Friday August 7, 2020

News Corp reveals sports rights savings offset Covid-19 impact

• Kayo, Binge numbers revealed, total streaming subscriptions now over 1m

News Corporation released its results for the fourth quarter and the full year 2019/2020 this morning. Chief executive Robert Thomson revealed that for the first time the combined number of Foxtel OTT subscriptions had passed 1m. Thomson said that as of August 4 Kayo subscriptions had grown again to 590,000 while the new entertainment streaming service Binge was on 217,000 (both numbers include trial subs).

Foxtel

News Corp is now breaking out the Dow Jones business (which includes The Wall Street Journal) to highlight its profitability, according to Thomson.

Despite challenges across the past few months, Thomson noted nearly all mastheads had record audiences. He noted they were reporting real news, not the “noxious nonsense” that can be found online.

As the migration of many mastheads to digital publications, Thomson explained: “The format is less important than the function.” He added, “We are relentlessly reviewing our portfolio.”

Thomson also noted the company had made significant savings in recent sport rights renegotiations – some $70m this year and as much as $180m over three years.

CFO Susan Panuccio reported Foxtel total subs were down 9% to 2.8m. She said the numbers at Foxtel Now were stable and churn was down marginally. Regarding financing, Panuccio said “there are no plans for additional funding”.

She added that Foxtel had managed to reduce its head count by 17%.

Highlights from the profit report:

Commenting on the results Robert Thomson said:

“The resegmentation of News Corp is a particularly historic moment and a fulfillment of our pledge to make the company more transparent and its potential more obvious. The presentation of Dow Jones as a separate segment highlights what we believe are two incontrovertible facts: the substantial and growing value of that business; and its superior profit profile and prospects compared to those of our nearest competitor. In what has been a difficult year for many media companies, Dow Jones reported a 13 percent increase in segment EBITDA, based on the strength of its Professional Information Business, digital growth and the pre-eminence of The Wall Street Journal.

“Across the Company, we have taken stringent action to reduce costs, and the benefits of those cuts will be felt in coming quarters. We have also launched a Shared Services program that we believe will transform the company, by centralising many of our functions. We are confident that this program should appreciably cut costs and expect it to have a materially positive impact on our bottom line.”

Helping to run the Shared Services program is Damian Eales who is relocating to New York from Sydney.

“The closure in Australia of many of our storied print editions and the renewed emphasis on digital was evidence of our willingness to be decisive at a historic inflection point. One result of our candid approach on costs was that, despite the COVID-19 impact, our cash position strengthened to $1.5 billion from $1.3 billion as of December 31st. We also saw increased profitability at Foxtel and our campaign to reset sports rights prices was successful. Just this week, we crossed the one million OTT paying subscribers mark, setting a new record thanks to our expanded streaming strategy.

“The changed terms of trade with the digital platforms is having a positive impact on our earnings. For News Corp, this favourable outcome would not have been possible without the leadership of Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, and the support of a board which backed our advocacy, even when News Corp stood alone in pursuit of the principle of a premium for premium content.”

FULL YEAR RESULTS 

The Company reported fiscal 2020 full year total revenues of US$9.01 billion, an 11% decrease compared to $10.07 billion in the prior year. The decline primarily reflects an estimated $370 million, or 4%, negative impact related to COVID-19 as well as the divestiture of News America Marketing. The decline also reflects a $275 million, or 3%, negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations and lower subscription revenues at Foxtel. The decline was partially offset by growth in circulation and subscription revenues at the Dow Jones segment. Adjusted Revenues decreased 6%.

Net loss for the full year was $(1.55) billion as compared to net income of $228 million in the prior year, reflecting $1.69 billion of non-cash impairment charges, primarily related to Foxtel and News America Marketing.

Total Segment EBITDA for the full year was $1.01 billion, a 19% decrease compared to $1.24 billion in the prior year, reflecting lower revenues, as discussed above, and a $45 million, or 4%, negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations. The decline was partially offset by cost savings, particularly at the News Media segment, lower sports rights and production costs at Foxtel related to the suspension of sporting events due to COVID-19 and Segment EBITDA growth at the Dow Jones segment. The negative impact from COVID-19 on Total Segment EBITDA for the year is estimated to be $55-$70 million and represents the Company’s best estimate based on historical trends in operating performance and known identifiable impacts. Adjusted Total Segment EBITDA decreased 9%.

Subscription Video Services 

Fourth Quarter Segment Results

Revenues in the quarter decreased $129 million, or 24%, compared with the prior year, of which $29 million, or 5%, was due to the negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations. The remainder of the revenue decline was driven by the impact from fewer residential broadcast subscribers and the negative impacts from COVID-19, including an approximately $30 million, or 6%, impact from lower commercial subscription revenues resulting from the closures of pubs, clubs and other commercial venues and a $23 million, or 4%, impact from lower advertising revenues due to market weakness exacerbated by COVID-19. Adjusted Revenues decreased 19% compared to the prior year.

As of June 30, 2020, Foxtel’s total closing paid subscribers were 2.777 million, a decrease of 12% compared to the prior year, primarily due to lower residential and commercial broadcast subscribers and lower Foxtel Now subscribers, partially offset by growth in subscribers at Kayo and the launch of Binge, a new entertainment streaming product. 1.989 million of the total closing subscribers were residential and commercial broadcast subscribers, and the remainder consisted of Kayo, Foxtel Now and Binge subscribers.

