By James Manning
Paywall crumbles for people wanting to sample Mt Panorama 500 in February.
Kayo Sports has announced the first Kayo Freebies event for people wishing to sample the sports streaming service. Foxtel is making a selection of live sports, entertainment shows and documentaries available for free this year.
The first live Freebie will be the Supercars race the Mt Panorama 500 starting February 26. Selected A-League and W-League games will also be available as Kayo Freebies with more Freebies announced in the coming weeks.
The Kayo Freebies weekend will be available just days after Stan Sport launches its coverage of the 2021 Super Rugby season on February 19, now a little over three weeks away. Stan has yet to launch its pricing package, although Nine newspapers reported last week it will cost a minimum of $20 a month with subscribers needing to join both Stan and its new sports platform.
Kayo recently celebrated its second birthday and the sampling generated by Kayo Freebies is aimed to boost subscriptions even further after what was a strong cricket season for the platform.
Kayo already offers a 14-day free trial period for new customers. The Freebie though allows people to sample Kayo without providing credit card details, something that is necessary to activate the 14-day trial.
“We have been relying on word-of-mouth about how good the service is, but so far people have had to register to get a first look at it,” Kayo CEO Julian Ogrin told Mediaweek. “We see this as a great opportunity to give people a taste of what it really is.”
Ogrin also overseas Foxtel’s streaming service Binge. Customers can take either or both Foxtel streaming services with Kayo Sports starting at $25 monthly and Binge starting at $10 monthly. News Corp newspaper subscribers can get a discount for paying annually.
Ogrin said a number of people have both Kayo and Binge, but they don’t disclose the number. As to not making it necessary to have both, Ogrin explained: “It allows us to get better penetration of each of the individual markets.”
Sports fans shouldn’t be hoping for all sports featured on Kayo to be made available as Kayo Freebies at some stage. “Sports like AFL and NRL are tentpole products and we certainly won’t be offering those free. But Supercars is also a tentpole product, and we now have some digital rights which allows us to lift the paywall.”
Ogrin said the Bathurst 1000 event in October 2020 delivered some phenomenal numbers for the service. “We had an average audience over 100,000 watching across the day on Kayo,” he said.
Other recent big audiences on the platform were for the exclusive coverage of the Australia v India one day international cricket matches at the start of the summer. Without revealing exact audiences, Ogrin said those cricket matches were close to the biggest-ever audiences viewing the most-watched AFL and NRL games.
Data released last week showed that Foxtel averaged 370,000 for the fourth Test India v Australia tour including streaming numbers. These were all matches also covered by FTA on Seven.
One of the Fox Sports series that over-indexes with viewers choosing Kayo is Formula 1, partly because when the races go to air late on Sunday nights. Ogrin: “Kayo is perfect for people who want to watch F1 in bed, or get up and watch the next day.”
Ogrin emphasised the growth of Kayo and the more recent launch of Binge has not had a negative impact elsewhere on the business. “Over the course of the last two years we haven’t seen any material change in Foxtel’s subscription base with the growth of the new streaming services. They are different products providing different services to different audiences.”
While there is a lull in the next few weeks between the cricket and football seasons, Ogrin pointed to what he called other “exciting individual events” – “First we had the Conor McGregor UFC fight on Sunday which was very popular. Then we have the Super Bowl. People then start gearing up for the footy with various pre-season games.
“Kayo is now established as the go-to destination for streaming 50 sports live. We have the biggest line-up of sport from the world’s best producers including Fox Sports, BeIN SPORTS and ESPN.”
Sports fans can access Kayo Freebies by downloading the Kayo App and creating an account. Kayo Freebies are available at no cost, and no credit card details are required to sign up and start streaming.
By James Manning
Olympics, hit formats, and exclusive BVOD content driving 2021 strategy.
