By James Manning
• Adrian Swift on social distancing on MAFS and content quotas
Nine has started the year as dominant a network as it was in 2019. So far it has won every week of survey all people and in key demos. The broadcaster is keen to stay there for the rest of 2020. But the impact of COVID-19 on the production sector is causing Nine head of content, production and development Adrian Swift some challenges. He told Mediaweek Nine will put together a strong schedule for the remainder of 2020, however it is the 2021 season that is the major concern.
Nine’s first two major 2020 franchises were filmed before COVID-19 struck and both Married at First Sight and Lego Masters have pushed the network to #1 on every night they were screened – except for the Sunday night of Fire Fight Australia in February.
Nine is planning to roll out its major formats in the same order as it did in 2019. However there is some production impact for its third major series of the year, The Voice, which goes to air after Lego Masters wraps.
One thing that Nine isn’t planning, despite content quota levels being relaxed, is screening more imported content. Could Nine get away with an import at 7.30pm over a number of weeks? “No,” said Nine’s Swift. “The reality is we can’t get away with content that is not Australian. We are not seeking to minimise local drama. We are seeking to minimise kids because no one is watching. The recent quota relaxation isn’t some clever ruse by commercial broadcasters to weasel their way out of stuff. It’s a reset point where the business needs to be reviewed. We are only talking about changing sub-quotas, not the overall Australian content quotas.”
Swift told Mediaweek that so far two thirds of The Voice had been filmed. “The series will begin looking as it has previously, but later in the series it will be different to what people might be expecting. To be honest, as a producer, I think those changes are going to make it more interesting.”
Those changes include having some performers and some coaches contributing remotely.
The biggest disruption from COVID-19 could be to some of Nine’s international acquisitions will be impacted, and Nine could have to fill more slots with locally-produced content.
The concerns around 2021 start with Nine’s biggest format: “Married at First Sight will not be able to go ahead like it did last year. It is next year where we think things could be more challenging.” Swift said it was difficult to see how you could have social distancing on MAFS. “To be honest it might be better that way. If the couples stood 1.5 metres apart they might like each other more. I expect the show to perhaps change fundamentally next year, but it won’t be about social distance.”
Australian Ninja Warrior moved to a new location this year – it’s third in three years for what will be the fourth season of the show. That site is Melbourne’s Showground facility which is also where Ninja Warrior production company Endemol Shine Australia makes MasterChef. “The fact that Endemol Shine were already on site at the new location helped the decision,” admitted Swift.
For the show globally, having a new venue is not a challenge, indeed it is a feature of the US version which is in a new location each season.
“Melbourne’s Scienceworks location [home of season 3] for various reasons didn’t work including they were doing other things. It was a constrained site and difficult to lay it out like we wanted to. At the Showgrounds we have real control and the way we have laid it out suits the course better. The issue we had in Sydney is that some nearby residents in Birchgrove were up in arms about the noise, otherwise we might still be there.”
After MAFS, Nine’s most important format must be The Block given the audience support over a long period of time and the amount of sponsorship the show attracts. Nine did shut the production down for a time, but work on the constructions continued. “As regular viewers will know, you have contestants and builders – lots of people rammed into a small space. What we have done is continued building and we are filming that. When the contestants come back there will still be tradies around them, but we will be maintaining physical distancing.”
Swift didn’t have a date when the contestants will return, but he said it will be soon and will be within guidelines that prevail in Victoria.
Swift paid tribute to the show’s creators, Julian Cress and David Barbour, “They have a beautiful and clever idea this year which is at the heart of the show. There is a really good cast, really representative with no abrasive characters which we have avoided this year.”
As part of his role at Nine, Swift is tasked with looking for new productions for the schedule. “We are working on about four different things in different areas. At Nine we accept that people like reality shows and from a broadcast perspective it works well because you get to tell stories over multiple nights and we can amortise costs over multiple nights. But that doesn’t make them cheap, because they certainly are not.
“We have accepted now that for returning formats we need to fundamentally change how we approach and look at the show. It’s not just enough to do something like change the judges. We really started that this past year with changes to Lego Masters and then The Voice. We also did it with The Block where David Barbour really changed how he worked in post-production on the show last year.”