Binge

As of June 30, 2020, there were 465,000 Kayo subscribers (419,000 paying), compared to 382,000 subscribers (331,000 paying) in the prior year.

As of August 4, there were approximately 590,000 (542,000 paying) Kayo subscribers. As of June 30, 2020, there were 336,000 Foxtel Now subscribers (313,000 paying), compared to 460,000 subscribers (446,000 paying) in the prior year, which was impacted by the final season of Game of Thrones. Binge, which launched in May, had 217,000 (185,000 paying) subscribers as of August 4 .

Kayo

Broadcast subscriber churn in the quarter improved to 13.2% from 14.7% in the prior year, primarily reflecting various measures implemented due to COVID-19. Broadcast ARPU for the quarter declined 1% to A$78 (US$51).

Segment EBITDA in the quarter increased $20 million, or 24%, compared with the prior year, primarily related to $70 million of lower sports programming rights costs, mostly due to the suspension of sporting events as a result of COVID-19, as well as lower sports production costs, lower license fees and other cost savings, partially offset by lower revenues. Adjusted Segment EBITDA increased 33%.

Full Year Segment Results

Fiscal 2020 full year revenues declined $318 million, or 14%, compared with the prior year, of which $126 million, or 5%, was due to the negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations. The remainder of the revenue decline was driven by the impact from fewer residential broadcast subscribers, changes in the subscriber package mix, lower commercial subscription revenues resulting from the closures of pubs, clubs and other commercial venues due to COVID-19 and lower advertising revenues due to market weakness exacerbated by COVID-19, partially offset by higher revenues from Kayo. Adjusted Revenues declined 9%.

News Media

Digital revenues represented 24% of News Media segment revenues in the quarter, compared to 19% in the prior year. For the quarter, digital revenues at the newspaper mastheads represented 24% of their combined revenues. Digital subscribers and users across key properties within the News Media segment are summarized below:

• Closing digital subscribers at News Corp Australia’s mastheads as of June 30, 2020 were 647,600, compared to 517,300 in the prior year (Source: Internal data)
• The Times and Sunday Times closing digital subscribers as of June 30, 2020 were 336,000, compared to 304,000 in the prior year (Source: Internal data)
• The Sun’s digital offering reached approximately 133 million global monthly unique users in June 2020, compared to 113 million in the prior year (Source: Google Analytics)
• New York Post’s digital network reached approximately 150 million average monthly unique users in June 2020, compared to 99 million in the prior year (Source: Google Analytics)

Full Year Segment Results

Fiscal 2020 full year revenues declined $606 million, or 18%, compared to the prior year, reflecting a $271 million, or 8%, negative impact related to News America Marketing and Unruly, which were divested in May and January 2020, respectively, and the $91 million, or 3%, negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations. Within the segment, revenues at News Corp Australia and News UK declined 16% and 13%, respectively. Adjusted Revenues for the segment declined 10% compared to the prior year.

Subscription Video Services: Ongoing disruption in the operations of pubs and clubs and occupancy at hotels throughout Australia, which are largely dependent on government restrictions, continued to adversely impact commercial subscription revenues. As live sports resumed across Australia and elsewhere around the globe, Foxtel saw a modest improvement in advertising trends in July. Assuming no further disruption to live sporting events, Foxtel will recognize approximately $55 million (A$78 million) of additional sports rights costs in fiscal 2021, which were deferred from fiscal 2020 due to the suspension of live sports in the fourth quarter. However, Foxtel expects overall costs for fiscal 2021, net of the increase in sports rights costs, to be lower than the prior year by at least $100 million (A$160 million), benefiting from various cost saving initiatives. Broadcast churn was modestly higher in July compared to the prior year and the fourth quarter.

David Lynn
ViacomCBS to rebrand streaming service and include all new Showtime series

ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI) is launching a premium streaming service internationally, appealing to audiences of all ages with what it calls a competitively priced and super-sized selection of must-see exclusives, premieres and box-sets from ViacomCBS’s entertainment brands.

The new service will unveil its name closer to launch.

The SVOD platform will start its international roll-out early in 2021, offering exclusive premieres of all new Showtime series, meaning the company’s contract with Stan in Australia will not be renewed.

The new Showtime series include Halo and American Rust. CBS All Access originals will also premiere exclusively on the new service, such as Guilty Party and The Harper House. Building a bespoke content offering in select major territories from launch, the service will also combine movies from Paramount Pictures and premieres and box sets from Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Paramount Network, as well as originals from ViacomCBS International Studios in some markets.

David Lynn, President and CEO of VCNI (pictured), commented, “Launching a super-sized premium streaming service will be a game-changer for ViacomCBS and can help us become as powerful a player in international streaming as we are in linear TV. We will market a world-class content offering at a very competitive price, and we’re convinced it will have significant appeal for audiences everywhere and strong growth potential in every market.”

Launch priority will be given in 2021 to fast-growing OTT markets where ViacomCBS has identified the opportunity to become a leader in paid-for streaming based on its competitive position. These include Australia, where its existing 10 All Access service will be rebranded and significantly expanded; Latin America, including Argentina, Brazil and Mexico; and, the Nordic countries.

