Wednesday April 22, 2020

Radio Week: Nova’s Paul Jackson on what happens during lockdown

By James Manning

• ‘smooth and Nova are rock solid, steady and on the right trajectory’

Nova Entertainment highlights from GfK Survey 2, 2020 included:
Nova Network #1 network with most listeners
Nova Network #1 drive with Kate, Tim and Marty
smoothfm 95.3 is #1 in Sydney share and cume audience
Nova Network #1 nights as Smallzy wins 53rd consecutive survey
Nova Network #1 25-54
Nova 100 Melbourne #1 in cume with record audience 1,102,800

Nova Entertainment’s chief programming and marketing officer Paul Jackson is more than satisfied with the performance of their on-air teams as radio goes into ratings lockdown until the end of September.

“We have great cumes all around the country,” he told Mediaweek. “Everything changed in the last few weeks of this survey period and that would have impacted a lot of radio stations trying to measure daytime time spent listening. People have been grappling with that and spending more time on news/talk stations.

“Because listening patterns did change, I am looking at this survey more at the cumes. Looking at smoothfm share in Sydney I am calling it a draw with WSFM (the latter leads by 0.1), but we are well ahead on cume.”

Jackson said the great news for the business in the Sydney market is that smoothfm and Nova 969 are the only stations in the market with a cume over 1m.

smoothfm’s Richard Wilkins, Mel Doyle, David Campbell & Cameron Daddo

“Nova 100 also posted its highest cume ever and is #1 in cume in Melbourne. We also lead in cume in Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. When you come to share of audience we have wonderful stories – both under 40 and 25-39 we are very strong.”

Jackson is not expecting any major changes in terms of how radio is bought over the next few months. Highlighting how trends in radio will be used by advertisers, he said: “From survey 1 to survey 2 this year, some stations were slightly up or slightly down, but within the range of where they were. If you take an average of last year there was a lot of very strong listening going on. I don’t see any major change for any individual stations. We have a lot of good radio in Australia and they seem to be as strong as they ever were.

We will continue researching our audience to make sure our stations have the right sentiment and tone and we are giving the audience what they want. That can be moments of escapism and music that makes them feel good, or the news and information, we have to be judging the moment of time we are in and it is changing week to week. We have to be delivering the right messages at the right times.”

Jackson said that although there are no more surveys for some time, the mindsets for the on-air teams is that nothing has really changed. “No one is really conscious day-to-day that we are not in survey. However, we are not talking about things like the next big marketing campaign, and why would you at a time like this? As for the shows, it is natural for them, many of which have been going for many years and have a deep connection to the audience, to continue to try their absolute best. We will not be doing anything different that we would have done in a survey period, bar top-line marketing. We will want to make sure we remain in a strong place when we do start surveys again.

Regarding marketing spend, Jackson said smoothfm was fortunate it had done some marketing at the start of the year. “We also did some Nova marketing at the back end of 2019 and over summer. Given we have such strong cumes around the country it is now about what we do on air. Giving the audience the connection, relatability and connection they want. There is no marketing message from any of our stations that needs to go out urgently right now. Things will change over time, but who knows if that time will be this year or the following year.”

Jackson added that if a station wanted to experiment with something, out of survey might be the time to that. “But then if you are out of survey you don’t really know if it is working or not!

We don’t need to be experimenting – smooth is rock solid, steady and on the right trajectory. Very much the same for Nova. I would have to get very nit-picky to go through the Nova numbers to find stuff we could do better in.

“It is times like this where audiences are going to tend to stay with shows they now and love rather than sample something new or different.”

BBC Natural History Unit boss on bringing the world into your home

By James Manning

The BBC Earth brand has this week been celebrating 50 years of Earth Day with Earth Week, a special line-up of programming on its TV channel which looks at the planet both up close and from far away and explores the vital role people play in ensuring its future.

