• Nova’s Project Tattoo nearly became Easy FM, but then smoothfm
• Tony Thomas and Paul Jackson on the cost-effective marketing coup
By James Manning
Nova Entertainment’s chief marketing officer Tony Thomas and group programming director Paul Jackson are the key architects of the smoothfm brand. The Nova Entertainment stations in Sydney and Melbourne celebrate their seventh birthday this week.
DMG Radio bought the licences for the Sydney and Melbourne stations that initially started broadcasting as Vega FM. Lachlan Murdoch bought into the company in 2009 and was keen to improve on the failing Vega brand which had been re-launched as Classic Rock, again a brand that had limited appeal to listeners. New hires Thomas and Jackson created what was to become smoothfm and it launched in May 2012.
Seven years may not seem a particularly historic milestone, but when you consider the route the newest FM stations in Australia’s two biggest radio markets took to get to what was their third format in six years it takes on more significance.
Add the fact that both stations are now #1 FM in their respective markets, then examining the how they launched seems appropriate.
And who better to tell the story than these radio professionals who built the brand. They both joined Nova Entertainment in early 2011 and had no idea previously their paths would cross and they’d jointly help create a winning radio format.
Paul Jackson: Neither of us worked at the company when it was Vega FM. I joined a couple of months after Tony when [the Sydney and Melbourne licences] were both Classic Rock stations. It was a very crowded market for Classic Rock stations with three similar stations in Sydney. [Triple M and WSFM seemed to increase their Classic Rock tracks after the Vega brand morphed into a rock station.]
Tony Thomas: When I was recruited I was talking with CEO Cath O’Connor about the work to be done on Nova. There wasn’t too much mention of Classic Rock and the need to do a hell of a lot of work to reinvent the station into something successful.
Jackson: We knew there was a station on another floor here, thinking somebody else owned it. One day we realised, ‘What…that’s ours too!’ [Laughs]
Choosing the format that was to be smoothfm seemed pretty obvious to us. We did a piece of research about the market opportunities in Sydney and Melbourne. We also realised it was hard to research something that didn’t exist. It did find a gap in the market and gave us a really clear focus for what we felt we should do.
Thomas: The benefit of Paul being new to the market was that he could come in with fresh ears. He saw the opportunity pretty quickly. I went through all of the old research documents and found out why Classic Rock wasn’t successful because it was an occupied space.
Jackson: The initial target audience was women 35-54. But we also found a lot of people just weren’t listening to radio because there was nothing for them.
We chose Michael Bublé to go after as launch ambassador because he had the biggest selling records for three years in a row. It was so important for us to get smooth off to the right start. There was a lot of cynicism right at the beginning, which surprised me. We needed to engage the marketplace, the advertiser and agencies, as well as the listeners.
Thomas: Michael Bublé just stood out for us. He had the sort of personality and character that we really wanted for the brand. He had unisex appeal – adored by women and admired by men. He was the right fit for the brand and the music format.
Jackson: We were very secretive about everything. The project name was Project Tattoo and there were less than a handful of people who knew what we were doing. When we decided about January 2012 this is what we would be doing we still had a research piece about the name of the station.
One of the first things we did was approach Tony Harlow, who was running Warner Music at the time, and ask him if we could get Michael Bublé and get him to do an ad for the station.
I went and met a lot of presenters who were well known for their work in Sydney and Melbourne with the view of potentially hiring them. They didn’t know why I was talking to them. They were thinking it might have been for a new big breakfast show.
People here who knew what was happening regarding the format included Rohan Brown and Peter Clay.
We then started hiring people. We hired Richard Wilkins to basically do an 80s show on a Saturday morning. About a week before launch we got him in and played him the TV ad and told him what we were doing and he was blown away.
Thomas: It was only two and a half weeks from launch when we told all the staff what we were going to do with the station.
Jackson: The original name we were going to use was going to be Easy. But in the research the name smooth dominated. It became very hard to argue with.
Tuesday: Another one of the keys to smoothfm’s current ratings success
Top Photo: Tony Thomas (left) with Nova Entertainment CEO Cath O’Connor and Paul Jackson
A special Woman’s Day edition this week opens the lid on the secrets, style and scandal of its favourite advertisers and partners.