Screen NSW reveals $1.7m for development of 66 projects

• 18 production houses share the funds for TV series and movies
• Three series each from Screentime, Goalpost, Lingo and Matchbox
• John and Dan Edwards making Claudia Karvan series for Stan plus
• Dead Man Walking from Kate McClymont about Ron Medich
• Richard Finlayson’s Wooden Horse making drama from Matt Okine

Eighteen NSW production companies have been announced as recipients of over $1.7 million in funding through Screen NSW’s new Slate Development Fund. The funding will enable the delivery of 66 projects across a wide range of new works representing Australia’s diverse stories and will generate employment for many practitioners in the industry.

See more: Screen Australia development funding to 40+ drama projects, online & movies

The Slate Development Fund is part of the NSW Government’s suite of funding measures developed to support the NSW small to medium arts and screen sector impacted by COVID-19.

Production companies will each develop a slate of three or more projects to be produced and/or post-produced in NSW across TV drama, factual, features, documentary and online.

The projects span a range of subjects and genres including thrillers, play and novel adaptations, comedy, art, and documentary series, with many projects set to support filmmaking opportunities in regional NSW and Western Sydney communities.

The overwhelming strength of the projects demonstrated by a large number of applicants has resulted in funding of over $1.7 million delivered, which is an increase from the $700,000 originally committed for this initiative. 

Screen NSW Slate Development Fund recipients list of production companies and projects

• Bunya Productions – $100,000

With the support of this initiative, boutique feature film and TV production company Bunya Productions, will continue to develop content that amplifies diverse Australian stories and supports a range of creative practitioners. The slate will include a mix of established and new talent across a range of captivating quality dramas, including an adaptation of a powerful novel set in a women’s refuge centre and a gripping Western Sydney-based paranormal drama. Bunya produced the award-winning films Sweet Country and Toomelah by Warwick Thornton, and TV drama series Mystery Road.

• Buster Productions – $100,000

Buster Productions will create four new works for underrepresented communities, working with experienced professionals and emerging talent from various cultural backgrounds to offer a genuine opportunity to progress their careers. Projects include The Loop, a Western Sydney-based concept focusing on an Indonesian Australian lead, TV series Harry Chen and His Quest for Love will galvanize a group of LGBTQI+ creatives, established and emerging, to explore the journey of a young man’s quest for love with support from his heteronormative parents, The Sienna Felix Files – a Sci-Fi teen thriller for teens – will identify emerging talent in the Sudanese Australian Community and third-generation identifying emerging creatives to develop this project and finally Suing Santa, a project working with development producer Chase Lee, his first transition into the mainstream Australian production community. Buster Productions will engage in a strategic partnership with Information and Cultural Exchange (I.C.E.) to engage new creatives for The Loop and The Sienna Felix Files.

• Causeway Films – $100,000

Causeway Films will develop three feature film projects with key NSW based creatives. In Stolen, Causeway will partner with acclaimed writer/director Catriona McKenzie (Satellite Boy) and writer Patricia Cornelius. Largely spoken in Pitjantjatjara, Stolen is the story of a white baby girl brought into an Aboriginal community by a dingo. The Moogai, an Indigenous psychological horror, will be the feature film debut of writer/director Jon Bell (Cleverman, The Gods of Wheat Street), produced alongside Mitchell Stanley’s No Coincidence Media. To be shot in Sydney as well as regional NSW, the production will see an injection into the local economy and the creation of NSW jobs in a post COVID world.

Finally, an adaptation of local author John Purcell’s novel The Girl on the Page will see acclaimed producer Samantha Jennings return to screenwriting. Set in the literary world of London with a diverse cast of characters, this project offers an opportunity for a UK-Australian co-production with high-profile talent, opening what NSW based creatives have to offer on an international stage. Each project will see a growth in NSW jobs and economic activity once in production through to release of these three feature projects.

• CJZ – $84,000

Sydney-based CJZ – Australia’s largest privately-owned production company – works across genres with particular expertise in drama, comedy, documentary and factual entertainment. CJZ will use funding to support staff and freelancers to help progress projects such as The Future of Cruising?, a feature length documentary which takes a deep dive into the Cruise industry and high-end drama, Filth, based on the Hawkesbury River.

• Easy Tiger Productions – $100,000

Easy Tiger is an award-winning production company under the global Fremantle banner by producer Ian Collie, who previously ran the drama division of Essential Media. Easy Tiger’s credits include Rake (ABC), Jack Irish (ABC), Doctor Doctor (Nine), The Broken Shore (ABC), Sunshine (SBS) and The Principal (SBS).

Easy Tiger’s funded slate includes Future Boy, a sci-fi comedy created by regional NSW writer Tristram Baumber with Emmy-nominated US comedy writer Jim O’Doherty (3rd Rock From The Sun); The Red Cord, a dual-female protagonist mystery thriller by NSW writer/creator Rachael Turk, an international co-production for the European market; and Pilgram, a mind-bending sci-fi from creators Josh Reed and Rob Gibson, which will shoot in Australia.

• Fremantle Australia – $100,000

One of Australia’s most successful creators, producers and distributors of scripted and unscripted content, Fremantle Australia will work with NSW creatives, both emerging and well-established, on several projects across a diverse development slate. Fremantle will prioritise the development of projects that maximise employment throughout NSW, nurturing TV and screen creatives in metropolitan and regional NSW through its collaboration with Screenworks in the Northern Rivers area of NSW.

