Monday April 20, 2020

Foxtel’s content strategy: New returning dramas, more lifestyle

By James Manning

• Brian Walsh: Entertainment streaming product “coming shortly”

Foxtel, like most media businesses, find itself enjoying near record audiences, but massive challenges, as COVID-19 impacts business models the world over.

“It’s times like this that people rely on entertainment to get them through. Look at the staggering numbers of people watching television,” Foxtel’s executive director – television Brian Walsh told Mediaweek.

Like most of the rest of Foxtel, Walsh is working from home, enjoying the fewer physical interruptions, yet juggling plenty of phone calls and video meetings.

Speaking about audiences consuming Foxtel product, Walsh mentioned last week’s ratings for Gogglebox which did 200,000 on Foxtel’s Lifestyle channel. Another big crowd – 184,000 – tuned in to Selling Houses Australia. “The numbers for Sky News are also through the roof,” he said.

People are also sampling our on demand offering like we have never seen before. People are simply consuming a lot of television. The pop-up channel for 007 did huge numbers – there have been solid numbers across all channels and our VOD service.

“Because people are sampling so much I am hoping they will be discovering shows they haven’t seen before when they simply didn’t have the time.”

Although the audience numbers good, as part of the Foxtel leadership team, Walsh is working on the challenges facing the platform. “The business is under stress. Live sport is the primary driver of subscription uptake and when there is no live sport, it has a significant commercial impact. We have to navigate our way through this – I am confident we will, but is putting a big strain on the business.

When asked if consumers would see a different Foxtel emerge post COVID-19, Walsh replied: “I think we were going to close the year out a different Foxtel anyway. We were always planning to launch of new streaming product in the first half of 2020 and we are still on track to do that.”

Foxtel is not ready to reveal a name, an exact launch date or the price point, but The AFR has reported the new entertainment streaming product could be called Binge.

Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany, Walsh and their teams have been working on the new streaming product for some time. They have been careful not to overhype it before ensuring it would work before the much-anticipated launch. That time is now close.

“The uptake of the new entertainment product will be significant because people are looking for entertainment alternatives. People who may not have considered Foxtel previously will have a new proposition to consider and we are confident it will be well received.

“All the technical infrastructure is built off the back of Kayo. When you think of all the technical innovations Kayo offers, they will also be offered in the new entertainment product.”

As well as the entertainment equivalent of Kayo attracting new Foxtel subscribers, Walsh is confident many of the existing customers will stay on.

Non-sport TV programming is now a very crowded space with 21 FTA linear TV channels plus a number of streaming services that grow monthly. Does that make it harder for Foxtel to compete?

Walsh: “In the scripted area that is very true with more being made giving people more choices than ever. We have always acknowledged we can’t have everything, so our objective is to have the best of scripted. That is why our relationships with HBO, FX and BBC are very important to us.

“There is great content on Netflix, great content on Amazon, great shows on Apple and Stan. Everyone has great shows, but it is the additional layers that Foxtel has that make us a different consideration. There is no one that has the aspirational lifestyle content that Foxtel enjoys and no one that has the kind of content that channels like History, Discovery and Crime + Investigation have. There is no one with the selection of movies that Foxtel has.”

Given that the Australian-made shows on Lifestyle pull the single biggest audiences, is that an area Foxtel should be exploiting more? “Our focus is clearly getting live sport back on the platform, but secondary to that is ensuring our current providers of scripted content remain with Foxtel. Another is to further invest in lifestyle content and build that portfolio.”

Walsh noted that Foxtel lifestyle content was very different to free-to-air offerings. “We are not in the business of competition reality, we are in the business of entertaining, informing and inspiring. We do that across property and across food.”

Expect to see Foxtel exploring other areas of lifestyle content it hasn’t covered in depth before. Walsh said those areas would include wellness – good health, self-sufficiency, relationships and emotional wellbeing. “The development work we are doing while in lockdown is along those lines. We are looking at formats we have never considered before. Helping people get back on their feet is very important. One of the projects we are doing with Scott Pape will explore that. How can people rebuild their lives after unemployment?”

Foxtel subscribers might well be asking what has happened to the drama output after last year’s brilliant Lambs of God. There doesn’t seem to be too much on the horizon. “We have taken some time to consider what our drama slate would like moving forward,” responded Walsh.

What is a priority for us is to establish some returning dramas. We will still be in the business of event television, but again what distinguishes us from our paid streaming competitors is having familiar dramas that can return in multiple seasons. In the past we were looking at noisy event series. While that still remains in our planning, we recognise we have never really found a replacement for A Place to Call Home and also for Wentworth which is working its way to a conclusion.”

Walsh and his Foxtel team has been working with Australian production houses to find at least two returning dramas as soon as possible. He didn’t want to divulge any more detail at this stage, but Walsh admitted to Mediaweek they are close.

