Wednesday December 11, 2019

Universal Media now the biggest Australian-owned magazine publisher

By Claudia Siron

Niche media company Universal Media has lived for over three decades delivering unique print offerings as well as a variety of services including email marketing, social media and video.

The family-owned business has thrived with its media services and still does good business in print. Associate publisher Emma Perera, who is also the daughter of chairman and CEO Prema Perera, spoke to Mediaweek about the increasingly popular “wellness” market, some recent brand highlights, and exciting plans for the coming decade. 

With Pacific about to be merged with German-owned Bauer Media, and NextMedia owned by Germany’s Forum Media, Universal will now be the biggest privately-owned Australian magazine publisher.

The media company used to be called Universal Magazines, but the name changed around four years ago and it was really a move to reflect all the different products they deliver now. “It’s so much more than magazines,” said Perera. “We do website advertising, emails, social, e-commerce, custom; we do all those products, but they are still linked to our core media brands.

“For instance, we are not a social media marketing agency, even though we offer social media. What we do offer is access to our social audiences which is a lot more valuable than just doing social media. Social is actually a really big growth area for us – we’re up 700% year on year, and it’s something we’re not seeing slow down. Overall, we’re magazine heavy, but we’ve diversified to all those sorts of advertising and marketing channels.”

Perera told Mediaweek that Universal Media is a dedicated niche media company and so that’s really served them well with the downturn in mass media. “We’re not alone though. Lots of niche media companies are saying that they’ve been able to retain audiences and retain sales and revenues.”

As a niche media company, they speak to people’s passion and hobbies. “We are still playing in that game and that is definitely a part of the identity of who we are. We’ve also become more of a heavily data-centric company. Our greatest asset is not just our audience but what we know about our audience, and that’s the data and tracking component that we can offer our clients to target.”

There are about 80 people at Universal Media, and they also own a company called Westwick-Farrow Media, which is their B2B publishing arm and they have about 50 staff. “Combined, we are quite a big team. Our management team is quite small though – we’ve only got about five people and we all play such a big role across the whole company.”

Perera’s key role is unique. She looks at the specific metrics of their audience groups and comes up with diversification strategies for all of their media brands. “In a year we’ll look at each of our different markets that we’re in – so we might be in the bike market, the home market, the wellness market – and then we’ll deep dive into the metrics of those audiences to see how big it is, the engagement numbers and what channels they’re active in. From that, we’ll look at what other businesses out there in our markets are doing and come up with how we can diversify to compete above and beyond our players in the market.” 

With the company being over three decades old, Perera said they feel as if it’s been such an accomplishment to run this privately-owned family business for so many years now in such a shifting industry – not just in Australia, but globally. “In that market, we actually haven’t had any significant changes, like restructuring or having to close magazines. We’ve definitely closed one or two titles here and there, like Dog’s Life magazine 10 years ago, but it’s because we just don’t want to play in the dog market as it’s not key to us. We’ve launched all these new magazines and we’ve been able to retain our size and our market share.”

Wellness is one of Universal Media’s largest markets. WellBeing magazine is around 35 years old and they bought it when it was just two years old. “In the last five to eight years, we have just seen the largest move in wellness in every channel and industry. We run long-form journalism and content in WellBeing, and what our readers like from us is the trust and integrity. It’s all peer reviewed and science reviewed. When WellBeing recommends something, it’s taken quite credibly.”

By the end of this year, Universal Media will have launched three new print titles in the wellness space. “We could not have done that without the great support from the supermarket channels. We’re ranged in every single Woolworths and Coles and they’re increasing numbers every different ranging cycle.”

In regards to plans for 2020, Perera said they will be focusing more on brand extensions as a whole. “We’re also looking into the events space a lot as well. Another thing we’re looking at is product development and looking into creating bespoke products under each brand. A lot of it will be delivered digitally since e-commerce is really big for us, so we’ll be investing more into that too. We’re also quite interested in the B2B marketing side of things, and so we’re launching more B2B media brands as well.”

Nova entertainment
Radio disruption: Nova Entertainment restructure as staff let go

Nova Entertainment joins the ranks of the major radio broadcasters restructuring as radio ad revenue comes under pressure.