Screening each evening at 8.30pm from Monday, April 20, the week kicked 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 channel showcases much of the work from the award-winning BBC Studios Natural History Unit. The producer of content across TV, online and radio, the unit is overseen by Julian Hector. Mediaweek recently spent time with the seabird biologist turned filmmaker as he presented some of the unit’s future plans to TV buyers in Liverpool.

Earlier this year Hector and colleague Sir David Attenborough were presented an award by Queen Elizabeth for their work on Blue Planet II which studied the impact of ocean plastic pollution.

Head of BBC Studios Natural History Unit Julian Hector with Queen Elizabeth and Sir David Attenborough

At the presentation, Hector said: “On behalf of all of my team, it is an honour to receive the Chatham House Prize jointly with Sir David Attenborough – the world’s greatest storyteller. The extraordinary wonder and beauty of marine life shown under threat in Blue Planet II awoke the world to the fragility of our planet. We didn’t set out to make a program about ocean plastics or climate change, but we documented what we saw – this is our world whether we like it or not.”

Speaking to Mediaweek just days after receiving that award, Hector spoke about how he started his career: “I used to be a field biologist and studied albatrosses in the Antarctic and did my PHD there. I stayed in that world for about 10 years and then made a gear change into the BBC Natural History Unit 25 years ago.”

Images from BBC Natural History Unit flagship production Discoveries which launches on BBC Earth on April 27

Hector started making shows for the broadcaster before being promoted to run the Natural History Unit four years ago.

Now in that management role, we asked Hector how many days he gets out of the office. “Not enough. I really crave working in the field. I have an amazing team of executive producers and the Natural History Unit presents the work of those amazing men and women to the world. I encourage them as much as possible to get into the field and see their teams at work around the world.

It is really good for creative minds to go where the story is, come back and lead their teams, keeping fresh that way.

Hector said a creative driver for his department is to understand what people are interested in and what they want to see. “We are truly driven by innovating. Our big promise to the audience is to get them closer, and then closer still. The idea of different perspectives really drives capture technology. Linked to that is to really innovate in storytelling. We want to be able to have audiences attach their minds and agendas of individual animals. We monitor the audience uptake of our shows and the level of engagement and how they emotionally connect with the story we tell.”

Although the technology has changed significantly since Hector first started making content, he noted some basics are unchanged. “One of the things that defines the Natural History Unit is us capturing unique animal behaviour. Also capturing unique plant behaviour. For both of these things you point a camera at it and press the ‘Go’ button. Now we can do things like set up rigs which might have 36 cameras on them so you can film something like a primate moving through a forest at 360º angles. You just couldn’t have attempted something like that in the 1980s. Other innovations include remote camera technology and macro photography.”

Images from BBC Natural History Unit flagship production Discoveries which launches on BBC Earth on April 27

Drones have revolutionised natural history filming and Hector said it was hard to image how using them could be overdone. “They will be seen as one of the great step changes in the perspectives we bring to audiences. In the past we had to get around in great big helicopters with camera operators hanging out of them costing maybe $20,000 an hour to run.

“Now we can use drones that are able to go much lower, be much quieter and much cheaper. In our series Seven Worlds in 2019, some of the most memorable animal behaviour sequences were shot by drones. They gave audiences perspectives that were amazing.”

Hector is a big 4K, UHD, advocate. “Natural History really lends itself to it. Part of the promise of natural history is that we will immerse audiences in the natural world. The colour palette and the sense of being there is really driven by UHD.”

As to whether the picture quality continues to grow to 8K and beyond, Hector commented. “The issue used to be how much film stock you could carry into the field. Now the issue is the amount of storage you can take into the field. If you are filming in 8K you need very large numbers of drives and drives need power and we are very sensitive to carbon neutrality and the impact of what we do. Filming in 8K though lets you do things like project onto buildings or to crop in on images and retain good quality.”