We have scripts and once we have emerged out of all of this, I am confident one of the properties will be very relevant to the times we are going through. The writers involved have used this opportunity to refine the narrative so that it is more reflective of how Australia deals with COVID-19. It is a multi-generational family drama.”

Sydney Radio Ratings
Radio ratings analysis: Listening up during COVID-19 lockdown

Radio listeners are spending more time with radio throughout COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, listening on average for around 1 hour 46 minutes longer per week compared to the weeks prior to the lockdown, reports Commercial Radio Australia.

This is according to a GfK analysis of ratings data collected during GfK’s Radio Ratings Survey 2 period and looking at a three-week timeframe before the initiation of Government restrictions compared to a three-week period during the lockdown.

Nearly 1.4 million more people across Australia are listening to radio at home in the midst of COVID-19 restrictions, with time spent listening to radio at home up by over 4 hours each week, accounting for a 61% share of listening (up from 43% pre-lockdown).

Australians are still turning to Breakfast and Drive radio programs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Time spent listening to Breakfast and Drive radio across each week during COVID-19 lockdown restrictions has shown stability in line with the usual robust results for those dayparts, with increases of 10 minutes and 12 minutes respectively for the 5.30am-9am Mon-Fri and 4pm-7pm Mon-Fri dayparts.

“There is no doubt that radio is reaching Australian audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. While their place of listening to radio may have changed during this crisis, audiences remain loyal and are seeking out familiar and trusted voices on radio to give them the latest live and local news and provide them with entertainment no matter the time of day,” said Commercial Radio Australia chief executive officer Joan Warner.

Increases in time spent listening during COIVD-19 restrictions have been seen across the board for all dayparts during lockdown, as audiences turn to radio to keep them informed with vital, accurate and up-to-date information.

During the COVID-19 restricted Monday-Friday work week, time spent listening between 9am-4pm has jumped by just over an hour compared to the same period before restrictions, while time spent listening from 9am-4pm Sat-Sun has increased by over 35 minutes within the same three-week to three-week comparison.

Although share of listening at work dropped to 15% during lockdown restrictions (compared to 19% before restrictions), the amount of time spent listening by those at work has gone up by over 1 hour. While share of listening in the car has seen a decline – down 13% – the increase in people listening at home has exceeded the decrease in share of listening in both of those areas.

Amazon Prime Video app launching on Fetch starting this week

Fetch TV and Amazon have announced that the Amazon Prime Video app is launching on Fetch tomorrow. The Amazon Prime Video app will roll out to Fetch Mighty boxes over a 2-week period, commencing Tuesday

Subscribers with a Fetch Mini box are expected to receive the Amazon Prime Video app in the next release, currently scheduled for the end June.

Fetch households with Amazon Prime memberships will have access to Amazon Original series including The Test: A New Era for Australia’s Team, featuring the Australian men’s cricket team and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Plus, Emmy and Golden Globe nominated series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Fleabag, The Man in the High Castle, and Good Omens. Fetch customers can also stream thousands of popular TV shows and hit movies, with the Amazon Prime Video app. This includes the new Australian Amazon Original stand-up specials exclusively available now on Amazon Prime Video, with two specials being released each week over a five-week period.

“Fetch has enjoyed tremendous success by making good on the simple proposition of ‘All your entertainment in one easy place’ said Scott Lorson, CEO of Fetch TV. “Today represents another win for Fetch subscribers, with the highly anticipated addition of the Amazon Prime Video app.

“We expect strong take up of the Amazon Prime Video service on Fetch. Australian households are, more than ever, looking for quality home entertainment options as they bunker down and practice social distancing.”

Prime members have access to thousands of movies and TV shows, more than two million songs and thousands of stations and playlists ad-free on Amazon Music, access to over 1,000 e-books with Prime Reading, benefits for gamers with Twitch Prime, access to discounted priority delivery and more.

Current Amazon Prime members simply enter their existing Username and Password to access the Amazon Prime Video app on Fetch. Fetch subscribers that are not currently Prime members can follow the easy on-screen instructions to sign up and start their Prime 30-day free trial.  Thereafter, Prime membership is available for either AUD$6.99 a month or AUD$59 a year.

BBC Earth celebrates 50 years of earth day with week of programming

BBC Earth is celebrating 50 years of Earth Day with Earth Week, a special line-up of programming which looks at the beauty of our planet both up close and from far away and explores our vital role in ensuring its future.

Screening each evening at 8.30pm from Monday, April 20, the week kicks off with the premiere of Blue Planet Revisited, exploring the challenges facing the marine eco-system and wildlife in the Great Barrier Reef and the Bahamas. The cameras then move from under the ocean to hundreds of kilometres up in the sky in Earth From Space, capturing natural spectacles on an epic scale and showing viewers the planet’s extraordinary beauty and diversity in astonishing detail. The week will finish with a special Sunday screening of every episode of David Attenborough’s iconic Planet Earth II.

