.

MKR had almost a Melbourne Cup-sized field of judges with Matt and Luke securing a score of 92 out of 100. Rachel Khoo judged them the harshest with an 8, while they secured 10s from Pete, Liz Egan and Guy Grossi. Ibby and Romel had eight scores of 9, but no 10s.

Nine

“Forget what you know about Lego,” said Hamish Blake as he introduced himself and Brickman at the start of their new series Lego Masters. “Welcome to Australia’s #1 Lego building show,” he said as the contestants entered the studio. He then explained the series winning team would get a trophy plus $100,000. The team winning last night’s competition won a Golden Brick, an immunity brick to keep them in the competition. Build #1 was developing a vacant city block to complete the Lego impressive city. They had 2.5m pieces of Lego to use and 15 hours to deliver their build.

Most Lego Masters reviewers mentioned how long the episodes are, the rest of the week will indicate how the audience deals with that. The audience seemed to actually grow across last night’s episode.

After securing a Lego Masters’ launch audience of 1.37m, Nine’s Q1 momentum continues. The program becomes the biggest new program launch of 2019 and the size of the audience meant it swept all key demos.

60 Minutes then included angry school parents talking to Liam Bartlett, Julian Assange’s father spoke with Tara Brown and Liz Hayes interviewed Martin Short and Steve Martin. The audience was on 556,000 after 562,000 a week ago. 

10

The channel has to wait a week until they get a Sunday episode of MasterChef Australia.

Last night it was Bachelor In Paradise filling the 7.30pm slot. That meant of course the new reality formats on Seven and Nine got the jump of the Fiji frolics. BIP did manage 427,000, which was down marginally on the episodes screened last week. The program managed to rank #2 16-39 in its timeslot.

Leading into Paradise was The Project with 316,000 after 7pm.

ABC

Will Australia Ever Have A Black Prime Minister? was the intriguing title of a 7.40pm doco from Perth’s Joined Up Films with actor Mark Coles doing a great job hosting. The doco did 348,000 up against some big gun TV debuts.

Part three of this four-part Vera series then did 671,000 after 677,000 a week ago. That episode added another 90,000 in Consolidated 7 data.

SBS

The launch of David Baddiel On The Silk Road at 7.30pm had an audience of 210,000.

A repeat of the Secrets Of The Chocolate Factory: Inside Cadbury did 180,000.

Week 17-18 TV: Friday-Sunday
 FRIDAY METRO
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 10.1% 7 23.0% 9 17.7% 10  10.5% SBS One 5.0%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 3.0% 7TWO 3.6% GO! 4.4% 10 Bold 3.0% VICELAND 1.5%
ABC ME 0.6% 7mate 4.5% GEM 2.3% 10 Peach 3.1% Food Net 1.0%
ABC NEWS 1.2% 7flix 2.0% 9Life 3.0%     NITV 0.2%
    7Food 0.5%            
TOTAL 14.9%   33.5%   27.4%   16.6%   7.7%

 

SATURDAY METRO
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 12.6% 7 21.1% 9 14.7% 10  7.7% SBS One 5.2%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 3.7% 7TWO 4.1% GO! 5.4% 10 Bold 1.7% VICELAND 1.2%
ABC ME 0.5% 7mate 7.3% GEM 4.4% 10 Peach 2.0% Food Net 0.8%
ABC NEWS 1.5% 7flix 2.6% 9Life 2.5%     NITV 0.4%
    7Food 0.5%            
TOTAL 18.3%   35.6%   27.0%   11.3%   7.7%

 

 SUNDAY METRO
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 11.8% 7 23.9% 9 24.8% 10  8.7% SBS One 4.4%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.9% 7TWO 1.7% GO! 2.7% 10 Bold 3.0% VICELAND 1.0%
ABC ME 0.5% 7mate 4.8% GEM 1.9% 10 Peach 1.6% Food Net 1.0%
ABC NEWS 1.1% 7flix 1.7% 9Life 1.8%     NITV 0.2%
    7Food 0.4%            
TOTAL 16.3%   32.5%   31.2%   13.3%   6.6%

 

SUNDAY REGIONAL
ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 11.5% 7 23.3% 9 22.7% WIN 6.7% SBS One 5.0%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.7% 7TWO 2.2% GO! 2.2% WIN Bold 2.7% VICELAND 0.7%
ABC ME 0.6% 7mate 5.8% GEM 4.5% WIN Peach 1.4% Food Net 0.9%
ABC NEWS 1.5% 7flix 2.3% 9Life 1.7% Sky News  on WIN 1.1% NITV 0.4%
TOTAL 16.3%   33.6%   31.1%   11.9%   7.0%

