Friday February 21, 2020

BBC Studios’ global distribution president Paul Dempsey on TV business

By James Manning

The annual BBC Showcase event is the largest single distributor event annually in the TV world. It attracts 700 TV buyers from all over the globe who preview content from the BBC distribution catalogue, including buyers from Australia and New Zealand.

At the end of the three day-event in Liverpool this month, Mediaweek caught up with the president of the BBC Studios global distribution business, Paul Dempsey.

Dempsey has been US-based since late in 2019. He is there partly to demonstrate that the future of the business is to be truly global. “We are doing that by making New York the centre of our distribution business outside of the UK. We may as well be where over 50% of the biggest customers are based.”

The Liverpool Showcase event is a bellwether for what is happening in the TV industry, explained Dempsey. “In the past few years we have been here in Liverpool at what has traditionally been a sales-led event for the licensing of finished programming to a large customer base – which is still part of what it is – but it is much more than that now.

“One major difference is we are now having much earlier conversations. That can be tricky because at BBC Showcase people are used to seeing pictures. We are now having to learn new skills of how to pitch things for a significant financial commitment from our customers when there isn’t much to see. Our producers and salespeople are now much more involved together.

“The other change is you will see increased visibility of our biggest customers. Our senior partners are all here and we are having more important partnership conversations which can cover not just the next show, but the next few years of how we might work together.

In the future, Dempsey expects some changes to the Showcase event. He said it was too early to talk about plans for 2021, but there was speculation from buyers this might be the final Liverpool event, with Showcase perhaps moving to London to be the major drawcard of London screenings week every February.

See also:
Audiences still love the best of British: BBC Studios’ Fiona Lang

Explosion of content customers

“There is more quality video to enjoy than ever across all genres. The way consumers can engage with that content allows them to do it at a time that best suits them. It’s a good time to be a consumer.

“As a supplier, we have been fortunate that we are platform agnostic. We would never have described ourselves as a ‘channels business’. We are a content business – there are some markets where channels are key to our business, but there are lots of markets where we don’t have channels and we deal with third party broadcasters. That can vary from channels, to SVOD platforms to studios who might have a direct-to-consumer business.”

How current trends have had an impact on prices 

“While it has never been so good for the consumer in terms of quantity and quality, that comes at a cost. The ambition of producers now is to deliver against increasing audience expectations – they want film-like quality in television with the biggest stars.

“This comes at a time when there is competition for eyeballs and our customers find it harder to have the funds available to invest.

“What we try to do is navigate multi-party deal making where we stitch together individual customers who are able to support a project that makes productions possible. It allows those customers in many instances to have a show they might not be able to fund themselves.”

Size of the BBC Studios business

The organisation is a major global force in distribution and is continuing to grow. Dempsey said the business does close to £500m in annual distribution revenue.

When you add in the production side of the business, which includes over 30 commissions outside of the BBC family, then the total turnover is over £1b and growing.

The BBC remains the BBC Studios biggest customer. Dempsey: “Our relationships are strong and not taken for granted. We live or die, as we should, by the strength of our creative ideas and production qualities.

The future of television: On demand, local, relevant

“It’s too early to predict who the winners and losers will be. In a time of disruption, the challenge is to remain relevant to your audience. You can do that by providing exclusive content, by being more local if you are competing against big SVOD platforms, and to have event and live programming.

A global service has to find that balance between big shows that will resonate around the world, but you also need a local flavour in each market you operate in.

Dempsey said he felt content would largely be made available on demand in the future. “You not only have to deliver great product, but any business that doesn’t deliver it where and how the consumer wants it is probably going to fail.”

Dempsey said in the UK, the BBC iPlayer is now much more than just a catchup service. “It is now the destination place, almost the front door, for BBC services.”

See also:
BBC Showcase: Home of Bold, British and Creative TV hits

Will the SVOD service BritBox come to Australia?

The BBC are junior partners in the BBC/ITV streaming service BritBox. There has been a version of BritBox in the US and more recently Canada for more than a year. It recently also launched in the UK.

“There is a demand in the US market for British content beyond what we are able to satisfy via third parties,” explained Dempsey.

As to whether BritBox could be headed to Australia, Dempsey said: “We are looking at other markets that could be similar. Where there is a latent demand for the best of British content that you can’t find either on the pay TV channels or with the third-party licensing deals we do.