Expect Nine to have something new in what will probably be a virtual Upfront this year. Swift: “We are expecting to have a couple of new franchises for 2021.” That means that Nine will be working on those new formats this year to make sure what they are showing at Upfronts has every chance of succeeding in what is a successful schedule. “We need to have worked through any idea very carefully. It’s the firepit of interrogation – what is the audience, what does this show say about us, why will it engage people, and what elements will have people returning like the dinner parties in Married at First Sight.
“There can be as much as 80% of the things we initially quite liked that can fall apart under the heat of interrogation.”
The production delays brought on by COVID-19 has made Nine examine a little more closely what it was already reviewing. “It is all about duty of care, looking after participants. When you are suddenly faced with the possibility of cast and crew getting infected by something it moves the focus away from production and closer to how do you treat the staff and contributors. We probably took the process for granted before. Now we examine the process more and that has been good for us.”
The move broadens Foxtel’s streaming footprint and means customers now have access to content from streaming providers Netflix (for subscribers), ABC and SBS.
The arrival of SBS On Demand brings a host of streamed content including SBS-produced news, documentaries and entertainment as well as curated international drama and movies. This includes complete seasons of shows such as Years and Years (season 1); The Handmaid’s Tale (season 3); The Young Pope (season 1) and The New Pope (season 1); On Becoming A God In Central Florida (season 1) and SBS’s award-winning local drama, The Hunting (season 1).
SBS On Demand also offers complete box sets of fan favourites such as The Bridge (seasons 1-4); New Girl (seasons 1-7); The X-Files (seasons 1-11); Harlots (season 1-3); You’re The Worst (seasons 1-4) and Borgen (season 1-4).
Foxtel’s chief product and strategy officer Alice Mascia said: “We are pleased to add the incredibly popular SBS On Demand app to our iQ3s and iQ4s providing customers an even broader range of content directly on their Foxtel set top boxes while also giving SBS access to an highly engaged TV audience.
“The addition of SBS On Demand comes at a particularly relevant time for customers as they settle in at home supporting social distancing measures. Since its launch last year, feedback from customers on the new Foxtel experience has been exceptionally positive with more than one million homes now experiencing the best of TV and on demand all on one place.”
SBS On Demand general manager Chris Tangye said: “SBS On Demand is home to some of the world’s best and most distinctive programming, providing a truly unique collection of content for Australians. With everything from culinary adventures, global cinema, compelling drama, thought-provoking documentaries and trusted news and current affairs. There couldn’t be a better time to be bringing this to more audiences through Foxtel iQ3 and iQ4 as we all look for opportunities to escape and be entertained, as well as informed.
“Foxtel audiences will also be able to access SBS On Demand’s extensive multilingual offering, including many locally-made programs available with subtitles through our Arabic and Chinese Collections.”
SBS On Demand will begin arriving for iQ3 and iQ4 customers from Tuesday April 28.
Stan has announced it has extended and broadened its partnership with consumer electronics and home appliances manufacturer Hisense to give Australian consumers an improved streaming experience.
As part of the new agreement, Stan will have a dedicated button on all new Hisense VIDAA OS Smart TV remote controls, making it the first local streaming service to secure this position.
The deal extends and broadens Stan’s partnership with Hisense, one of the biggest and fastest growing TV brands in Australia.
The Stan remote button, along with increased promotion of Stan content on Hisense’s VIDAA OS platform, will be featured on a range of the 2020 Hisense Smart TVs which will be available to purchase from August.
Some Hisense remotes already have dedicated buttons for other services including Netflix, YouTube and Prime Video.
“Hisense has become one of Australia’s leading manufacturers of consumer electronics and Smart TVs, so it was an obvious decision for Stan to continue and expand this partnership,” said Stan CEO Mike Sneesby. “This forms part of our continued commitment to ensure our content is easily accessible in all the places consumers choose to watch through partnerships with the world’s biggest brands.”
“We’re delighted to be extending our partnership with Stan as Hisense continues to redefine the at-home viewing experience for Australians, particularly at a time when we have never been more reliant on our TVs as a source of news and entertainment,” said Finn Zhang, managing director of Hisense Australia.