Presented by Liz Bonnin, Chris Packham and Steve Backshall, Blue Planet Revisited returns to two key locations featured in Blue Planet II to see how things have changed, talk to the scientists who know our oceans best and give us a snapshot of the health of the ocean. With the breeding season underway, the series focuses on the action following whales and their calves and  turtles and their hatchlings together with spectacular footage of shark dives in the Bahamas and the underwater dawn chorus of the Great Barrier Reef, home to 600 different kinds of coral and more than 1500 species of fish.  Marine experts looks at the effects of the rise in plastic pollution and boat traffic, alongside our continued harvesting of fish stocks and what is being done to help our oceans.

In Earth From Space, narrated by Chewitel Ejifor, cameras in space show us natural spectacles on an epic scale and are now so advanced that they can track down individual animals and humans. Cutting-edge technology tells the story of life on Earth from a new perspective. They allow us to marvel at the dancing neon Northern Lights and the swirling blues of blooming plankton, zoom in on herds of elephants searching for water, and discover previously unknown colonies of penguins. Satellites also capture disappearing forests and show cities sprawling over decades.

Jo Shinner, executive producer, says: “We learnt so many things making this series: that satellite cameras have revolutionised how scientists can monitor the natural world; how new populations of species such as penguins have been discovered; how we can follow migrating animals; how extraordinary lacy dune formations on the coast of Brazil become a filigree of pools where brightly coloured turtles hunt fresh water fish; how experts can monitor the health of coral reefs from the patterns of sand around them and how a wombat population in South Australia is thriving from a landscape spattered with tiny marks that is their burrow.

“In addition there is no doubt that images from space are simply awe-inspiring. Beautiful. Epic. Sometimes you gasp at seeing places you know from a different angle. Other times you simply can’t work out what on earth they could be.

“And there is no doubt that the most sobering and extraordinary insight of all is being visually confronted with the incontrovertible truth of just how fast our planet is changing. Time-lapses over years show cities growing and swallowing up the countryside around them. Huge swathes of forests are decimated before your eyes or converted into regular agricultural patterns. Ice melts away from mountain tops and glaciers.”

Winding up the week is Sir David’s Attenborough’s Planet Earth II. When Planet Earth was released it transformed how viewers saw their planet. The first natural history series to be filmed in high definition, it captivated a global audience of over half a billion people by giving them an unprecedented view of life on Earth. Ten years on, Planet Earth II revisits this rich subject but with a new perspective, immersing audiences in the most spectacular landscapes and habitats on Earth and bringing them eye to eye with the animals that live there.

Blue Planet Revisited premieres April 20 and 21 at 8.30pm
Earth From Space premieres April 22-25 at 8.30pm
Planet Earth II airs April 26 from 5.00pm


ARIA Chart: Dua Lipa tops the chart, Nightwish & Tory Lanez top 10

By James Manning

  • Singles: The Weeknd returns to #1, Surfaces make top 10 debut


After 20 weeks on the chart, and 11 of them at #1, The Weeknd sees Blinding Lights move back to top spot. ARIA notes this week that other songs to spend 11 weeks at #1 are Drake’s God’s Plan (#1 Feb. 2018), the Spice GirlsWannabe (#1 Nov. 1996) and Bryan AdamsEverything I Do (I Do It For You) (#1 Jul. 1991).

The chart moves again this week indicate what a tough battleground the singles chart is to get into, and out of. Only one newcomer crashes the top 10 this week and there are only two chart debuts in the top 50.

The top 10 new arrival is from Surfaces as the US duo jump all the way from #11 to #10 with Sunday Best.

The highest of the two new entries was Canadian singer/songwriter JP Saxe with If The World Was Ending featuring Julia Michaels, a tune originally released late in 2019.

The sole other top 50 new arrival is Rover from S1mba featuring DTG.


It doesn’t usually take an artist a few weeks to land at #1 on the albums chart. But slow and steady is how it has worked for Dua Lipa with the UK singer/songwriter getting to the top after three weeks on the chart, climbing from #2 where Future Nostalgia spent its first fortnight. The album backs up Dua Lipa’s self-titled debut which peaked at #8 in April 2018. Three singles from the album are spread across the Top 50 singles chart this week Don’t Start Now (#4), Break My Heart (#8) and Physical (#9).

Last week’s Aussie #1, Violent Soho’s Everything Is A-OK, fell like a rock this week, down to #15.

Interestingly, at least for us, there are 13 former #1 albums sitting in this week’s top 20 – and 25 in the top 50.