• Goalpost Television – $100,000

Goalpost

Goalpost Pictures, through its television arm Goalpost Television, continues its reputation for stories led by female creatives, with strong female protagonists – written by some of Australia’s top screen creatives, Jocelyn Moorhouse, Pip Karmel, Kaye Bendle & Keith Thompson. Pip Karmel (Total Control) is adapting Genevieve Gannon’s best-selling book The Mothers, for television; Jocelyn Moorhouse (The Dressmaker) is the creator and writer of the dramedy Empty; and Kaye Bendle (Small Claims) and Keith Thompson (The Sapphires) are the writers and co-creators of Natural Justice. The three very different series, all set in and around the suburbs of Greater Sydney, highlight major NSW talent, and will sit alongside Goalpost Television’s diverse and exciting slate created through their development deal with All3Media. The company is currently in pre-production on New Gold Mountain a four-part revisionist western series for SBSTV and All3Media.

• In Films – $100,000

In Films is a leading Australian independent production company, producing high quality entertainment for a global market. Since 2013, producers Ivan O’Mahoney and Nial Fulton have delivered ground-breaking content, including the AACTA and Walkley winning documentary Hitting Home and Revelation, a landmark three-part series on clerical abuse in the Catholic Church. Screen NSW’s Slate Development grant will help In Films employ over fifteen people across the development of five major projects, including three investigative documentary series, an arts factual series and a feature documentary.

• Jungle Entertainment – $99,578.14

The Screen NSW Slate Development Fund will enable 9 projects that draw on world-class creative talent including Nakkiah Lui, Niki Aken, Van Badham, Leigh Sales, Meg Mason, Sam Simmons, Trent O’Donnell and more. Content will range from prestigious dramas, savvy political satires, subversive rom-coms to ambitious works that aren’t afraid to tackle, deconstruct and satirise dramatic themes such as race, class and gender.

More than half of the projects will be led by women, and as an entirely NSW-based production company, these projects will contribute more than 50 development jobs to ensure continued creative and financial success of the screen sector in these important times for rebuilding and recovery. Chloe Rickard, Jungle’s chief operating officer says that the works in development are “absolutely thrilling, the depth, ambition, diversity, and prestige of the slate is a credit to the incredible creatives in our industry”.

• Lingo Pictures – $99,998.00

Independently owned Lingo Pictures will utilise the Screen NSW Slate Development Fund to support the development of three TV projects, while creating jobs for six NSW writers. Owned by Helen Bowden and Jason Stephens, two of Australia’s most prolific and highly awarded drama producers, Lingo Pictures recently premiered The Secrets She Keeps starring Laura Carmichael and Jessica De Gouw on Network 10. The series has sold to the BBC and Sundance Now, among numerous other major international territories, and its premiere on BBC1 was their highest Monday night launch of the year.

• Made Up Stories – $100,000

The Slate Development Fund will support two new TV dramas and one new feature film.

Made Up Stories is a development, production and finance company committed to creating content with compelling female figures squarely at the centre and enabling female directors, writers, actors and fellow producers to tell the stories they want to tell. Made Up Stories was founded in 2017 by Bruna Papandrea, the award-winning producer of the HBO series Big Little Lies, nominated for three Golden Globes Awards for its second season (and awarded 8 Emmy Awards, 4 Golden Globe Awards for its first season), and feature films including Wild, Gone Girl (over $365 million in worldwide box office). Jodi Matterson is Managing Director of Australia, partner and producer.

Made Up Stories is currently in post-production on the film adaptation of the inspiring international bestseller Penguin Bloom from director Glendyn Ivin and starring Naomi Watts, Andrew Lincoln and Jacki Weaver and The Dry, based on the Jane Harper novel, from director Robert Connolly and starring Eric Bana. Their series Nine Perfect Strangers, based on best-selling author Liane Moriarty’s book, written by David E. Kelley and John Henry Butterworth, and starring Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy for Hulu is currently in production in NSW.

• Matchbox Productions Pty Ltd – $100,000

Matchbox Pictures will develop three projects including an exciting new series from Louise Fox set in regional NSW, an adaptation of an award-winning and epic play spanning continents and generations, and a series penned by a renowned Sydney playwright about millennials living fast-paced professional lives caught in a maelstrom of gender, class, race and power.

• Playmaker Media – $99,000

With a renewed interest by international broadcasters in quintessentially Australian scripted comedy, Playmaker Media has embarked on a new authored and diverse slate of projects. The Slate Development Fund will further support each original series, which have been progressing during recent COVID-19 shutdowns with some of Australia’s most exciting emerging and proven scripted comedy creatives.

• Roadshow – $100,000

Roadshow Rough Diamond is the teaming of John and Dan Edwards and Roadshow Films. Since their inception they have created the Logie and AACTA award winning mini-series Romper Stomper for Stan, Australian Gangster for Seven and Les Norton for the ABC. John and Dan Edwards are currently producing a new project commissioned by Stan, alongside producer Claudia Karvan.

John Edwards

Roadshow Rough Diamond will develop three ambitious new projects with funding support from Screen NSW. From the exciting, fresh talent of Brown Skin Girl to a life affirming feature film with one of Australia’s most successful directors, Jocelyn Moorehouse, and lastly to the extraordinary true story as investigated by Kate McClymont of the rise and fall of notorious Sydney identity Ron Medich.

