Tuesday December 1, 2020

Seven
TV ratings 2020: How new Seven series was bigger than The Block

By James Manning

• Angus Ross on 2021 leadership, BVOD performance and new dramas

Seven’s director of network programming Angus Ross uses a sporting analogy to explain the network’s 2020 ratings performance – a tale of two halves.

“When our new strategy of just commissioning proven tentpole programming kicked in, with Big Brother, we started performing much better. We are three from three with that strategy – Big Brother, Farmer Wants a Wife and SAS Australia – and all those shows are coming back in 2021,” Ross told Mediaweek.

Since that time we have been the #1 network. At the start of the year when we were trying to reboot MKR and House Rules, which our new CEO James Warburton, had described as ‘tired franchises’, those reboots didn’t resonate with an audience.

“We were also impacted by Covid in that we couldn’t deliver Holey Moley this year, nor could we deliver Australia’s Got Talent and there were delays around Home and Away and RFDS.

The fact that we have finished within 0.5 of Nine for the year is not something many people would have expected after the way we started 2020.

Can Seven be #1 in 2021?

“That is definitely the aim,” said Ross. “With what we have coming next year – the proven format Holey Moley, Ultimate Tag and The Voice plus AGT. All our programming leading up to the Olympics will have finished shooting by mid-December. The Voice shoots early in the new year which gives us quite a Covid-proof schedule, avoiding any possible disruptions like we suffered during 2020.

“We will launch a raft of programming after the Olympics in August,” said Ross. Earlier this year the IOC confirmed the new Tokyo Olympic dates as 23 July 2021 through until August 8.

One of Seven’s successful 2020 launches was SAS Australia which will be back after the Games in 2021. “We had a great series debrief with [producer] Screentime recently and we are going to make a few minor changes, but nothing that will take away from the freshness and authenticity the format offers. It will be just as tough and just as hard a ride for the recruits. We have been inundated with people wanting to be on it. There seems to be no lack of people wanting to sign on even after seeing how tough it was this year. We might have some very unexpected names in 2021 – people you would not perhaps expect to do a reality show.

Both of Seven’s dramas for 2021 have been shot and for various reasons didn’t make it to air in 2020. Australian Gangster has had to wait for a criminal trial to finish, while RFDS had Covid-impacted filming delays.

Seven also has a season of Miss Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries, it has FTA premiere rights after the episodes have been seen on Acorn.

BVOD leadership

Ross: “A big change this year is that 7plus is the #1 commercial BVOD service. Driving that is Home and Away and our huge library of programming. Also doing well were our new external commissions Big Brother, Farmer Wants a Wife and SAS Australia which all kicked very big goals for us and are the biggest reality shows we have ever had on 7plus and SAS has been the biggest show we have ever had on that service.

“The first episode of SAS Australia added over 400,000 extra viewers. With year-to-date we have MAFS as the biggest show, with SAS #2.”

Ross added: “When you add up overnight viewing, regional overnight, the Consolidated 7 number and then the streaming, SAS Australia has a bigger audience than The Block.

Ross disputes any claims Nine makes to be #1 BVOD platform. “We are in front in terms of share, based on minutes. And we don’t have any sport we are counting!”

Seven had to unexpectedly run several franchises in early primetime this year like Britain’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent. “We will make sure that doesn’t happen next year.”

Ross’s other ratings highlights include the two-part AACTA-winning Murder in the Outback special from CJZ. “A strong factual performer for a Sunday night with each episode averaging close to 1m viewers. That is something we will be doing more of next year and we have announced the Ivan Milat special and we have a few more Sunday night events up our sleeve.”

Regarding the Fennessy brothers and their much-anticipated John Ibrahim series, Ross didn’t reveal too much: “I have spoken to Mark about that in the past. We have a number of interesting drama projects in development, but we are really focusing on consistency in our 7.30pm strip programming – that is where we are going to move the [ratings measurement] needle.”

Nine
Nine sales chief’s outlook: ‘Next year we will be even stronger’

By James Manning

• Michael Stephenson reveals tips for 2021 and what advertisers want

Nine sales chief Michael Stephenson has one TV focus – winning the key demos, something the network delivered on for advertisers in 2020.

If you are an advertiser it is really important, whoever your partner is, delivers consistency of audience across 52 weeks,” Stephenson told Mediaweek. “That’s what we have done again this year for the fifth year in a row.

“We are #1 16-39, #1 25-54 and #1 grocery shoppers with children. Whether you measure our primary channel or our network of channels. We also have the leading BVOD platform. The movement towards a total television ecosystem is really important for advertisers.

Next year we will be even stronger with over 50 hours of new Australian content coming into the primetime schedule to deliver our consistency for advertisers from January all the way through to December.

“We have an obsession about the demographics because that is what advertisers care about. That has been our focus for a number of years.”

2021 potential: Can Nine keep winning?

Stephenson thinks so: “Consumer behaviour is changing the way we consume content. Next year will be a defining year because the way we look at this will be different. We will be looking at this as a combination of live linear television, live streaming and on demand and what that means for total content consumption.

“We are at a tipping point which I am so excited about. In the current quarter we are seeing the market bounce back far quicker than anyone could have expected. I don’t see that changing for 2021 either. The market is recovering, the economy is recovering – we are seeing really good signs about the future.”

Premium for winning all people

Seven used to claim a premium for winning all people, Stephenson challenges that boast.

People only care about the demographics and they always have. Focusing on total people is not something we think about. (Although this year we did win that as well.) The premium you deliver against your audience will be based on your ability to deliver big ideas for brands, an investment into sport and creating more value for advertisers. That’s what we have done any why we continue to get the halo effect if you like.

Timing of Australian Open in 2021

“We have more than 50 hours of new Australian content in 2021 – Celebrity Apprentice, Beauty and the Geek, Parent Duty, Love Island Australia, Amazing Grace – that gives us options [if things move around].

We are working closely with Tennis Australia and the Victorian Government to finalise the start date of the Australian Open. Craig Tilley from Tennis Australia will help us navigate through this. We are well progressed in conversations with ad partners and sponsors for the Australian Open and the tennis and Married at First Sight will be the two events that kick off the year.”

Michael Stephenson’s hot pick for 2021

“The thing that marketers get excited about is consistency in delivery,” was the sales chief’s main message.

Stephenson’s pick for a big noisy new Nine show next year – Parent Jury. “When you see it come to life, brands will flock to it. We also have in the schedule Celebrity Apprentice which we have just filmed, and it looks amazing.”

Olympics: Not a problem

Stephenson: “I haven’t heard whether the Olympics are happening or not. We are obsessed by 52 weeks a year, not two. As we have done in the past we will continue to program right through [an Olympic period if it happens] and continue to deliver for advertisers.”

Sky News
Sky News Australia 2021: New hosts and new programs from January 24

Sky News Australia has revealed its 2021 programming line-up featuring new hosts, new programs, increased investment in long-form investigative documentaries and expanded foreign news coverage.

From 24 January, Sky News’ top-rating primetime programs hosted by Chris Kenny, Peta Credlin, Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones and Paul Murray return.

Joining the leading line-up to anchor their own programs in 2021, Cory Bernardi will host Bernardi and Catherine McGregor will bring audiences The McGregor Angle.