 

SUNDAY METRO ALL TV
FTA STV
87.0% 13.0%
All People Rankings

Friday Top 10

  1. Seven News Seven 922,000
  2. Seven News / Today Tonight Seven 877,000
  3. Nine News Nine 829,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 777,000
  5. Better Homes And Gardens Seven 592,000
  6. A Current Affair Nine 578,000
  7. ABC News ABC 566,000
  8. The Chase Australia Seven 547,000
  9. Seven’s AFL: Friday Night Football Seven 501,000
  10. Hot Seat Nine 457,000

 

Saturday Top 10

  1. Seven News Seven 878,000
  2. Nine News Saturday Nine 673,000
  3. ABC News-Sa ABC 644,000
  4. Seven’s AFL: Saturday Night Football Seven 583,000
  5. Seven’s AFL: Saturday Night Football – Pre Match Seven 443,000
  6. The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco ABC 422,000
  7. Call The Midwife ABC 417,000
  8. Border Security – Australia’s Front Line (R) Seven 304,000
  9. Getaway Nine 302,000
  10. 10 News First Sat 10 275,000
Sunday FTA
  1. Lego Masters -Launch Nine 1,377,000
  2. Seven News Seven 1,167,000
  3. Nine News Sunday Nine 962,000
  4. My Kitchen Rules-Winner Announced Seven 946,000
  5. My Kitchen Rules-Grand Final Seven 873,000
  6. House Rules Seven 782,000
  7. Vera ABC 671,000
  8. ABC News Sunday ABC 607,000
  9. 60 Minutes Nine 556,000
  10. Seven’s AFL: Sunday Afternoon Football Seven 446,000
  11. Bachelor In Paradise Sun 10 427,000
  12. Will Australia Ever Have A Black Prime Minister? ABC 348,000
  13. Insiders AM ABC 333,000
  14. The Sunday Project 7pm 10 316,000
  15. Sunday Afternoon NRL Live Nine 280,000
  16. Weekend Sunrise Seven 267,000
  17. Gordon, Gino And Fred: The Ultimate Roadtrip Seven 260,000
  18. 10 News First Sun 10 243,000
  19. Hughesy, We Have A Problem 10 231,000
  20. The Sunday Project 6.30pm 10 222,000
Sunday Multichannel
  1. M- The Avengers PM 7mate 187,000
  2. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 152,000
  3. Peter Rabbit ABCKIDS/COMEDY 145,000
  4. Dino Dana ABCKIDS/COMEDY 140,000
  5. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 138,000
  6. Floogals PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 137,000
  7. Rusty Rivets ABCKIDS/COMEDY 137,000
  8. Octonauts ABCKIDS/COMEDY 137,000
  9. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 136,000
  10. Kazoops! PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 136,000
  11. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 136,000
  12. PJ Masks AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 133,000
  13. Bananas In Pyjamas AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 129,000
  14. Andy’s Wild Adventures ABCKIDS/COMEDY 129,000
  15. Bondi Rescue Ep 3 (R) 10 Bold 127,000
  16. Jason Bourne 9GO! 127,000
  17. Insiders AM ABC NEWS 123,000
  18. Olobob Top AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 122,000
  19. NCIS Ep 2 (R) 10 Bold 120,000
  20. Play School AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 120,000
Sunday STV
  1. Live: NRL Knights V Eels FOX LEAGUE 271,000
  2. Live: NRL Sea Eagles V Raiders FOX LEAGUE 202,000
  3. Live: AFL Hawthorn V Carlton FOX SPORTS 503 197,000
  4. Live: AFL Geelong V West Coast FOX FOOTY 184,000
  5. Live: Motorsport: F1: Azerbaijan Race FOX SPORTS 506 123,000
  6. Live: Bounce FOX FOOTY 107,000
  7. Live: Sunday Night With Matty Johns FOX LEAGUE 95,000
  8. Live: F1: Azerbaijan Pit Lane Race Day FOX SPORTS 506 57,000
  9. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 49,000
  10. The Beep Test FOX FOOTY 45,000
  11. Live: Controversy Corner FOX LEAGUE 44,000
  12. In Depth With: Bode Miller ESPN2 43,000
  13. NCIS TVH!TS 42,000
  14. Outsiders Sky News Live 42,000
  15. Live: Sportscenter ESPN2 41,000
  16. Outsiders Sky News Live 40,000
  17. NCIS TVH!TS 39,000
  18. 2017 Super High Roller Bowl ESPN2 39,000
  19. PML Later Sky News Live 38,000
  20. Welcome To The NFL ESPN2 36,000

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

Media News Roundup

Business of Media

Walt Disney sets new records for hottest movie opening ever

Crowds rushing into cinemas across the past few days to see the latest Marvel movie Avengers: Endgame have set box office records around the world.