John Edwards

Inspired by the hit stage show of the same name, Brown Skin Girl reunites writers Ayeesha Ash, Emily Havea and Angela Sullen who will be principal creators of the TV series to be co- produced with Roadshow Rough Diamond. Playwrights Sopa Enari (Who’s Poppin?), Grace Eather (Stingray Sisters), and Lillian Hannah U (Bangarra) will also join in the writers’ room.

Dead Man Walking will team pre-eminent Australian investigative journalist Kate McClymont with Gregor Jordon’s sardonic wit to bring the murky world of notorious Sydney identity Ron Medich to television.

• Screentime – $96,392.84

Screentime will develop three – each very different – projects included on its slate. The first project is a family, feel-good drama set both in harbourside Sydney and outback New South Wales. Another project is an Australian noir, located both in Sydney and just beyond the Blue Mountains while the final project is a nostalgia piece anchored in Sydney’s inner west and its city beaches. As well as providing jobs to NSW industry practitioners, each series will also open windows to NSW’s landscapes and stories. The aim in developing these projects further is to also provide opportunities to emerging talents from all backgrounds in varied fields.

• See-Saw Films – $100,000

The multi-award-winning film and TV production company will focus on three projects across See-Saw Films’ television slate. See-Saw Films produced award-winning films Lion and King’s Speech, TV Series Top of the Lake and Emmy award-winning show State of the Union.

• WildBear Entertainment – $41,068

From Hollywood to Australian underworlds, WildBear Entertainment is continuing to build its will diverse and global non-fiction slate. WildBear combines the skills and experience of respected producers Bettina Dalton, Veronica Fury, Serge Ou, Alan Erson and Michael Tear. An integrated factual entertainment company, WildBear Entertainment works across television, theatrical, corporate, educational, and government communications.

• Wooden Horse – $89,983

The NSW-based production company will continue to focus on development, expanding its slate of premium drama and comedy. Partners Jude Troy and Richard Finlayson are working across a broad range of diverse and provocative stories including a timely series about pride, ambition and loyalty that plays out on the streets of Western Sydney. This hip-hop drama series is a fascinating and urgent immersion in a vibrant sub-culture that is exploding across the local and global music scene. The series is written by Matt Okine (The Other Guy season 1 & 2), and triple j Hip-Hop host Hau Latukefu with screenwriter Ben Crisp (Squinters) and Mt Druitt-based, emerging writer Winnie Dunn. Wooden Horse is also working on an online series for SBS from writers Fadia Abboud, Adele Vuko (Over & Out) and Amal Awad also set in Sydney’s western suburbs in the Arab community.

Top Photo: Claudia Karvan

Australian 16-year-old hip-hop artist Kid LAROI conquering world charts

One of Australia’s most promising musical exports, sixteen year old First Nations hip-hop prodigy The Kid LAROI has hit the coveted top 10 of the US Billboard album charts, reaching #8 with his debut mixtape F*ck Love.

Well on his way to becoming a global phenomenon, LAROI also reached #3 on the ARIA album charts and #12 on the UK charts. These international accolades go alongside LAROI’s formidable streaming numbers, with over 100 million streams in US and 30 million in Australia before the mixtape even dropped, as well as his track Diva (ft Lil Tecca) recently being certified ARIA Gold.

F*ck Love cover art

F*ck Love achieved an impressive one million combined streams on release day in Australia alone, and already has over 12 million streams globally. The mixtape was also made the prestigious Feature Album on triple j last week, with Laroi coming full circle after being an Unearthed High finalist a few years ago. 

In his first major label debut project with Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment Australia, F*ck Love tackles love and loss consistent with the hardships LAROI has faced at his very early age.

The mixtape features the likes of former mentor, friend and fellow Grade A artist Juice WRLD. In the music videos for Go and recent release Tell Me Why, The Kid LAROI is able to convey the relationship the two had up until Juice’s untimely passing. Aside from LAROI displaying his vocal abilities, the album also features fellow artist’s peers Lil Mosey and Corbin.

To celebrate the release of the mixtape, a mural of LAROI by acclaimed artist Scott Marsh has been painted in Sydney’s Redfern, where LAROI spent much of his youth.

The Undoing
Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant coming to Binge & Foxtel in October

This October Binge and Foxtel will bring Australian viewers the highly-awaited series, The Undoing, featuring Emmy, Academy Award and Golden Globe-winner Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies) alongside Emmy nominee Hugh Grant (A Very English Scandal).

HBO today announced the six-part limited series from Emmy, Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning director Susanne Bier (The Night Manager) and the Emmy-winning creator of Big Little Lies, David E. Kelley is set to debut this October.

The psychological thriller, based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel You Should Have Known, follows upper-class New York City couple, Grace (Kidman), a successful therapist, and her devoted husband, Jonathan Fraser (Grant), who are living the only lives they ever wanted for themselves. However, overnight a chasm opens in their lives: a violent death and a chain of terrible revelations.

Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disaster and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child (Noah Jupe) and her family.

Joining Kidman and Grant is Edgar Ramirez (Emmy nominee for American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace and Carlos) as Detective Joe Mendoza; Ismael Cruz Cordova (Berlin Station) as Fernando Alves; Matilda De Angelis as Elena Alves; Lily Rabe (American Horror Story) as Sylvia Steinetz; Noma Dumezweni (Black Earth Rising) as Haley Fitzgerald; Noah Jupe (Honey Boy and A Quiet Place 2) as Henry Fraser, Jonathan and Grace’s precocious and artistic 12-year-old son; Sofie Gråbøl (HBO’s Gentleman Jack and Fortitude) as Catherine Stamper; and Donald Sutherland (Emmy winner for Citizen X) as Franklin Reinhardt, Grace’s father, a retired financier and loving grandfather who is tasked with protecting his family when turbulent revelations come to light.