Nicholas Reece also joins Sky News as co-host of a new Friday afternoon program The Friday Showdown alongside leading conservative commentator Rita Panahi. Each week Panahi will face off with Reece, a former senior Labor political advisor to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in a new show that will look at issues through the prism of both sides of politics.

Sky News expands its foreign news coverage, announcing the establishment of a Washington Bureau with political journalist Annelise Nielsen becoming Sky News Australia’s first Washington Correspondent.

In 2021 political journalist and interviewer Laura Jayes will anchor the morning political program AM Agenda, alongside Sky News award-winning national affairs programs hosted by experienced political journalists and newsbreakers Kieran Gilbert, Andrew Clennell, Peter Stefanovic, Ashleigh Gillon and Tom Connell.

Paul Whittaker, Sky News Australia, chief executive officer said: “In a year of uncertainty our experienced Sky News team has been a mainstay for Australians, leading the live news coverage keeping the nation informed, questioning and advocating for change, providing newsbreaking political coverage and probing commentary.

“In 2021 our team will continue to provide audiences with all sides of the story. With more trusted voices and more viewpoints than anywhere else, more investment in long-form investigative journalism and more coverage of international news from a distinctly Australian perspective, Sky News will give Australians the full picture.”

SKY NEWS’ GUIDE TO NEW PROGRAMS IN 2021

Bernardi, Fridays at 7:00pm live from Adelaide, Premieres 29 January

During his time in the Senate, Cory Bernardi was in the thick of some of the biggest policy debates of recent years. Known for his frank common-sense approach, he brings deep insight and broad political experience to viewers. Each Friday night live from the Sky News studios in Adelaide, Cory will give his take on the big stories of the week.

The McGregor Angle, Fridays at 8:30pm live from Canberra, Premieres 29 January

Joining Sky News’ primetime line-up is Catherine McGregor: prominent writer, commentator and former senior Australian Defence Force officer. Not one to shy away from tough conversations, Catherine will use her unique perspective to have the debates others won’t. The McGregor Angle will bring together Catherine’s knowledge of defence and security issues, and her understanding of federal politics. Her insight will lead discussion and drive the national conversation. And she loves her sport, too.

The Friday Showdown, Fridays at 4:00pm live from Melbourne, Premieres 29 January

Rita Panahi and Nicholas Reece face off on the big issues of the week. Politics, social issues, culture wars, the controversies. And the crazy side of life. It’s all here. Discussion, debate and drama from mates who aren’t afraid to disagree.

Panahi is a popular Herald Sun columnist and co-host of Sky News’ Outsiders program. Reece is a prominent Melbourne councillor and Deputy Lord Mayor, as well as a Sky News regular.

Sky News Australia establishes Washington bureau. Annelise Nielsen appointed first Washington Correspondent

Annelise Nielsen

At a crucial time in international affairs, from her Washington D.C. base Annelise Nielsen will provide extensive foreign affairs coverage on issues affecting the United States, Europe and Asia.

An accomplished political reporter, Annelise Nielsen will remain in the U.S, after heading over in August to cover the Presidential Election. Her coverage of the contentious election has widely been regarded as some of the most insightful Australian reporting of the campaign, and saw her report from outside of the beltway into the mid-west and the key swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin which played a decisive role in the election result. Annelise will lead Sky News Australia’s coverage of the upcoming U.S. Presidential Inauguration.

Catching the Claremont Killer: The Untold Story, Investigative Documentary, Premieres February

Following the success of Sky News Australia’s locally produced documentaries, next year the investigative team is set to bring audiences even more compelling documentaries.

First in 2021, Sky News will explore how a notorious killer stayed hidden in plain sight for more than three decades bringing audiences the compelling one-hour special investigation.

SKY NEWS 2021 PROGRAMMING SCHEDULE

(From Sunday 24 January)

• First Edition with Peter Stefanovic, weekdays at 5:30am, returns 25 January
• AM Agenda with Laura Jayes, weekdays at 9:00am, returns 25 January
• NewsDay with Tom Connell, Monday & Friday from 11:00am – 2:00pm, Tuesday –Thursday from 11:00am – 12:00pm, returns 25 January
• NewsDay with Ashleigh Gillon, Tuesday – Thursday at 12:00pm, returns 26 January
• Afternoon Agenda with Kieran Gilbert, and featuring Andrew Clennell, Monday – Thursday at 2:00pm, returns 25 January
• The Kenny Report with Chris Kenny, Monday – Friday at 5:00pm, returns 25 January
• Credlin with Peta Credlin, weeknights at 6:00pm, returns 25 January
• The Bolt Report with Andrew Bolt, Monday – Thursday at 7:00pm, returns 1 February
• Alan Jones with Alan Jones, Monday – Thursday at 8:00pm, returns 1 February
• Paul Murray Live with Paul Murray, Sunday – Thursday at 9:00pm, returns 24 January
• The Front Page with Peter Gleeson Monday- Thursday at 11:00pm, returns 25 January
• The Friday Showdown with Rita Panahi and Nicholas Reece, Fridays at 4:00pm, premieres 29 January
• Bernardi with Cory Bernardi, Fridays at 7:00pm, premieres 29 January
• Kenny on Media with Chris Kenny, Fridays at 8:00pm, returns 29 January
• The McGregor Angle with Catherine McGregor, Fridays at 8:30pm, Premieres 29 January
• Hardgrave with Gary Hardgrave, Fridays at 9:00pm, returns 29 January
• Weekend Edition with Jaynie Seal and Tim Gilbert, Saturdays & Sundays from 6am
• Sunday Agenda with Kieran Gilbert and Andrew Clennell, Sundays at 8am, returns 24 January
• Outsiders with Rowan Dean, Rita Panahi and James Morrow, Sundays at 9am, returns 24 January
• Business Weekend with Ticky Fullerton and Adam Creighton, Sundays at 11am, returns 31 January
• Sharri with Sharri Markson, Sundays at 6pm, returns 24 January
• Chris Smith Tonight with Chris Smith, Sundays at 7pm, returns 31 January
• In My View Sundays at 8pm, returns 24 January

Sky News ratings
Sky News reports record 2020 audience growth all hours, all days

Sky News has reported its best audience share of all time across its broadcast and digital platforms in 2020.

Record audience engagement was driven by the network’s live breaking news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, in-depth political and national affairs programming, on-the-ground coverage of the US Presidential Election, exclusive commentary from opinion leaders, and investigative documentaries. In 2020 Sky News content reached more Australians than ever in its history.

Paul Whittaker, Chief Executive Officer, Sky News Australia said: “When Australians needed reliable, trustworthy and comprehensive news coverage, they turned to us in record numbers. When they wanted context, commentary and analysis of events, they turned to the nation’s best commentators on Sky News.”

Sky News

SKY NEWS ON FOXTEL

Sky News on Foxtel has delivered a record average audience share of 3.0% across the past 47 weeks, ranking as the #1 channel across Foxtel throughout the year to date.