“Our 2020 television line-up has been designed with Australian viewing needs top of mind. The range is big, bold and pushes the boundaries of TV technology with game-changing innovations in picture quality and sound, as well as the inclusion of an ever-increasing range of streaming and entertainment apps. The addition of the Stan button on Hisense remotes reinforces our commitment to ensuring our customers have the best possible home cinema experience, right at their fingertips,” Zhang added.
By James Manning
• Nine has returned from the Easter survey break in top spot
Nine Week 17
Primary all people 20.9%
Network all people 29.0%
Multichannels: Gem 2.9%, GO! 2.3%, 9Life 2.0%, 9Rush 0.9%
Nine has returned from the Easter survey break in top spot with a winning all people share. Nine keeps its record intact, winning every survey week of the year so far. Nine managed to win with its equal-lowest survey primary channel share.
Leading the broadcaster to victory was the return of Lego Masters with a first night audience of 1.238m making it the biggest series launch this year. The numbers for all episodes were down year-on-year, but all audiences were over 1m.
The launch of Screentime’s Informer 3838 on Monday saw an audience of 631,000 watching the drama which helped Nine to its second-best Monday survey primary share this year of 23.8%.
Seven Week 17
Primary all people 17.4%
Network all people 25.2%
Multichannels: 7TWO 3.1%, 7mate 2.8%, 7flix 1.9%
was some way off the pace in second spot overall and third in key demos. Its best numbers were again for its 6pm news hour. It’s most-watched show after the news was the 5.30pm half of The Chase with 678,000. Its best non-news show after 6pm was Home and Away with an average of 657,000 across four nights. Better Homes and Gardens had a second consecutive week over 600,000 after a few weeks earlier this year under 500,000.
Sunrise again had the breakfast winning ingredients as Kochie and Sam had an average weekday audience of 316,000.
House Rules: High Stakes underperformed with 630,000 on Sunday and then episodes close to 550,000 and 500,000 on Monday and Tuesday.
10 Week 17
Primary all people 13.5%
Network all people 19.4%
Multichannels: Bold 3.8%, Peach 2.0%
The broadcaster has posted its best primary and network survey shares this year. The channel is ranking #2 under 50 and in key demos primary and network share. The return of MasterChef has been key to that with second week audience numbers over 1m on two nights. The channel had its best Sunday and Thursday shares this year thanks to MasterChef. Also contributing on Thursday was the first Masterclass episode this year and Gogglebox.
The Project averaged over 600,000 Monday to Friday after 7pm while The Sunday Project was also over 600,000 with its second-biggest Sunday audience ever.
Hughesy, We Have a Problem wrapped last week with audience growth of nearly 40% year-on-year with viewers under 50.
Bold was again #1 multichannel with 3.8%, its equal second-best survey week.
ABC Week 17
Primary all people: 13.7%
Network all people: 19.8%
Multichannels: Kids/Comedy 2.4%, ME 0.5%, News 1.8%
The channel’s single-biggest audience of the week was for Malcolm Turnbull: The 7.30 Interview conducted by Leigh Sales with 953,000 watching last Monday.
The 7pm News was over 900,000 every night and 7.30 averaged 747,000. Four Corners was a strong performer with 777,000.
It’s best non-news and current affairs performers were Death in Paradise on 800,000 and then Hard Quiz on 724,000.
SBS Week 17
Primary all people: 4.8%
Network all people: 8.0%
Multichannels: Viceland 1.1%, Food 0.9%, NITV 0.2%, Movies 1.0%
Great Canadian Railway Journeys gets the trophy this week with 323,000 which helped secure the channels best primary share of the week – 5.7%.
Secrets of the Tower of London was the only other show over 300,000 with 309,000.
By James Manning
• Getting two top five albums in the space of a month is an impressive achievement
For five weeks now two artists from the US and Canada have been swapping spots at the top of the chart. Canada’s The Weeknd started his run at #1 back in late January taking over top spot from Tones and I with Blinding Lights. US rapper Saint Jhn knocked The Weeknd from #1 back on the first chart of April with Roses. The Weeknd later grabbed back the #1 position and now Saint Jhn has taken it back this week. Their game of chart musical chairs has kept Drake from #1 with his Toosie Slide which spends a third consecutive week at #3.
