Wednesday February 26, 2020

Nine Entertainment reports flat revenue as first half profit slips 10%

• Digital revenues climb, more content for 9Now, Stan subs hits 1.8m

Nine Entertainment Co has released its H1 FY20 results for the six months to December 2019.

On revenue of $1.2b, Nine reported Group EBITDA of $251m, and a net profit after tax of $114m. Post specific items, the statutory net profit was $102m. (The numbers are stated excluding discontinued businesses.)

Highlights from the results presentation:

• Strong growth from digital video businesses
• $35m EBITDA improvement at Stan, with subscribers exceeding 1.8m
• 65% growth in EBITDA at 9Now, with market leading BVOD share of ~50%
• Further investment in 9Now to accelerate growth into the broader digital video market
• Broad based ad market weakness including a 7% decline in Metro FTA revenues
• Synergies of $9m identified following completion of the Macquarie Media acquisition

Hugh Marks, chief executive officer of Nine Entertainment Co said: “This result is a testament to the work we have done over the last four years to reposition Nine for a digital future. With strong growth in our digital businesses helping to offset some of the cyclical headwinds faced by our traditional media assets.

“We have now clearly established Nine as the leading domestic player in the digital video market with both 9Now and Stan recording very strong growth in the period. Growth that we expect to continue into H2. We have successfully unified our first party database across all of our owned and controlled businesses, meaning we are in a position to offer our partners the benefits of more targeted advertising across the Nine suite of assets.

Recognising this company-wide evolution, we believe there is significant potential to refocus the cost structure of our FTA business, targeting the removal of up to $100m in annualised costs over the next 3 years – costs that will not inhibit our ability to continue to invest in the growth opportunities around premium revenue and digital video, as we have done successfully over the past three years.

Nine TV business

Nine Network reported a revenue decline of 6%, from $564m to $531m for the half. Reflective of a very difficult overall advertising market, the Metro FTA ad market declined by 7% . Nine’s Metro FTA share of 38.7% was marginally down on pcp and was disappointing in light of Nine’s strong ratings performance.

In 2019, Nine recorded its strongest year in OzTAM history. For ratings season 2019, Nine was the #1 network and primary channel in all key demographics. Nine attracted a commercial network share of 39.4% of the 25-54 demographic, up 3.2 pts on pcp. On a primary channel basis, Nine’s share of the 25-54s was 40.5% , up 3.9 points, and 8.6 share points ahead of its nearest competitor.

In the December half, Nine also won all of the key demographics .

Ex the impact of AASB16, FTA costs rose by 6%, or $25m. This reflected the one-off broadcast of the UK Ashes and World Cup Cricket ($16m) as well as a contracted $8m increase in NRL rights costs. Full year costs are expected to be up by around 2.5%, equating to a slight reduction in the second half.

In a BVOD market which grew by 43% for the half to $87m , 9Now held its share ~50%, for revenue growth of 44%. Users and engagement continued to grow with long form VOD minutes increasing by 31% across the half on pcp, and live streams up by 137%. 9Now increased its EBITDA contribution from $16m to $27m, up 65%. 9Now will continue to invest in incremental content to further expand its position in Australia’s fast-growing digital video market.

Radio revenue impacted

Acquisition of the minorities in Nine Radio (previously Macquarie Radio) was completed in November. For the six months, revenue was down by 16%, to $58m, reflecting both the slower metro radio ad market (down 9.7% for the half) as well as well-documented issues specific to the Macquarie business. Notwithstanding a slight cost decline, Nine Radio reported EBITDA of $8m.

Since taking full ownership, Nine has made significant changes to its Radio business – consolidating back-office functions, sales and news into Nine and reformatting the loss-making Sports Network. Coupled with continued audience strength, this should underpin leverage when the ad market improves.

Metro Media digital ad revenue up 10%

Metro Media reported flat revenue in a challenging ad market. Share gains in print offset part of the ad market weakness, while Digital (subscription and advertising) revenues grew strongly. On average, double-digit growth in digital subscriptions across The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review reflects the reweighting of the business to both the digital platform and consumer revenue.

Digital advertising revenue growth of 10% was underpinned by growing premium audiences across all mastheads, as well as the benefits of being part of the broader Nine Group. Excluding the impacts of the Weatherzone sale and Events inclusion, Metro Media costs were down by 8%, consolidating previous cost initiatives.