The strong audience growth was seen in across all key Dayparts:

• All Day (2am – 2am) up a record +43%; reaching 4 million unique viewers
• Morning (9am-12pm) up a record +73%; reaching 2 million unique viewers
• Daytime (9am-5pm) up a record +69%; reaching 3.3 million unique viewers
• Primetime (6pm-10pm) up a record +36%; reaching 2.9 million unique viewers
• Breakfast Weekdays (5am-9am) up +21%, reaching 1.2 million unique viewers

Sky News investigative documentaries continue to drive audiences, with the two-part special MH370: The Untold Story holding the #1 and #2 individual program positions for the year, topping the ratings on Foxtel at premiere. The one-hour investigative specials The Death of the Aussie Larrikin and Deadly Decisions: Victoria’s Hotel Quarantine Catastrophe were both the #1 programs on Foxtel at premiere.

Throughout the year key programs delivered strong year-on-year audience growth.

• First Edition (Weekdays 5am – 9am) up +32%
• AM Agenda (Weekdays 9am – 12pm) up +65%
• NewsDay (Weekdays 12pm – 2pm) up +91%
• Afternoon Agenda (Weekdays 2pm – 5pm) up +69%
• The Kenny Report Weekdays 5pm – 6pm) up +59%
• Credlin (Weeknights 6pm – 7pm) up +41%
• The Bolt Report (Weeknights 7pm) up +32%
• Alan Jones (Monday – Thursday 8pm) up +60%
• Paul Murray Live (Sunday – Thursday 9pm) up +34%
• Kenny on Media (Fridays 8pm) up +13%
• The Front Page (Monday – Thursday 11pm) up +46%
• Sunday Agenda (Sundays 8am) up +10%
• Outsiders (Sundays 9am) up +60%
• Business Weekend (Sundays 11am) up +58%

SKY NEWS DIGITAL

Sky News Australia reached significant milestones across its digital portfolio during 2020.

• One billion video views across all platforms
• #1 Australian commercial news brand on YouTube
• #1 most engaged Australian media brand on Facebook

YouTube views grew more than +600% year-on-year, now accounting for half of the network’s digital reach with 500 million views. Sky News Australia became the first Australian commercial news brand to reach 1 million subscribers on the platform. Throughout 2020, Sky News Australia reached an average monthly unique audience of 13.5 million on YouTube, including 4 million Australians per month.

Engagement with audiences on Facebook grew by +292% year-on-year, with more than 16.5 million engagements, placing Sky News Australia at the top of the platform’s ratings for the past three consecutive months.

The rapid growth extended to Sky News’ own website SkyNews.com.au where video views grew +300% year-on-year.

SKY NEWS ON WIN

Commercial regional free-to-air news channel Sky News on WIN experienced strong year-on-year audience growth in 2020. 

All Day (2am – 2am) average audiences increased by +38% year-on -year, with a channel record commercial share of 2.0% up +1.5 share points, reaching 3.9 million unique viewers.

In Primetime (6pm-10pm) average audiences grew by +37%, achieving a channel record share of 2.1%, up 1.6 share points, reaching 2.8 million unique viewers.

Sky News on WIN launched in September 2018 and broadcasts in 30 markets across WIN’s regional network throughout Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, and state-wide across Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

 Sources:

*Channel Ranking source: OzTAM National STV: Linear data, Overnight, TTL TV Share%, 0200-2559, Total People. Wks 1-47.

*Regular Programs source: OzTAM National STV: Linear data, Overnight, Average Audience, 1Min Cume Reach, 0200-2559, Total People. Wks 5-47 Vs. STLY.

*Program cumes source: OzTAM National STV: Linear data, Overnight, Total Minutes, 0200-2559, Total People

Foxtel GO/Now data: OzTAM BVOD, Video On Demand, BVOD Audience, Total Minutes, 0000-2359, Total People, OzTAM BVOD excludes legacy Play devices

GO/Now Stream Starts: Viewing sessions which are 15 seconds or more. Does not include navigation time, or integrated app time

*SNOW Source: Regional TAM Data; Overnight Data; Combined Agg. Markets incl. TAS/WA; Weeks 5-47 2020 vs same period 2019; Sky News on WIN; 02:00-26:00, 18:00-22:00; Sunday-Saturday; Cume Reach (1 Minute), Audience, Commercial Share, Average Weekly Reach (Cume Reach – 1 Minute); Total People

Aggregated online video view sources: Adobe Analytics, Brightcove Analytics, YouTube Analytics, Facebook Analytics, Microsoft MSN Analytics. 2020 vs 2019. 

YouTube subscriber source: YouTube – Sky News Australia vs Seven News, Nine News, Channel Ten. 

Facebook engagement source: Crowdtangle, ‘Australian Media’ Audience Interactions ratings. 

AACTA Awards 2020: Stateless and Babyteeth wins 22 trophies

AACTA celebrated its 10th year with the 2020 AACTA Awards Ceremony presented by Foxtel at The Star Sydney. In a year that looked a little different, the celebrations were as significant as ever for screen entertainment in Australia.

Stateless, Babyteeth, Bluey, MasterChef Australia, Mystery Road, Cate Blanchett, Rebel Wilson, Ben Mendelsohn, Shaun Micallef, Yvonne Strahovski and Essie Davis were among the winners announced at the ceremony.

Leading the 2020 AACTA Awards season with a total of 13 Awards was Stateless, including Best Telefeature or Miniseries, Best Screenplay in Television and all four acting Awards across television drama. In film, Babyteeth received nine Awards including Best Film presented by Foxtel and Best Direction for Shannon Murphy, marking her directional debut.

AACTAs 2020 Darren Gilshenan, Tony Ayres, Elise McCredie and Sheila Jayadev- Stateless

The full list of Awards presented today are as follows:

• AACTA Award Best Telefeature or Mini Series: Stateless Cate Blanchett, Elise McCredie, Tony Ayres, Sheila Jayadev, Paul Ranford, Liz Watts, Andrew Upton—Matchbox Pictures, Dirty Films (ABC)
• AACTA Award Best Reality Program: MasterChef Australia Marty Benson, Adam Fergusson—Endemol Shine Australia (Network 10)
• AACTA Award Best Entertainment Program: Have You Been Paying Attention? Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Michael Hirsh, Rob Sitch—Working Dog Productions (Network 10)
• AACTA Award Best Lifestyle Program – The Living Room Sarah Thornton, Caroline Spencer, Nicole Rogers, Ciaran Flannery—Network Ten (Network 10)
• AACTA Award Best Online Entertainment: The Norris Nuts Sabre Norris, Sockie Norris, Biggie Norris, Naz Norris—The Norris Nuts
• AACTA Award Best Online Drama or Comedy: Love In Lockdown Robyn Butler, Wayne Hope, Lucy Durack, Eddie Perfect—Gristmill
• AACTA Award Best Children’s Program: Bluey Joe Brumm, Charlie Aspinwall, Sam Moor, Daley Pearson—Ludo Studio (ABC)
• AACTA Award Best Comedy Entertainment Program: Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell Shaun Micallef, Peter Beck, Gary McCaffrie—ITV Studios Australia, Giant Baby Productions (ABC)
• AACTA Award Best Drama Series: Mystery Road David Jowsey, Greer Simpkin—Bunya Productions (ABC)
• AACTA Award Best Comedy Series: Upright Jason Stephens, Helen Bowden, Melissa Kelly, Chris Taylor, Tim Minchin—Lingo Pictures (Foxtel)
• AACTA Award Best Factual Entertainment Program: Gogglebox Australia Howard Myers, David McDonald, Kerrie Kerr—Endemol Shine, Network 10, Foxtel (Foxtel, Network 10)
• AACTA Award Best Documentary or Factual Program: Murder in The Outback: The Falconio And Less Mystery Andrew Farrell, Matt Campbell, Bethan Arwel-Lewis, Sophie Meyrick—CJZ (Seven Network)
• AACTA Award Subscription Television Award for Best Presenter: Rebel WilsonLOL: Last One Laughing Australia
• AACTA Award Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama: Fayssal Bazzi (Stateless)
• AACTA Award Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama: Yvonne Strahovski (Stateless)
• AACTA Award Best Guest or Supporting Actor in a Television Drama: Darren Gilshenan (Stateless)
• AACTA Award Best Guest or Supporting Actress in a Television Drama: Cate Blanchett (Stateless)
• AACTA Award Best Screenplay in Television: Elise McCredie Stateless Episode 1 – The Circumstances in Which They Come
• AACTA Award Best Direction in a TV Drama or Comedy: Emma Freeman Stateless Episode 1 – The Circumstances in Which They Come
• AACTA Award Best Comedy Performer: Tim Minchin (Upright)
• AACTA Award Best Film presented by Foxtel: Babyteeth Alex White—Whitefalk Films
• AACTA Award Best Indie Film: Standing Up For Sunny Steve Vidler (Dir), Jamie Hilton, Michael Pontin, Drew Bailey—Ticket To Ride
• AACTA Award Best Asian Film: Better Days Kwok Cheung Tsang (Dir.), Jojo Yuet-Jan Hui
• AACTA Award Best Documentary: Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra Nel Minchin (Dir.), Wayne Blair (Dir.), Ivan O’Mahoney—In Films
• AACTA Award Best Screenplay in Film: Rita Kalnejais (Babyteeth)
• AACTA Award Best Direction in Film: Shannon Murphy (Babyteeth)
• AACTA Award Best Lead Actor in Film: Toby Wallace (Babyteeth)
• AACTA Award Best Lead Actress in Film: Eliza Scanlen (Babyteeth)
• AACTA Award Best Supporting Actor in Film: Ben Mendelsohn (Babyteeth)
• AACTA Award Best Supporting Actress in Film: Essie Davis (Babyteeth)
• AACTA Award Best Short Film: The Mirror Joel Kohn (Dir.), Mike Horvath, Tom Davies—Screen Invaders, Finest Hour Company, Savvy Cinema
• AACTA Award Best VFX or Animation: The Eight Hundred Tim Crosbie, Joy Wu, Jason Troughton, Tom Wood, Julian Hutchens—Rising Sun Pictures

AACTAs 2020 MasterChef Judges

The Byron Kennedy Award was also presented, recognising the impact of Australian low-budget genre filmmaking and celebrating the outstanding creative enterprise within the screen industry. Jennifer Kent was announced as the recipient for her international success on the AACTA Award-winning film, The Babadook.

Chairman of the Byron Kennedy Award, Dr. George Miller, who ambitiously created Max Mad with his producing partner Byron Kennedy said: “During the past 10 years Australian filmmakers have created a number of uniquely independent films. They were driven by raw talent and a fierce pursuit of excellence. Many found audiences and some impacted globally. These are precisely the criteria the Byron Kennedy Award seeks to acknowledge. This year’s recipient is Jennifer Kent for her unforgettable film The Babadook.”

Steve Bedwell, Bryan Cockerill and Geraldine Coy were the proud recipients of the inaugural AACTA Reg Grundy Award, established to support new voices in screen entertainment and fast track original productions. The trio received a $50,000 prize comprised of cash and development funds to create their winning television entertainment concept, Seven Pups.

AACTA Reg Grundy Award recipient said: “The AACTA Reg Grundy Award has given us the opportunity to shine a light on an idea we’ve been tinkering with for many years. Progressing through the rounds has been enlightening and fun.”

Other highlights of the Ceremonies included Mahalia Barnes’s performance of I Am Woman, Tim Minchin’s original Carry You which features in the final episode of 2020 AACTA Award-winning Best Comedy Series, Upright. In Memoriam featured a touching performance from Swing On This members Matt Lee and Ben Mingay, paying tribute to their late member Michael Falzon and many other leading figures in the industry.

AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella said “COVID has been an enormous challenge for everyone but it has also highlighted just how critical our screen industry is to audiences around the world. We have turned to the local entertainment industry to keep us informed and entertained, with the work of our creative industry valued by audiences more than ever before. It has been a great pleasure to be able to gather tonight, albeit in smaller numbers than we are used to, to celebrate the outstanding productions of 2020 across television, film, documentary and the ever evolving, exciting online space.”

Top Photo: AACTAs 2020 Mystery Road team (L-R) David Jowsey, Rob Collins, Kodie Bedford, Greer Simkin, Warwick Thornton, Tasma Walton, Ngaire Pigram and Wayne Blair

The Forgotten Australians
Ray Martin hosting investigation into the aftermath of bushfires for Prime7

Ray Martin (pictured) is returning to Prime7 to present the television event The Forgotten Australians, an in-depth investigation into the aftermath of one of the worst fire seasons in our nation’s history, focusing on the victims left behind.

The 2019-20 ‘Black Summer’ bushfires killed 35 people, 3 billion animals and destroyed 3,000 homes and buildings. Yet before Australians could take a breath, the global Covid-19 pandemic hit and Australia’s most vulnerable communities were faced with a second wave of crisis.

So what has happened since? Millions of dollars have been donated to various causes, so it would be natural to think that the various governments and agencies have been quick to help those in need. However, what Ray uncovers in this Prime7 News investigation is that communities have largely been left to fend for themselves. Essential equipment has not been repaired or replaced and communities continue to battle redtape at every turn.

The Forgotten Australians are still living hand to mouth,” said Martin. “In a ravaged landscape, we have met people who haven’t had access to their own shower for two years; a family who lost everything still battling the bureaucracy at a local level, and those still trying to find peace 12 months on from those catastrophic days.”

The Forgotten Australians reveals how lives are being rebuilt – homes are slowly rising from the ashes, and communities are doing the best they can – but the mental health impact on victims cannot be ignored. The program discovers how the pandemic combined with the bushfire aftermath has caused community breakdowns, and what is being done to rectify it.

Paul Patrick, Prime7 Director of News & Current Affairs said, “This is an essential program for regional Australia. Covid-19 has taken so much energy this year, but for so many people living in regional areas, the bushfires of last summer are still in front of them every day. Ray and his producer, veteran newsman Max Uechtritz have given their stories light, and it is vital that everyone sees what these people have been experiencing.”

The Forgotten Australians – Monday, 7th December on Prime7

The Twelve
The Twelve: Foxtel Announces latest original series

Foxtel has announced a major new Foxtel Original series, The Twelve, to be produced in partnership with Warner Bros. International Television Australia and Spirit Pictures.

The Twelve is a 10 x one-hour crime drama based on the Belgian series of the same name. Executive Producers are Michael Brooks and Hamish Lewis from Warner Bros. International Television Australia, Liz Watts from Spirit Pictures and Brian Walsh for Foxtel.