There has been speculation this morning that as many as 15 people have been let go. Nova Entertainment was not able to specify any of the people or roles impacted, but it is thought they include a content director and program producers.

A Nova Entertainment spokesperson released this statement this morning:

We are operating in a tough economic environment and media companies, like many others, have been impacted. As part of the ongoing review of its operations and after careful consideration, Nova Entertainment has made some changes to staff structures for 2020 and this has led to some redundancies across the business. We continue to believe in the strength of radio and its future in a digital world and our plans in 2020 will reflect that with continued investments in digital and audio.

The moves at Nova come after recent restructuring at SCA, Macquarie Media and ARN.

Filmbites founder Hallie McKeig launches Creative Soul Management

Creative Soul Management has launched today, a new talent management company representing new talent including Australian Casting Guild 2019 Rising Star and star of upcoming Netflix Original Series, Clickbait, Phoenix Raei (Stateless, The Heights, Below), Shannon Berry (Offspring, Romper Stomper), Cooper Van Grootel (Go!, Mystery Road), Kate Lister (SeaChange, Bad Mothers) and Daisy Axon (H is for Happiness, Judy and Punch).

The new business has been launched by Hallie McKeig after more than a decade at the helm of Filmbites Talent Agency.

“Creative Soul Management feels like the natural next step as we work more closely with actors on building rewarding international careers and lives in the film and television industry. We have a long term, comprehensive view towards working with great people, characters and stories,” said McKeig.

Creative Soul Management will build on Hallie’s background in supporting emerging talent, her eye for scouting and identifying potential, her national and international industry contacts and the combined credits of her clients, with a slew of artists breaking out and now working in lead roles on both American and Australian productions.

Phoenix Raei was declared a 2019 Rising Star at the Australian Casting Guild Awards last week. He is currently filming Tony Ayres’ Netflix Original series Clickbait alongside Adrian Grenier, Zoe Kazan and Betty Gabriel, as well as the second season of The Heights, as series regular Ash. He will also be seen on screens in 2020 in ABC’s upcoming drama series Stateless, alongside Cate Blanchett, Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney, Clarence Ryan and Dominic West.

Shannon Berry was a series regular in sci-fi series Hunters for Syfy, before scoring the role of pregnant runaway Brody Jordan in the final two seasons of hit series Offspring, for Network 10. Berry is currently in New Zealand filming The Wilds, a new series picked up by Amazon Studios.

Cooper Van Grootel stars in the new Australian feature Go! and has appeared in ABC dramas Mystery Road and The Heights. LA-based Van Grootel has recently been cast in the anticipated new series One of Us Is Lying for NBC Universal in the US, an adaptation of the New York Times bestseller.

Kate Lister appeared as a series regular this year in Nine Network’s revival of cult series SeaChange, as police officer Lillian Liano alongside Dan Wyllie and Wayne Blair. Lister has also featured in multiple episodes of Bad Mothers for the Nine Network and appeared in The Warriors on the ABC.

Daisy Axon can currently be seen in Mirrah Foulkes’ feature directorial debut, Judy and Punch following her starring role in John Sheedy’s H is for Happiness, alongside Emma Booth, Richard Roxburgh, Miriam Margolyes and Deborah Mailman, which won CinefestOZ’s 2019 $100,000 film prize earlier this year.

“We work incredibly hard and feel so lucky to be surrounded by really good people. I’m passionate about helping actors build rewarding careers and lives in this industry.” said McKeig.

McKeig will continue to run Filmbites Talent Agency alongside Creative Soul Management, with Filmbites continuing its strong youth focus and Creative Soul Management specialising in national and international opportunities for breakout emerging and established talent.


Top Photo: Creative Soul Management talent [L-R]: Phoenix Raei, Shannon Berry, Cooper Van Grootel, Kate Lister and Daisy Axon

ARN now audio only as it sells The Roar to AthletesVoice

On Tuesday ARN announced the sale of their sporting content platform The Roar to AtheltesVoice. This continues ARN’s parent company HT&E’s move to focus on audio properties and follows the move to sell Adshel to Ooh! Media last year.

ARN acquired The Roar along with its parent company Conversant Media in 2016. 