The scope of the programs coming out of the Natural History Unit range from the big investments to more niche programming. “The flagship titles are important – they can take four years or more to make, are well funded, but those shows are only as good as the off-screen talent making them. Those people are rare. The wider range of content we do are important to reach different audiences more regularly and they are a fabulous training ground for the big blue-chip pieces.

As to audience trends, Hector said: “Bringing the natural world into someone’s home has always been in demand. Thank goodness a big shift has happened with an appetite to watch stories about our relationship with the natural world. Big environmental pieces, the conservation agenda, are becoming a sweeping trend.”

Hector has spent some time in Australia, but not enough he said. “I’ve loved my visits to Western Australia where I have seen southern right whales. I have seen some of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Ash which blew my mind. Some say it is the tallest tree in the world. My heart was bleeding for the great human and animal tragedy during the recent fires. I have friends in Australia and they have been reporting back to me. We really want to tell some of those stories.”

ARN’s Christian O’Connell to host new national night show

ARN has announced that Christian O’Connell, host of Melbourne’s #1FM Breakfast Show on the #1FM station GOLD104.3, will also host a new daily national night show from Monday, 27 April 2020.

The night show will be called The Christian O’Connell Show with the tag line – Be Part of Something Special. It will mean the broadcaster will be on air for five daily in Melbourne where he currently broadcasts from 6am until 10am.

The evening Christian O’Connell Show will air weekdays from 7pm – 8pm on Sydney’s WSFM, Melbourne’s GOLD104.3, Brisbane’s 97.3FM, Adelaide’s MIX102.3 and Perth’s 96 FM stations.

On the launch of his new national nights show O’Connell said: “I’m so lucky to be able to continue to build a new radio show here in Australia. It’s open to any free spirit who loves storytelling, and radio that’s inclusive and talks about all aspects of our lives. I aim to carry on making radio that’s about real people, rather than reality TV or showbiz gossip.

“Right now, we need spaces where we can support each other, through laughter, tears and hope. We are at a time when the power of radio to create connection and comfort is so vital and I hope that I can continue to remind our listeners just how special radio can be… even when hosted by a Brit like me!

“In Melbourne in just two years the show has become number one and that’s all thanks to the strong and supportive community of listeners who have really become part of the show, so to be able to offer that across Australia is a really exciting opportunity.”

ARN’s national content director Duncan Campbell said: “Christian’s ability to connect community and engage listeners is unique and valuable and has resulted in some of the most creative, integrated client campaigns ever delivered. Listeners, more than ever, need content and talent that can be trusted and provide both assurance and entertainment. Christian’s quick-wit, relatable humour and compassion really resonate with listeners and the new show will amplify his community of passionate fans across the country.”

ARN’s CEO Ciaran Davis said: “ARN continues to invest in talent that will support our objective to define audio and remain the #1 national network. Christian is exceptional talent and delivers on incredible integrated campaigns that connect with audiences and produce tangible results for clients. This new national show not only extends Christian’s reach to new audiences it strengthens ARN’s commercial offering for our clients nationally across all of our broadcast, on-demand and digital assets.”

Guardian Australia announces stimulus package for Australian businesses

Guardian Australia has announced a new initiative to support the media and marketing industry through the COVID-19 crisis.

Mason Rook, commercial sales director of Guardian Australia, said that the brand was positioned to support brands during this time. 

“For brands looking to run advertising this financial year, Guardian Australia would like to provide a credit to the same value, which can be used to drive greater impact of their current campaign or used in the future when marketing budgets are likely to come under increased pressure,” says Rook. 

The publication’s national reach has more than doubled this month to 11.6m Australian readers. Early March figures averaged one million daily readers, and have grown to 2.2 million daily readers and 47% of all Australians visited The Guardian last month, according to Nielsen data.

“This initiative will give them the opportunity to tap into our growing audiences, whilst taking pressure off the bottom line. We also know that when things get tough, marketing budgets are often one of the first things to be cut – it’s our hope that this will help future-proof business and support them when budgets inevitably tighten up later,” says Rook. 