Now in development, with production slated for 2021, The Twelve tells of 12 ordinary people who are selected for jury duty in a murder trial as traumatising as it is controversial, in which a woman stands accused of killing a child.  Behind the façade of their anonymity, these twelve ordinary people bring with them their own histories.  Lives that are as complex as the trial, full of fractured dreams, shameful secrets, hope, fears, personal trauma and prejudice.  Through the multiple lenses of these jurors, we see the fragility and imbalances of the law, and the chaotic and flawed way we attempt to determine justice in our society. 

Brian Walsh, executive director of television, said: “Foxtel is proud to continue its long-standing commitment to local content with the announcement of this new drama series, The Twelve

 “In one of the most challenging of times for our industry there has never been a more important moment to consolidate our energies, talent and passion, and reaffirm our commitment to local drama. We have been looking for the ideal vehicle to replace our popular series, Wentworth, and we have every confidence that The Twelve will continue the tradition of bringing gripping Australian drama to the screen.

“The series takes on the crime genre through the lens of jurors. It is a bold and fresh approach to the classic murder mystery story and will boast a big ensemble cast and an equally impressive team of writers and creatives. We look forward to working with Michael Brooks, Hamish Lewis and the team at Warner Bros. International Television in Sydney, and Liz Watts at Spirit Pictures,” he said.

Michael Brooks, managing director of Warner Bros. International Television Australia, added: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Foxtel on The Twelve, which will mark the launch of our domestic drama business. Warner Bros. is committed to telling Australian stories and working with the incredible creative talent we have in this country. Our partnership with Liz Watts at Spirit Pictures is the first of many to come and we are excited to work alongside Brian Walsh and the wonderful team at Foxtel.”

Holey Moley
Holey Moley: First look at epic Australian course revealed

The Seven Network is taking mini golf to a whole new level by bringing the US No.1 hit, Holey Moley to Australia in 2021.

Adult sized mini golfers from around Australia will compete head-to-head on an unparalleled, larger-than-life obstacle mini-golf course.

Aussie golfing legend Greg Norman will serve as the Holey Moley Resident Golf Pro of the epic Holey Moley course with American actor/comedian Rob Riggle (Saturday Night Live, The Hangover, Step Brothers, The Other Guy) sharing commentating honours with 7NEWS sports anchor Matt Shirvington. In between ducking golf balls, host Sonia Kruger will attempt to keep everyone on course. Who will take home the $100,000, and the coveted Holey Moley plaid jacket?

Holey Moley

The country’s most skilled and passionate golfers will battle for supremacy on insane, supersized mini golf holes.

Seven has revealed a first look at the Australian Holey Moley golf course that features towering windmills, fire-breathing dragons, shark-infested lagoons and a giant sausage – it’s the course that has everything. No inch of astroturf has been left unturned in creating this unmatched test of precision putting and stamina.

“I’ve played the world’s greatest golf courses – St Andrews, Augusta – but they’re nothing compared to this. Being named Holey Moley’s Resident Pro is without a doubt the biggest moment of my career,” said golfing icon and two-time Open Championships winner Greg Norman.

Rob Riggle added: “This is set to be the most challenging, high-flying, electrifying new show on the planet!”

Below is the first look provided by Seven.

 

This follows the sneak peek that Seven unveiled in October which can be seen here.

Seven’s director of network programming Angus Ross is anticipating less disruption to its 2021 schedule as shows originally slotted for 2020 will finally be ready. “By mid-December we will have banked all of our first-half programming up until the Tokyo Olympics. We have finished Holey Moley and we are shooting Farmer Wants a Wife now and by December we will have also finished Big Brother and Ultimate Tag.

“We don’t want a repeat of what happened this year when we lost three formats that were supposed to go to air. In 2021 we will have all of the rounds in the chamber, so look out!”

Holey Moley is created and produced by Eureka Productions for the Seven Network.

The End
The End: 10-episode Australian drama coming to Foxtel February 2

Foxtel’s 10-episode Australian drama The End, produced by See-Saw films, is a half-hour dark comedy series starring Dame Harriet Walter (Succession, The Crown, Killing Eve), Frances O’Connor (The Missing, Mansfield Park) and Noni Hazlehurst (A Place to Call Home) and will make its Australian debut on Tuesday, February 2.

The End explores three generations of a family living with separate but intersecting obsessions – trying to figure out how to die with dignity, live with none and make it all count. It’s a story that’s been a long time in the making; its genesis in the very first script that Samantha Strauss wrote as a short film as a 19-year old still living at home with her parents.

Foxtel executive director of television, Brian Walsh, said: “Foxtel is committed to telling Australian stories for Australian audiences and we are very proud of The End, a series which is bound to spark a national conversation. The End is a multi-generational family series which deals with life and death and everything in between. With a stellar script from a surprising new voice, Samantha Strauss, and an incredibly talented cast led by Dame Harriet Walter, Frances O’Connor, Noni Hazlehurst and Robyn Nevin, The End is a bold and provocative Australian drama that will engage and entertain.

“At times confronting and yes, controversial, it is a series which is incredibly moving and emotional, but above all, entertaining. I think audiences will relate to every character and we can’t wait for it to debut in February,” he said.

The End also stars Luke Arnold (Black Sails), Morgan Davies (Storm Boy), Ingrid Torelli (Matilda), Roy Billing (Jack Irish), Robyn Nevin (Relic), John Waters (Offspring), Alex Dimitriades (The Principal), Brendan Cowell (Game of Thrones), Brooke Satchwell (Mr Inbetween), Andrea Demetriades (Janet King), Uli Latukefu (Marco Polo), and Seb Thornton-Walker.

Frances O’Connor plays Dr. Kate Brennan, a Gold Coast-based specialist in palliative care. Euthanasia is a hot-button topic in Kate’s field of work, and she is passionate in her opposition. On the other side of the world, Kate’s mother Edie Henley (Walter) feels just as strongly about her right to die. Kate has little choice but to ship Edie out from England and deposit her in a nearby retirement community – Edie’s worst nightmare. While Kate struggles with her own problems, her ex is in jail and her children, one of whom is a teenage trans boy, are trying to work out who they are and who they want to be. The End is a story about family, ethics and emotion, and mostly how it’s never too late to start again. 

A co-production between Foxtel and Sky UK, the series was created and written by Samantha Strauss and is directed by Jessica M. Thompson and Jonathan Brough. The End has also been sold to Showtime in the U.S. and will make its American debut in early 2021. The series was filmed on location on Queensland’s Gold Coast with investment from Screen Queensland and the Queensland Government, and is produced by See-Saw Films, the Oscar-winning and Emmy-nominated producers of the films Lion and The King’s Speech and the television drama series Top of the Lake.

Executive Producers are Rachel Gardner, Jamie Laurenson, Hakan Kousetta, Samantha Strauss, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman. Louise Smith is the producer, with Carol Hughes, Libby Sharpe and Patrick Walters as Co-Producers. Executive Producers for Foxtel are Penny Win, Ross Crowley and Brian Walsh.

The End starts Tuesday, February 2 at 8.30 pm with a double episode premiere on Fox Showcase or watch all ten episodes On Demand.

 

Jack Irish
Jack Irish: Final chapter of ABC’s award-winning series begins production

Filming is underway on the final chapter of ABC’s award-winning series Jack Irish, with Emmy Award-winner Guy Pearce reprising his role as Jack Irish, a former criminal lawyer, part-time debt collector and private investigator for an unmissable finale.