The top 10 newcomers this week are Finnish symphonic metal and another Canadian rapper, singer, composer and producer:

#7 Nightwish with HUMAN.:II: NATURE. The Finns crack the top 10 for the first time with a ninth studio album, improving on their previous best with Endless Forms Most Beautiful in 2015.
#10 Tory Lanez with The New Toronto 3. The fifth studio album from the multitalented Canadian and the follow up to Chixtape 5 which made the top 20 in 2019. Lanez previously released The New Toronto and The New Toronto 2 as mixtapes in 2015 and 2017.

Three other albums debuted in the top 50 this week:

#21 The Strokes with The New Abnormal. The Rick Rubin-produced sixth studio set is the band’s first since Comedown Machine peaked at #7 in 2013.
#28 Joe Satriani with Shapeshifting is the 17th album from the guitar god. It comes after What Happens Next peaked at #20 two years ago.
#29 Dream On Dreamer with What If I Told You It Doesn’t Get Better. This is the final album from the Melbourne post-hardcore band. The COVID-19 crisis has made a mess of their plans for a final tour to support its release. Their previous four albums all peaked in the lower half of the Top 40.

TV Ratings Sunday April 20 Week 17 2020

By James Manning

• Nine return to survey as ratings royalty with Sunday victory
• Lego Masters returns with a 1.2m+ audience for the sequel
• 10 keeps MasterChef over 1m – relax, Poh still in the game
• Mystery Road returns on 655,000, Spicks and Specks 690,000

Sunday news highlights
Seven News 1,253,000
Nine News 1,112,000
ABC News 905,000
60 Minutes 723,000
Nine News Late 531,000
Insiders 458,000
The Project 419,000/613,000
10 News 391,000/318,000
Sunrise 332,000
ABC News Breakfast 231,000
Today 221,000
SBS World News 244,000

After a two week survey break for Easter, official ratings have returned. Pin your ears back – there are now 32 non-stop weeks of survey until the year stops on Saturday November 28.

Nine has won the return comfortably, MasterChef has kept 10 in the game while Seven had a good result despite House Rules running fourth in its timeslot.

Nine: The tap has been turned on for what host Hamish Blake called Lego Masters The Sequel last night. The clever show that tracks teams competing with Lego builds launched last year on 1.372m and has returned this year with a launch crowd of 1.239m. That makes it the biggest series launch of 2020 so far. When the roller door went up on the new season the new contestants arrived with some more anxious than others to get underway. There’s lots to like about all the contestants, but Andrew and Damien look a formidable duo and they took out a win on the first episode. Their reward was the Mega Brick – a Golden Brick with an added bonus. It was a good start in their quest for the $100,000 prize money.

Elsewhere on Nine 60 Minutes did 723,000 with updates on the coronavirus (Made in China) and an interview with Cassie Sainsbury after release from her Colombian jail.

Seven: The primary channel and network share narrowly finished second for the night all people, but not in the key demos. That’s probably a good result given that House Rules remains well behind the field in the early evening with 630,000 watching the start of a new week. What are the chances – the audience watching a week ago was also 630,000. They are a loyal given the attractions on offer elsewhere.

Seven’s Sunday movie was then a contributor with 272,000 watching Forrest Gump until 11.30pm.

10: Although 10 didn’t win the night or the MasterChef timeslot, the first elimination episode did manage to keep the audience over 1m which is a good result. It was also a good result for Poh as she managed to dodge another saucepan of boiling water in the kitchen. She bet her skills on baking a cake and succeeded big time, keeping her in the competition for at least a second week. The unlucky chef was Lynton Tapp who became the first elimination with 23 remaining. The first episode without Gordon Ramsay did 1,010,000.

Preceding the cooks was The Sunday Project where its Sunday audience of 613,000 after 7pm was its best since October 2018 and the second-best Sunday 7pm audience ever. The episode featured Tommy Little interviewing a work colleague who had suffered a stroke at the age of 19.

ABC: Another special episode of Spicks and Specks saw Adam, Myf and Alan joined by Ella Hooper, Nic Cester, Sarah Kendall and Joel Creasy on a music of the 2000s special episode. The show did 691,000.

The music quiz was a good lead-in for the return of Mystery Road with a cracking first episode featuring again Aaron Pedersen on the hunt for a murderer after the discovery of a headless corpse. The ratings of 655,000 placed the show in the top 10, but were well down on season 1, episode 1 which did 786,000 in 2018.

A second drama return followed close to 9.30pm with season three of Killing Eve launching on 235,000.