 “We really want to do what we can to help keep Autralians employed and the economy ticking along, and this is the best way we can leverage our audience growth to contribute to that common goal.”

Chris Bath to present six-part ABC series Road to Now

Chris Bath will be joined by historians, politicians, writers and reporters as they look back at the fascinating events that have shaped the modern world. Road to Now starts on Tuesdays at 9.30pm on the ABC and iview from 26 May.

Drawing on footage from ABC News plus international current affairs series Foreign CorrespondentRoad to Now unpacks modern history in six one-hour episodes: Age of ConflictGlobal ShapersThe Fight for Freedom, Return of the Wall, Globalisation and In Harm’s Way.

Each episode features commentary from those who either occupied positions of power or reported on the events at the time, including British historian and author Professor Niall Ferguson, CNN’s Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and senior UN Official, The Right Honourable Helen ClarkThe New York Times Foreign Affairs Columnist and author Tom Friedman, Australia’s former Foreign Minister and International Crisis Group President Gareth Evans, and Former Prime Minister of Australia and author The Honourable John Howard.

The series commences at the end of the Cold War and follows the events that followed leading up to the present day. Road to Now is a roadmap to the 21st Century.

Road to Now episode synopses:

• Age of Conflict – Tuesday 26 May, 9.30pm
How the “peace dividend” from the end of the Cold War vanished in waves of terrorism and war, leaving the Middle East mired in conflict.  

• Global Shapers – Tuesday 2 June, 9.30pm
Profiles the national leaders who changed the world during the past 30 years. and shaped international opinion. 

• The Fight for Freedom – Tuesday 9 June, 9.30pm
The quest for personal and political freedoms has shaped much of the past 30 years, so why is ‘democracy in retreat’?

• Return of the Wall – Tuesday, 16 June, 9.30pm
Why are walls of steel and razor wire going up along European and the US borders? And what happened to the international commitment to give refugees asylum? 

• Globalisation – Tuesday 23 June, 9.30pm
Globalisation, technology and the spread of economic power from West to East have profoundly changed the world of money and transformed the lives of billions.

• In Harm’s Way – Tuesday 30 June, 9.30pm
Natural disasters causing death and destruction are intensifying as the Earth’s climate changes, leaving billions of people in harm’s way. 

TV Guide: Will & Grace to air final episode... for the second time

• The finale will premiere on Stan at 3pm this Friday, 24 April.

Over 20 years since Will & Grace first aired the series finale will be shown exclusively on Stan.

In the season finale episode, “It’s Time” Will (Eric McCormack) is determined to not reminisce about his life in the city or his ex, McCoy (guest star Matt Bomer). Grace (Debra Messing), on the verge of giving birth, keeps having false alarms of going into labour. At the behest of Stan, Karen (Megan Mullally) goes to the top of the Statue of Liberty to get closure with her ex-husband. Jack’s (Sean Hayes) dream of taking a bow on a Broadway stage becomes a very real possibility. Minnie Driver and Brian Jordan Alvarez also guest star.

Will & Grace ran for eight seasons from 1998 to 2006 and was rebooted in 2017, having a 246-episode run over two decades. It has totalled 91 Emmy Award nominations, 18 Emmy wins (including outstanding comedy series), and seven SAG Awards. The show is also one of the few in television history where each cast member has won an Emmy Award.

The cast commented on the finale: 

Eric McCormack: “We’ve done certain episodes that while they’re very much about right now, they will withstand the text of time. I have a greater appreciation of how great a job this is, so in some ways it’s harder to say goodbye this time.”
Sean Hayes: “All I feel is gratitude to the writers, to my peers, to the fans.”
Debra Messing: “To be able to make people laugh and think and feel, that’s the trifecta. This is a family with a history. No question there’s going to be tears on that last night.”
Megan Mullally: “To have a job doing a show that people liked so much, that’s amazing.” 