Stan subscriptions up to 1.8m

During the half, Stan grew its active subscriber numbers to more than 1.8m currently. The combination of ongoing subscriber build and the $2 price rise from March 2019 underpinned the 79% increase in Stan’s revenue across the half. Further investment in content and marketing contributed to the 18% increase in costs. In combination, EBITDA improved by $35m, for an H1 total of $14m.

Stan continued to consistently build subscribers across the half – driven by the expansion of the group’s iconic series, led by new content from Fox/Disney, as well as Stan’s biggest summer of originals. Average weekly viewing hours per subscriber increased by more than 25% over the summer weeks.

Nine outlook: Expecting flat year-on-year

Nine’s March quarter FTA revenues are expected to be broadly flat, year-on-year as Nine’s superior ratings performance in 2019 and the start of 2020, has underpinned clear growth in revenue share. For the June half, Nine expects the FTA market to decline by around 5%, offset by growth in share of around 2 points (on pcp).

Continued strong growth is expected at 9Now, with EBITDA growth tempered by increased investment in content, as the business expands into the broader digital video market. The market is expected to continue to grow around current rates and for Nine to remain at the forefront of this growth.

Second half results at Nine Radio are expected to show a marked turnaround, as the cost base is reset. Revenue performance has been impacted by the rate of advertiser return to 2GB, which is expected to improve moving into 2021.

Bauer's Harper's Bazaar thriving in beauty, fashion and health

By Claudia Siron

Iconic fashion and lifestyle magazine Harper’s Bazaar has been a luxury fashion destination for women in Australia for over two decades.

With growth up +19.9% on the year in readership – which is their highest result since December 2014 – the title remains popular in the magazine market, sharing stories that spark discussion and challenge perspectives. Editor-in-chief Eugenie Kelly and digital brand and content director Lorna Gray spoke to Mediaweek about what differentiates the title from similar brands; how they go about their advertising; and upcoming campaigns in the beauty, fashion and health space.

Kelly revealed that Harper’s Bazaar has always been about escapism and unapologetic luxury. “That’s the defining factor that sets us apart from other fashion titles,” said Kelly.

“I also believe the content we create has personality. Our stories are designed to spark discussion – whether it’s a viewpoint on why the word ‘badass’ isn’t doing feminism favours right now; or why splashy jungle prints are suddenly big news in fashion.

Readers want to see things looked at in a different way. Bazaar is beautiful, but she’s also smart and funny. She doesn’t take herself too seriously.

Editor, Eugenie Kelly

Kelly mentioned that in the print edition their annual sustainability and conservation specials are really resonating with readers right now based on the feedback they are receiving. “Our recent December issue was predominantly shot around the Whitsundays to create this ‘Paradise Lost’ concept and evoke memories of the iconic Australian summer. We shoot all around the world, but when we capture the beauty of our own backyard it really strikes an emotional chord.”

Kelly described the Bazaar reader as smart, informed and a lover of style and quality – someone who knows their brands. “The average age is 34-years-old, so that’s older than Vogue and Elle, but she is younger than an InStyle or marie claire reader. She’s a heavy social media user and twice as likely as the average 25-49-year-old to be on Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and so on.

The brand’s luxury advertisers invest in the best talent, stylists and photographers when creating their advertising imagery. Kelly said: “This means most of the time the advertising flows seamlessly and complements the editorial content we are creating. We are seeing an increase in motor advertising which is fantastic which I attribute to the recent introduction of a regular editorial motoring page. Our readers aren’t just obsessed with luxury fashion: it’s the whole lifestyle.”

Lorna Gray

A recent highlight for the brand was launching a successful two-day beauty festival in September 2019 held at Sydney’s Carriageworks, which Kelly said they plan to host again on a larger scale in September 2020. “The Beauty Bazaar is where women of all ages flock to hear about the latest trends and get expert advice, indulge in one-of-a-kind treatments and discover the buzziest new products,” she said.

“Think two days of elaborate installations, endless Instagrammable moments and a program jam-packed with panel discussions, where readers can meet everyone from Bazaar cover stars to beauty influencers turned entrepreneurs. Readers want to interact with the brand and have that immersive experience and we can offer that through beauty.”