ARN’s COO Michael Harvey said: “ARN is focusing on Defining Audio in Australia and as part of a recent strategic review, the opportunity arose to align The Roar, an iconic, trusted and vibrant brand in Australia with AthletesVoice, which has fast become the most valued, trusted and awarded source of athlete content. Together they represent the most unique, engaging and trusted sports content proposition in Australia. We look forward to the ongoing success of The Roar as it becomes part of AthletesVoice.”

AthletesVoice CEO Kerry McCabe (pictured) said:Over the past two-years we’ve built a platform that successfully brings athletes and brands together to win ‘off the pitch’. We are proud of the voice we have given to athletes, helping them to realise their individual potential as a powerful media and marketing channel. It now makes sense to add Australia’s unique fan platform to our commercial offering in order to fully represent and serve both athletes and sports lovers – the two most valuable assets in sport.”

In March last year, Mediaweek reported ARN had completed the integration of Conversant Media into its network, following its acquisition in 2016 for a cash payment of $11.6 million and performance-based earn-outs.

At the time, ARN CEO Ciaran Davis said: “It was always our intention to better integrate the content offering of ARN and Conversant Media and by the end of Q1 2018, the final phase of ARN’s integration of Conversant Media’s assets into its business will be complete.

“As part of the integration, there will be a greater focus on The Roar, Australia’s leading sports opinion website, lifting our ability to engage with sports fans and leverage this content across our broader network of assets.

“We have made the decision to cease publication of the Lost At E Minor and Techly websites and will roll in their unique content position across the broader ARN digital publishing and social offering, which currently attracts an unique Australian monthly audience of over 2.4 million.”

New funding for docos from Wayne Blair, Michael Tear & others

Screen Australia has announced $1.9 million in production funding for 10 documentaries through the Producer program and one through the Commissioned program.

Bernadine Lim, Screen Australia’s head of documentary said, “We are thrilled to support these documentaries from around the country, with stories that celebrate iconic Australians including retailer Franco Cozzo, designers Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson, and tennis champion Jelena Dokic.”

“This slate is set to shine a light on crucial and timely issues of family violence and the environment, and explore art and science through innovative storytelling technology.”

The new projects come from production houses including Wildbear Entertainment, Blackfella Films and In Films.


• Art of Australia and the Pacific (working title): A three-part series from Wildbear Entertainment and Frame Up Films about Indigenous art from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific – from its deep origins and tumultuous histories, to its rise to global prominence today. This series will be presented by actor and dancer Aaron Pedersen and art historian Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, who will embark on a global journey together to explore the power of contemporary Indigenous artists and the traditions on which they draw. The creative team features writer/director Larissa Behrendt (After the Apology) along with writer/producers Dena Curtis (Ella) and Owen Hughes (The Pacific: In the Wake of Captain Cook with Sam Neill), producer Alan Erson (There Goes Our Neighbourhood) and executive producer Michael Tear (Waltzing the Dragon). This project is financed with support from NZ On Air.

• Audrey & Me: A feature documentary that tells the story of Miriam, a Warlpiri woman in Alice Springs, and her adoptive mother and Aboriginal matriarch Audrey. Miriam has been released from prison and is determined to end a cycle of violence and incarceration, while Audrey searches for answers about the sons she lost 40 years ago. The two women return to their traditional homeland to help navigate a new beginning. This documentary will be written, directed and produced by Penelope McDonald (Buckskin). McDonald will team up with cinematographer Dylan River and producers Trisha Morton-Thomas and Rachel Clements who previously worked together on Finke: There & Back. This project is financed with support from NITV.

• Dark Water: Battle on the Franklin: A feature documentary about one of the most significant environmental campaigns in Australian history, the saving of Tasmania’s Franklin River in the 1970s. The story will be told by young Tasmanian Oliver Cassidy, who follows in the activists’ footsteps and embarks on a solo rafting pilgrimage down the Franklin. This documentary will be directed and co-written by Kasimir Burgess (The Leunig Fragments) and co-written by Claire Smith (Catalyst series 14-16). It will be produced by Chris Kamen (Small is Beautiful), line produced by Annie Venables (Bespoke) and co-produced by Oliver Cassidy. This project is developed with the assistance of Screen Tasmania.