Australia too has been caught up in the hysteria surrounding the movie release. Opening on Wednesday last week, the movie had opening day ticket sales of $10,277,557, making it the biggest-ever opening day in Australia.

The previous record was held by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which opened with $9.45m back in December 2015.

Disney now holds five of the six biggest one-day box office records with the Avengers franchise accounting for three of them, while Star Wars has two.

Helping Avengers: Endgame into top spot was the number of screens showing the film on opening day. On Anzac Day last year Disney opened Avengers: Infinity Wars on 871 screens. This year Avengers Endgame opened on Anzac Day eve on 1,070 screens.

Internationally the film has broken records in 43 different markets!

The opening weekend globally is close to US$1.2b, while in the US alone the opening weekend was $350m.

The Australian numbers for the opening weekend will be available later today.

News Corp considers equity injection for $2.5b Foxtel refinance

News Corp and Telstra are considering an equity injection of up to $500 million into Foxtel as part of a $2.5 billion refinancing package to help their under pressure pay TV operator fight back against its dominant streaming rivals Netflix and Stan, report The AFR’s Max Mason and Tony Boyd.

The Foxtel refinancing is being run by News Corp’s global chief financial officer, Susan Panuccio. Foxtel was consolidated into News Corp’s financial accounts following the completion of the merger of Foxtel and Fox Sports in mid-2018, which changed Foxtel’s ownership structure.

Foxtel has a range of debt maturing over different tranches and there had been a thought the pay TV provider should consolidate all its debt into one big $2.5 billion refinancing with low US bonds rates making such a deal attractive.

[Read the original]

TX Australia sale a challenge for 10, as network reports profit

The forced loss of Network Ten’s stake in the commercial free-to-air broadcaster’s services business TX Australia remains in play, even as the third-placed television station roars back into profit, reports The Australian’s Andrew White.

Five months after a court blocked a cheeky attempt by the Nine and Seven networks to buy Ten’s one-third stake for $1 dollar was blocked by the Supreme Court of NSW, a formal valuation for a deal is still being worked out.

But it’s believed both Seven and Nine are intent on enforcing their rights to buy the stake, subject to a final valuation being reached.

The loss of the stake would add new costs to Ten because it would then have to start paying the company for those services.

In financial accounts for 2018 that were lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission last week, Ten said the stake could be sold to the other two 33.3% shareholders or another party.

The accounts show that Ten returned to profit last year after its 2017 bankruptcy drenched the company in red ink.

Net profit was $72.65m, against a $351.57m loss in 2017, when the company was placed in administration and subsequently bought by the CBS Network of the US.

Revenue edged nearly $9m higher to $668.99m.

[Read the original]

Nine sale of regional titles imminent paving way for Macquarie deal

Nine Entertainment Co is expected to complete the sale of 170 regional and community newspapers over the next week in a move that could clear the way for a deal with radio network Macquarie Media, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jennifer Duke.

The second round of offers in the two-step auction were due last Wednesday, with Nine now considering the bids for the regional news business known as Australian Community Media & Printing.

Nine chief executive Hugh Marks has also been looking to buy the remaining shares the company doesn’t own in Macquarie since a $4 billion merger with Fairfax Media last year gave the media business a 54.5% stake in the radio company.

Nine is also planning the sale of its events business, which includes popular race The Sun-Herald City2Surf and Good Food Month, and New Zealand publishing arm Stuff.

[Read the original]

Monitor’s win cuts Isentia copyright payments to publishers

Newspaper publishers face a cut in copyright revenues after the industry umpire found in favour of media monitoring company Isentia in a challenge to its licence with the Copyright Agency Limited, reports The Australian’s Andrew White.

Isentia has been given an interim licence that it says will reduce copyright costs – the company’s second biggest cost – and shift that expense from a high fixed sum to a variable one.