The final series of Jack Irish delves deep into Jack’s past, questioning everything he thought he knew about his life and bringing him face to face with an antagonist more personal and destructive than he has ever encountered.

Guy Pearce said: “Jack has been one of the most enjoyable characters I’ve ever played. From our first telemovie in 2012 to our last miniseries in 2018 every twist and turn has been thrilling and every line of dialogue utterly satisfying. I’m very much looking forward to Jack’s final hurrah but also feeling a deep sense of melancholy knowing it will be our last.”

Joining Pearce once again are Jack’s trusty cohorts Marta Dusseldorp as journalist Linda Hillier, Roy Billing as horse racing identity Harry Strang, Aaron Pedersen as Harry’s trusted off-sider Cam Delray, Shane Jacobson as old-school detective Barry Tregear, Kate Atkinson as IT-guru Simone, Damien Richardson as Jack’s former legal partner Drew, Damien Garvey as Stan, the Prince of Prussia publican, and the inimitable Fitzroy Youth Club, Terry Norris and John Flaus.

A stellar line up of guests also includes Gary Sweet, Alison Whyte, Genevieve Picot, Matt Testro, John Stanton, Robert Rabiah and Nicole Nabout.

The four-part series, created by Matt Cameron, Andrew Knight and Andrew Anastasios, is written by Matt Cameron (Sunshine, Secret City), Andrew Knight (Rake, Hacksaw Ridge), Andrew Anastasios (The Water Diviner, Wentworth) and Alli Parker (Secret Bridesmaids’ Business, Miss Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries). 

All four episodes will be directed by Greg McLean (The Gloaming, Wolf Creek).

ABC’s head of scripted production Sally Riley said: “ABC audiences have relished every outing of Jack Irish and we are thrilled to be bringing Jack back for one last ride. The stellar creative team have pulled out all stops for the finale and we can’t wait to share what promises to be an epic conclusion to this much-loved series.”

Award-winning producers Ian Collie and Matt Cameron said, “Jack Irish is a character who embodies a ramshackle but indefatigable integrity, putting himself on the line for the forgotten and the disenfranchised in a world that often looks the other way. But he has always been a man carrying scars and demons of his own and in this final chapter he comes face to face with the past that has long haunted him in a thrilling and moving conclusion.”

Inspired by the Jack Irish novels by the late Peter Temple, the first two Jack Irish telemovies Bad Debts and Black Tide were broadcast on ABC in 2012 followed by the final in the trilogy, Dead Point, in 2014. The first Jack Irish series of six episodes screened in 2016. The second series was broadcast in 2018.  

The series will air on ABC and ABC iview in 2021.

Untold Australia
TV Guide: Untold Australia on SBS this Summer

This Summer SBS will air the brand-new season of Untold Australia. The single documentary strand premieres on Tuesday 5 January at 8.30 pm on SBS with Stutter School. 

Stutter School

Stuttering affects 1 in 100 Australians. Stutter School follows four brave Australian stutterers, the youngest aged just 12 and the oldest 64, on a once-in-a-lifetime make-or-break journey to find their voice. 

 

Tuesday 12 January at 8.30 pm is Birdsville or Bust which follows the story of the isolated and iconic Australian outback town of Birdsville. The town’s population of just over 100 people mushrooms twice a year with a flood of almost 20,000 partygoers during Birdsville Races and The Big Red Bash music festival. This documentary shows what happens when the tourists depart, the mercury hits 49.5 degrees Celsius and an army of flies occupies this remote town.

Birdsville or Bust

Tuesday 19 January at 8.30 pm Bowled Over examines with a year in the lives of three drag queens as they confront major personal challenges on Bowled Over. The story centres on three drag queens – Crystal Heart, wanda dparke, and 12-year-old Candy Featherbottom – who are now having to save themselves, their careers and their dreams.

SBS head of documentaries, Joseph Maxwell said:” SBS is so proud to showcase this diverse strand of single documentaries. Each documentary gives remarkable and intimate access to worlds and people that many Australians rarely encounter. “

Stutter School is produced for SBS by Southern Pictures with principal production investment from Screen Australia. Birdsville or Bust and Bowled Over are produced for SBS by Mint Pictures and Flickchicks respectively with principal production investment from Screen Australia and with funding from Screen Queensland.

Telecast schedule:

• Stutter School (Produced by Southern Pictures) – Tuesday, 5 January, 8.30pm on SBS and Sunday, 10 January, 10.10pm on SBS VICELAND
• Birdsville or Bust (Produced by Mint Pictures) – Tuesday, 12 January, 8.30pm on SBS and Sunday, 17 January, 10.10pm on SBS VICELAND
• Bowled Over (Produced by Flickchicks) – Tuesday, 19 January, 8.30pm on SBS and Sunday, 24 January, 10.10pm on SBS VICELAND

Box Office: Christmas season is here as Happiest Season goes #1

By Trent Thomas

The last weekend of November has marked the beginning of Christmas movie season in 2020, with holiday flick Happiest Season going to #1 in its first week of release.

The weather isn’t the only thing heating up either with the holiday flick helping the Australian box office to a 14% increase after making a total of $2.92m in revenue. 

There was a second new entry to the top five in neo-western drama Let Him Go which opened #3 at the Australian box office. Trolls World Tour also returned to the top five after slipping to #7 last week.

The three films to drop out of the top five over the weekend were, Freaky (#6), Honest Thief (#8), and All My Life (#9).

 

#1 Happiest Season $553,424

The holiday film starring an ensemble cast has started its run in Australia in the top spot of the box office after being distributed internationally by Sony and in The States by Hulu. The film averaged $2,241 on 247 screens.

 

 
#2 Tenet $529,279

The film had a brief spell back in the #1 spot last weekend but has slipped down to #2 in its 14th week of release averaging $3,650 on 145 screens, which is the highest average in Australia. To date, the film has made a total of $14.21m in Australia.

 

 
#3 Let Him Go $336,749

The film based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Larry Watson stars Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as a couple who look for their grandson after their only son dies. The film averaged $1,225 on 275 screens in its first week of release.

 

 
#4 Trolls World Tour $249,995

Trolls World Tour returns to the top five after slipping down to the #7 spot last week, this makes it 13 out of 14 weeks that the film has been in the top five of the Australian box office. The film averaged $1,208 on 207 screens and now has a total of $8.39m.

 

 
#5 Rams $247,466

The Australian comedy-drama has now spent five weeks in the top five after averaging $881 on 281 screens this past weekend. Rams now has a total revenue haul of $3.76m.

 

Home and Away
TV ratings: Summer survey, Monday Week 49 2020

By James Manning

• Seven wins as TV’s #1 drama Home and Away wraps its year
• Final episodes of Australian Story and Q+A on ABC

Seven has ranked #1 in primary and network share on the night TV’s #1 drama Home and Away ended its year with its final outing for 2020. An audience of 548,000 was watching episode #201.

ABC also had a couple of season finales – Australian Story was on 637,000 with a look at how Australian coped with the Spanish flu a century ago, while Q+A had a guest list that included Jimmy Barnes and author Rita Therese for its audience of 308,000. Jimmy and Jane Barnes ended the show’s year with a Christmas carol.