• Jenny & Linda(working title): A feature documentary from Blackfella Films about designers Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson, two women who sparked a revolution in Australian fashion and took on the world. Celebrating the women’s friendship of over 45 years, this documentary will be directed by Amanda Blue (Deep Water – The Real Story) and written by Jacob Hickey (Filthy Rich & Homeless). It will be produced by Darren Dale (The Tall Man) and Fran Moore (Peter Allen: The Boy from Oz). This project is financed with support from the National Gallery of Australia. (Photo: Fran Moore)

• Palazzo di Cozzo: The first feature documentary from writer/director Madeleine Martiniello (The Unmissables) that presents a portrait of beloved Melbourne furniture store owner, Franco Cozzo. Cozzo, a post-war Sicilian migrant and aspiring entertainer who arrived in the 1950s and soon became a household name through his iconic television ads, now strives to secure his legacy as Australia and his clientele change around him. This project will be produced by Film Camp’s Philippa Campey and Samantha Dinning whose credits include No Time for Quietand The Leunig Fragments. It is developed with assistance from Film Victoria and financed with support from Sharmill Films, The Post Lounge and Film Victoria.

Franco Cozzo

• Star Dreaming: A 45-minute documentary which explores Indigenous sky stories as seen through the eyes of Yamaji Artists from the mid-west region of Western Australia, and explains the science behind them with the assistance of the world’s largest radio telescope. Told from the perspective of two children, this project fuses live action with CGI animation to create a cinematic experience for 180-degree dome cinemas. Star Dreamingwill be made in collaboration with the Yamaji Art Centre and will be directed by Perun Bonser (Blight). Bonser is joined by producer Julia Redwood and executive producers Ed Punchard, Jules Fortune and Ian Booth of Prospero Productions, whose credits include Whale Super Highwayand Martin Clunes: Islands of Australia. This project is produced with support from Screenwest and the Western Australian Regional Film Fund, and financed with support from Curtin University.

• The Fun of Fear VR: An immersive VR documentary that explores the history and science of fear as entertainment, delving into why people are so willing to spend money on being scared witless by horror films, games and books. The creative team includes writer/director Lester Francois, and producers Erinn Stevenson and Anna Brady who previously teamed up on award-winning VR documentary RONE.This project is developed with assistance from Film Victoria.

• Unbreakable: The Jelena Dokic Story: A feature documentary from In Films about tennis star Jelena Dokic, who overcame extraordinary odds of poverty, bullying and the brutality of her father to become a champion. This project will be written and directed by acclaimed director Wayne Blair (Top End Wedding). Blair is joined by writer/producer Ivan O’Mahoney (Hitting Home) and writer Jessica Halloran who co-authored Dokic’s 2018 memoir Unbreakable. Roadshow Films are on board as the Australian/New Zealand distributor with worldwide rights.

• Worlds: An eight-part online series and short immersive film that will explore the forces of nature including light, waves and gravity, and how they work together. Artist and writer/director Josef Gatti will experiment with these forces through audio visual art pieces, showcasing the patterns present in the natural world. Worldswill be produced by Rob Innes (Housemates) and composer/music producer Joseph Nizeti (Mountain), and executive produced by Michael Lynch.


• See What You Made Me Do: A three-part series from Northern Pictures for SBS which follows investigative journalist Jess Hill as she delves into what makes domestic abuse so difficult to identify, often impossible to escape, and slippery to fix. This series puts faces to the names associated with domestic homicide – the men who choose to be violent, the women who have died, families who are fighting to protect themselves, and the people at the coal face determined to rewrite this story. It will also show the ways this national emergency can be overhauled, saving lives and futures now, not just for generations to come. The series is directed by Tosca Looby (Magical Land of Oz) and executive produced by Karina Holden (Love on the Spectrum). This project is financed with support from SBS and Screen NSW.

Top Photo: Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson (Photo: Fran Moore)

Nielsen Nov DCR: all-time high, Nine close to 10m

• Plus shoppers go online searching for Christmas bargains

The November 2019 digital news rankings released today by Nielsen revealed that nearly all top 10 entities saw a month-on-month increase in audience.

With paywalls dropping so that Australians could access the latest reports on the bushfires and advice on what to do in the event of a bushfire, audiences increased.