The finale will premiere on Stan at 3pm this Friday, 24 April. All previous episodes including the return seasons are available to stream now. ​

TV Demand: Disney+ has more Star Wars success + GoT #1 again

By Trent Thomas

No new major shows have joined the TV Demand charts this week but there has been some shakeup at the top with two new #1s. The new shows are Star Wars: The Clone Wars which is the #1 Digital Original in Australia and Game of Thrones which is #1 in New Zealand.

Disney+ has had another show top the charts after the massive success of The Mandalorian and it is another product from the Star Wars catalogue with the franchise proving a winner for the new digital platform.

The seventh and final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was released on February 21, 2020. The series is set during the three years between the prequel films Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, with the finale coming up on May 4 also known as Star Wars day.

Game of Thrones is close to being one year away from its final ever episode but that hasn’t stopped the show from returning to #1 in New Zealand. The show dominated the first half of 2019 including 19 straight weeks on top of the chart thanks to the shows eighth and final season airing between April and May. During the six-episode season, the show consistently flirted with the 20 million threshold for demand expressions in Australia, and close to three million in NZ which were the highest marks for the year. HBO’s epic fantasy series took home the top honour of the Most In-Demand TV Series in the World, along with the trophy for Most In-Demand Drama Series in the World, for 2019 at the 2nd Annual Global TV Demand Awards. 

TV ratings Tuesday April 21 Week 17 2020

By James Manning

• The psychic and scientist first to go on ratings champ Lego Masters
• Courtney burned on MasterChef as incomplete dish sends her home

Tuesday news highlights
Seven News 1,258,000/1,166,000
Nine News 1,148,000/1,109,000
ABC News 912,000
A Current Affair 864,000
7.30 695,000
The Project 379,000/610,000
10 News 505,000/279,000
Sunrise 317,000
The Drum 270,000
Nine Late News 236,000
SBS World News 233,000
ABC News Breakfast 230,000
Today 215,000
Morning Show 205,000

Nine: A Current Affair started the week on 904,000 and then did 864,000 on Tuesday.

The first elimination came in episode three of Lego Masters and it was goodbye to Annie and Runa in front of 1,035,000. This comes after audiences of 1,239,000 and 1,049,000 earlier this week. “Go hard or go home” was the warning to contestants in an elimination challenge where they had to build their ultimate hero saving the day. The team of Annie and Runa, an unlikely combo of a scientist and a psychic, built a scene from The Little Mermaid, but it didn’t impress Brickman ahead of the other builds and they were sent home.

The Castle then followed with 518,000 watching the classic Aussie comedy.

Seven: Home and Away went from 657,000 on Monday to 672,000 last night.

House Rules then did 502,000 before First Dates Australia was on 288,000.

10: The Project featured Malcolm Turnbull on his book tour with 610,000 after 7pm.

MasterChef Australia then went into its second elimination in three nights with Courtney performing poorly as she got flustered during a two-round pressure test. The Tuesday audience was 908,000 after 1,095,000 on Tuesday a week ago.

NCIS then did 376,000.

ABC: Foreign Correspondent did 577,000 with a horrifying report on the impact of the pandemic on New York City.

Catalyst followed with 378,000.

SBS: Great Canadian Railway Journeys pulled another 300k+ audience with 320,000 after 332,000 last week where it was the channel’s most-watched for the week.

Insight then did 243,000 followed by Dateline on 122,000 and then The Feed on 52,000.

Week 17 TV: Tuesday
TUESDAY METRO
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 12.0% 7 16.5% 9 22.7% 10  14.8% SBS One 5.7%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.2% 7TWO 3.1% GO! 1.6% 10 Bold 3.9% VICELAND 1.6%
ABC ME 0.4% 7mate 2.9% GEM 2.5% 10 Peach 1.8% Food Net 0.9%
ABC NEWS 1.8% 7flix 1.6% 9Life 2.1%     NITV 0.1%
        9Rush 0.9%     SBS World Movies 0.9%
TOTAL 16.5%   24.1%   29.7%   20.5%   9.2%