The only other change in the top 10 is, wait for it, Tones and I finding a way back in at #10 with Dance Monkey which has now spent 46 weeks on the chart.
Three new artists debuted in the top 50 this week:
#24 DaBaby with Rockstar featuring Roddy Ricch. The rapper is also new on the albums chart this week.
#25 Sam Smith & Demi Lovato with I’m Ready. Smith returns to the chart after his Bond theme To Die For was released last month while this is Lovato’s first chart appearance in close to two years.
#43 Sam Fischer with This City. First time in the top 50 for the now LA-based Aussie after the song first appeared on his 2018 EP Not A Hobby.
Getting two top five albums in the space of a month is an impressive achievement – especially if one of them also goes #1. That is what The Smith Street Band has done in the last 30 days. They first entered the ARIA chart on March 30 at #4 with their release Live at the Triffid which raised funds for their road crew after the cancellation of live shows. Their fans base jumped on the digital-only release at the right time as the album slid out of the top 50 the following week. Subsequently the band has been explaining the best time to buy (or stream) the new album to its social media followers and it has worked this week, pushing their fifth album Don’t Waste Your Anger to #1. This is the fifth Australian #1 album so far this year. The band are no strangers to the top 10 though with their fourth album More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me which peaked at #3 three years ago.
Dan Rosen, CEO of ARIA, Said: “Congratulations to The Smith Street Band and their entire team on their #1 album. It is a brilliant achievement for this local band, and a testament to their loyal and passionate fanbase. It is so heartening to see another Australian act top the ARIA Chart, showing how our Australian artists and music fans around the country are connecting during this challenging time.”
The Smith Street Band commented: “We’re all very shocked! Thank you so much to everyone who listened to the album!”
One other album debuted top 10 this week: US rapper DaBaby with his third album Blame It On Baby at #7. His previous album was only in the chart last year with Kirk peaking at #11 in September 2019.
Three other albums were new to the top 50 this week:
#13 Fiona Apple with Fetch the Bolt Cutters. Most people will be familiar with Apple’s long-running gig supplying the theme song for US TV drama The Affair. The unreleased tune Container lasted as the distinctive opener for six years until the show wrapped in 2019. Bolt Cutters is Apple’s first album since The Idler Wheel which peaked at #23 in July 2012, her previous best chart performance.
#16 Casey Barnes with Town of a Million Dreams. This is the fifth album from the prolific 2009 Australian Idol contestant and a follow up to 2018’s The Good Life. Town of a Million Dreams comes two years on from her previous album and is the first to enter the top 50.
#40 Jeremy Zucker with Love is Not Dying. The first album from the US singer/songwriter who has been doing good business on Spotify previously.
By James Manning
• Reach for the sky: Lego Masters builds high towers, high ratings
• MasterChef judges out of the kitchen, and end of road for Ben
Sunday news highlights
Seven News 1,270,000
Nine News 1,138,000
ABC News 826,000
60 Minutes 629,000
The Project 354,000/588,000
10 News 284,000/374,000
Nine News Late 354,000
SBS World News 280,000
ABC News Breakfast 214,000
Nine: Episode four of Lego Masters saw the remaining contestants facing two challenges. The first build was to give the winner an advantage in the second build – an elimination – the second elimination in two episodes. The first challenge was to see who could build the highest structure – the first twist was the teams could only use classic narrow Lego blocks. The second twist was that no stools were allowed. Jay and Stani won the advantage with a build close to 5m high. The elimination challenge was for 10 hours with Jay and Stani getting an extra hour. The challenge was to build a structure around a piece of Lego suspended above their workstations. At the end of the build Summer, who did her build alone after Ioana retired sick, surveyed the work of her competitors and guessed she and Summer might be going home. She was right. The episode did 1.171m after 1.238m on launch a week ago.
60 Minutes followed with 629,000 after 702,000 a week ago. Stories included Liz Hayes reporting on the performance of the World Health Organisation and an update on police closing down the illegal wildlife market Liam Bartlett reported on last month.