November 11th saw a spike in audiences with hundreds of school closures, catastrophic weather warnings and total fire bans in place. was the top news entity and is the first ever to reach a unique audience of 11.2 million. This was followed by (9.7 million) who jumped into second place – a position they haven’t held since February 2019. In third place was ABC News Websites (9.5 million).

Next was (8.4 million), followed by 7NEWS (8.3 million) in fifth position. Daily Mail Australia (7.7million) was in sixth place.

In seventh position was The Guardian (5.3 million), followed by Australian Community Media Network (4.6 million). Next was The Age (4.2 million) and Yahoo! (3.4 million) in tenth place. Yahoo! is under-reported due to a tagging issue.

Meanwhile mobile device usage is growing in anticipation for the Christmas period, reports Nielsen.

In anticipation for the holiday promotional shopping period Australians are using their mobile devices to research the products and price points they want to snap-up in sales such as Black Friday, Singles Day and pre-Christmas.

Nielsen Digital Content Ratings Monthly Total October 2019 reported that 70% of total time spent on apparel and beauty sites was on a mobile device. In comparison to last year, October 2018 reported a 52% mobile usage. The portability and growing range of apps available is particularly driving shopping behaviour away from desktops.

THE ICONIC,, fared well in unique audiences, online offerings with over 1.6 million, 1.3 million and 1.1 million Australians visiting their sites respectively.

TV Demand: Disney & Apple shows make a mark on the charts

By Trent Thomas

The Mandalorian has topped the TV Demand charts in Australia and New Zealand for the third week in a row and the Disney+ original is well positioned to close out the year at #1.  However, it’s not just Australia and NZ where the show is making inroads. Last week, the Star Wars spinoff became the most in-demand series in the world.

For the seven days ending December 1, The Mandalorian was 31.9 times more in-demand than the average title on a global basis. In comparison, The Crown achieved 15.0 times the average, Stranger Things registered 18.9x, The Flash 21.6x and Game of Thrones managed 28.3 times.

As the year-end draws near, The Mandalorian is now in the running for the Most In-Demand Series Debut in the World at the upcoming Global TV Demand Awards. Other contenders in this awards category include Amazon Prime Video’s The Boys, HBO’s Chernobyl, Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy and Apple TV+’s See.

While Disney+ has focused on quality over quantity with only one (widely successful ) show on the TV Demand charts Apple TV+ has continued to add more shows to the charts over the last few weeks. The latest shows from Apple TV+ to join the charts are For All Mankind and Servant. 

For All Mankind is set in an alternate timeline which explores what would have happened if the global space race had never ended and if the Soviet Union succeeded in the first manned moon landing. The series was created and written by Ronald D. Moore and the series was renewed for a second season several weeks before the first episode was released.

Servant is created and written by Tony Basgallop who also executive produced alongside M. Night Shyamalan with the series first season being released on November 28. The series revolves around a young couple who hire a suspicious nanny to care for their reborn doll after the death of their daughter. Servant was also renewed for a second season before airing an episode.

Apple TV+ has now had four shows feature on the TV Demand charts since its launch on November 1 including See and Morning Wars.

Summer TV Ratings: December 10

• Final episode of ABC’s Love on the Spectrum #1 non-news

The final episode of the four-part ABC series Love on the Spectrum ranked #1 non-news show in primetime with 461,000.

The only other primetime programs over 400,000 last night were Seven’s Better Homes and Gardens: Countdown to Christmas and a Highway Patrol special on our worst drivers.

Young Sheldon also made it to 400,000 on Nine as did ABC’s Dream Gardens.

In the late afternoon the game shows The Chase and Hot Seat also did in the 400,000s.

10’s best was The Project just under 400,000, while the last episode of One Born Every Minute Australia was on 292,000.