Week 16-17 TV: Friday-Sunday
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 14.1% 7 18.5% 9 17.3% 10  9.4% SBS One 4.9%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.8% 7TWO 3.0% GO! 4.4% 10 Bold 3.8% VICELAND 0.9%
ABC ME 0.6% 7mate 3.5% GEM 3.2% 10 Peach 2.8% Food Net 1.3%
ABC NEWS 1.7% 7flix 2.0% 9Life 2.2%     NITV 0.1%
        9Rush 1.1%     SBS World Movies 2.2%
TOTAL 19.3%   26.9%   28.3%   16.0%   9.5%


ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 19.6% 7 15.3% 9 11.4% 10  7.2% SBS One 6.1%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 3.8% 7TWO 3.6% GO! 5.1% 10 Bold 4.3% VICELAND 0.9%
ABC ME 0.3% 7mate 4.3% GEM 5.7% 10 Peach 2.1% Food Net 1.0%
ABC NEWS 1.7% 7flix 2.1% 9Life 2.1%     NITV 0.3%
        9Rush 1.2%     SBS World Movies 1.7%
TOTAL 25.5%   25.3%   25.5%   13.6%   10.1%


ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 12.3% 7 16.1% 9 24.9% 10  15.6% SBS One 5.2%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.2% 7TWO 2.4% GO! 2.5% 10 Bold 3.7% VICELAND 0.5%
ABC ME 0.4% 7mate 2.5% GEM 2.5% 10 Peach 1.9% Food Net 0.7%
ABC NEWS 1.6% 7flix 1.5% 9Life 1.6%     NITV 0.1%
        9Rush 0.7%     SBS World Movies 0.8%
TOTAL 16.6%   22.6%   32.2%   21.2%   7.4%


ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 13.5% 7 19.1% 9 19.8% WIN 11.3% SBS One 5.5%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.5% 7TWO 3.6% GO! 3.3% WIN Bold 4.8% VICELAND 0.7%
ABC ME 0.8% 7mate 2.8% GEM 3.4% WIN Peach 1.4% Food Net 0.5%
ABC NEWS 1.6% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 1.5% 9Life 1.6% Sky News  on WIN 1.4% NITV 0.1%
                SBS Movies 1.2%
TOTAL 18.4%   27.1%   28.2%   18.9%   8.0%


89.8% 10.2%
All People Ratings

Friday Top 10

  1. Seven News Seven 1,206,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 1,170,000
  3. Nine News Nine 1,021,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 937,000
  5. ABC News ABC 855,000
  6. The Chase Australia Seven 683,000
  7. Gardening Australia ABC 654,000
  8. A Current Affair Nine 653,000
  9. Better Homes And Gardens Seven 615,000
  10. Hot Seat Nine 558,000


Saturday Top 10

  1. Seven News Seven 1,109,000
  2. Nine News Nine 1,003,000
  3. ABC News ABC 963,000
  4. Death In Paradise ABC 883,000
  5. Van Der Valk ABC 600,000
  6. A Current Affair – Special Nine 530,000
  7. The Latest: Seven News Seven 481,000
  8. 10 News First 10 402,000
  9. Getaway Nine 393,000
  10. Border Security – Australia’s Front Line (R) Seven 388,000
Sunday FTV
  1. Seven News Seven 1,253,000
  2. Lego Masters -Launch Nine 1,239,000
  3. Nine News Sunday Nine 1,112,000
  4. MasterChef Australia 10 1,010,000
  5. ABC News Sunday ABC 905,000
  6. The Virus ABC 756,000
  7. 60 Minutes Nine 723,000
  8. Spicks And Specks: 2000s Special ABC 691,000
  9. Mystery Road ABC 655,000
  10. House Rules: High Stakes Seven 630,000
  11. The Sunday Project 7pm 10 613,000
  12. Nine News: Late Edition Nine 531,000
  13. One World: Together At Home Seven 419,000
  14. The Sunday Project 6.30pm 10 413,000
  15. 10 News First 10 391,000
  16. Insiders AM ABC 389,000
  17. FBI: Most Wanted 10 343,000
  18. Weekend Sunrise Seven 332,000
  19. 10 News First 6pm 10 318,000
  20. Seven News At 5 Seven 313,000
Sunday Multichannel
  1. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 185,000
  2. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 185,000
  3. NCIS Ep 2 (R) 10 Bold 180,000
  4. Insiders AM ABC NEWS 176,000
  5. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 173,000
  6. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 169,000
  7. Shaun The Sheep AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 162,000
  8. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 155,000
  9. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom ABCKIDS/COMEDY 149,000
  10. Nella The Princess Knight PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 147,000
  11. Bondi Rescue Ep 2 (R) 10 Bold 145,000
  12. Kiri And Lou ABCKIDS/COMEDY 145,000
  13. Octonauts PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 139,000
  14. Play School AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 133,000
  15. Hey Duggee ABCKIDS/COMEDY 132,000
  16. Rambo: First Blood 9GO! 122,000
  17. Border Security – Australia’s Front Line 7TWO 121,000
  18. Emma! AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 121,000
  19. Thomas And Friends PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 119,000
  20. Border Security – Australia’s Front Line 7TWO 119,000
Sunday STV
  1. Outsiders Sky News Live 77,000
  2. Outsiders Sky News Live 73,000
  3. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 66,000
  4. Blaze And The Monster Machines Nick Jr. 42,000
  5. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 41,000
  6. Midsomer Murders UKTV 39,000
  7. Outsiders Sky News Live 38,000
  8. Sunday Agenda Sky News Live 37,000
  9. 24 Hours In Emergency Lifestyle Channel 36,000
  10. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 36,000
  11. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 36,000
  12. Blaze And The Monster Machines Nick Jr. 34,000
  13. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 34,000
  14. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 34,000
  15. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 33,000
  16. Play Along With Sam Nick Jr. 33,000
  17. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 33,000
  18. Selling Houses Australia Lifestyle Channel 32,000
  19. Father Brown UKTV 32,000
  20. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 32,000