Seven: The channel was promoting House Rules as showing the best transformation in House Rules history as Laith and George got to see their new home. The boys loved the work of Khimmy and Rhi giving them 10 for their kitchen and living room. The show’s judges cast their votes tonight. Will they be as excited as Seven’s promo team? The episode did 640,000 after 630,000 a week ago, the only episode to get close to 600,000 last week.
The locally produced crime investigation Family of Suspects then did 367,000.
10: The Sunday Project continues to improve with another episode close to 600,000 after 7pm.
Viewers got to see the new judges away from the kitchen last night which set the scene for the elimination challenge. Andy Allen was pictured alone on his balcony, while viewers saw Jock’s young child and Melissa’s husband Joe. With a list of ingredients from the judges, the contestants had to cook a delicious meal they would treat themselves to. The contestants had 75 minutes to prepare anything they liked, sweet or savoury, and whoever cooked the least impressive dish would be sent home. Reynold, Brendan and Tessa were judged as the three best dishes of the day. For Ben Milbourne, presenting overcooked salmon and an unbalanced dish sent him home. The Sunday audience was 968,000 after the previous Sunday did 1,009,000.
FBI: Most Wanted followed with 289,000.
ABC: The Virus weekly updater show followed the News with 608,000.
Grand Designs New Zealand was on 451,000.
Episode two of Mystery Road did 576,000 after launching with 651,000. During the last seven days, an extra 174,000 people watched Mystery Road, lifting the Consolidated7 audience for episode one to 825,000. The episode was also the third most-watched program on video player measurement with 116,000 over the past seven days. (Killing Eve was #1 followed by Informer 3838.)
Killing Eve episode two followed with 223,000. The FTA audience was nearly matched by the VPM audience of 195,000 for that episode which goes on iview before it hits linear TV.
SBS: The channel does good business from encore screenings on Sunday and last night its 6% share came from Scotland: Rome’s Final Frontier (291,000), Mediterranean with Simon Reeve (181,000) and The Unsung Heroes of Apollo (104,000).
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.5%||7TWO||2.6%||GO!||1.9%||10 Bold||3.4%||VICELAND||1.0%|
|ABC ME||0.5%||7mate||3.0%||GEM||2.1%||10 Peach||2.1%||Food Net||1.2%|
|9Rush||0.7%||SBS World Movies||1.3%|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.2%||7TWO||2.6%||GO!||2.7%||10 Bold||3.1%||VICELAND||0.8%|
|ABC ME||0.4%||7mate||2.7%||GEM||5.0%||10 Peach||1.8%||Food Net||0.6%|
|9Rush||0.7%||SBS World Movies||0.7%|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.0%||7TWO||2.6%||GO!||2.9%||10 Bold||3.3%||VICELAND||0.5%|
|ABC ME||0.6%||7mate||3.0%||GEM||2.7%||10 Peach||2.0%||Food Net||0.6%|
|9Rush||0.7%||SBS World Movies||0.7%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||3.1%||7TWO||4.3%||GO!||3.2%||WIN Bold||3.7%||VICELAND||0.4%|
|ABC ME||0.9%||7mate||4.1%||GEM||3.1%||WIN Peach||1.6%||Food Net||0.8%|
|ABC NEWS||1.3%||7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)||1.8%||9Life||2.1%||Sky News on WIN||1.5%||NITV||0.1%|
|SUNDAY METRO ALL TV|
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
Seven West Media is believed to be nearing a deal to sell the headquarters of The West Australian and The Sunday Times to local developer Prime West for $74.5m, reports The Australian’s Bridget Carter.
It is a move seen as one that will provide some much needed financial relief for the Kerry Stokes-backed free-to-air broadcaster.
Prime West, a Perth-based property syndicator with over $3.8bn of real estate under management, will be buying Seven West’s office and print centre, covering three properties within Osborne Park, with three-storey office buildings on just over 2 hectares of land at 50 Hasler Rd on the outskirts of Perth’s central business district.
In the past decade, Australia has lost more than 100 local and regional newspapers, writes Paul Fletcher, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts in The AFR.