When you look for markets that resemble what we have in the US then Australia would be on that list. There are other markets we are looking at too.”

Grant Blackley
SCA radio & TV revenue tumbles 8% as advertisers pull back

By James Manning

• Grant Blackley on outlook, radio brands, TV profit & 2Day strategy

Moments after the analysts call, CEO Grant Blackley spoke with Mediaweek and talked frankly about the chance of revenue returning, the size of the TV profit, the positioning and profits at radio brands Triple M and Hit and the company strategy for its most underperforming asset – 2Day FM.

Operating climate and revenue crash

There has been a very broad contraction across every market in every segment and there are some strong cyclical influences. There are also some strong structural influences also impacting the market. We reported revenues back 8.2% for the half – similar results for both the TV and radio assets.

The exception was our collection of digital radio assets where revenue was up 140%.

The [revenue] issue facing the market will cycle over itself and we will start to see things hopefully get a bit better. We have seen the insurance category come back with some vigour. We are starting to see banking and financing improving. It will be interesting to watch the telco market after the recent merger.

Federal government spending has been subdued since the election and we think that will improve in the next six to 12 months.

The digital audio sector is growing quickly and we will continue to invest and release new products over the next year. There are a series of opportunities we are going to create and we have the platforms to support new launches. Personalisation and on-demand are in high demand and we need to match that demand.

Will you need further cost-cutting if revenues don’t recover?

We have done a substantial amount of work on our cost base already and our costs are forecast to be $5-10m lower than the prior year.

Regardless of market conditions we will continue to employ more automation across 55 markets.

SCA didn’t make a lot from TV in the last six months?

$13m for the six months is a solid number for the half, albeit down 20% year-on-year.

Is SCA cutting into Seven/Prime’s strong regional leadership?

It is hard to cut into their dominance, but we have made improvements. We achieved a 38.5% share in terms of revenue. That comes from both having good sales teams and increased ratings. People don’t change their viewing habits as quickly as we would all like. Nine’s continued investment in programming will underpin our efforts in regional Australia.

Seven maintains its heritage position in Tasmania [where SCA is an affiliate] and we maintain a commanding position in that marketplace.

How is radio revenue split between Hit and Triple M networks?

We don’t break them out, but I can tell you the revenues are not dissimilar. [Total audio revenue for six months was $211m.] They both have very clear identities and we have slightly more stations in the Triple M portfolio. They are both well performing networks with close to 40 stations each.

Is the Triple M brand better defined than Hit?

What Triple M has is a very distinct brand proposition in the market. It doesn’t have as much competition as stations under the Hit brand. The direct competitor to Triple M is probably [ARN’s] Pure Gold brand. For the Hit stations they compete with the KIIS and Nova networks. However advertisers invest more in that sector. The key is trying to identify a position that resonates for the Hit Network and one we can further invest in and nurture to create a more distinct position for the Hit Network.

In fairness, [Nova Entertainment] has taken the smooth network, an older format, and is delivering at the upper end of that with a different strategy. Perhaps no different to what we have done with Triple M with a very defined position.

What is the 2020 strategy for 2Day FM breakfast?

We have only had one survey result survey so far with the more music format in survey 8 last year. We saw an increase in cume of 60,000 and there hasn’t been a survey since that time. We will stick with music definitely until we get results from surveys 1 and 2. We have a new content chief in Dave Cameron and he has his views. He is very much supportive of the fact that music gives us a point of difference to [Nova and KIIS]. It also allows us to be unencumbered by the past which gives us more latitude for the future at whatever time we choose to either maintain music or we introduce a different breakfast format.

Proven: Ads for TV shows in News Corp papers boost ratings

• But could broadcasters afford to buy the space MH370 got??

After a massive marketing campaign across News Corp newspapers and digital assets (plus a compelling interview with the host in Mediaweek!), Sky News has reported record ratings for the first part of its MH370 documentary.

The marketing plan included front-page space on several News Corp Australia dailies and double-page spreads inside. It certainly made an impact.

MH370: The Untold Story Part 1 on Sky News on Wednesday night was the #1 program on subscription television with a total average audience of 175,000 viewers (162,000 watching on Sky News and 13,000 tuned into the encore on Sky News Extra).

Viewing was up +44% on previous documentaries Bad BloodPart 1 (122,000) and +70% above Lawyer X Part 1 (103,000).