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

Cash for coronavirus: ABC ‘guru’ Swan after money to turn spin doctor

A company co-founded by prominent ABC health broadcaster Norman Swan, the No 1 public critic of Scott Morrison’s coronavirus strategy, was bidding to win the contract for a government-funded media campaign to educate GPs across the country on COVID-19, reports The Australian’s Brad Norrington.

Dr Swan is executive director and co-founder of Tonic Health Media, a private company that unsuccessfully pitched last month for work funded by the federal government to produce educational videos about coronavirus for GPs.

Dr Swan confirmed that Tonic had sought the government contract to educate GPs on corona­virus “a few weeks ago” during discussions with Universal McCann, the media booking agency that negotiates contracts on the government’s behalf for public ­information and advertising campaigns. But he said he did not know that Tonic was unsuccessful in winning the work until contacted by The Weekend Australian, and then checking with Tonic’s sales manager.

An ABC spokesman told The Weekend Australian that Dr Swan’s involvement with Tonic was governed by the terms of his contract with the ABC and its editorial policies: “Norman is a highly experienced ABC journalist and health professional who offers informed insights and analysis as part of the ABC’s coverage of COVID-19, and is highly regarded and respected for his commitment to independence and integrity.”

[Read more]

Craig Hutchison seeking cash injection to survive coronavirus crisis

The AFL and the NRL testing positive for the coronavirus has left SEN head honcho Craig Hutchison puffing on a ventilator, reports News Corp’s Alice Coster.

Hutchison desperately needs a cash injection to survive and hopes a white knight may step up.

Don’t worry he has a few with deep pockets on hand.

The former sports presenter is the chief executive of Pacific Star Network, the parent company of the SEN radio network and Crocmedia.

Yesterday, the Pacific Star Network, which is listed as PNW, applied to extend its trading halt for a third time, by another two weeks, until May 1.

In a letter to the ASX, Hutchison’s company said: “PNW is expecting formal approval on funding from its financiers during that period.

“PNW is also continuing discussions with clients on forward bookings and suppliers, landlords and other stakeholders about their arrangements with PNW.”

The likeable former host of The Footy Show had made the transition from sports anchor to high-flying businessman only to become another victim of the COVID-19 virus.

[Read more]

Hutchy and his SEN Saturday morning Off The Bench co-host Liam Pickering referred to the Herald Sun story on their show, objecting mainly to the description of the media chief as “likeable”.

Listen to the podcast here.

Facebook, Google ordered to pay media for publishing news

Facebook and Google will be forced to pay Australian media companies for publishing their news stories, under a world-first mandatory code of conduct, after negotiations with the two global digital giants failed, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher ordered the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to draw up a mandatory code of conduct to correct the imbalance of bargaining power between local media companies and global technology platforms.

This follows complaints from local media companies that Facebook and Google did not genuinely engage in negotiations over a voluntary code.

The government was motivated to act by the collapse in advertising caused by the coronavirus-induced economic downturn, which put further pressure on the viability of media companies.

The new code being drawn up by the competition watchdog, headed by Rod Sims, will include enforcement, penalties and ways to sort out arguments between the global platforms and local media companies.

[Read more]

Domain to wield axe: Staff to vote on COVID-19 survival strategy

The Australian has obtained a document sent to staff of the Nine Entertainment controlled Domain following a virtual meeting with management last week outlining three options for the company to cope with the dramatic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, with a vote on the plan as early Monday, reports Leo Shanahan.

“Plan A” presented to staff involves reducing hours by 20 per cent, with the reduction in pay transferred to share rights.

“Plan B” put to staff was to reduce all staff pay by 20 per cent and no share right issue.