Week 50 TV: Tuesday
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 14.2% 7 17.0% 9 15.3% 10  10.2% SBS One 6.2%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 3.2% 7TWO 3.2% GO! 3.5% 10 Bold 4.9% VICELAND 1.6%
ABC ME 0.6% 7mate 2.1% GEM 4.6% 10 Peach 3.3% Food Net 1.6%
ABC NEWS 1.8% 7flix 2.4% 9Life 2.7%     NITV 0.1%
    7Food 0.6%         SBS World Movies 0.9%
TOTAL 19.7%   25.3%   26.0%   18.4%   10.6%


ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 10.8% 7 18.0% 9 13.5% WIN 10.5% SBS One 5.1%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 3.6% 7TWO 3.8% GO! 4.7% WIN Bold 4.2% VICELAND 1.3%
ABC ME 1.1% 7mate 4.2% GEM 6.8% WIN Peach 2.3% Food Net 1.3%
ABC NEWS 2.0% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 2.0% 9Life 2.2% Sky News  on WIN 1.8% NITV 0.2%
    7food (QLD only) 0.4%            
TOTAL 17.6%   28.4%   27.2%   18.9%   7.9%


86.0% 14.2%
  1. Seven News Seven 889,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 845,000
  3. Nine News Nine 778,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 771,000
  5. ABC News ABC 674,000
  6. A Current Affair Nine 648,000
  7. 7.30 ABC 581,000
  8. The Chase Australia Seven 498,000
  9. Love On The Spectrum ABC 461,000
  10. Highway Patrol Special (R) Seven 441,000
  11. Dream Gardens ABC 437,000
  12. Better Homes And Gardens – Countdown To Christmas Seven 424,000
  13. Hot Seat Nine 420,000
  14. Young Sheldon Nine 404,000
  15. The Project 7pm 10 370,000
  16. 10 News First 10 339,000
  17. Young Sheldon – (R) Nine 335,000
  18. The Chase Australia-5pm Seven 324,000
  19. Ambulance Australia Encore 10 307,000
  20. One Born Every Minute Australia 10 292,000
Demo Top 5

16 – 39

  1. One Born Every Minute Australia 10 91,000
  2. Highway Patrol Special (R) Seven 89,000
  3. Seven News Seven 87,000
  4. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 84,000
  5. Ambulance Australia Encore 10 76,000


18 – 49

  1. Nine News 6:30 Nine 167,000
  2. Seven News Seven 163,000
  3. Nine News Nine 162,000
  4. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 157,000
  5. The Project 7pm 10 153,000


25 – 54

  1. Seven News Seven 216,000
  2. Nine News 6:30 Nine 214,000
  3. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 210,000
  4. Nine News Nine 207,000
  5. A Current Affair Nine 186,000
TUESDAY Multichannel
  1. Death In Paradise 9Gem 185,000
  2. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 163,000
  3. Spicks And Specks ABCKIDS/COMEDY 147,000
  4. CSI: Miami 10 Bold 139,000
  5. CSI: Miami Ep 2 10 Bold 136,000
  6. Poirot 9Gem 126,000
  7. Dino Dana ABCKIDS/COMEDY 121,000
  8. Plebs ABCKIDS/COMEDY 121,000
  9. Fireman Sam PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 119,000
  10. Adam Hills: The Last Leg ABCKIDS/COMEDY 113,000
  11. Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures ABCKIDS/COMEDY 113,000
  12. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 112,000
  13. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 112,000
  14. Thomas And Friends PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 112,000
  15. Kindergarten Cop 9GO! 110,000
  16. Olobob Top PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 110,000
  17. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom ABCKIDS/COMEDY 109,000
  18. Bondi Rescue Ep 2 (R) 10 Bold 109,000
  19. Luo Bao Bei ABCKIDS/COMEDY 109,000
  20. Hey Duggee ABCKIDS/COMEDY 108,000
  1. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 60,000
  2. Jones & Credlin Sky News Live 52,000
  3. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 46,000
  4. Supergirl FOX8 36,000
  5. Family Guy FOX8 36,000
  6. Credlin Sky News Live 35,000
  7. Batwoman FOX8 34,000
  8. Below Deck ARENA 34,000
  9. NCIS: Los Angeles FOX Crime 33,000
  10. The Great British Sewing Bee Lifestyle Channel 32,000
  11. PML Later Sky News Live 32,000
  12. Jeopardy! FOX Classics 32,000
  13. Family Guy FOX8 31,000
  14. His Dark Materials FOX SHOWCASE 31,000
  15. The Simpsons FOX8 31,000
  16. Coronation Street UKTV 30,000
  17. The Simpsons FOX8 29,000
  18. M*A*S*H FOX Classics 28,000
  19. Border Security: International FOX8 28,000
  20. AM Agenda Sky News Live 27,000

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

Catalano and Gordon ‘unrelated parties’ on Prime

Antony Catalano has distanced himself from media mogul Bruce Gordon, insisting they are not working together to block Kerry Stokes – backed Seven West Media’s acquisition of regional TV broadcaster Prime Media, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

Catalano, who took ownership of the former Fairfax Media’s regional newspaper operations with billionaire investor Alex Waislitz mid-year, said Seven’s $64m offer, plus a 3c special dividend is “not good value” and it is not surprising that other Prime investors aren’t keen on the deal.