MH370: The Untold Story Part 1 delivered the highest audience for the channel ever, outside of the 2019 Federal Election and the 2013 Labor Leadership Spill.

The program reached 259,000 individual viewers overnight.

It is the #1 Sky News program for the YTD, with audiences up +326% on the timeslot average.

Sky News was the #1 channel on Foxtel on Wednesday with a 3.2% share, the highest share for the channel YTD.

FOXEL GO/NOW VIEWING ACROSS LIVE AND ON DEMAND (VPM) TO DATE

Part 1 has so far delivered an audience of 4,000 viewers.

SKY NEWS ON WIN

MH370: The Untold Story was the #1 program on Sky News on WIN for the day attracting an average regional free-to-air audience of 61,000

The program reached 138,000 viewers with a commercial share of 5.0% for Total People.

Ranks as the third highest program in the channel history, behind the 2019 Federal Election and New Blood Part Two.

News Corp's body+soul turns 20 this weekend

body+soul will celebrate its 20th anniversary this month and will release a birthday edition on Sunday 23 February to celebrate. The issue will commemorate 20 years of the brand and look at the biggest wellness trends and changes from the last two decades.

body+soul is Australia’s leading health media brand with an audience of more than 3 million Australians through The Sunday Telegraph (NSW), Sunday Herald Sun (VIC), The Sunday Mail (QLD), The Sunday Mail (SA) and bodyandsoul.com.au

body+soul editor Elin Tough said: “A lot has happened in the two decades since we launched. It’s safe to say that the health and wellness landscape is unrecognisable from what it once was thanks to the explosion of medical breakthroughs, life-changing innovations and the host of weird and wonderful trends that have hit the headlines since then.

body+soul has been there every step of the way, since that very first lift-out in February 2000. Back then we tackled topics including how to look and feel good naked and how to navigate the supermarket junk food aisles. In the years since we’ve featured some of the biggest fitness trends, debunked copious diet myths and helped readers cope with the medical challenges life can throw up unexpectedly.

“As we enter a new era, we’ll continue to give our readers’ healthy lifestyle efforts a nudge in the right direction.”

body+soul first issue February 20, 2000

The issue includes: 

• The major wellness breakthroughs of the last two decades plus the medical changes you can expect to see over the coming decades
• A look back at covers over the last 20 years, including the very first cover in February 2000
• The hot new beauty trends predicted to hit this year
• Revisit some of body+soul’s most inspiring and emotional real life case studies.

Also, on February 23 body+soul will host a 20th birthday reader event with SWEAT trainer, Kayla Itsines. Kayla will put readers through a 45 minute workout, followed by a meet-and-greet opportunity. She will also be a guest on the popular body+soul podcast, Healthy-ish.

The anniversary issue will be followed by The 20 Most Influential Women in Australian Sport issue on Sunday 1 March. The issue will showcase the biggest female movers and shakers – both on and off the sporting field – as chosen by a specially-selected judging panel.

For International Women’s Day body+soul will have a Wellness Game Changers issue on Sunday 8 March which will feature 10 homegrown heroes making waves in the wellness world. From fitness icon Kayla Itsines to globe-trotting dietician Ellie Bullen.

Mercado on TV: Pooch Perfect, Stateless, Andrew Bolt & MH370

By Andrew Mercado

Nobody wants to kick a dog when it’s down, so let’s congratulate Seven first on that magnificent Fire Fight Australia Concert. They will screen four hours of highlights this weekend (Saturday from 7pm) and show some bits they missed, while Foxtel viewers saw it all ad-free and live.

Cutting away to News in the middle of their most iconic concert EVER was silly, but Pooch Perfect (Thursday on Seven) is sillier. It’s about groomers, but not the ones that Andrew Bolt defends on Sky News, these are groomers who bedazzle jewels onto small dogs and carve buzzwords like “DIVA” into their fur.

Host Rebel Wilson spends a lot time making jokes about dogs’ bums, which is perfect for a show that is dumber than dog shit. But at least it looks good, situated in a candy-coloured Willy Wonka world. Pooch Perfect won’t be a hit locally, but it might travel the world well through Netflix, who also screen other Seven flops like Zumba’s Just Desserts and Yummy Mummies.

For a more realistic depiction of Australia, Stateless (Sunday 1 March on ABC) is about to become Must See TV. This will also be an international hit with a big-name cast including Cate Blanchett and Dominic West as a creepy cult couple, Jai Courtney and a career best performance from Yvonne Strahovski. Stateless is sensational.