SBS found a new train program to kick off its summer schedule – World’s Most Luxurious…Trains with 189,000 watching.

Week 49: Monday
MONDAY METRO
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 14.8% 7 19.7% 9 17.9% 10  8.6% SBS One 4.8%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.5% 7TWO 4.6% GO! 2.3% 10 Bold 4.7% VICELAND 2.0%
ABC ME 0.6% 7mate 2.5% GEM 2.3% 10 Peach 2.9% Food Net 0.9%
ABC NEWS 1.6% 7flix 1.5% 9Life 2.6% 10 Shake 0.4% NITV 0.1%
        9Rush 1.4%     SBS World Movies 1.1%
TOTAL 19.6%   28.4%   26.6%   16.6%   8.9%

 

MONDAY REGIONAL
ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 13.3% 7 21.8% 9 14.3% WIN 7.9% SBS One 4.7%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.3% 7TWO 6.4% GO! 2.4% WIN Bold 5.6% VICELAND 1.8%
ABC ME 0.6% 7mate 3.1% GEM 3.5% WIN Peach 2.9% Food Net 0.6%
ABC NEWS 1.9% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 1.5% 9Life 2.2% Sky News  on WIN 2.9% NITV 0.2%
                SBS Movies 1.3%
TOTAL 18.1%   32.8%   22.5%   19.3%   8.6%

 

MONDAY METRO ALL TV
FTA STV
87.6% 12.4%
Monday FTA
  1. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 1,020,000
  2. Seven News Seven 986,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 863,000
  4. Nine News Nine 812,000
  5. A Current Affair Nine 744,000
  6. ABC News ABC 719,000
  7. Australian Story ABC 637,000
  8. 7.30 ABC 596,000
  9. Home And Away Seven 548,000
  10. The Chase Australia Seven 496,000
  11. Gold Coast Cops Nine 481,000
  12. The Project 7pm 10 445,000
  13. Media Watch ABC 436,000
  14. Hot Seat Nine 431,000
  15. In The Face Of Terror ABC 390,000
  16. Station 19 Seven 350,000
  17. Driving Test Nine 349,000
  18. 10 News First 10 311,000
  19. Q+A-Le ABC 308,000
  20. The Chase Australia-5pm Seven 306,000
Demo Top Five

16-39 Top Five

  1. Nine News 6:30 Nine 122,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 118,000
  3. Seven News Seven 106,000
  4. The Project 7pm 10 103,000
  5. Gold Coast Cops Nine 96,000

 

18-49 Top Five

  1. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 215,000
  2. Nine News 6:30 Nine 213,000
  3. Seven News Seven 196,000
  4. Nine News Nine 179,000
  5. The Project 7pm 10 179,000

 

25-54 Top Five

  1. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 261,000
  2. Nine News 6:30 Nine 249,000
  3. Seven News Seven 241,000
  4. Nine News Nine 219,000
  5. The Project 7pm 10 216,000
Monday Multichannel
  1. NCIS Ep 2 (R) 10 Bold 182,000
  2. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 172,000
  3. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 166,000
  4. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 163,000
  5. Doc Martin PM 7TWO 156,000
  6. NCIS Ep 3 (R) 10 Bold 155,000
  7. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 153,000
  8. Love Monster AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 138,000
  9. Foyle’s War PM 7TWO 138,000
  10. Hey Duggee ABCKIDS/COMEDY 133,000
  11. Dog Loves Books ABCKIDS/COMEDY 130,000
  12. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom ABCKIDS/COMEDY 127,000
  13. Go Jetters PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 114,000
  14. Book Hungry Bears AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 113,000
  15. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 112,000
  16. Andy’s Wild Adventures ABCKIDS/COMEDY 107,000
  17. Neighbours 10 Peach 105,000
  18. Peter Rabbit AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 104,000
  19. 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown (R) SBS VICELAND 103,000
  20. Sir Mouse ABCKIDS/COMEDY 101,000
Monday STV
  1. The Undoing FOX SHOWCASE 95,000
  2. The Undoing FOX SHOWCASE 76,000
  3. Live: F1: Bahrain Race FOX SPORTS 506 72,000
  4. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 66,000
  5. Alan Jones Sky News Live 65,000
  6. Credlin Sky News Live 57,000
  7. Chris Smith Tonight Sky News Live 52,000
  8. Live: Formula One: Chequered Flag FOX SPORTS 506 42,000
  9. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 38,000
  10. PML Later Sky News Live 34,000
  11. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 34,000
  12. Selling Houses Australia Lifestyle Channel 34,000
  13. The Kenny Report Sky News Live 33,000
  14. Coronation Street UKTV 31,000
  15. 24 Hours In Emergency Lifestyle Channel 30,000
  16. Surgeons: At The Edge Of Life Lifestyle Channel 28,000
  17. NCIS: Los Angeles FOX Crime 25,000
  18. Jeopardy! FOX Classics 25,000
  19. Midsomer Murders UKTV 25,000
  20. Live: F1: The Notebook FOX SPORTS 506 24,000

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

Outdoor operator QMS Media might be back on the block

QMS Media could be heading back to the listed market sooner than expected, with some suggesting that its owner, Quadrant Private Equity, is looking to put the business back on the block, reports The Australian’s Bridget Carter.

Quadrant purchased QMS last year in an on-market scheme of arrangement-style takeover deal for $571.6m.

However, as it has transpired, the timing could not be worse for Quadrant when it came to buying the billboard operator, with the advertising market being decimated earlier this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yet under Quadrant’s watch, QMS has won some lucrative advertising contracts, and many believe that what is under consideration is a move to spin off the MediaWorks and sports advertising operations to be sold, while also selling or listing the core media operations, which is seen as a solid performing business.

Since QMS has been bought out by Quadrant, it has won the ten-year City of Sydney contract from industry heavyweight JCDecaux.

Sources say it is also poised to win the outdoor advertising agreement from Sydney Trains – another contract considered highly valuable.

[Read more]

Optus boss takes aim at Netflix's 'free go' on data usage

Optus boss Kelly Bayer Rosmarin says video streaming services like Netflix need to do more to take the pressure off broadband networks as telcos scramble to meet rising consumer demand for data, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Supratim Adhikari.

Speaking at a business outlook briefing on Monday, Bayer Rosmarin said that while the likes of Netflix were driving the data demand on networks they don’t invest directly into the upgrading the core networks.

With streaming media content and gaming driving the spikes in network traffic during the lockdowns, Bayer Rosmarin said over-the-top (OTT) streaming services must become part of the broader industry conversation around fortifying broadband networks.

“We need some sort of a redefinition of our industry, at the moment there’s a lot of OTT providers, whether video streamers or gaming companies that can have a major impact on the level of infrastructure-build that’s required,” she said.

[Read more]

Abrupt departure of Kristina Keneally’s media adviser shocks Team Labor

There are more changes afoot in Labor’s staffing ranks, report Nine CBD columnists Samantha Hutchinson and Stephen Brook.

Three weeks after Labor leader Anthony Albanese‘s office was the subject of a vicious online attack panning staff, Labor’s deputy leader in the Senate Kristina Keneally has lost her media adviser Tim Dunlop.

The departure has shocked staff. Keneally’s chief of staff Chris Owens told colleagues on Monday the decision came after Dunlop, a former producer on the Kyle and Jackie O FM radio show, took a week off.