“No. We are unrelated parties,” Catalano told The Australian on Tuesday.

[Read the original]

The Australian also reports:

Regional television broadcaster Prime Media is in crunch talks with its prospective buyer Seven West Media after its two major shareholders, Bruce Gordon and Antony Catalano, rejected the $64m takeover.

[Read the original]

Dragons unleashed in regional TV’s answer to Game of Thrones

Antony Catalano was taking an early morning stroll along the beach in Bali on Tuesday when he heard the news that his plan to scupper Kerry Stokes’ proposal to buy Seven networks’s regional affiliate Prime Media was all but in the bag, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Elizabeth Knight.

On Monday Prime’s other major shareholder, the Bermuda-based billionaire Bruce Gordon, having flown into Australia, made public his own plan to torpedo the takeover by Seven.

By Tuesday morning, Prime had little choice but to raise a white flag and declare the takeover all but dead because, based on the numbers, the deal would be voted down by investors at the December 19 shareholder meeting.

The dragons have been unleashed in regional TV’s answer to Game of Thrones.

Meanwhile, Prime’s chairman John Hartigan and chief executive Ian Audsley delivered their pitch to Gordon over lunch on Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to salvage the deal.

Seven now has two choices. It can either abandon its ambitions for Prime or recast the offer.

[Read the original]

ABC board delays decision on $84m cost-cutting plan

The ABC will continue to thrash out cost-cutting plans, which are expected to lead to at least 200 job losses in a bid to plug an $84m budget hole, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

After a two-day board meeting, led by chairwoman Ita Buttrose, at the ABC Sydney head­quarters in inner-city Ultimo, it was decided more time was needed to finalise the cuts.

“Over the course of the last two days, the ABC board and management have discussed potential areas of cost savings to address the $84m budget shortfall,” an ABC spokesman said. “We continue to refine those plans and expect to be able to provide more specific details publicly in the new year.”

The decision comes as the ABC faces a $23m hit after underpaying up to 2500 casual staff over six years, and a week after The Australian’s Media Diary revealed the broadcaster was examining a redundancy program.

[Read the original]

BBC fee could be scrapped for Netflix model, says Boris Johnson

The BBC annual licence fee could be scrapped and replaced with a pay-to-watch subscription model under a Conservative government, Boris Johnson says, reports The Times.

Speaking at a campaign rally, the British Prime Minister questioned whether the present funding model “still makes sense” in a digital world.

In an unexpected move, he announced he was “looking at” decriminalising non-payment of the licence as Tory sources suggested that a fully subscription-based service, such as Netflix, would come under consideration.

The plan, which is not in the party’s manifesto, will face resistance from the BBC and be seen by opponents as a political attack on the broadcaster.

A leaked BBC document warned that viewing by young people was “dangerously close to the brink” because “output is not standing up well enough to tough international competition”.

[Read the original]

Disney+ deal has ‘exceeded our expectations’: Verizon CEO

Verizon’s deal with Disney+ has exceeded the telecom giant’s expectations, president and CEO Hans Vestberg told an investor conference in New York on Tuesday without sharing user figures, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

“It has exceeded our expectations” in terms of pushing existing users to unlimited plans and acquiring new customers.

He declined to share how many Disney+ users Verizon has reached or what kind of expectations Verizon had had. “I cannot comment on our figures, they have commented on their figures,” Vestberg said. Disney said a day after the launch of its streaming service that it had hit 10 million signups.

The companies’ agreement gives some of the phone giant’s wireless and Internet customers a year of Disney+ for free. The offer applies to Verizon’s wireless unlimited customers and new Fios Internet and 5G home internet customers. Approximately 17 million Verizon wireless accounts are unlimited, and “a pretty significant number” of those are expected to take advantage of the Disney+ offer, Verizon previously said.