Gray commented on upcoming campaigns in the beauty/fashion/health space and spoke further on their exciting beauty festival. “We’re very busy at the moment gearing up for VAMFF and MBFW, and then we’ll be focussed on the Beauty Bazaar which is Bauer’s first major consumer ticketed event,” said Gray.

“The Beauty Bazaar is the perfect example of the 360 approach in action as we took the strength of the Harper’s Bazaar brand beyond print and digital into a bricks-and-mortar event. In its second year, the event will still be powered by Bazaar but we’ll be operating at an enterprise level within the entire Bauer network, leveraging the strength of strategic brands.”

Kelly revealed that one of the highlights on their editorial calendar is the August issue: Visionary Women. She said to celebrate the launch of this issue, they’ll be holding a large special reader event where a panel of highly accomplished women from the worlds of politics, media, sport and the arts will share their experiences. “We also plan on expanding the Bazaar Man special (our October 2020 issue) as it was so well received by both advertisers and readers, along with Bazaar Brides (also October).

Philanthropy-wise we also plan to support an organisation associated with animal conservation – it’s a little premature to reveal our plans yet, but needless to say, we will be hosting a series of events for them throughout 2020.

Gray also commented on plans for the brand in 2020. “This is going to be a huge year for the fashion, beauty and health categories. Bazaar has seen tremendous audience growth in the past year, both in traffic and social media, so we’ll be looking to increase and diversify even further.  

“We’ve got great traction on IGTV serialised content — for Bazaar, that’s in the form of Fashion Retrospective and Everyday Face — so we’ll continue to focus our attention in this space. Bazaar is such an iconic and established luxury brand but we’re constantly looking for ways to reach new audiences and evolve the brand’s digital authority while continuing to build commercial innovation opportunities.

Agencies using podcast advertising to help build brand awareness

Advertising across digital audio platforms is maturing, with 90% of media buyers placing ads in streaming services and 75% now embracing podcasts (up from 63% in 2018) according to the IAB’s Audio Advertising State of the Nation Report released at the IAB Australia Audio Summit.

The report, which is in its fourth year, also found that brand awareness is the main driver for the audio market growth, particularly for podcast advertising with 48% of agencies using podcasts primarily for branding, an increase from 35% in 2018.

Creative was identified by the Report as one of audio advertising’s greatest strengths and also its greatest challenges. The ease and speed of audio creative development has proven to be a great attraction for agencies, however only 17% of media agencies are consistently tailoring their creative to suit the different audio environments, which is vital when creative is the most important element of campaign impact. Although brand awareness is the number one objective of audio advertising, only one third of the buy-side are tracking these metrics and only 25% are tracking sales.

As advertisers increase their investment more focus is being paid to the metrics that are being used to measure success. Reach, frequency and completion are the most common metrics for both streaming and podcasts, though agencies are more confident in measuring these metrics for streaming audio compared to podcasts.

The Audio Advertising State of the Nation Report is a collaborative industry project, supported by 18 different media and tech companies, as well as industry body Commercial Radio Australia. Fieldwork was conducted by independent research company Hoop Group in December 2019 with more than 250 respondents.

Gai Le Roy, CEO of IAB Australia commented: “It’s clear the market has evolved from experimentation into a more strategically driven brand building approach to digital audio advertising, reflecting the growing consumer consumption of audio formats, particularly podcasting. We take very seriously our responsibility as the industry body to invest in research that provides the industry with objective market wide data and we’ll continue to push hard to secure valuable insights for marketers and agencies alike.”

Richard Palmer, co-chair of the IAB Audio Council and director of market development at Triton Digital said: “The benefits of digital audio advertising are now widely understood and the market is clearly embracing the branding potential different formats offer. Over the next 12 months we anticipate the industry will come to understand the need to move from repurposing existing ads and instead look to produce creative campaigns tailored to suit the environment in which it appears.”

Key headlines from the report include:

Nearly two-thirds of media agencies are regularly using streaming digital audio advertising. Call to action spots arethe  most popular format of streaming audio and have increased in usage strongly year on year.

Recorded radio spots are the most popular format, while usage of native audio and branded podcasts have experienced growth with potential for further growth over the next year.