The Undoing is executive produced by Bier, Kelley, Kidman, Per Saari, Bruna Papandrea, Stephen Garrett and Celia Costas.

Top Photo: Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant in The Undoing

Little Birds
Mercado on TV: New dramas take viewers from Tangier to Singapore

By Andrew Mercado

The third episode of Between Two Worlds (Sunday on Seven) should have been promoted as the “must-see” episode of the series. Instead, it’s been replaced (by a repeat, no less) and bumped to 10pm. Although pop-up graphics during other shows on Seven still list BTW as 8.30pm.

There was barely any promotion and no encore screenings of the new Aussie drama. It’s also hard to find on 7plus, because that catch up site prioritises old and short-lived American and British series instead. Oh well, at least this is convenient evidence for the case that local quota points should be dumped forever. 

Philip Quast and Hermione Norris

At least we still have classy reality franchises like The Masked Singer (Monday on Ten) and The Bachelor (Wednesday on Ten). Survivor contestant Locky Gilbert looks like a nice bloke, but it’s all those candidates that are the problem. The worst of them sign up for more humiliation on Bachelor in Paradise (Sunday on 10), only to then complain about being “badly edited”.

Real love is really just a concept for desperadoes more interested in fame. Bachelor rejects boast to gossipy rags how they hook up with failed wannabes from other franchises like Love Island Australia. And why stop there? A quick look at Indian Matchmaking (Netflix) shows there is a never-ending supply of narcissistic desperadoes all over the world, even though some come with interfering parents and all-knowing Aunties.

Matchmaking is also hot in two new UK dramas, along with rich colonialists behaving badly with sultry prostitutes. The Singapore Grip (Foxtel) is set in 1942, while Little Birds (Stan) is set in Tangiers in 1955.

The Singapore Grip

The Singapore Grip, screening here before the UK, is an ITV production starring Jane Horrocks (Ab Fab), David Morrissey (The Walking Dead) and Aussie actress Georgia Blizzard. It’s based on a “satirical” novel by JG Farrell and gets off to a good start.

Little Birds is a Sky Atlantic production starring Hugh Skinner (Fleabag), Jean-Marc Barr (The Big Blue) and Rossy De Palma (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown). It is “playfully inspired” by several erotic short stories by Anais Nin and is definitely the racier option.

Shaun Micallef’s On The Sauce (iview) finished strongly in its third and final episode, and gets replaced by the equally interesting Fight for Planet A: Our Climate Challenge (Tuesday on ABC). Not sure if Craig Reucassel can top Micallef going to a Straight Edge concert with pogo dancing teetotallers, but it will be fun to watch him try.

TV ratings Thursday August 6, Week 32, 2020

By James Manning

• It takes Thursday night AFL to get Seven back on top this week
• Take of two codes as NRL keeps Nine #1 in Sydney & Brisbane
• Walt Disney doco repeat helps lift SBS share to best in a month

Seven News 1,110,000/1,081,000
Nine News 1,018,000/897,000
ABC News 768,000
A Current Affair 624,000
7.30 509,000
The Project 325,000/489,000
10 News 441,000/253,000
Sunrise 293,000
Today 222,000
News Breakfast 214,000
SBS World News 198,000
The Drum 193,000

Thursday TV

Seven: Home and Away dipped to its smallest crowd of the week with 566,000 after a high on Monday of 650,000.
Thursday night AFL did 457,000 with 264,000 in Melbourne which helped the channel and network rank #1. 

Nine: A Current Affair drifted to 624,000 after starting the week on 813,000.
Thursday night NRL kept the channel #1 in northern markets with 325,000 (200,000 in Sydney and 100,000 in Brisbane).

10: The primary channel was back in single figures for the second time this week. Celebrity Gogglebox USA did 286,000 after 327,000 last week.
Episodes of Law & Order: SVU then did 196,000 and 195,000. 

ABC: The Heights just made it over 200,000 at 8pm followed by a house hunt on the Mornington Peninsula on Escape from the City with 323,000 watching.

SBS: The channel had its best share in a month and the second best since April. A repeat of the first part of the doco Walt Disney did 277,000 over two hours from 7.30pm.

Week 32 TV: Thursday
THURSDAY METRO
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 10.5% 7 19.9% 9 18.1% 10  9.4% SBS One 7.0%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.7% 7TWO 4.9% GO! 1.6% 10 Bold 4.5% VICELAND 1.4%
ABC ME 0.6% 7mate 4.6% GEM 2.0% 10 Peach 2.6% Food Net 1.1%
ABC NEWS 2.2% 7flix 2.0% 9Life 2.4%     NITV 0.1%
        9Rush 1.0%     SBS World Movies 1.3%
TOTAL 15.9%   31.4%   25.2%   16.5%   10.9%

 

THURSDAY REGIONAL
ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 9.6% 7 18.2% 9 18.6% WIN 9.0% SBS One 5.2%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.6% 7TWO 7.2% GO! 1.6% WIN Bold 5.4% VICELAND 1.9%
ABC ME 0.7% 7mate 4.2% GEM 3.2% WIN Peach 2.2% Food Net 0.7%
ABC NEWS 1.8% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 2.4% 9Life 3.0% Sky News  on WIN 2.1% NITV 0.2%
                SBS Movies 1.8%
TOTAL 14.8%   32.1%   26.4%   18.7%   9.8%