The special edition puts the spotlight firmly on the stars and big personalities of Australia’s leading media agencies.
Bauer media said the initiative is already rocking the entire magazine world as ‘The Advertiser Issue’ of Woman’s Day includes:
• A surprisingly saucy royal exclusive from readership guru Roy Morgan
• Hot agency bachelor hunks exposed!
• How to make the day of 2.082 million Aussie women
• A racy shoot with Pearman Media’s glamorous fillies
• Media horror-scopes. Sagittarian media buyers look away now!
• Plus everything you need to know about the Royal Baby
“We are thrilled to be able to put this special issue together for our valued clients and, as it turns out, celebrities in their own rights!” editor-in-chief Fiona Connolly said.
“This issue is a great way to showcase the strong engagement we have with our readers, highlight what an excellent escape Woman’s Day is from the stress of our daily lives, and have a bit of a laugh along the way,” she said.
There’s also a chance for one lucky reader to win $500. And unlike every other issue of Woman’s Day, entrants won’t have to compete with over a million people for the prize!
The special publication also reveals which agency-land magnet has pestered the most celebs. (clue: it’s Natalie Kean from Lacuna).
The issue is now available at all media agencies or copies can be ordered from baueradvertising.com.au.
More Australians turned to the ABC for federal election coverage on Saturday than any other network, the broadcaster has reported.
ABC television coverage across the main channel and the ABC News channel was the most watched, reaching 5.3 million Australians between 4pm and midnight with a network metro prime-time share of 30.6%.
ABC main channel was the top primary channel of the night and ABC News was the top multi-channel.
The ABC News live stream on iview achieved a record 300,000 plays.
The broadcaster also revealed users of the ABC News website and app were the second highest on record yesterday (behind only the 2016 US Election), considerably above the 2016 Federal Election results.
Poll night was the culmination of five weeks of on the ground coverage, with the ABC’s news, radio and regional teams reporting from across Australia’s 151 electorates.
During the campaign the ABC did more than 60 election-related outside broadcasts, visiting dozens of communities in every state and territory.
Teams hitting the road included ABC Radio, Audio Current Affairs, the 7pm News, The Drum, News Breakfast, triple j’s Hack and Q&A.
After seeing the ratings results on Mediaweek’s Twitter feed on Sunday: Annabel Crabb commented: “Thank you for trusting ABC News on election night.”
After reading Mediaweek’s report of 940,000 watching the primary channel coverage in metro markets, ABC director of news Gaven Morris clarified: “A further 300+k viewers on the ABC News channel plus big audiences on radio and digital.” Morris then added: “Thanks team and everyone who tuned in.”
Nine had the biggest commercial TV audience watching the election coverage with 466,000 in metro markets.
Seven was next with 330,000.
10’s first full election night coverage for several elections was well behind with 133,000 its best number later in the evening. The channel’s coverage did impress many who tuned in though with Sam Dastyari not holding back and being early with some of his predictions. Other highlights on 10 included some spirited debates between Waleed Aly and Christopher Pyne.
Another week of musical chairs on the video game retail sales chart, with Mortal Kombat 11 swapping places with Days Gone to become the week’s best-seller.
By Came Shea, editor-in-chief, IGN Australia
Elsewhere it’s the usual suspects – Nintendo titles like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate continue to tick along, while Fallout 76 And The Division 2 remain in the mix.
Grand Theft Auto V also continues to hold a spot, despite being more than five years old. No great surprise for a game that has now sold almost 110 million copies around the world. Also no great surprise for a game with a hugely active online component – Grand Theft Auto Online. Red Dead Redemption 2, also from Rockstar, will be hoping to replicate that long-term success. The game was a huge success out of the gate – and has now sold 24 million copies, but it will be Red Dead Online that will keep players interested over the next couple of years, and in fact, that side of the game has just left beta, which could well spur new sales. It will be interesting to see if the game pops back into the charts over the next few weeks.