Advantages of data and targeting continue to drive the adoption of programmatic trading in the audio advertising space and in a challenging ad market, price has increased as an influence.

Increasing brand awareness is the key objective for broadcast, streaming and podcast advertising and satisfaction with audio’s ability to meet this objective is high.

The full report will be available at 

Don’t miss the huge new edition of Podcast Week in Mediaweek Morning Report on Thursday.

TV Guide: NRL’s Battle of Bega draws 100+ media scrum

The NRL’s broadcast and media partners have united in a unique show support for this weekend’s historic trial match between the Penrith Panthers and Parramatta Eels in Bega. That match will start at 4pm local time with TV pre-match coverage from 3.30pm.

The EISS Super Sapphire Trial Tribute match, to celebrate and recognise the region’s bushfire impacted communities, will be broadcast nationally by Fox Sports, Nine, Telstra LivePass and will be free on the NRL App.

It will be also be radio broadcast across 2GB, 4BC, Grandstand on ABC Radio and Crocmedia. Sky Sport will air the game into New Zealand and WatchNRL will stream the game internationally.

More than 100 reporters, commentators and crew will be on the ground as the Bega Recreation Ground is transformed into a state-of-the-art broadcast and media centre to bring the sell-out match to fans across Australia. For those in the area without tickets to the game, the NRL will establish a live site next to Bega Recreation Ground where the match will screened on a giant screen.

Rugby League (NRL) chief executive Todd Greenberg thanked broadcast and media partners and said the opportunity to showcase the event would not have been possible without the overwhelming support of Fox Sports, Nine Network, NEP, Telstra, 2GB, News Corp Australia, ABC Radio, Australian Community Media and Crocmedia.

“Moving this trial match from Sydney to Bega to help the Sapphire Coast region has come with some logistical challenges, and I cannot thank our media partners enough for their efforts to ensure as many people as possible can experience such an important day,” Greenberg said.

“This event shows how much rugby league means to its community and we are proud to be able to give back to a region which endured so much during this year’s bushfire disaster. Our game brings people together and we are so grateful to our media partners for joining us and playing such a significant role in sharing this unique moment in our sport.”

In addition to the broadcast, Fox Sports will also be in the south coast region from Thursday, travelling with players to various school and community visits, and it will host a free Oz Tag competition for locals on Friday at the Bega Showground.

The NRL also thanked corporate partners including EISS Super, Treasury Wine Estates, Coca-Cola, Carlton & United Breweries, Telstra, Diageo and Youi for their support of the event.

Triple M details NRL coverage ahead of 2020 + New Talent

Triple M Footy held their NRL season launch at the SCG on Friday, celebrating 15 years of NRL coverage on the FM station.  

In 2020, Triple M NRL will be led by a team whose insight into the game is unrivalled on radio: Peter Sterling, Gorden Tallis, Ryan Girdler, Wendell Sailor, Mark Geyer, Emma Lawrence, Tony Squires, Paul Kent, Ben Dobbin, Brent Read and James Hooper. They will be joined by two of rugby league’s best play-by-play callers Dan Ginnane and Anthony Maroon.

Current stars of the game will also be a regular part of the team – Parramatta’s Mitch Moses, Cronulla’s Wade Graham, Titan’s Jai Arrow, & South’s Damien Cook will all join the Saturday Scrum on a rotating roster throughout the season.

Triple M Footy officially kicks off this weekend, with Wendell Sailor, Ryan Girdler and Anthony Marron bringing listeners the Charity Shield match between South Sydney and St George Illawarra Dragons Live from 7pm.

2020 – Triple M NRL Broadcast
Thursday Night coverage:
 7:00pm – 10:00pm
Friday Night coverage: 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Saturday Scrum: 12:00pm – 3:00pm –  Ryan Girdler, Emma Lawrence, Sterlo, Tony Squires and rotating guests
Saturday afternoon game: 3:00pm – 5.30pm

Sunday Sunday Sin Bin: 1:00pm – 4:00pm –  Paul Kent, Gorden Tallis, Anthony Maroon and James Hooper
Sunday afternoon game: 4.00pm – 6.30pm

Photo caption: Del, Maroon, Emma, Dan, MG, Girds

TV Demand: Outlander and Narcos Mexico stream up the charts

By Trent Thomas

The Mandalorian has continued to dominate the TV Demand charts in Australia and New Zealand as it makes it 14 weeks in a row in the #1 spot as it shows no signs of slowing down.