 

TUESDAY REGIONAL
ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 11.0% 7 18.9% 9 17.4% WIN 12.6% SBS One 5.6%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.8% 7TWO 3.7% GO! 2.4% WIN Bold 4.5% VICELAND 1.8%
ABC ME 0.5% 7mate 5.6% GEM 3.1% WIN Peach 1.9% Food Net 0.5%
ABC NEWS 1.3% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 1.3% 9Life 2.5% Sky News  on WIN 2.4% NITV 0.1%
                SBS Movies 1.4%
TOTAL 15.6%   29.4%   25.6%   21.4%   9.4%

 

TUESDAY METRO ALL TV
FTA STV
89.3% 10.7%
TUESDAY FTA
  1. Seven News Seven 1,258,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 1,166,000
  3. Nine News Nine 1,148,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 1,109,000
  5. Lego Masters Nine 1,035,000
  6. ABC News ABC 912,000
  7. MasterChef Australia 10 908,000
  8. A Current Affair Nine 864,000
  9. 7.30 ABC 695,000
  10. The Chase Australia Seven 676,000
  11. Home And Away Seven 672,000
  12. The Project 7pm 10 610,000
  13. Foreign Correspondent ABC 577,000
  14. Hot Seat Nine 565,000
  15. The Castle Nine 518,000
  16. 10 News First 10 505,000
  17. House Rules: High Stakes Seven 502,000
  18. The Chase Australia-5pm Seven 413,000
  19. The Project 6.30pm 10 379,000
  20. Catalyst ABC 378,000
Demo Top 5

16-39 Top Five

  1. Lego Masters Nine 294,000
  2. MasterChef Australia 10 293,000
  3. The Project 7pm 10 167,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 157,000
  5. Nine News Nine 155,000

 

18-49 Top Five

  1. Lego Masters Nine 493,000
  2. MasterChef Australia 10 437,000
  3. Nine News Nine 303,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 297,000
  5. The Project 7pm 10 277,000

 

25-54 Top Five

  1. Lego Masters Nine 547,000
  2. MasterChef Australia 10 454,000
  3. Nine News Nine 362,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 358,000
  5. Seven News Seven 355,000
Tuesday Multichannel
  1. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 226,000
  2. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 197,000
  3. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 158,000
  4. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 157,000
  5. Octonauts PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 142,000
  6. Neighbours 10 Peach 141,000
  7. Kiri And Lou ABCKIDS/COMEDY 139,000
  8. CSI: Miami 10 Bold 139,000
  9. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 138,000
  10. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom ABCKIDS/COMEDY 137,000
  11. CSI: Miami Ep 2 10 Bold 133,000
  12. Thomas And Friends PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 131,000
  13. Shaun The Sheep AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 131,000
  14. Bondi Rescue Ep 2 (R) 10 Bold 126,000
  15. Nella The Princess Knight PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 124,000
  16. Olobob Top PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 123,000
  17. Go Jetters AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 123,000
  18. Highway Patrol-Ep.2 Pm 7mate 122,000
  19. Floogals AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 120,000
  20. Hey Duggee ABCKIDS/COMEDY 119,000
Tuesday STV
  1. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 102,000
  2. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 101,000
  3. Jones & Credlin Sky News Live 95,000
  4. Credlin Sky News Live 80,000
  5. PML Later Sky News Live 60,000
  6. The Kenny Report Sky News Live 50,000
  7. Mrs. America FOX SHOWCASE 42,000
  8. Bargain Hunt Lifestyle Channel 40,000
  9. Newsday Sky News Live 39,000
  10. Afternoon Agenda Sky News Live 38,000
  11. Top Wing Nick Jr. 37,000
  12. Jeopardy! FOX Classics 37,000
  13. Calvin & Kaison’s Play Power Nick Jr. 37,000
  14. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 36,000
  15. Death In Paradise BBC First 36,000
  16. Abby Hatcher Nick Jr. 34,000
  17. Afternoon Agenda Sky News Live 34,000
  18. Afternoon Agenda Sky News Live 31,000
  19. Border Security: Australia’s Front Line FOX8 30,000
  20. Border Security: International FOX8 30,000

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

Virgin Australia puts cloud over Supercars, AFL, arts sponsorships

Tens of millions of dollars worth of sponsorship deals, including a major contract potentially worth up to $10m annually with the AFL, are at risk after airline Virgin Australia entered voluntary administration on Tuesday, report The Australian’s John Stensholt and Courtney Walsh.