• Albums: New Lee Kernaghan at #3, David Campbell into top 10
Record executives plotting the ultimate hit-making combo would find it hard to go past a combination of Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber. This is the first time the solo stars have recorded together, but Sheeran co-wrote Bieber’s #1 hit Love Yourself and the two have worked on songs for Lil Dicky and Major Lazer. This is Sheeran’s fifth #1 single and Bieber’s third.
The only newcomer to the top 10 this week was Lewis Capaldi with Someone You Loved, which moves from #12 to #7 after nine weeks on the chart. It had previously peaked at #10.
Just one other song debuted inside the top 50 this week – Fisher with You Little Beauty.
The chart’s biggest mover inside the 50 was Truth Hurts from Lizzo, climbing from #44 to #26.
Bit disappointing music fans interested in Kate Miller-Heidke didn’t push any of her tunes onto the chart. Maybe we might see some action next week after her top 10 Eurovision finish?
P!nk makes it three weeks on top as Hurts 2B Human keeps Billie Eilish’s debut album When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? from returning to top spot.
Making a big mark on the chart is the new album from Lee Kernaghan. Backroad Nation is the 17th album from the country music star who has 37 Golden Guitar awards in his trophy room.
In a relatively quite week there are just two other albums that cracked the top 50 on debut:
#12 Logic with Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind
#25 Mac DeMarco with Here Comes The Cowboy
With Ed Sheeran back on the charts with the #1 single it seems a good time to check his album chart progress. He still has a place in the top 20 with Divide at #15 after 115 weeks.
His earlier album Multiply has been charting for a massive 256 weeks and currently lives at #32. His only other album Plus is not far off the top 50 after 363 weeks (!) sitting at #58.
There are 22 albums that have been charting for over 52 weeks in the top 50 and another handful that will notch up 52 weeks during the first few weeks of winter.
• The Voice launch keeps Nine’s Sunday winning record intact
• Sunday Night unloads on Nine and again outrates 60 Minutes
• MasterChef debuts world first Legend’s Week, lifts week-on-week
• Eurovision challenge: Live started at 5am, repeat finished at 12.30am
By James Manning
• Seven News 1,170,000
• Nine News 1,063,000
• ABC News 740,000
• Insiders 436,000 (+172,000 ABC News channel)
• The Project 277,000/419,000
• 10 News First 302,000
• SBS World News 150,000
• Sunrise 265,000
• Today 236,000
House Rules had a new competitor in The Voice last night. The Seven show did 790,000, which was its best audience after launching with 785,000 this season.
Sunday Night then launched an attack on reality TV and in particular Married At First Sight, a month after the Nine reality show wrapped for 2019. Seven’s promo said: “Gather together a group of fame hungry or hopelessly naïve strangers, place them in a highly competitive situation then watch them tear each other to pieces. These shows are enormously popular but it’s what happens behind the scenes of these social experiments that will shock you. Sunday Night reporter Angela Cox reveals there’s a dark and very dangerous side to the genre’s relentless drive for controversy and ratings.”
Controversy and ratings that no doubt Seven will be hoping for when it launches Married At First Sight look-alike The Super Switch soon. The story drew enough viewers for Sunday Night to again outrate 60 Minutes. Sunday Night did 613,000 after 601,000 a week ago.
Nine has kept its Sunday night survey winning streak intact with another victory as The Voice started its run for 2019. The singing format has launched with 1.012m viewers after 1.029m tuned in the first episode last year.
60 Minutes then did 575,000, not enough to outrate Sunday Night, but well up on 60 Minutes’ audience of 489,000 a week ago.
The new series Suburban Gangsters then launched with 309,000. From The Full Box, the makers of Tough Nuts: Australia’s Hardest Criminals, Australian Crime Stories and The Kangaroo Gang: Thieves by Appointment, the producers are promising a fresh look at some of Australia’s most notorious anti-heroes. Each of the eight episodes will recount the life and crimes of two criminals, connected by their criminal DNA.
MasterChef has started what is had labelled Legends Week, noting it is a world first for the format. Rick Stein was the first Legend to enter the MasterChef kitchen last night and he pulled a crowd of 630,000. The show trailed in its timeslot, but did manage to lift on the previous week’s Sunday audience of 574,000.