Just in the past few weeks, with COVID-19 driving a sharp fall in advertising revenues, publishers have announced further closures or suspensions.
Australian media businesses – such as News Corp, Nine Entertainment Co, Seven West Media, Australian Community Media, Foxtel and many regional broadcasters – are under pressure. Their profits and revenues are declining; if they are listed, their share prices are way down.
At the same time, the giant global digital platforms, particularly Google and Facebook, are thriving in the Australian market as they secure more eyeballs and advertising revenue from Australian media businesses.
The vast majority of Domain employees have opted in favour of a cost-cutting measure in which they will take a 20 per cent pay cut but receive that same amount in share rights, to help the property classifieds and services business combat the COVID-19 downturn, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.
Domain, which is 59 per cent owned by Nine, has also secured a further $80 million debt facility from its existing banks, and will announce a range of other cost saving measures.
Domain’s senior leadership team will take a 30 per cent pay cut, and chief executive Jason Pellegrino and the company’s board will take a 50 per cent cut.
Employee costs make up 45 per cent of Domain’s cost base, so the project will have the significant benefit of a large cost reduction, keeping many employees at work so the company can keep operating at normal levels of capacity to help it during the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery, Pellegrino said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a massive drop off of people looking to sell and buy homes, which in turn affects businesses such as Domain and REA Group, majority-owned by News Corp.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Australia has hired consultants to cut costs at the media organisation by centralising some editorial and commercial functions, cutting print production of some smaller newspapers and reviewing its regional newspapers business, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.
Industry sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed the publisher of The Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun has hired consultants Deloitte to advise the company on the restructure of its newspaper division.
Sources told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that News Corp had planned to stop printing almost 30 of the newspapers before the crisis, but sources stressed the figures are not confirmed and could be higher or lower once a final decision is made. It is unclear how many jobs will be affected as part of News Corp’s latest plans, which are in the early stages.
News Corp declined to comment.
Seven West Media’s television revenue fell by almost a fifth in the first quarter of the year while the broader commercial free-to-air industry was down 8 per cent even before the coronavirus pandemic caused advertising to plummet across the media sector, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.
News and current affairs programming helped Seven obtain a 34.9 per cent revenue share among the commercial free-to-air networks, placing them second to Nine Entertainment Co for the quarter.
But Seven’s revenue of $186.6m was down by 4.4 percentage points from 39.3 per cent last year, according to confidential ThinkTV data obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Revenue for the same period last year was $228.5 million.
Nine booked $234.04 million worth of advertising between January and March, while Network Ten made $113.28 million.
Sharon Thompson sits in her office. There is one other person who is manning the front desk. The office is quiet, but Thompson’s phone is running hot. She is calling her readers to tell them there will be no paper this week. Or the next, reports Guardian Australia’s Kirsten Jelinek.
The Quirindi Advocate had weathered it all – wars, drought, the Great Depression and the global financial crisis – and its doors have never needed to close. Until now.
After surviving the media’s transition to the digital age and four years of relentless drought, 2020 has delivered a paralysing blow. Covid-19 has crippled the Advocate, first through the loss of advertising revenue and now the printing presses in nearby Tamworth are closing.
It’s one of the many regional newspapers to have fallen victim to this pandemic. But unlike many others it is fiercely independent and 100% local; a lifeline that connects remote communities, severed at a time when communication is needed more than ever.
Launched in 1885 as the Quirindi Gazette and Liverpool Plains Advocate, the newspaper was renamed the Quirindi Advocate in 1925. This July is its 95th birthday. Thompson remains hopeful it will live to celebrate this milestone and stay in circulation until it reaches its centenary.
At 5.30am this morning, 3AW breakfast hosts Ross Stevenson and John Burns welcomed back the sacked overnight host back to the station.
Tony Moclair was dropped as host of 3AW overnights last year when the Nine Radio network decided to network the program hosted by Michael McLaren in Sydney and Brisbane into Melbourne. Now Nine Radio management via head of content Greg Byrnes has welcomed Moclair back to the #1 Melbourne radio station.