In the lead-up to SBS’ first live broadcast of the Mardi Gras Parade (Sat 29 February), there is some good tie-in programming on SBS World Movies and NITV next week. 10Play is airing some LGBT docs and Neighbours’ (Friday 28 February on 10Peach) gay couple David (Takaya Honda) and Aaron (Matt Wilson) visit Sydney to party with Courtney Act. Neighbours is so gay, it even makes plans a year in advance.

Could Sky News plan more good journalism like MH370: The Untold Story, rather than their commentators making bad situations worse? Peter Stefanovic’s documentary was fascinating, but all anybody was talking about this week was Bolt’s vile comments about the St Kevin’s child grooming scandal, in the wake of Louise Milligan’s gobsmacking investigation on Four Corners. Is that really what Sky News would rather be known for?

Lots of soap milestones happening, with Bill Hayes (Doug) celebrating 50 years on Days Of Our Lives and Eric Braeden (Victor Newman) still going strong after 40 years on The Young and The Restless (both Fox One). Coronation Street just aired its 10,000th episode, while EastEnders (both on UKTV) is turning 35 by throwing half the cast into the Thames.

Next week, we look at the new movie Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears, and other Aussie TV shows that have been turned into films.

TV Guide: Westworld returns for highly anticipated third season

The critically acclaimed sci-fi drama series Westworld returns for a third season that is more enthralling and timelier than ever before and will launch express from the US on Monday, March 16 from midday, streaming on Foxtel and screening on FOX SHOWCASE.

The Emmy-nominated series about the dawn of artificial intelligence and the birth of a new form of life on Earth features new series regulars Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and Vincent Cassel (Black Swan).

Following the aftermath of last season’s Westworld massacre, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) begin a new chapter – outside of the park – exploring the “real world”.

Joining Aaron Paul and Vincent Cassel as new cast members in Season 3 are Lena Waithe (Master of None),  Scott Mescudi (How to Make it in America), John Gallagher, Jr. (The Newsroom) and Tommy Flanagan (Sons of Anarchy).

Since its 2016 debut, Westworld has garnered 43 Emmy® nominations, including for Outstanding Drama Series two years in a row. In its second season, critics continued to praise the daring series. 

 

Erin Molan
TV Guide: Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 to be hosted in Australia

The 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup begins this Friday LIVE at 6.30pm AEDT with all Australian games, finals and other big match-ups on 9GEM and 9Now, and available in HD on 9GEM HD (channel 95).

This year marks the first Women’s T20 World Cup to be hosted in Australia.

Captain Meg Lanning once again leads the side into battle, with a team of superstars including the game’s best all-rounder in Ellyse Perry, bowling sensation Megan Schutt, and 2018 T20 International player of the year, Alyssa Healy.

Coverage will be hosted by Erin Molan and James Bracey, with analysis from former Australian star Julia Price, and former captain Mark Taylor.

The Final for this year’s tournament appropriately falls on International Women’s Day, where an attempt will be underway at the iconic MCG to break the record for the highest attendance at a women’s sporting event – an endeavor made all the more possible with International megastar Katy Perry providing the entertainment.

Tickets are affordably priced and still available for all fixtures here.

10 Play launching LGBTQI+ focused documentaries before Mardi Gras

Before the action of the 2020 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade, 10 Play will be dropping Out Here, a collection of LGBTQI+ focused documentaries.

These three documentaries received funding through Network 10 and Screen Australia’s joint initiative Out Here to put a spotlight on the diversity of LGBTIQ+ lives and communities in regional Australia.

From an eco-conscious cattle farmer, who faces the loneliness of being a gay man in rural Australia, transgender women travelling to Korea for voice surgery or an up-close look at the journey of gay activism across two generations, Out Here is an eye-opening look at LGBTQI+ stories.

Documentary, Alone Out Here, focuses on Jon Wright, who isn’t your typical farmer. He knows climate change is no joke, and is ona mission to transform his cattle farm into an environmental blueprint for the future. His dreams of creating a legacy and making a positive change has taken a personal toll, as the gay, fourth generation farmer overcomes loneliness and a life without children.

In Belonging, Sam Watson road trips across Tasmania, examining the impact and legacy of LGBTQI+ campaigner Rodney Croome. With archival footage and interviews withSam and Rodney’s families and friends, Belonging examines Tasmania’s journeyfrom a place of prejudice to acceptance.