 

THURSDAY METRO ALL TV
FTA STV
82.7% 17.3%
THURSDAY FTA
  1. Seven News Seven 1,110,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 1,081,000
  3. Nine News Nine 1,018,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 897,000
  5. ABC News ABC 768,000
  6. A Current Affair Nine 624,000
  7. The Chase Australia Seven 622,000
  8. Home And Away Seven 566,000
  9. Hot Seat Nine 532,000
  10. 7.30 ABC 509,000
  11. The Project 7pm 10 489,000
  12. Seven’s AFL: Thursday Night Football Seven 457,000
  13. 10 News First 10 441,000
  14. The Chase Australia-5pm Seven 409,000
  15. Hot Seat -5pm Nine 347,000
  16. Sammy J ABC 329,000
  17. The Project 6.30pm 10 325,000
  18. Escape From The City ABC 323,000
  19. Thursday Night NRL Live Nine 299,000
  20. Sunrise Seven 293,000
Demo Top 5

16-39 Top Five

  1. Nine News Nine 121,000
  2. Seven News Seven 114,000
  3. Seven’s AFL: Thursday Night Football Seven 112,000
  4. The Project 7pm 10 111,000
  5. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 109,000

 

18-49 Top Five

  1. Nine News Nine 235,000
  2. Seven News Seven 233,000
  3. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 233,000
  4. The Project 7pm 10 233,000
  5. Nine News 6:30 Nine 200,000

 

25-54 Top Five

  1. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 292,000
  2. Nine News Nine 286,000
  3. Seven News Seven 283,000
  4. The Project 7pm 10 258,000
  5. Nine News 6:30 Nine 253,000
THURSDAY Multichannel
  1. Father Brown PM 7TWO 221,000
  2. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 180,000
  3. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 166,000
  4. ABC News At Noon PM ABC NEWS 148,000
  5. Murdoch Mysteries PM 7TWO 137,000
  6. Bob The Builder PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 132,000
  7. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 131,000
  8. Peter Rabbit PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 131,000
  9. Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 129,000
  10. ABC News Mornings AM ABC NEWS 128,000
  11. Spicks And Specks ABCKIDS/COMEDY 128,000
  12. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 128,000
  13. Little J And Big Cuz ABCKIDS/COMEDY 128,000
  14. Little J And Big Cuz AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 126,000
  15. Hawaii Five-O (R) 10 Bold 125,000
  16. Hawaii Five-O 10 Bold 125,000
  17. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 124,000
  18. Thomas And Friends PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 123,000
  19. Play School AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 122,000
  20. Noddy Toyland Detective PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 122,000
THURSDAY STV
  1. Live: AFL Gold Coast V St Kilda FOX FOOTY 208,000
  2. Live: NRL: Dragons V Roosters FOX LEAGUE 208,000
  3. Live: AFL Collingwood V Sydney FOX FOOTY 203,000
  4. Live: AFL Post Game Thursday FOX FOOTY 86,000
  5. Aussie Gold Hunters Discovery Channel 84,000
  6. Live: The Late Show With Matty Johns FOX LEAGUE 78,000
  7. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 75,000
  8. Alan Jones Sky News Live 73,000
  9. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 69,000
  10. Credlin Sky News Live 55,000
  11. Newsday Sky News Live 53,000
  12. Live: NRL Pre Game Thursday FOX LEAGUE 52,000
  13. PML Later Sky News Live 44,000
  14. Gold Rush: Dave Turin’s Lost Mine Discovery Channel 38,000
  15. Newsday Sky News Live 38,000
  16. The Kenny Report Sky News Live 37,000
  17. AM Agenda Sky News Live 37,000
  18. Beverly Hills: Real Housewives Of… FOX Arena 37,000
  19. Ricky Zoom Nick Jr. 36,000
  20. Afternoon Agenda Sky News Live 33,000

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

Helen McCabe finds a rich future for women on Capital Hill

Media survivor Helen McCabe’s latest venture Future Women is defying the rest of the economy and going from strength to strength – thanks in no small part to enthusiastic take-up of its services by a few top-tier government departments, report Samantha Hutchinson and Stephen Brook in The Age and The SMH.

As it turns out, turning female bureaucrats into women of the future is big business for McCabe, former editor-in-chief of The Australian Women’s Weekly.

Government tender documents reveal FW, owned in equal share by McCabe and Nine Entertainment, has raked in a tidy $420,000 in the past 10 months from a dozen government departments and the Australian Federal Police.

In November, the group won a contract worth $66,000 to deliver training services to the Australian Public Service Commission. In December, Home Affairs staff entering the Future Women platinum program added another $33,000 to the company’s bottom line, as did new members from inside the Phil Gaetjens-led Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Since then, FW has won contracts in the Attorney-General’s department, Treasury, the Digital Transformation Agency, and secured $80,000 from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources to produce the next season of the Brooke Boney-hosted FW podcast, called Next Generation Innovators.