In an email to notify staff of the change on the weekend, Byrnes said: “At the start of the year, we made the decision to return our evening programming to the local market with Denis Walter on 3AW and John Stanley on 2GB.
“The big audiences that both Denis and John have attracted at night shows our listeners seek the companionship and connection of a local voice. Returning Tony to overnights in Melbourne is recognition of that, as well as the high regard in which we hold him as a 3AW broadcaster.”
Byrnes went on to thank Michael McLaren for his work in recent months, and noted the change will now allow him to focus more on Sydney and Brisbane listeners.
Nine Radio has not been afraid to overturn previous management decisions. One in particular that proved popular with staff was the return of Stephen Beers as 3AW station manager last October. Hiring former 2UE PD Greg Byrnes was also a popular move. 2GB re-hired Chris Smith in December and Nine dumped the old AM sports format in favour of bringing back music to the Magic, 2UE and 4BH stations.
Commercial broadcasters are luring high-profile talent to podcast-only formats in a sign Australia’s podcasting market is thriving as listenership booms, reports The Age’s Broede Carmody.
Several big names from radio and television have signed with commercial companies during the past fortnight despite the COVID-19 pandemic harming the broader advertising market, including former Triple J presenter Tom Tilley and The Chaser’s Charles Firth, Dom Knight and Andrew Hansen.
Southern Cross Austereo chief executive Grant Blackley said podcasting revenues were up 141 per cent in the first half of this year compared to the first half of 2019. In comparison, SCA’s overall revenue was up by 2.3 per cent for the 2019 fiscal year, according to the company’s most recent annual report.
“The [podcast] market has matured to the point of being economically robust and growing exponentially,” Blackley said.
He said advertisers were after premium content that has a wide, on-demand reach. Kane Reiken, Nova’s digital commercial director, agreed.
“Podcasting has evolved so much,” he said. “It has become a real mainstay of the media habits of a lot of consumers.
“We [used to see] podcasting being spent as part of an innovation test-budget for campaigns. It is how people justified the investment. But now we’re seeing it as an integral part of their media mix. We’ve seen repeated spend from blue-chip brands who are addicted to the environment.”
A former radio executive, who did not wish to be named, said it was not uncommon these days for a successful commercial podcast to make a six-figure profit.
If you’ve been paying attention to the show’s promos, you’ll know it won’t be business as usual when 10’s news quiz show, Have You Been Paying Attention?, returns on May 4, reports The Age’s Karl Quinn.
“We realised about a month ago we weren’t going to be able to get an audience, or even five contestants, into a studio without breaking some sort of government regulation,” says Tom Gleisner, host of the show and, with his partners at Working Dog, one of its producers.
“We toyed with the notion of the five contestants being separated by perspex screens, but they would have looked like Sydney cab drivers, so we quickly moved on from that.”
Instead, they settled on a format that retains as much of the flavour of the show as possible, while also acknowledging that TV production in the age of COVID-19 is fundamentally different.
And the five panellists will, like many of us, be dialling into work from home.
Also returning this week is ABC’s The Weekly With Charlie Pickering.
Shorn of its live studio audience of about 200, the show – which will tape on Wednesday morning for broadcast that night – can’t help take on a different feel, says Chris Walker, executive producer with Pickering of the news-comedy program.
“Charlie is usually talking to two audiences at the same time, the one at home and the one in the studio. And comedians love having an audience, so that’s a big shift. But it’s also a bit of an opportunity. It means he’s talking to the audience at home more directly.”
That won’t be the only change wrought by COVID-19. It will be a pared-back set, says Walker, and there will be three cameras rather than the usual seven, and fewer production staff on the studio floor.
But unlike HYBPA?, The Weekly will still have regulars including Tom Gleeson, Luke McGregor and Judith Lucy in the studio. Despite what the promo for the show would suggest, the part of Lucy will not be played by a sock puppet. “Though I did consider it,” Walker jokes.
The NRL has reached an agreement with its broadcast partners to restart the season on May 28 after the governing body presented a take-it-or-leave-it proposal on Friday afternoon, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Chammas.