The news comes at a time when many professional sports are under extreme financial pressure due to the effect of lockdown measures on match fixtures and broadcasts.

Virgin’s AFL deal includes flying players, umpires, coaches and officials around the country to matches.

The airline also has a multi-million naming rights contract for the Supercars motor racing series, thought to be worth as much as $2m a year.

The airline also has several sponsorships in the fashion industry and arts sector, including a naming rights deal for the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival.

[Read more]

Netflix adds nearly 16m subscribers amid virus shutdown

People watching more entertainment programming while sheltering at home propelled Netflix to a strong first three months of 2020, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The company added 15.8 million global subscribers during the first quarter of the year, a period of growth that has rocketed its overall subscriber base to nearly 183 million.

[Read more]

Variety reported:

Netflix’s buzzy documentary series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness has been sampled by 64 million Netflix households worldwide since its March 20 debut.

Netflix disclosed its internal viewing statistics for Tiger King and other shows as part of its first-quarter earnings release on Tuesday. Dating reality show Love Is Blind has been sampled by some 30 million member households while original movie Spenser Confidential has drawn a whopping 85 million households.

[Read more]

WarnerMedia announces late May for US launch HBO Max

HBO Max will enter the streaming wars in the US on May 27, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The streaming service is set to debut amid the shutdown brought about by the novel coronavirus outbreak, bringing with it 10,000 hours of library programming from across the WarnerMedia portfolio, including Friends and The Big Bang Theory. The $15-per-month offering will serve up the entire HBO experience supplemented with movies and TV shows from the Warner Bros. library, as well as a handful of new original series.

WarnerMedia began running social media ads on Tuesday morning announcing the date of the launch.

With HBO Max, WarnerMedia is the latest legacy entertainment company to jump into the streaming fray. Disney kicked off the so-called streaming wars on Nov. 12 with the launch of Disney+. It was followed by the soft launch of NBCUniversal’s Peacock on April 15. They, and five-month-old offering Apple TV+, are all chasing Netflix and its 183 million global subscribers.

[Read more]

News media

Morrison schools Turnbull on media mogul politics for dummies

One of the ironies of the past two prime ministers is that Scott Morrison, a party organiser and lobbyist, has demonstrated more finesse at media mogul politics than Malcolm Turnbull, who was once the ultimate media consigliore, reports The AFR’s Aaron Patrick.

This week, as Turnbull complained about being deposed by the Murdoch press, his successor’s government was being lauded by Rupert Murdoch‘s man in Australia, Michael Miller, for taxing Google and Facebook more.

While the government acted on the advice of competition regulator Rod Sims, it is not inconceivable that Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg saw the political benefits of pleasing a powerful constituency.

“I imagine the last thing Morrison wants is grumpy proprietors,” one ex-Murdoch executive said Tuesday.

Just in case any one at News Corp wasn’t sure who to thank for protecting their jobs, Frydenberg reminded them in an article in Monday’s Australian, under the headline: “We’ll hold Facebook and Google to account.”

Meanwhile, Turnbull echoed Kevin Rudd by blaming Murdoch for the end of his political career.

[Read more]

Television

TV Tonight: Adam Hills set to host The Last Leg from Australia

Adam Hills is preparing to host the next season of The Last Leg from his garage in Melbourne, reports TV Tonight.

Hills is currently in Australia with family, after his Melbourne Comedy Festival shows were cancelled.