Let’s go beyond the debate over which BVOD platform gets the most streaming eyeballs and minutes. The big story is how on-demand content is changing the way consumers get their video entertainment. And how broadcasters respond to changing viewing patterns. Seven admits it started behind its competitors when it comes to offering a BVOD service. Seven focused more on being the #1 network for many years, putting development of its BVOD offering 7plus lower down the priority list.
It has played catchup quickly and has fast-tracked that with the arrival of Gereurd Roberts as chief digital officer. He has been fine-tuning the BVOD strategy alongside programmer and director of scheduling Brook Hall.
With Seven close to starting its 2021 primetime programming as the Big Bash League comes to a climax, Hall told Mediaweek: “While 7plus has been a complementary offering to the broadcast channels, we are very proud about having built a unique eco-system that can stand on its own. Broadcast and digital now works hand-in-hand rather than individual pillars which was a mistake.
“One big thing that has changed is our use of external production companies rather than being inward focused.”
Hall noted Seven’s batting average with the change of production strategy. “We have succeeded with three out of three since we have gone external with Farmer Wants a Wife, Big Brother and SAS Australia. Something that often gets overlooked with broadcast hits is how successful they are also on 7plus. These are the three biggest shows ever on 7plus and they all have over a quarter of a million viewers for every episode.”
The 7plus audience doesn’t consume only content that been on the FTA channels: “While we now have a strong slate of broadcast powerhouses, 50% of the viewership on 7plus is of non-broadcast programming,” said Hall.
Roberts added: “We know our content strategy is now right to grow the audience. Through last year, even without the Tokyo Olympics, the audience doubled. With great content we had to ensure people knew about it. We make it easily discoverable and the distribution is solid. Making sure we had broad reach across the most popular platforms and devices was a key focus.”
Roberts explained most of the consumption happens on connected TVs. “We were pleased to be #1 in audience and we are also now #1 in revenue. The focus was around the launch of 7REDiQ which was about understanding the digital consumers and their online and offline behaviour. Not only for the benefit of clients and advertisers, but to the benefit of the internal [Seven] teams who use that data to create better products.
“The focus this year is not only continuing the growth we saw 2020, but accelerating that all the way through to the Olympics where we feel like it is going to reach another level again.”
Hall said about two thirds of 7plus viewing is VOD and about one third is live streaming. Those numbers fluctuate for certain events – for example the live streaming spiked on the day of Joe Biden’s inauguration last week. “They also spike for our evening news and other one-offs like next month’s Super Bowl or the forthcoming Academy Awards.”
Of the 7plus on-demand content, viewing is split 50/50 between catch-up viewing and content that hasn’t been screened on any of Seven’s channels.
Roberts: “We have done a lot of work to try and eliminate the word ‘catchup’. One of the interesting things we have found is that the consumers who use 7plus aren’t doing it to catch-up. Many of them use it as their primary viewing platform.”
For 2021, Seven will be returning its new 2020 hits which will also loom large on 7plus in addition to the arrival at the broadcaster of The Voice. “It’s a proven success on broadcast and BVOD,” said Hall of the franchise moving across from a competitor. “It was one of Nine’s biggest BVOD shows last year. We are also looking forward to Ultimate Tag and Holey Moley. You will see more exclusive programming dropped on the platform than we have had in its entire history to date.
“That content will feature a range of local and international acquisitions, leveraging our relationships with major US studios plus local production companies and distributors.”
How 7plus is accessed is part of the reason for a different audience profile to Seven’s FTA viewer.
“Three-quarters of our audience on 7plus is under 55,” said Hall. “We are not a mirror of the Seven profile. A lot of other services are.”
Hall: “We have three or four audience segments. Up until two thirds through 2020, 7plus was very female. The most popular shows included Ghost Whisperer and Brothers and Sisters.
“When we launched SAS Australia we saw a lot of males hit the platform. We worked on leveraging that and it was an area where we weren’t perhaps performing as well as we should have. We almost saw our male profile morph overnight and we were suddenly leading the male demographics. Something we achieved without either the AFL or the cricket on 7plus. That male audience also watched things like Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and we also acquired SAS UK. That has been one of the strongest performers for us over summer.”