And lastly, The Rainbow Passage is an intimate documentary that charts the love story of Candace and Amanda as they embark on their Gender affirmation journey. Along with their bestie, Hannah, they build a life and community of LGBTIQA+ Friends together in regional Australia, before heading to Korea for voice surgery.

With at least one director or producer who identifies as LGBTQI+, Out Here lends a microphone to the stories and people of the Rainbow Community.

Top photo: Sam Watson, Belonging.

TV ratings: Thursday Week 8 2020

By James Manning

• Seven wins Thursday with News, Summer Bay and…MKR!
• Best of the rest: ACA, Ambulance Australia, Secrets of Britain

The strength of Seven’s early evening line-up has been key to it winning another Thursday night. Home and Away was #1 non-news to end its week on 563,000. The Thursday edition of My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals was a winner with 501,000 up against ob docs on its commercial competitors.

Nine was a close second with A Current Affair on 606,000 followed by RBT with 428,000. Nine’s Thursday movie was then London Has Fallen with 304,000 watching.

10’s best was at 7.30pm with Ambulance Australia on 463,000. The demo split was enough to rank the series #1 under 50 and in key demos. It was followed by Law & Order: SVU on 289,000. Earlier in the night The Project slipped below 400,000 after 7pm.

ABC News and then 7.30 both made the top 10. Doctor Who was a disappointing performer again, failing to crack the top 20 and ranking fifth in the timeslot.

It’s been a big week (again) for the best of British on SBS. Last night a repeat episode of Secrets of Britain as poking about Winchester with 297,000 watching after 7.30pm.

Week 8 TV: Thursday
THURSDAY METRO
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 10.0% 7 17.8% 9 17.4% 10  12.7% SBS One 6.2%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.5% 7TWO 3.7% GO! 3.3% 10 Bold 3.6% VICELAND 1.2%
ABC ME 0.7% 7mate 4.4% GEM 3.3% 10 Peach 3.6% Food Net 1.5%
ABC NEWS 2.5% 7flix 2.7% 9Life 1.9%     NITV 0.1%
                SBS World Movies 1.1%
TOTAL 15.7%   28.5%   25.9%   19.8%   10.1%

 

THURSDAY REGIONAL
ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 8.7% 7 17.1% 9 15.5% WIN 12.9% SBS One 5.3%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.4% 7TWO 5.9% GO! 4.1% WIN Bold 4.4% VICELAND 1.2%
ABC ME 1.0% 7mate 4.0% GEM 4.7% WIN Peach 2.1% Food Net 1.1%
ABC NEWS 1.9% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 2.1% 9Life 2.0% Sky News  on WIN 2.8% NITV 0.1%
                SBS Movies 0.8%
TOTAL 14.0%   29.1%   26.4%   22.3%   8.6%

 

THURSDAY METRO ALL TV
FTA STV
85.2% 14.8%
THURSDAY FTA
  1. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 864,000
  2. Seven News Seven 843,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 756,000
  4. Nine News Nine 739,000
  5. ABC News ABC 656,000
  6. A Current Affair Nine 606,000
  7. Home And Away Seven 563,000
  8. My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals Seven 501,000
  9. 7.30 ABC 486,000
  10. Ambulance Australia 10 463,000
  11. The Chase Australia Seven 457,000
  12. RBT Nine 428,000
  13. The Project 7pm 10 396,000
  14. Hot Seat Nine 375,000
  15. 10 News First 10 310,000
  16. London Has Fallen Nine 304,000
  17. Secrets Of Britain (R) SBS 297,000
  18. The Chase Australia 5pm Seven 295,000
  19. Law & Order: SVU 10 289,000
  20. Sunrise Seven 275,000
Demo Top 5

16 – 39

  1. Ambulance Australia 10 108,000
  2. My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals Seven 98,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 87,000
  4. The Project 7pm 10 86,000
  5. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 84,000

 

18 – 49

  1. Ambulance Australia 10 193,000
  2. My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals Seven 177,000
  3. The Project 7pm 10 176,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 172,000
  5. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 169,000

 