The Project was on 419,000 after 7pm.
The doco Meghan And Harry Plus One did 196,000.
The A-League Grand Final was carried on 10 Bold last night with the match pulling an audience of 215,000. The numbers swelled late in the game, which was eventually decided by a penalty shootout. The post-game audience watching Sydney FC get another A-League trophy was 162,000.
After the huge crowd watching the election coverage on Saturday night, things backed off a little bit on Sunday.
The final of Agatha Christie’s ABC Murders did 455,000.
The second episode of season two of Harrow then did 431,000, after launching with 455,000.
Eurovision fans wanting to watch the show without any spoilers, and not wanting to start the day at 5am, really needed to be watching a recording of the live coverage yesterday.
The final started live at 5am and finished just over four hours later. That meant for those who decided to watch the encore screening at 8.30pm they wouldn’t get to learn the result until well after midnight.
The live broadcast of the announcement of the Eurovision winner had the channel’s biggest audience yesterday with 240,000. The number watching the first part of the live broadcast was 166,000.
The evening replay crowds were 246,000 for the start of the competition, with 155,000 watching the winner announcement after midnight.
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.7%||7TWO||3.4%||GO!||3.0%||10 Bold||3.3%||VICELAND||1.3%|
|ABC ME||0.6%||7mate||6.1%||GEM||2.1%||10 Peach||1.6%|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.1%||7TWO||3.3%||GO!||3.4%||10 Bold||3.1%||VICELAND||0.9%|
|ABC ME||0.4%||7mate||5.9%||GEM||2.3%||10 Peach||2.2%|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.1%||7TWO||2.4%||GO!||3.2%||10 Bold||4.6%||VICELAND||1.1%|
|ABC ME||0.3%||7mate||6.0%||GEM||2.3%||10 Peach||1.7%||Food Net||1.1%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.7%||7TWO||3.9%||GO!||4.3%||WIN Bold||3.3%||VICELAND||1.3%|
|ABC ME||1.0%||7mate||6.0%||GEM||3.7%||WIN Peach||2.0%||Food Net||0.9%|
|ABC NEWS||2.0%||7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)||1.7%||9Life||1.9%||Sky News on WIN||1.9%||NITV||0.3%|
|7food (QLD only)||0.4%|
Friday Top 10
Saturday 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
Australia’s major media companies are demanding the re-elected Coalition government keep the pressure on tech giants Google and Facebook and overhaul an outdated regulatory framework as the ABC faces cuts to jobs and services, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.
With its finances buoyed by an unprecedented $85 million advertising election spend, the industry is also looking forward to a recovery in the broader advertising market that has seen the worst conditions since the global financial crisis.
Network 10 chief operating officer Annabelle Herd said the ACCC’s final report on digital platforms would “be the first big issue that they’re going to have to deal with, grapple with”.
“We were very encouraged by the ACCC’s first report on this, even the fact that it recognises the market power that Google and Facebook have and other digital platforms, and recognises that there are some real challengers for traditional media companies in engaging with those platforms,” Herd told The Australian.
Seven West Media chief executive Tim Worner said he wanted an overhaul of Australian content rules, which date back to the 1970s, to reflect changes across the industry and viewing habits and the regulatory imbalance against the tech giants.
“We want to get on with it and hope the government does too,” Worner said.
Billionaire investor Alex Waislitz thinks there’s more money to be made from “sunset industries”: it’s the main reason he and former Domain chief Antony Catalano backed a $125 million acquisition of Nine’s regional arm, Australia Community Media, earlier this month, reports The Australian’s Zoe Samios.
Waislitz, chair of the Thorney Opportunities Fund, told The Australian one of the first priorities once settlement of the deal was reached would be building out the content in the publications, and the way they were distributed.
“We haven’t really focused on wages or cost cuttings or anything along those lines,” he told The Australian. “Antony is a journalist himself, so he appreciates the integrity of journalism and the need for good-quality content.