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Sir Elton John’s final shows the perfect ending to a stellar career

Everyone wants to go out on their own terms, reports News Corp’s Cameron Adams.

And Sir Elton John is doing the most British of farewell tours – an extended global victory lap where supply can barely meet demand.

That means spending three months in Australia.

His first Melbourne show was back in 1971; he’ll clock up 49 Victorian career shows by the time he leaves the stage at AAMI Park on February 22.

There’s obviously extra emotion on this farewell tour – fans seeing songs they’ve grown up with (or had passed down to them) for the last time.

And that emotion is tenfold for John. Some artists stop touring because their voice is shot or they’ve lost the passion. That’s not the case here; John and his sterling band are playing like men possessed.

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10 All Access now available on Fetch TV platform

Fetch TV, CBS Interactive and Network 10 have announced that 10 All Access, CBS and Network 10’s direct-to-consumer subscription video on-demand service, has launched on Fetch TV.

10 All Access offers more than 9,500 episodes of commercial-free entertainment from CBS and 10. For $9.99 a month plus a month free for new subscribers, 10 All Access features exclusive original series, like Why Women Kill, The Twilight Zone and Tell Me A Story, current and previous seasons of select CBS and 10 shows, including Australian Survivor, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Charmed, Madam Secretary, SEAL Team and The Neighborhood, as well as the ability to live stream CBSN, CBS News’ 24/7 streaming news service.

Network 10 has never released subscriber numbers for its paid-for service in Australia. In the US it has been estimated the CBS All Access service had around 4m subscribers earlier this year.

The addition of 10 All Access represents an expansion of Fetch TV’s partnership with CBS and Network 10. Fetch subscribers already have access to the 10 FTA channels (10, 10 Bold, 10 Peach) and 10’s live streaming and broadcast video on-demand platform, 10 Play.

Rob Gelick, Executive Vice President and General Manager, CBS Entertainment Digital: “The expansion of 10 All Access to Fetch TV is a fantastic opportunity to introduce 10 All Access’ unique offering to new audiences. We look forward to bringing 10 All Access to even more connected device platforms in Australia in the coming months.”

Network 10’s general manager – digital Liz Baldwin said: “10 All Access continues to grow with the platform achieving its biggest month ever in October. This momentum continues with an expanded reach on Fetch, making the great content we produce available to more Australians.”

Fetch TV’s CEO TV Scott Lorson said: “Fetch is committed to providing the very best in entertainment, all in one place. As a master aggregator, we focus not only on the what, but also the how. The launch of 10 All Access, complete with integrated search and carrier billing, is another great addition to the Fetch platform, with more to come. Now is a great time to be a TV viewer, and of course, a Fetch subscriber.”

Netflix reveals The Irishman viewed by 26m in first seven days

Martin Scorsese‘s The Irishman was viewed by 26.4 million households in its first week on Netflix, according to content chief Ted Sarandos, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The executive, speaking at the UBS Global TMT Conference on Tuesday, also predicted that the mob drama will reach an audience of 40 million households within its first 28 days.

Based on the disclosure, that means about 16 percent of all Netflix global account holders watched the film in the week following its Nov. 27 release. While that is a significant portion of the company’s user base, especially for a three-and-a-half-hour movie, it’s still not as large of an audience as for Sandra Bullock starrer Bird Box, which drew 45 million viewers in its first seven days last December.

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Sports Media

Former News boss Hartigan: Folau saga has hurt rugby rights talks

One of the key figures in Foxtel’s long-standing relationship with rugby union in Australia says the Israel Folau saga has damaged the struggling code’s ability to strike a lucrative rights deal with broadcasters, report The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jennifer Duke and John McDuling.

Former News Limited Australia boss John Hartigan said the long-running Folau controversy has hurt rugby’s standing at a grassroots level “very much”, and there was “no question” it would make broadcasters cautious about backing the code.

“I have little doubt Optus is genuine [in their interest]. They have been looking for local content to support the EPL [English Premier League],” Hartigan said. “That said rugby wants to appeal to people beyond rusted-on supporters so to have a free-to-air broadcaster is important.”

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