However, two new shows have made strong impressions on the TV Demand charts finding themselves in prominent spots for the first time in 2020 in Narcos: Mexico and Outlander.

Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico was originally planned to be the fourth season of Narcos, but ended up becoming a new companion series that focuses on the illegal drug trade in Mexico. The show’s second season was released on February 13 and continues to cover the rise of the Guadalajara Cartel. The series features an ensemble cast led by Michael Peña as Kiki Camarena and Diego Luna as Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo.

Outlander has surged up the Overall TV chart in Australia and New Zealand after releasing its 13th episode fifth season on February 16. The series airs on the Starz network in the US and follows Caitriona Balfe who plays a married former World War II nurse who is transported back to Scotland in 1743 and is caught up in the Jacobite risings. The series is based on a book series of the same name by Starz.

TV Ratings: February 25

By James Manning

• Gone: Married At First Sight couple Vanessa and Chris check out
•  Gone: Phoebe out of Survivor as David gets a second immunity idol
• Back: SBS refreshed Tuesday trio of Insight, Dateline & The Feed

The last week of summer will be remembered for another week dominated by Nine and Endemol Shine Australia’s Married At First Sight. After bumper crowds of 1.2m and then 1.09m, the third episode did 1.020m. Another four couples met families and friends and it was business as usual – a cheating scandal was revealed and one couple split and then quit the show after spending the night apart and deciding the experiment is not working for them.

Also contributing to Nine’s first place finish was A Current Affair on 696,000 after starting the week over 700,000.

Paramedics did 646,000, managing to grow after a very impressive 627,000 last week.

On Seven Home and Away did 549,000 after 600,000 on Monday.

Pub grub was on the menu at the Imperial Hotel on My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals with 473,000 watching after 500,000 on Monday.

The Good Doctor followed with 326,000.

The Project was on 420,000 after 7pm after 466,000 on Monday.

Australian Survivor: All Stars saw the departure of Phoebe after David managed to secure a second immunity idol – a first for Australian Survivor. The Tuesday episode did 584,000 after the series started the week on 647,000.

NCIS did 258,000, followed by NCIS: Los Angeles on 169,000.

The ABC’s best after 8pm was Griff’s Great Australian Rail Trip with 551,000.

Preceding it was Sam Hawley in Saudi Arabia for Foreign Correspondent with 490,000.

Rock Stein’s Road to Mexico then did 239,000.

On what has become a massive night for railway enthusiasts, Michael Portillo continued his travels on Great Australian Railway Journeys with 330,000.

The return of the Tuesday current affairs programs, now a trio, did the following numbers:

Insight 205,000
Dateline 127,000
The Feed 70,000

Week 9 TV: Tuesday
ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 13.0% 7 16.5% 9 25.3% 10  12.6% SBS One 5.5%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.2% 7TWO 2.5% GO! 1.8% 10 Bold 2.9% VICELAND 1.4%
ABC ME 0.6% 7mate 3.9% GEM 2.2% 10 Peach 2.7% Food Net 1.0%
ABC NEWS 1.9% 7flix 1.3% 9Life 1.7%     NITV 0.1%
                SBS World Movies 0.8%
TOTAL 17.7%   24.3%   31.0%   18.2%   8.8%


ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 11.9% 7 19.0% 9 20.4% WIN 9.7% SBS One 4.7%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.2% 7TWO 3.7% GO! 2.5% WIN Bold 3.9% VICELAND 1.4%
ABC ME 0.8% 7mate 5.7% GEM 3.9% WIN Peach 2.1% Food Net 0.5%
ABC NEWS 1.4% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 1.2% 9Life 2.1% Sky News  on WIN 2.1% NITV 0.1%
                SBS Movies 0.7%
TOTAL 16.3%   29.6%   28.9%   17.8%   7.4%