A day after describing the NRL’s May resumption plan as “premature”, free-to-air broadcast partner Nine softened its stance and will now support the proposed date, avoiding a potential courtroom showdown. It is likely the season will run for about 17 weeks, plus four weeks of finals and an Origin series after a potential October 4 grand final, although that is yet to be confirmed.
Nine chief Hugh Marks spoke with Peter V’landys after the statement criticising the May restart date blindsided the ARLC chairman on Thursday night, and wrote to him again on Friday before the meeting. Marks’ tone was far more conciliatory than Nine’s recent public announcements.
The NRL perceived Nine’s comments as a negotiating tactic in discussions about a potential three-year extension.
Marks arrived 15 minutes early. Foxtel boss Patrick Delany, driving his silver Mercedes, turned up at 3pm sharp. Nine walked into the meeting wanting to play just another 13 rounds, enough for every team to face each other once. Fox, desperate for content to fill its sport-less sport channels, was happy for the competition to last 22 rounds with a grand final in November.
When Nine had its first crack at the NRL, via a withering statement that could only have been stronger if it had been typed with the caps lock depressed, it was doing Peter V’landys a favour, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Adrian Proszenko.
Not only did it give the ARLC chairman further ammunition to spear a chief executive he had fallen out with, it also gave him a mandate to slash costs at a “bloated head office” that had spiralled out of control.
given the parties need each other, a compromise will be reached. If the NRL indeed resumes on May 28, it will become the only major sporting code on show. This could lead to an even wider viewing audience, one that Nine couldn’t afford to ignore.
Fox, despite even greater financial stresses, also needs footy to return to stem the churn in its pay-television subscriptions. Its league channel continues to manufacture content, even counting down to game replays on weekends. Even though they have been brought to life with contemporary commentary – ‘you won’t want to miss the observations of Blocker or Braith!’ – it has been a tough sell.
Fox wanted the regular season to run for 22 rounds. Nine, not wanting the premiership to run into its cricket season, was keen for the teams to play just once. In the end, the parties will land somewhere in the middle
The NRL has its 2020 season restart date, but how much Nine and Foxtel will pay for a revised season remains the core unresolved issue between rugby league administrators and their broadcast partners, reports The AFR’s Max Mason.
Both Nine and Foxtel are believed to be pushing for cost cuts in the tens of millions for the 2020 broadcast agreement, arguing that a shorter season, with potentially no crowds – due to restrictions on public gatherings – mean they should pay less.
More than half of the league’s revenue comes from its broadcast deal. The NRL, Nine and Foxtel declined to comment.
Kerry Stokes’s Seven West Media is applying the blowtorch to bosses of Australian cricket and the Olympics in the wake of the coronavirus, as the network looks to slash the $350m it had earmarked to spend on sports rights this year, reports The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.
Seven insiders have told The Australian’s Media Diary there is now a “big question” in terms of Seven’s rights to the cricket, with network chiefs looking at “all of our options” in relation to cricket and the Olympics.
Before the pandemic, Seven had the biggest amount earmarked for sport of any free-to-air network this year, with $100m pencilled in for the Tokyo Olympics, $100m a year for AFL and $80m for cricket.
But once production costs were included, the total costs would have been even higher: $130m for both the Olympics and the AFL, and $100m for cricket.
Rugby Australia’s TV travails look set to continue after free-to-air broadcaster 10 vented its fury over the board’s treatment of Raelene Castle and broadcast suitor Optus signalled it would not come back to the negotiating table this year, report The Sydney Morning Herald’s Georgina Robinson and Zoe Samios.
Three days after Castle’s sudden exit, the organisation was in flux. Interim executive chairman Paul McLean was set to meet with dissident Wallabies captain Nick Farr-Jones on Monday, but had apparently ignored a Friday text message from outgoing 10 boss Paul Anderson, who wanted to check in with McLean on the circumstances surrounding Castle’s departure.
McLean had spoken with Anderson’s successor, Beverley McGarvey, on a conference call with RA’s corporate partners on Friday afternoon.
But Anderson, who had a good relationship with Castle, told the Herald he was dismayed by the board’s handling of last week’s messy events and frustrated the game’s longstanding free-to-air broadcast partner had not been kept in the loop on the board’s thinking about its corporate leadership.