“Plan C” – seemingly the least attractive – would be staff stand-downs, which The Australian understands would involve suspensions or redundancies of up to 30 per cent of staff.

As part of the preferred Plan A package, the board of directors – which includes Nine chief executive Hugh Marks – will take a 50 per cent pay cut, and the executive leadership team will take a 30 per cent cut. Staff earning more than $180,000 will take a 25 per cent cut and staff earning between $65,000 and $180,000 will take a 20 per cent cut.

[Read more]

Pacific takeover puts Bauer titles under pressure

Bauer Media is planning to meet the new deadline for its acquisition of Seven West Media’s magazine arm but immense financial pressure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could cause further redundancies and temporary suspension of magazine titles, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Sources familiar with discussions said Bauer is now considering about 100 redundancies and temporary suspension of print magazines including Harper’s Bazaar and Elle. The redundancies are expected to take place in the commercial side of the business and are in addition to the previously announced cuts planned to occur as part of the acquisition.

Bauer sources said all decisions on the transaction are being led by headquarters in Germany – the same executives who led the shock decision two weeks ago to shut Bauer Media’s New Zealand operation. The company’s German headquarters have to provide the local division with the money it needs to complete the deal.

[Read more]

Free TV Australia takes over management of Freeview after review

Freeview Australia has announced a renewed focus on its product suite to ensure all Australians can easily search and discover the best free-to-air content in one place.

Freeview chair, Helen Clifton, described the move as a great boost for viewers, especially as they spend more time at home to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“Given diversified viewing habits, the board of Freeview began a detailed review in the months before the pandemic and that work has since accelerated to redefine the role of Freeview so that it gives viewers an easy, convenient and aggregated way to discover and experience all our great content – and all for free.”

As part of the review, it has been agreed that Free TV Australia will provide management oversight of Freeview through Free TV CEO, Bridget Fair and finance director, Camryn Turner.

“I look forward to working with Helen and the Freeview board to help ensure that Freeview is a strong contributor to the range of free-to-air broadcast and digital services,” Fair said.

Findings from the Freeview review include a sharper focus on the following initiatives:

An improved Freeview service with greater search and discovery on the ‘big screen’ – TV and laptops.

An enhanced Freeview website to promote the huge breadth of free-to-air content, linking viewers to content on individual broadcaster apps.

The Freeview mobile app will continue to provide a TV Guide and access to content through individual broadcaster apps.

The changes will be delivered throughout 2020.

Clifton offered her thanks on behalf of the Freeview Board to the acting Freeview CEO, Julie Flynn, who has guided the board’s considerations. Flynn will work with Free TV to transition to the new management structure.

New Brands

Mel Mansell readies News Corp’s AAP replacement for June launch

News Corp Australia’s newswire service is aiming to be ready to launch by the end of June and is casting the net for staff in most major capitals as well as an editor-in-chief to head up the ambitious enterprise following the company’s decision to pull out as a shareholder of AAP, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

With the likely impending closure of Australian Associate Press’ newswire service after 85 years, News Corp Australia has further detailed its plans for a newswire service to provide content to its own mastheads as well as other potential media partners.

Mel Mansell, who is heading up the project going by the working title of NCA NewsWire, said the wire service would be a “back-to-basics” operation focusing on the fundamentals of reporting.

Mansell, a former editor of The Adelaide Advertiser, told The Australian the service would provide content to other News Corp mastheads but would be independent of them. It will also aim to sell content to other media organisations in much the same manner that AAP currently does.

[Read more]


Foxtel and Stan battle over HBO's shows

Foxtel is considering partnering with a commercial free-to-air television network to shore up its bid to secure a critical $100 million content deal with US entertainment giant WarnerMedia, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Television sources said the New York-based WarnerMedia, which owns HBO, has given Foxtel and rival streaming service Stan, owned by Nine Entertainment Co, until early May to formalise bids for popular shows like The Sopranos, Succession, Game of Thrones and Big Little Lies. The deal would also include Warner Bros content and a number of new programs known as HBO Max Originals that are set to run on its new streaming service HBO Max in the US.

The current HBO Max deal is worth more than $100 million a year, according to those familiar with its value. If the company gets a big enough offer by deadline, media sources have said HBO is likely to accept.

Foxtel currently has the exclusive first-run rights to air HBO content in Australia for the next two year.

[Read more]

Karl on leaving Today and having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Nine’s Karl Stefanovic talks to News Corp’s Angela Mollard, in a cover story for Stellar magazine, about Nine executives announcing he was being dumped from Today:

On reflection, he says, “I never really stopped and went, ‘Oh sh*t, I’ve just been taken off the show.’ I just thought it was going to be a break. But I had, 100 per cent, been taken off forever. I was in denial. I don’t think it dawned until a few months afterwards when I thought to myself, ‘Oh, maybe I should start thinking about what I’m going to do now.’”