The most recent episode of The Last Leg screened in the UK without an audience, but there are now even more changes looming.

“It looks like our garage is going to be taken over and become a mini TV studio. And there might have to be a couple of cameras throughout the house as well,” Hills tells TV Tonight.

“The other thing is, I’m going to have to write a TV show with people who are in London. So the only way I can do that is if we get on a Zoom session every night from about eight o’clock till midnight, because that’s morning their time.

“If we do The Last Leg live, I’ll be doing it at eight o’clock Saturday morning, which is 10pm London time.”

[Read more]

ABC Commercial sells China’s Artful Dissident doco to more countries

ABC Commercial has announced two additional sales of the documentary China’s Artful Dissident (HD 1×60) to the public broadcasters SVT Knowledge & SVT Play in Sweden and NHK in Japan. The sales add to the list of completed contracts into the USA, Canada, Middle East, Africa, Australasia and Pacific Island territories.

The documentary charts the journey of foremost political cartoonist Badiucao, who clandestinely protests China’s human rights abuses through his irreverent and satirical art. High on the Chinese government’s hit list, it endeavours to prevent his art from breaching their ‘great firewall’.

After initially attracting considerable international and domestic media attention with both his political cartoon and performance art, the documentary showcases Badiucao’s body of work and follows his move to avoid Chinese interference to Berlin where he gets a job with China’s most famous living artist, Ai Weiwei.

China’s Artful Dissident is an excellent example of the high-quality, original factual production that sits within our portfolio of award-winning television content.” said Jessica Ellis, head of ABC content sales and distribution. “We’re delighted to be working with SVT and NHK to be bringing this ground-breaking Australian series to Swedish and Japanese audiences.”

China’s Artful Dissident is produced by Identity Films & Productions in association with Film Victoria, Screen Australia, ABC Commercial and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Written, directed and produced by Danny Ben-Moshe, it was officially selected for the 2019 United Nations Film Festival and has won ‘Award of Excellence: Special Mention’ at the Impact Docs Award 2019 and was the opening night film and winner ‘Best Mid-Length Documentary’ at the Barcelona Human Rights Film Festival, 2019.

China’s Artful Dissident is streaming now on SVT Play in Sweden and premiers on NHK in Japan this week, Thursday 23 April.

Sports media

Castle eyes new broadcast deal, trans-Tasman clashes to keep rugby afloat

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle has her eyes on a new broadcast deal, World Rugby loans and trans-Tasman clashes as avenues to keep the game afloat, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Sam Phillips.

With the pay deal for the game’s players finally signed, sealed and delivered, Castle will focus on three key areas to secure rugby’s future in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Firstly, rugby must secure a broadcast partner for 2021 and beyond. Castle and RA were days away from putting pen to paper on a significant deal with Optus before the pandemic brought an end to negotiations.

Optus and other potential broadcasters are still in an uncertain financial position, but Castle hopes to pick up where negotiations left off, before the end of the financial year.

Broadcast deal and World Rugby loans aside, Castle must also find a way to put a product back on field to ensure Foxtel and Channel Ten have no reason to pull any future payments.

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Herald Sun Footy Podcast: AFL tells media to be ready for July re-start

The AFL has reportedly told members of the football media to prepare for a possible competition restart as early as July 10, according to Herald Sun football writer Scott Gullan.

Broadcasters have been kept in the know by league headquarters, with Gullan revealing the AFL has hinted at players returning to the field on July 10.

But Gullan conceded on the Herald Sun Footy Podcast that the situation could change in this unpredictable landscape.

“There’s a suggestion that July 10 could be the resumption date,” Gullan said.

“Radio and TV have sort of been given the ‘wink, wink’ from AFL House.

“Get your head around July 10 … get your ducks in order.

“I know it changes by the day and they keep telling us that but word out of the media — radio and TV land who deal with the AFL — (is) that July 10 could be it.”

[Read more and listen to podcast here]

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