25 – 54

  1. Nine News 6:30 Nine 221,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 217,000
  3. Seven News Seven 210,000
  4. Ambulance Australia 10 208,000
  5. My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals Seven 204,000
THURSDAY Multichannel
  1. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 173,000
  2. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 140,000
  3. Peter Rabbit ABCKIDS/COMEDY 135,000
  4. Seinfeld 10 Peach 133,000
  5. Hey Duggee ABCKIDS/COMEDY 129,000
  6. Friends Ep 3 (R) 10 Peach 127,000
  7. Death In Paradise 9Gem 126,000
  8. Seinfeld Ep 2 10 Peach 126,000
  9. Crocodile Dundee 9GO! 123,000
  10. Neighbours 10 Peach 121,000
  11. Thomas And Friends: Big World! Big Adventures! ABCKIDS/COMEDY 119,000
  12. Father Brown PM 7TWO 116,000
  13. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 115,000
  14. School Of Roars ABCKIDS/COMEDY 114,000
  15. Hawaii Five O (R) 10 Bold 110,000
  16. M X2: X Men United PM 7mate 110,000
  17. Octonauts PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 108,000
  18. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 105,000
  19. Charlie And Lola AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 104,000
  20. Pawn Stars Ep.2 PM 7mate 104,000
THURSDAY STV
  1. MH370: The Untold Story Sky News Live 150,000
  2. Live: Marsh Series: St Kilda V Hawthorn FOX FOOTY 97,000
  3. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 68,000
  4. Outback Opal Hunters Discovery Channel 66,000
  5. Gold Rush Discovery Channel 57,000
  6. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 55,000
  7. Live: Supercars Adelaide 500 FOX SPORTS 506 55,000
  8. PML Later Sky News Live 47,000
  9. Live: Supercars Live FOX SPORTS 506 45,000
  10. Live: Supercars Live FOX SPORTS 506 44,000
  11. Credlin Sky News Live 43,000
  12. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 37,000
  13. Chicago Fire FOX One 35,000
  14. Live: Supercars Adelaide Supports FOX SPORTS 506 33,000
  15. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 31,000
  16. NCIS FOX Crime 29,000
  17. NCIS FOX Crime 29,000
  18. Undercover Billionaire Discovery Channel 29,000
  19. Jeopardy! FOX Classics 28,000
  20. The Simpsons FOX8 26,000

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

SCA revenues tumble, as digital assets indicate growth pathway

Southern Cross Media Group (SCA) yesterday announced its financial results for the six months ended 31 December 2019. Revenues were down 8.2% year-on-year for the period with earnings of $62.2m revealed. An interim fully franked dividend of 2.75 cents per share will be paid on 16 April 2020.

Headline achievements listed for the period include:

• SCA’s sales teams performed strongly in a weak media environment. The Boomtown industry trade marketing initiative saw national regional advertising revenues outperform metro markets.

• SCA’s digital audio revenues grew 140% compared to the prior corresponding period. This was led by PodcastOne Australia – Australia’s leading premium podcast network – and SCA’s sales representation for SoundCloud.

Southern Cross Austereo CEO, Grant Blackley, said:

“SCA is Australia’s largest audio group, owning and operating 96 FM, AM and DAB+ radio stations around Australia. Audio remains an attractive platform for audiences and advertisers and is well- positioned to benefit from improvements in media markets. Total average audiences for metro radio grew in 2019, while average time spent listening remained stable.

“Consumption of digital audio is growing strongly, providing opportunities for growing revenue through premium addressable advertising. With an aggregated commercial reach of over three million monthly users, SCA offers advertisers scaled and simple solutions to target consumer interests, behaviours and passions.

“PodcastOne Australia continues to be Australia’s leading commercial podcast network, providing advertisers with premium access to audiences who are highly engaged with our creators and their areas of interest. SCA’s catch-up radio podcasts are the BVOD of radio, with more than 450,000 signed-in unique and addressable users. In addition, SCA enjoys exclusive Australian representation of SoundCloud – an open, digital audio platform fostering new talent and connecting advertisers to younger fans of new and emerging music and culture.

“SCA’s Television business continued to benefit from strategic decisions in recent years to outsource non-core functions to create a more efficient cost base. Underlying expenses reduced by 6%, cushioning the impact of lower spending by advertisers.

“SCA’s Audio and Television activities in regional markets also benefited from the Boomtown industry marketing campaign. SCA and other regional media companies will continue to invest in and mature Boomtown in the year ahead.”