88.2% 11.8%
  1. Married At First Sight Nine 1,020,000
  2. Seven News Seven 966,000
  3. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 928,000
  4. Nine News Nine 806,000
  5. Nine News 6:30 Nine 805,000
  6. ABC News ABC 717,000
  7. A Current Affair Nine 696,000
  8. Paramedics Nine 646,000
  9. Australian Survivor: All Stars 10 584,000
  10. 7.30 ABC 565,000
  11. The Chase Australia Seven 552,000
  12. Griff’s Great Australian Rail Trip ABC 551,000
  13. Home And Away Seven 549,000
  14. Foreign Correspondent ABC 490,000
  15. My Kitchen Rules: The Rivals Seven 473,000
  16. The Project 7pm 10 420,000
  17. Hot Seat Nine 396,000
  18. 10 News First 10 364,000
  19. The Chase Australia 5pm Seven 332,000
  20. Great Australian Railway Journeys SBS 330,000
Demo Top 5

16 – 39

  1. Married At First Sight Nine 305,000
  2. Australian Survivor: All Stars 10 208,000
  3. Paramedics Nine 159,000
  4. The Project 7pm 10 123,000
  5. A Current Affair Nine 109,000


18 – 49

  1. Married At First Sight Nine 478,000
  2. Australian Survivor: All Stars 10 323,000
  3. Paramedics Nine 266,000
  4. The Project 7pm 10 207,000
  5. A Current Affair Nine 192,000


25 – 54

  1. Married At First Sight Nine 538,000
  2. Australian Survivor: All Stars 10 337,000
  3. Paramedics Nine 301,000
  4. Seven News Seven 239,000
  5. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 235,000
TUESDAY Multichannel
  1. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 148,000
  2. Highway Patrol Ep.2 PM 7mate 130,000
  3. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 123,000
  4. Outback Opal Hunters PM 7mate 122,000
  5. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 121,000
  6. Highway Patrol PM 7mate 121,000
  7. Neighbours 10 Peach 118,000
  8. Octonauts PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 116,000
  9. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 114,000
  10. Floogals AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 106,000
  11. Seinfeld Ep 2 10 Peach 105,000
  12. Bondi Rescue Ep 2 (R) 10 Bold 104,000
  13. Pawn Stars PM 7mate 104,000
  14. PJ Masks AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 104,000
  15. Yukon Gold PM 7mate 103,000
  16. School Of Roars ABCKIDS/COMEDY 102,000
  17. Thomas And Friends: Big World! Big Adventures! ABCKIDS/COMEDY 101,000
  18. Noddy Toyland Detective PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 101,000
  19. Play School Art Time PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 101,000
  20. Charlie And Lola AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 101,000
  1. The Great British Bake Off Lifestyle FOOD 50,000
  2. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 49,000
  3. Credlin Sky News Live 48,000
  4. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 47,000
  5. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 39,000
  6. Sink The Bismarck! FOX Classics 38,000
  7. The Simpsons FOX8 36,000
  8. Jones & Credlin Sky News Live 36,000
  9. The Simpsons FOX8 34,000
  10. The Big Bang Theory FOX Funny 32,000
  11. Coronation Street UKTV 32,000
  12. Live: WWE Raw FOX8 27,000
  13. T.O.T.S. Disney Junior 27,000
  14. Border Security: Australia’s Front Line FOX8 27,000
  15. Live PD: Police Patrol crime + investigation 26,000
  16. Fancy Nancy Clancy Disney Junior 26,000
  17. Two And A Half Men FOX Funny 26,000
  18. The Simpsons FOX8 26,000
  19. Emmerdale UKTV 26,000
  20. American Dad! FOX8 25,000

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

Seven halts kid’s TV production in Australian content quota protest

Seven West Media is threatening to halt production of children’s content and is scrapping plans for any new Australian dramas amid a push from commercial television networks for the Morrison government to abandon local content quotas, report Nine publishing’s Zoe Samios and Fergus Hunter.

The Kerry Stokes controlled media company advised Communications Minister Paul Fletcher of the decision in a letter last week after posting a $66 million half year loss. It comes as commercial television networks confront a weak advertising market and rising competition from online streaming services.

Seven chief executive James Warburton told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age the government needed to take “immediate action” and stop reviewing and delaying the quotas. The network will still meet its children’s content requirements in 2020 but could be in breach from next year.

“We’ve been clear for a long time that the children’s content quota was not a sustainable one for us and the wider commercial television industry in Australia,” Warburton said. “The substantial cost in producing this content, which in some instances is watched by such a low number of viewers that it falls under ratings measurement thresholds, further handicaps us against unregulated, foreign digital platforms.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said he would meet with Warburton to discuss the situation.