The ruling is expected to lead to lower payments to publishers such as News Corp, Nine, which owns the former Fairfax newspapers, Bauer Media, Seven West and others.

“The shift to a more variable copyright cost is a positive outcome for Isentia as it gives us greater control over our second largest cost line,” Isentia managing director and chief executive Ed Harrison said.

[Read the original]

Rowley’s Pedestrian audience claims withdrawn after rebuke

Matt Rowley’s tenure as the new boss of youth-focused online news business Pedestrian Group at Nine Entertainment has got off to a rocky start after a boast that it had 2.5 million readers drew a strong rebuke by media executives, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

In his first week as Pedestrian boss, Rowley posted a table and graph on social network LinkedIn claiming it was the biggest youth-focused publisher in Australia, with a unique monthly online audience (UA) of 2.5 million. The table and graph cited figures from Nielsen Digital Panel from February, and claimed Forbes was in second spot with 937,000 UAs, followed by Buzzfeed with 907,000.

A Pedestrian Group spokesperson said “an error” was made in sourcing the numbers from Nielsen. “Once this was brought to our attention the material was removed from LinkedIn. We have apologised directly to outlets impacted.”

[Read the original]

News Brands

Nine hit for $100k over claim of ‘coward’ attack on rugby captain

A 23-year-old Englishman has been awarded $100,000 in damages after he sued the Nine Network over a news story he claimed cast him as a “coward” who had thrown a punch at Australia’s former rugby sevens captain, reports The Australian’s Deborah Cornwall.

Handing down his decision in the Federal Court in Sydney yesterday, judge Michael Lee found Sam Oliver was defamed by being portrayed as a coward who punched a defenceless man. The judge said the term “coward punch” had a distinct meaning, conveying something beyond the more benign, historical term “king-hit”.

A Nine News spokesman said the network was “disappointed” by the decision and had yet to decide if it would appeal.

[Read the original]

Television

Netflix fights to keep its top shows Friends and The Office

Three of Netflix’s biggest programming suppliers – WarnerMedia and Walt Disney in addition to NBCUniversal – are entering the streaming-video arena. After licensing content to Netflix for years, happy to cash its cheques, they are looking to take their hit content back to feed their own platforms, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The three companies launching new streaming services have created TV shows and movies that make up nearly 40% of the viewing minutes on Netflix, according to data compiled and analysed for The Wall Street Journal by Nielsen.

Although Netflix has burnished its brand with a flood of original programs such as Stranger Things and The Crown – and spends most of its time on quarterly earnings calls discussing that content – non-original “library programming” made up 72% of the minutes people spent watching Netflix as of October, according to the Nielsen data. That means re-runs, and most of them are made by Netflix’s rivals.

Eight of the 10 shows people spent the most time watching on Netflix in the US last year were re-runs, including old hits like NBCUniversal’s Parks and Recreation, WarnerMedia’s Friends and Disney’s Grey’s Anatomy, the data show.

[Read the original]

Publishing

Monthly real life titles like That’s Life grow market for newsagents

The monthly real life titles launched in recent times have delivered a net increase in magazine purchases. That is, they have not taken revenue from their associated titles in the magazine segment, reports Mark Fletcher on his Newsagency Blog.

Looking at basket data for the That’s Life Mega Monthly, for example, I see that shopper often purchasing That’s Life in the same transaction. This is good news that we can leverage through tactical placement.

A couple of ways to maximise the opportunity of the monthly titles are: Place the monthly next to the weekly, and if room permits, pitch both at the counter for a few days at least.

[Read the original]

See also Mediaweek’s recent coverage of real life titles:
New monthly: That’s Life! brand continues to thrive 25 years after launch
How Bauer’s Take 5 keeps its growing audience entertained

Sports Media

Football Federation Australia faces tough sell in new free-to-air deal

Football Federation Australia faces a critical rights negotiation with free-to-air networks as it tries to maximise the price for broadcast rights and number of viewers of its soon-to-be revamped A-League season, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

The sporting body has begun meeting with TV Networks as it looks to line up a new free-to-air broadcast deal for when its agreements with Network 10 and SBS run out at the end of the financial year.

The FFA has been talking with current rights holders Ten and SBS, as well as the rest of the free-to-air sector, including the ABC, Seven West Media and Nine.

However, sources across the sector indicated interest was lukewarm and TV networks are unlikely to stump up large amounts of cash for the limited rights available for the sport, which has struggled on free-to-air and remains largely locked up by Foxtel.

[Read the original]

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