“Tim has been thinking about what’s ahead for him and for his career … after four years as a Press Sec, it’s time for him to do something different,” Owens wrote in an email seen by CBD.

[Read more]

News Brands

Nine reveals new Sydney Morning Herald homepage design

As loyal readers have probably already noticed, the top of The Sydney Morning Herald homepage has a new look and feel, reports the paper’s digital editor Alex Rowe.

We know that the homepage is very important to our audience and the latest changes are designed to help you find more of our top content.

Here are some of the changes we’ve made and why we’ve made them:

• More stories: The number of articles at the top of the page has increased. You will notice a variety of designs built to make this happen. Some stories will have a headline and a picture while others will appear on the site with no picture.
• More context: Where appropriate, stories will be able to be grouped, allowing readers to find the range and depth of our coverage. News stories may be complemented by opinion, explainers and data stories.
• More images: The new design allows us to better showcase our award-winning photography and illustrations. We’ll be able to adjust the size of our imagery to best fit the weight of our story and its position on the site.
• Less turnover: With the ability to display more stories we will be able to slow down the pace at which we promote and demote stories. This will mean less time spent looking for stories further down the page or on index pages.

[Read more]

Television

Melbourne PR queen Michelle Stamper departs Nine

Longtime Nine Melbourne publicity head Michelle Stamper has departed the network after 14 and a half years, reports TV Tonight.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the ride, first at Nine as Head of Publicity and Marketing and most recently Director of Marketing and Partnerships across the group,” she said in a note to colleagues.

Photo: Terry Stuart with Michelle Stamper (TV Tonight)

“I feel privileged to have been a part of a company which achieved so much success, underwent so much transformation and has the best people in the business.

“I’m very proud of everything the teams I have led at Nine have achieved, in both the publicity and marketing departments, and it’s exciting to leave on a high following the launch of Marvellous Melbourne and the extraordinary success of the Footy Show Grand Final Eve: My Room Telethon,” she added.

Terry Stuart was appointed Melbourne Communications Manager in January when Michelle Stamper became Director of Marketing and Partnerships.

[Read more]

Undone and exposed, thrilling ending to Nicole Kidman's HBO drama

Most striking about The Undoing is not what you see when you watch the episodes, but how much you miss. By virtue of journalistic need, I had the benefit of watching five of the six episodes as pre-broadcast screeners to prepare for interviews with the cast, and then re-watching them each Sunday night as they aired in the US on HBO.

The detail you pick up on second viewing is staggering. Those almost-missed fragments of scenes, and glimpses of character nuance, made the second pass an illuminating process. And like all great whodunits, the answer to the mystery is in front of your eyes the whole time, if only you could see it.

As each episode of The Undoing ended, the question – who killed Elena Alves? – had to be re-asked. And each episode brought with it enough new clues, or red herrings, to leave you guessing and guessing again.

[Read more]

The Undoing beats Game of Thrones as Sky's biggest US series launch

Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant have won an unlikely battle against the forces of Westeros, at least in terms of ratings in Europe, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The opening episode of HBO’s glossy limited series The Undoing has reached a cumulative 28-day audience of more than 2.78 million viewers for Comcast’s European pay-TV giant Sky, making it bigger than the launch of Game of Thrones on Sky in 2011.

With the first three episodes attracting an audience of more than 2.5 million, Sky has now said that the David E. Kelley-created psychological drama – due to reach its finale on the network November 30 – is now on track to become the biggest US series to ever launch on its Sky Atlantic channel. It has already surpassed recent US shows includes Watchmen, True Detective and Big Little Lies.

[Read more]

Sports Media

Seven seeks Australia and India emails as TV battle goes to court

The broadcasting dispute between Cricket Australia and Seven West Media has escalated dramatically, with the network filing papers in the Federal Court on Monday seeking access to correspondence with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Foxtel and state governments, report Nine’s Jon Pierik and Chris Barrett.

Seven confirmed it had lodged an affidavit with the court in Melbourne in a pre-discovery action, as the media company attempts to prove its contention that CA breached its contract with a raft of scheduling changes this summer.

At the heart of Seven’s complaint is a belief that cricket administrators gave preference to the wishes of the BCCI, the sport’s most powerful governing body, as well as its other domestic broadcasting partner Foxtel.

If successful in proving before court that CA breached its $450 million contract with Seven, of which Seven pays $70 million in cash per year, the network could be awarded tens of millions of dollars in damages or look to terminate its deal, which has three years to run. Foxtel’s deal also has three years to run, having paid the bulk of its overall $1.18 billion contract with Seven.

[Read more]

Court battle with Seven looms as unwanted spectacle for cricket

The latest development in the Seven-Cricket Australia feud is significant not just because the network has gone down that route but because of what might be made public as a result of it, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Chris Barrett.

Seven’s request for documents concerning CA’s amendment of the international and Big Bash League schedule for the 2020/21 season stands to potentially lift the lid on some of the game’s most crucial relationships.

Among the emails Seven wants ahead of claiming CA breached its contract with the fixture changes this summer are those between Australian officials and their counterparts from the powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India, including its president Sourav Ganguly, the ‘Prince of Kolkata’.

The network’s lawyers are also eager to see correspondence between CA and Foxtel, believing the interests of India and the News Corp-owned pay television provider were favoured over Seven’s in the limited-overs portion of the men’s international season being placed before the Test series.

[Read more]

See also: Cricket Australia, Channel 7 legal fight: Broadcaster says BCCI manipulated schedule

By News Corp’s Ben Horne and Peter Lalor

[Read more]

Record-breaking audiences deliver hot start to summer on Fox Cricket

The Summer of Cricket has started with the first two games of India’s Tour of Australia achieving record ratings on Fox Cricket, with Sunday’s audience of 585,000 the highest rating One Day International ever on subscription television and the third most-watched sports program on STV of all time.

With a live audience of 585,000 across all Foxtel platforms, the second Australia vs India ODI surpassed previous record STV audience in 2015 for Australia’s World Cup Final win over New Zealand. Sunday’s audience was up 41% on the top rating ODI of the 2018/19 Australia vs India series (Game One).

Women’s cricket is also going from strength to strength with the WBBL|06 Final between the Melbourne Stars and Sydney Thunder, the most-watched WBBL game on STV ever with an audience of 131,000 across Foxtel Platforms, up +24% on the 2019 Final.

Steve Crawley, executive director Fox Sports, said: “How good’s the cricket. The women are the best in the world and now Australia’s ODI men’s team is performing better than we’ve seen in modern times against top-rated India and Virat Kohli – it doesn’t get any better.

“Beginning the summer with the white ball has proven to be a hugely successful formula for Cricket Australia. On Wednesday, we’re off to Canberra for the final men’s ODI then three T20s, all exclusive to Fox Cricket leading into the First Test. It’s a ripper schedule and already fans are loving it.”

India’s Tour of Australia continues with the final ODI match on Wednesday from 1.45 pm AEDT, leading into three T20’s from December 4 and the Australia A v India day-night Tour match on December 11 – all live and exclusive on Fox Cricket, before the first Test on December 17.

Fox Cricket’s coverage is available live only on Foxtel, and to stream on Foxtel Now, Foxtel Go and Kayo.

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