Waislitz hasn’t ruled out the potential of an acquisition of News Corp’s regional and local business, which includes approximately 60 publications. News Corp acquired the regional and local titles from APN News & Media in 2016 for $37m.
“But there’s no rush. We’re not ruling anything out, but we have no plans about that.”
Former Domain boss Antony Catalano has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a new property technology venture that promises to hold real estate listings portals to account for developers and home owners, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jennifer Duke.
Catalano, who recently bought a swathe of regional newspapers from Nine Entertainment Co, has launched a technology-backed platform called The Today Business that allows property sellers to decide where to spend their advertising money using real-time data about which campaigns are working or not.
Catalano has backed the venture with a $200,000 spend and is now chairman of the company. He said building the platform had cost about $1 million and taken about nine months to build.
A major selling point of the media buying software is that a home owner, with the help of their agent, could decide to spend more or less with Domain Group (59% owned by Nine) or News Corp’s REA Group depending on which one is sending through more inquiries from legitimate buyers.
Foxtel’s chief product and strategy officer Alice Mascia joined six months ago having been through turnarounds at Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, reports The Australian’s Andrew White.
The Italian-born Mascia has been drafted to help Foxtel retain its broadcast subscriber base, at a time when it is under assault from streaming services such as Netflix and Stan, and to build its own streaming services in Kayo Sport and Foxtel Now.
Mascia says Foxtel is looking to introduce a loyalty scheme for Foxtel broadcast customers, as well as other initiatives to keep customers connected. There’s a new, streamer-like interface on the IQ3 and 4 boxes and Foxtel is close to announcing a deal to integrate Netflix on the box, similar to a deal it did for Sky UK last year.
Foxtel is locked in renegotiations with major content providers BBC, Discovery and NBCU as the pay TV provider strives to reduce programming costs but also secure more catch-up rights ahead of launching new products designed to prevent customer flight, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.
Under pressure to reduce its $1.6 billion in programming costs – split 50-50 between sport and other content – Foxtel is examining its key channel partner contracts as they come up for renewal. The cost drive comes as Foxtel battles declining revenue and earnings.
The AFR’s Street Talk reports the busy buyout firm Pacific Equity Partners (PEP) has teamed up with cinema owner Hoyts in assessing an offer for Next Capital’s bowling alleys and mini-golf owner Funlab.
It is understood PEP and Hoyts are looking at a potential 50/50 joint venture to consider such a move, although sources stressed it was early days. They are in the auction’s second round, and advised by UBS, in an indication that preparations are starting to ramp up.
Funlab is expected to be worth $250 million to $300 million.
Funlab, which is up for sale via Citi’s investment banking team, was pitched as a $30 million a year company at the EBITDA line. Potential buyers were told revenue was up three times to $145 million in the past three years, earnings were up fourfold and its EBITDA margin was running at 21 per cent.
Seven West Media and Nine Entertainment Co are poised to spend $22 million buying Network Ten’s stake in a jointly-owned transmission tower business that broadcasts free-to-air television channels across the country, after a two-year stoush between the rival networks, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jennifer Duke.
Seven and Nine will pay $11 million each to become joint-venture owners of TX Australia, which was founded in 1999 to handle all three networks’ metropolitan broadcast transmission towers, leaving Ten to find a new way to broadcast its channels around Australia. Nine is the owner of this masthead.
This means Ten is required to make a decision about whether it will pay TX Australia to access its infrastructure to provide crucial broadcasting services across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. The business has 67 sites across the country.
Alternatively, Ten could pay for the services of another company like Broadcast Australia, which is used by SBS and ABC.
The International News Media Association (INMA) has elected Damian Eales, chief operating officer of publishing at News Corp Australia, as president of its board of directors.
Eales has sat on the INMA board since 2014 and has served as vice president for the past two years. Eales also sits on the board of NewsMediaWorks.
“It is a real honour to be elected to this role at an inflexion point in the prospects for news media all around the world,” Eales said.
“The best news media businesses have weathered the storm of digital disruption and are now exploiting digital capabilities to power growth, engagement and grow new capabilities.