See also:
SCA radio & TV revenue tumbles 8% as advertisers pull back
• Grant Blackley on outlook, radio brands, TV profit & 2Day strategy

ViacomCBS plans expanded streaming service, most cost cuts

ViacomCBS said Thursday it is planning a “House of Brands” streaming service that builds on CBS All Access and draws from both sides of the recently recombined company, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

In a strategic update as part of its first earnings report as a recombined company, ViacomCBS also outlined three strategic priorities: “maximizing the power of content;” unlocking value from its biggest revenue lines, namely distribution, ad sales and content licensing; and accelerating momentum in streaming.

Management, led by CEO Bob Bakish, further shared a new target for the merger synergies of US$750 million, compared with the original guidance for at least $500 million in cost savings, plus revenue synergies in such areas as distribution, advertising, content licensing and streaming.

And the company for the first time disclosed new metrics for its streaming and digital video business, including domestic revenue of $1.6 billion.

Bakish expressed optimism on Thursday. “In less than three months since completing our merger, we have made significant progress integrating and transforming ViacomCBS. We see incredible opportunity to realise the full power of our position as one of the largest content producers and providers in the world,” he said. “This is an exciting and valuable place to be at a time when demand for content has never been higher, and we will use our strength across genres, formats, demos and geographies to serve the largest addressable audience, on our own platforms and others.”

[Read more]

Domain shares fall despite expectations of 'cyclical recovery'

Domain chief executive Jason Pellegrino is hopeful more Australians will capitalise on rising prices and list their homes online, as investors punished the property portal’s half year results, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Pellegrino, who last year described listings volumes in the Sydney and Melbourne real estate markets as the toughest since the 1990s, said Domain delivered a “solid performance” in a difficult period and that he expects an improvement in coming months.

But investors were less enthused about the result, with shares falling more than 6 per cent to close at $3.55. JPMorgan analyst Eric Pan said the results were weaker than expected, due to a slower rebound in listings. “We were expecting a better re-bound in terms of listings volume than they delivered,” Pan said.

[Read more]

George Calombaris’ food empire could go into liquidation

George Calombaris’s food empire is likely to go into liquidation with up to 200 unsecured creditors expected to be burnt by the collapse, reports News Corp’s Jeff Whalley.

At the same time it is understood two Jimmy Grants restaurants – in the Emporium and in Fitzroy – will be sold as a part of the administration process.

The buyer of the two Jimmy Grants sites is an existing CBD operator with decades of hospitality experience and a background in Greek cuisine, the Herald Sun has been told.

Five other Jimmy Grants premises remain unsold.

KordaMentha does not expect to make any more sales and will recommend creditors vote to liquidate the company at a meeting on March 17.

Shepard advised the creditors at the meetings held today that he expected the companies to be placed into liquidation at the second meeting.

The meeting was also told employees were owed $400,000 in leave payments.

[Read more]

News Brands

Abuse survivor says Andrew Bolt's comments 'make me sick'

The former St Kevin’s College student who was abused at the school has criticised Andrew Bolt and Gerard Henderson after they discussed the crime on Sky News, reports SBS News.

On Tuesday, Bolt appeared to defend convicted child sex offender Peter Kehoe, who groomed Street at the elite Melbourne college, saying “[he] hit on a boy, no sex occurred”.

Henderson said it was “not at all” terrible that outgoing headmaster Stephen Russell supported Kehoe after the conviction.

On Thursday, Street said he was shocked at how the crime was “trivialised” by the pair.

“To listen to you say that no sex occurred is actually beyond relevant information of the crime itself,” he said.

Paris featured on the ABC Four Corners episode on Monday about how child sex abuse was handled at St Kevin’s.

He also used the post to fact check a number of incorrect claims made by Bolt and Henderson about the episode.

[Read more]

Andrew Bolt apology to Paris Street played on Sky News

Andrew Bolt has apologised to Paris Street, the victim of grooming by a sports coach at St Kevin’s College, who was the subject of a recent ABC investigation, reports Sky News.

Bolt said he regretted the way he discussed the case because he should have more carefully considered how Paris might interpret his words.

“I should have thought of Paris Street, the boy, how he might have heard it,” Bolt said.

“I’m really sorry to you Paris, I’m really sorry … I should have thought about how you would take it. I regret it, I’ve spent every hour since thinking about it. I hate what happened”.

Bolt said he had spent “every hour since” thinking about the way his comments were interpreted and that they may have made it seem like he was downplaying the seriousness of the offence.