[Read more]

Village Roadshow secures $70m lifeline from banks and Qld Government

Village Roadshow has secured a further $70 million in funding from its banks and the Queensland government as coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions continue to put financial pressure on the family-run business, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

The theme park and cinema operator, which is in exclusive takeover talks with private equity firm BGH Capital, told the ASX on Thursday that it was still losing money despite re-opening Sea World and Warner Bros Movie World. It said that the new funding from the lenders and the Queensland Treasury Corporation would be used to keep the business operating over the next 12 months.

Village, which had net debt of $280 million at the end of the last financial year, also announced a $35 million shareholder equity raise on Thursday to improve liquidity. The raise needs to be completed by February next year or, in the event a deal with BGH does not occur, three months after termination of a transaction.

[Read more]

News Brands

Mark Llewellyn hired as executive producer of 7News Spotlight

The Seven Network will bring in big-name television producer Mark Llewellyn, who quit arch rival Nine this year, to helm its new-look investigative reporting specials, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

He had been Nine’s news and current affairs creative director, and previously worked as the managing director of 60 Minutes and executive producer of Seven’s Sunday Night.

Llewellyn returns to the Kerry Stokes-controlled Seven as executive producer of 7News Spotlight, a series of prime-time investigative specials. Sunday Night was axed last year due to declining ratings and budget cuts.

Seven’s news and public affairs boss Craig McPherson confirmed Llewellyn’s appointment, and said 7News Spotlight would be a “free-range show”.

“We want to be that vehicle to open up the domain, take it away from sheltered environments of the older models,” McPherson told The Australian on Thursday.

Llewellyn told The Australian that 7News Spotlight would not be confined to “filling the gap left by 60 Minutes”.

“We’re carving fresh tracks through new snow,” he said.

“This is a new show for a new age … the most revolutionary concept I’ve seen in years. This is not an old show weighed down by history and bloated budgets.”

He joins Seven’s investigative reporter Denham Hitchcock, who is already at 7News Spotlight, with both reporting to McPherson. The next investigation looks into the disappearance of baby Azaria Chamberlain in 1980.

[Read more]

Radio

Kate Langbroek’s radio return? Reunion mooted for Hughesy and Kate

The radio rumour mill has been sent into overdrive with chat Kate Langbroek could be reuniting with Dave Hughes, reports News Corp’s Jonathon Moran.

The pair parted ways officially after nearly 20 years on air together at the end of last year with Langbroek based in Italy with her family and Hughes joining forces with Ed Kavalee on Southern Cross Austereo’s Hit network for the drive shift in 2020.

She had initially planned to spend just one year in Italy for a “family gap year” but decided to extend and has been sharing her stories through COVID-19 in Europe prolifically.

A trip home to Australia last month to visit her father sparked industry speculation Langbroek was considering a permanent move back home.

Langbroek, 54, is back in Italy now though and has been sharing regular updates on her family’s movements there.

When contacted, Langbroek’s management said it was too early to look at 2021.

“Kate loves radio and she is extraordinary at it,” manager Dean Buchanan said.

[Read more]

Television

State of Disaster: Stage 4 rules for shows “in production”

Victoria’s new Stage 4 rules allow for television production to proceed, but only for shows that are already underway, reports TV Tonight.

The government has been fine tuning its rules since they were announced on Monday.

As at 5 August, 11:59pm, Permitted Work Premises include:

Feature film, television and documentary (excluding television commercials, student and corporate productions) that is already in physical production and operating as a closed set and post-production relating to it is a Permitted Work Premises and remains open on the condition that a COVID-Safe plan is in place.

Caroline Pitcher CEO, Film Victoria, said in a statement, “We understand these restrictions will impact on many projects and screen businesses. These measures reflect the declaration of a State of Disaster in Victoria and are part of a comprehensive effort to reduce movement across our city and slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).”

While The Masked Singer, Neighbours, Wentworth, Have You Been Paying Attention?, Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell, News Breakfast, Insiders can continue there are others that are looking to resume production:

Gogglebox for both Foxtel and 10. Whilst filming can resume with its NSW cast, it includes several Victorian cast members.

Hot Seat was planning to resume in coming weeks for Nine.
Jack Irish yet to be formally announced by ABC.
New Gold Mountain is also due to film in Victoria, although Regional Victoria is in Stage 3 not Stage 4.
Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries was recently announced for Seven/Acorn TV although without production dates.

[Read more]

Urzila Carlson ready to join The Masked Singer Australia panel

Comedian Urzila Carlson has absolutely no desire to don any of the magnificent costumes on The Masked Singer, reports News Corp’s Lisa Woolford.

Not because she’s claustrophobic like her fellow judge Dannii Minogue. Rather because she’s a mum-of-two.

“I’ve got two kids and I know what it is like to be on the inside of any mask and it is sweaty and it is smelly,” Carlson laughs down the phone while on quarantine in Sydney before filming Channel 10’s bonkers reality show in Melbourne.

“So you know what, no I won’t.”

When we chat, it’s Carlson’s ninth day in quarantine and she is loving every minute of it. Wife Julia and their daughter and son – she hasn’t shared their names publicly – are in New Zealand.

“I wouldn’t risk travelling with them (under current conditions) but also what a God damn nightmare it would be to be stuck in a hotel room with two kids. I’d have been making a shiv on the first day,” Carlson says.

Her Netflix comedy special might be titled Overqualified Loser, but Carlson’s not planning on losing. Or content to just play it for laughs.

We’ve certainly seen her competitiveness in Have You Been Paying Attention? and she’s going to bring bags of it to the panel.

[Read more]

To Top