[Read more]

ACCC takes fight to digital giants with multiple investigations

The competition watchdog is conducting more than 10 investigations as a result of its long-running review into digital platforms and is hoping to introduce more general laws to deal with unfair practices by the tech giants, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.

Setting out his agenda for 2020 at a Sydney business lunch on Tuesday, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said he was confident the watchdog would produce “multiple” enforcement actions against the likes of Google and Facebook in both competition and consumer protection, with user data at the centre of its concerns.

“We are looking at both competition and consumer issues in relation to digital platforms – those two areas are pretty closely linked. With digital platforms it’s really all about the data that can be misleading to consumers in terms of what’s collected and how it’s collected.

“But it can also be a competitive advantage in stopping others getting the data, which can cause a competition problem,” Sims said.

He added that the number of investigations into the platforms had doubled in the six months since releasing its landmark report into the effect of digital platforms on traditional media.

[Read more]

Prime Media profit halves in 'difficult period' for regional media

Prime Media Group’s profit has fallen by 56 per cent to $4.46 million in the first half of the financial year, as chief executive Ian Audsley warned regional advertising market conditions had not improved since the start of the bushfire season, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

The result, which came after the broadcaster’s failed merger with affiliate partner Seven West Media, showed a 7 per cent decline in revenue to $90.8 million, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell 47.4 per cent to $11.5 million.

Prime led revenue share for the period with 41.2 per cent of the regional broadcast market. Audsley said earnings were affected by conditions, including the impact of the bushfires, and competition for local advertisers from global technology giants Google and Facebook.

“As widely reported, it has been a difficult time in regional Australia over the past six months. Regional television advertising markets were challenged by a confluence of events as early as October 2019, when we reported the Tamworth fires in northern NSW,” Audsley said.

[Read more]

George Calombaris’ food empire owes creditors over $22m

Celebrity chef George Calombaris’ food empire collapsed owing its secured creditors $22.3m and having racked up a merry-go-round of intercompany loans totalling $17.8m, new documents reveal, reports The Australian’s Christine Lacy.

Calombaris’s Made Establishment, which comprised 12 restaurants and food outlets, went bust on February 11, with just $389 left in the bank, according to reports filed to the failed hospitality group’s administrator KordaMentha.

The statement of Made’s activities and property reveals that the Commonwealth Bank is owed $8.5m, comprising $7.1m via a finance facility and $1.46m via bank guarantees.

CBA is expected to get only about $1m of its money back.

Calombaris’s partner in the failed enterprise, Swisse vitamins millionaire Radek Sali, claims to be owed $13.7m from the corporate collapse.

[Read more]

Seven West’s debt-cut diet puts Perth property on the block

Seven West Media is adding to the list of assets it is placing on the market, with the latest soon to go under the hammer being the real estate sites housing its West Australian publications, reports The Australian’s Bridget Carter.

The hope for the company is that it will mean a cash call to equity investors will not be on the cards any time soon as it moves to drive down debt.

Seven West Media is committed to reducing its loan pile to about $300m, according to sources, with its net debt currently at $541m.

The West Australian-based publishing arm is located at 50 Hasler Road at Osborne Park on the outskirts of the Perth central business district.

The thinking is that Seven could reap about $70m for the property.

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Married At First Sight advertising for next season’s singles

Nine Entertainment’s popular television reality dating show Married At First Sight appears set to return next year, with a call going out to people over 25 looking for love for season eight, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.

A day before Nine reports its first-half financial results, a post has been published on the website of its broadcast video-on-demand service 9Now about how to apply for the eighth season of MAFS.

“A new season of MAFS will be in the works later this year, so if you want to get married on national television, chow down on more cheese platters, and maybe just meet the love of your life – now’s the time,” the post said.

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Asher Keddie on meaningful TV and why Stateless made her cry

Asher Keddie was so overwhelmed shooting the ABC drama Stateless that her very first scene reduced her to tears, reports News Corp’s James Wigney.

Already nervous at the enormity of the task ahead, the physical hardships of shooting in the South Australian desert and the harrowing, hot-button subject matter of refugees, the seven-time Logie winner was in a heightened state before the cameras even rolled on her.