“You might have noticed that I was really angry yesterday about the way my comments on the ABC’s stories about St Kevin’s had been misreported, I even saw headlines today like ‘the offender defender’, when of course I hadn’t done that,” he said.

[Read more and watch the apology here]

China bans Wall Street Journal reporters over headline

China revoked the press credentials of three reporters for The Wall Street Journal over a headline for an opinion column the government said was racist, reports Associated Press.

The expulsions come after the Trump administration designated five state-run Chinese news outlets that operate in the United States as “foreign missions,” requiring them to register their properties and employees in the US. China said it reserves the right to respond to what it called a mistaken policy.

Deputy bureau chief Josh Chin and reporter Chao Deng, both US nationals, as well as reporter Philip Wen, an Australian national, were ordered to leave the country within five days, the Journal said.

The headline on the Journal’s opinion column referred to the current virus outbreak in China and called the country the “Real Sick Man of Asia.”

[Read more]

Television

Bluey makes the leap from screen to stage with Bluey’s Big Play

After finding an audience of millions on Australian television screens, the hit cartoon Blueywill make the leap to the stage in May, when Bluey’s Big Play premieres in Brisbane as part of the Out of the Box festival at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), reports The Australian’s Andrew McMillan.

Following a week-long run in Brisbane – where the animated series is produced by Ludo Studio – Bluey’s Big Play will begin an extensive national tour through to January 2021, where it will visit 50 towns and cities in every state and territory.

Developed by Windmill Theatre Company, the stage show will feature an original story written by series creator Joe Brumm, new music by composer Joff Bush and extensive puppetry including child-sized puppets for sisters Bluey and Bingo, and adult-sized puppets for parents Bandit and Chilli.

Last year, Bluey was Australia’s most popular time-shifted program last year, ahead of the likes of Lego Masters, Utopia and The Handmaid’s Tale, according to data supplied by OzTAM.

[Read more]

Hunters: Al Pacino’s Nazi hunters show is totally wild

After the likes of Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts made the move to smaller screens, what was to stop Al Pacino? Asks news.com.au’s Wenlei Ma.

In a 50-plus-year career, Pacino has never done episodic TV before – previously, he had done one miniseries (with Streep!), three TV movies and a 1968 episode of N.Y.P.D.

So it’s fitting that his first foray into a regular TV role is in such a wild series.

Because Hunters is wild. Bonkers. Brazen. Even bewildering at times.

Streaming on Amazon Prime Video from Friday this week, Hunters follows a group of fictional Nazi hunters in 1977 New York.

Pacino is the lead hunter, an Auschwitz survivor named Meyer Offerman. He amassed a fortune after the war and now puts his resources to seek vengeance against those who escaped justice.

[Read more]

Gina Liano almost didn’t re-join Real Housewives Of Melbourne cast

She’s the unofficial poster woman of the Real Housewives Of Melbourne.

But Gina Liano, the original star of the scandalous Foxtel reality show, was going to hang up her heels from the series, which begins filming its fifth season next month with three new housewives in the mix, reports news.com.au’s Lexie Cartwright.

After an explosive few seasons, which are all available to stream on Foxtel Now, Liano said she enjoyed being in her “own zone”.

“I nearly didn’t come back this season,” the barrister and marriage celebrant said.

“I got back into my own life, it was peaceful and I quite enjoyed it and I was hesitant to come back only for that reason.

“It’s a big responsibility having a public profile, even though I swear and carry on and maybe act a bit irresponsible.

“I think there might be a time where I don’t come back just because my life will keep moving.”

[Read more]

Sports Media

Domain walks on Cricket Australia naming rights deal

Nine Entertainment-controlled real estate website Domain has cut ties with Cricket Australia halfway through its four-year naming rights deal, as part of a cost cutting drive during the property market slump, reports The Auastralian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

Chief executive Jason Pellegrinohas defended the decision, saying its new marketing strategy is delivering results.

“The impressive results we are seeing from our new marketing strategy has led to a re-evaluation of our sponsorship of the cricket,” Mr Pellegrino said on an investor call for Domain’s first-half earnings results.

Domain inked its four-year so-called “platinum sponsorship partnership” with Cricket Australia in June 2018, which involved being the “presenting partner” of men’s Test cricket over four years. No financial details were released at the time.

[Read more]

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