“The great thing about INMA is its character. Our international publisher members are universally willing to share best practice towards collective success.”
Also elected to the INMA board of directors is Chris Janz, managing director of publishing at Nine. Janz is also a member of NewsMediaWorks’ board.
“INMA is the world’s leading provider of global best practice for news media companies looking to grow revenue, audience and brand amid profound market change,” NewsMediaWorks CEO, Peter Miller, said.
“We are big fans of INMA and we leverage their ideas, initiatives and the network of news media professionals involved. It is great than INMA will now be helmed by Damian who is an enthusiast and a sharp strategic thinker.”
Top Photo: Damian Eales talking on Mediaweek TV earlier this year
Seven has announced it will reboot Temptation Island.
The series follows four dating couples at a pivotal time in their relationships, where they must mutually decide if they are ready to commit to one another for the rest of their lives – or go their separate ways.
Together, the couples travel to an island paradise where they live the “single life”, housed separately with a bunch of sexy singles who try to tempt them away from their relationships. In the end, will the couples leave together? Will they leave with one of the island’s “tempters”? Or will they break up and go home alone?
Seven’s director of network programming Angus Ross said: “From risque parties to romantic adventures, Temptation Island is the ultimate test of faithfulness.
“It’s a fascinating exploration of the familiar vs the fantasy relationship. Most of us have an ideal mate in mind and Temptation Island actually allows participants to meet that person and compare it with their present relationship. It then asks the question, will they stay or stray?”
The recent return of Temptation Island in the US after 15 years saw a 92% above timeslot average for the 18-49 female demo on the USA Network. The series was recommissioned after just three episodes. The record-breaking season finale attracting 1.7m viewers, 68% above timeslot average.
Temptation Island is a Banijay Group/Screentime format. The original Australian series aired on Seven in 2002. The reboot will be produced by Seven Studios. Matt Apps, who is best known for his work on multiple seasons of Seven’s My Kitchen Rules, is executive producer.
As the flames lashing the fictional world of Westeros flicker out around the last two pieces on Game of Thrones’ blood-soaked chessboard – mad queen Daenerys Targaryen and uncrowned king Jon Snow – we are left with one lingering question.
Is GoT the GOAT?
Many will be quick to proclaim it the Greatest Of All Time. But such an honour comes with one powerful caveat: HBO’s magnum opus fantasy drama isn’t the first television show to lay claim to the mantle and it won’t be the last.
At different moments in our shared cultural history many television programs have burned out like supernovas, red hot fireballs of conversational dust and zeitgeist.
When it ended the legendary Korean War comedy M*A*S*H was undoubtedly the greatest show of all time. So too the gut-punching finish to The Mary Tyler Moore Show. And the brilliantly dark Seinfeld.
To that list we must add Aaron Sorkin’s peerless political drama The West Wing. The incomparable The Wire. The Sopranos. Breaking Bad. Arrested Development. Twin Peaks. Deadwood. Curb Your Enthusiasm. The Crown.
And so you begin to see the emerging problem.
Controversial Channel 7 quiz show host Andrew O’Keefe is due back on air next month, two months after being suspended due to “emotional exhaustion”, reports News Corp’s Briana Domjen.
The Sunday Telegraph revealed in April the long-time TV personality would be taking extended leave to deal with a long-term health crisis.
However after working through his personal issues, The Chase host has signalled he is ready to get back into the production groove.
O’Keefe is to commence filming new episodes of The Chase, which will be a series of celebrity challenges, in the first week of June in Melbourne.
PR powerhouse Roxy Jacenko is set to share her daily life of kids, businesses, brands and the occasional bugbear with a TV audience, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.
The Sydney-based publicity machine has never been afraid of a headline and has turned the cameras on the innermost workings of her professional and private life.
Filming recently wrapped on the project, which is expected to be seen on Channel 10 later this year.
“For a long time there have been talks of a reality TV show,” Jacenko said, while in Melbourne to host the Bianca and Bridgett AW19 collection launch.
“It happened with Channel 7 in terms of a pilot about 10 years ago, more recently there have been camera crews following me around but for what I am not allowed to say.”