But walking with director Emma Freeman on to the custom-built detention centre set for the first time, populated with extras who had been in such facilities in real life, pushed her over the edge.

“The first image I saw was one of the extras, a little boy, whose family had been in detention and he was playing around a swing set with no swing because everything had to be taken down for safety,” says Keddie who plays Claire Kowitz, a pragmatic, policy-focused Canberra bureaucrat.

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Netflix acquires Cate Blanchett's drama Stateless for rest of world

Netflix has taken worldwide rights – outside of Australia – to the six-part refugee-focused drama Stateless, co-created by and starring double Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The news was announced from Berlin ahead of the show’s premiere in the Berlinale Series. From Dirty Films and NBCUniversal International Studios’ Matchbox Pictures, Statelessis set to launch on ABC in Australia on March 1 and premiere on Netflix across the rest of the world later this year.

Stateless was created by Blanchett alongside Elise McCredie and Tony Ayres and produced by Matchbox Pictures and Blanchett and Andrew Upton’s Dirty Films for the ABC.

“Stateless has been a labour of love for many years, and we could not be more thrilled that it will reach an international audience on Netflix,” said Blanchett, McCredie and Ayres. “The issues addressed in the series have universal resonance but have been cloaked in silence and muddied by fear and misinformation. Our hope is that Stateless will generate a global conversation around our systems of border protection and how our humanity has been affected by them.”

Added Matchbox Pictures managing director Alastair McKinnon: “Stateless is a drama series that thrillingly taps into one of the biggest socio-political issues of our time, and Netflix, with its unparalleled global reach, is the perfect platform to take this brilliant series to the world.”

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Sports Media

Magpies say no to president Eddie's pitch for Amazon Prime

Collingwood’s football department has rejected a push from club president Eddie McGuire’s media company to be part of an AFL documentary series to be streamed on Amazon, reports The Age’s Sam McClure.

The Magpies were one of several clubs targeted by Amazon executives who are making the streaming giant’s first foray into Australian football content, in a move that could foreshadow a future bid for AFL broadcast rights.

McGuire and club chief Mark Anderson approached the football department about the $10 million project but the idea was not well received, particularly after it was canvassed by the players.

The football department felt that inviting cameras into its inner sanctum was unnecessary, particularly after they created and released their own film last year, Side by Side.

Other clubs such as reigning premiers Richmond, Carlton, Geelong, West Coast and expansion clubs GWS and Gold Coast have all been in conversations with the AFL, which is helping to get the deal done.

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A sports VC for a corporate CV: TV rights are everything for CEOs

Football chiefs in Australia appear obsessed with broadcast rights, as if it is their prime responsibility: a record TV deal being a career badge, a sports VC to head a corporate CV, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Roy Masters.

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle had a successful time in netball, was the only female boss of an NRL club and survived the public flogging of the Israel Folau saga. Yet she has allowed RA’s next broadcasting rights contract to define her career.

She has taken the RA five-year broadcast rights to tender, spurning an offer from the powerful News Corporation to roll over the current contract, with the hope Channel 10, Optus Sport and merged telco TPG Vodafone will bid in order to create competitive tension with the 25-year-old incumbent, Fox Sports.

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Gender parity needs to stretch past the AFLW field to media

A recent AFLW game between the Tigers and the Suns featured, quite inexplicably, an all-male commentary team, comments News Corp columnist Darren Levin.

“Do we need a pathway program for women’s footy voices in QLD?” tweeted Emma Race from the ABC’s Outer Sanctumpodcast during the game.

Another eye roll came from Melbourne podcaster Gemma Bastiani who co-founded the Siren collective with other sports fans and content creators to challenge the footy broadcasting status quo.

Bastiani says the AFLW coverage is improving year on year, but there’s still points of frustration such as all-male commentary teams or a fixation with the amount of children AFLW players have.

There’s no doubt massive inroads have been made since Kelli Underwood became the first woman to call a televised AFL game in 2009.

Since then we’ve seen the emergence of Kath Loughnan, Neroli Meadows, Daisy Pearce and Bec Goddard, but the Suns versus Tigers game proved more diverse voices are still needed. There’s no shortage of them either, Bastiani says.

“There are countless women and diverse voices around the country with really in-depth knowledge of the game.”

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