With hindsight, Stefanovic can see he wasn’t coping. There were flare-ups at paparazzi; he became anxious to leave his home. He eventually saw a psychologist who diagnosed him with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“I remember him saying, ‘You tick all the boxes, my friend.’ I could have kept going, but you don’t know how long you can go until you break. I don’t know of too many people in Australia who had that extent of scrutiny for so long. This guy raised some points and mental notes and strategies. Once I started to get knowledge of my own behaviours, I started getting more control.”

[Read more]

Busy Sonia Kruger on returning to Seven and outlook for Big Brother

Sonia Kruger is confident the Seven Network’s gamble to bring back reality television show Big Brother will pay off following a major overhaul of its format, which pits housemates against each other much like Survivor, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

Kruger, who returned to Seven’s talent roster last November after eight years at staunch rival Nine Network, says the show is the “big daddy” of reality TV, supercharged with the latest technology and “epic kind-of nomination challenges”.

Kruger said it was an easy decision to return to Seven, which was “really part of my DNA”, having worked there for 15 years before moving to Nine to host its morning program, Today Show Extra. Plus, her husband, Craig McPherson, is Seven’s director of news and public affairs.

“You don’t get opportunities like the ones that were being offered to me by Seven very often. I did enjoy my time at Channel 9 but the contract renewal was really to keep doing what I had been doing for the last eight years, and I just felt like I needed to change things up,” she said.

On signing, Seven announced Kruger would be a judge on Australia’s Got Talent: The Champions, host of Mega Mini Golf, which has since been renamed Holey Moley, and part of Seven’s broadcast team for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

[Read more]

Australian director Shannon Murphy on Killing Eve

It’s not just the drop-dead fashion choices of assassin-for-hire Villanelle (Jodie Comer) that make Killing Eve such compulsive viewing, says director Shannon Murphy, reports The Age’s Karl Quinn.

“It’s tonally unique, out of the box and bonkers, and the reason it’s so bold is because the people behind it are bold, they take risks,” says the on-the-up Australian who directed two episodes in the show’s third season, which begins on ABC on Sunday.

Murphy, who is spending lockdown at her parents’ place on the Gold Coast, shot episodes five and six in October and November last year, but has only just put the final touches on them. And given the current state of the industry – virtually all scripted film and television production in Australia, the UK and Hollywood is in shutdown – she knows how lucky she is.

“We just slipped through,” she says. “It was all finished just three or four days ago. It’s amazing, really.”

[Read more]

Playing Nicola Gobbo in Lawyer X opportunity of a lifetime

When Ella Scott Lynch’s father heard the Underbelly producers were writing a miniseries on Lawyer X Nicola Gobbo, he rang her up to tell her she would be perfect for the role.

Scott Lynch, whose credits include Love Child, Brock and Upright, had previously performed as Chopper Read’s wife in Underbelly Files: Chopper. But being Sydney-based she knew little about Melbourne’s gangland history when she sent off an audition tape to producers.

“I just read the scene and thought, ‘Wow this is going to be an incredible character.’ It’s an unusual opportunity because we know very little about the character personally. So it left a lot up to us creatively, to try and understand what motivated the character,” she tells TV Tonight.

She got the role, playing barrister-turned police informer Nicola Gobbo, code named Informer 3838. It was a demanding schedule, filmed with little network fanfare late last year.

“The workload was immense, and it was a short shoot, relatively speaking, shooting four hours of television in just over five weeks.

“You run the gamut of emotions in something like this, so it was a very physical shoot as well.”

[Read more]

Sports Media

If it survives the pain of Fox Sports split, A-League could blossom

If staying in an unhealthy marriage is worse than divorce, optimists might view the impending break-up of Fox Sports and the FFA as a good step. At least for the long term. And only if the game can survive the immediate hardship caused by a painful separation, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Dominic Bossi.

With the competition suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the broadcaster withheld its final quarterly payment for FFA due this week despite senior A-League sources claiming Foxtel, the parent company of Fox Sports, had little legal justification to do so. While those technicalities will be solved by lawyers, what’s clear is the 15-year relationship between Fox Sports and FFA appears to have fractured beyond repair.

According to sources at those bigger A-League clubs, broadcast revenue is becoming a secondary issue. What they need more than cash is exposure, and pay TV isn’t providing it.

When FFA took its TV rights to the market in 2016, it attracted interest from free-to-air partners, namely Nine, the publisher of this masthead. However, Nine couldn’t match Foxtel’s offer and FFA opted for money over eyeballs when it agreed to a six-year, $57 million a year deal with Fox Sports. That amount appears to overvalue the product as interest in the A-League has dwindled, compounded by Foxtel’s woes.

[Read more]

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