Roberts: “Now we have content available on all platforms we want to make the experience is as good as it possibly can be. We are focused on creating a personalised user experience which means working on the design of the interface all the way through to content recommendations. Things that will be unique to every consumer.”
Hall: “From a sales perspective the focus will be doubling down on EAVE – enhanced advertiser and viewer experience – which we launched last year for broadcast and digital. But it’s not a product, it’s a mission, something we want to be able to deliver to clients.
“For viewers it means reduced ad loads for binge viewing and more personalised ad experiences.”
With renewed assurances late last week from Japan that the Tokyo Games will proceed this year, Roberts said they expect the event to be massive with a record number of minutes to be streamed. Hall noted Seven surpassed its internal target for 7plus in 2020 even without the Olympics, giving it some confidence about blowing the previous year’s numbers out of the water this year too.
Seven’s Olympic partners are being promised a special experience.
Hall: “Seven had become a lot better at linking advertisers and a product across all the different platforms that it is being consumed on.”
Offering the Olympics for free to viewers will be a big plus said Roberts: “We are big believers in free, as are our viewers and our advertisers. Research indicates that a majority of consumers still prefer first and foremost a free product and they are happy for it to be ad-supported.
“There is a BVOD ad market that, despite the challenges of 2020, is still growing at more than 40% YOY.”
Although free is good, Hall and Roberts understand you still need to have the best content. “First and foremost people make content-based decisions,” said Roberts.
Larry King, the longtime CNN host who became an icon through his interviews with countless newsmakers and his sartorial sensibilities, has died. He was 87.
For news junkies in Australia, getting subscription TV in the 1990s meant you could watch King’s daily CNN talk show. It was required viewing for hearing directly from the biggest names in politics, business, sport and entertainment.
CNN on the weekend remembered the channel’s biggest name during its 40 years of broadcasting:
King hosted Larry King Live on CNN for over 25 years, interviewing presidential candidates, celebrities, athletes, movie stars and everyday people. He retired in 2010 after taping more than 6,000 episodes of the show.
A statement was posted on his verified Facebook account announcing his passing. His son, Chance, confirmed King’s death Saturday morning.
“With profound sadness, Ora Media announces the death of our co-founder, host and friend Larry King, who passed away this morning at age 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles,” the statement said.
“For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry’s many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster.”
The statement did not give a cause of death.
He battled a number of health problems
King had been hospitalized with Covid-19 in late December at Cedars-Sinai, a source close to the family said at the time.
He battled a number of health problems over the years, suffering several heart attacks. In 1987, he underwent quintuple bypass surgery, inspiring him to establish the Larry King Cardiac Foundation to provide assistance to those without insurance.
More recently, King revealed in 2017 that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and successfully underwent surgery to treat it. He also underwent a procedure in 2019 to address angina.
King also suffered personal loss last year when two of his adult children died within weeks of each other: Andy King, 65, suffered a heart attack and daughter Chaia King, 52, died after being diagnosed with lung cancer. King is survived by three sons.
CNN founder Ted Turner, in a statement, said news of King’s death “felt like a punch to the gut”:
“Larry was one of my closest and dearest friends and, in my opinion, the world’s greatest broadcast journalist of all time,” he said. “If anyone asked me what are my greatest career achievements in life, one is the creation of CNN, and the other is hiring Larry King. Like so many who worked with and knew Larry, he was a consummate professional, an amazing mentor to many and a good friend to all. The world has lost a true legend.”
Jeff Zucker, CNN President, on Saturday acknowledged King’s role in raising the network’s profile around the world:
“We mourn the passing of our colleague Larry King,” he said in a statement.
“The scrappy young man from Brooklyn had a history-making career spanning radio and television. His curiosity about the world propelled his award-winning career in broadcasting, but it was his generosity of spirit that drew the world to him. We are so proud of the 25 years he spent with CNN, where his newsmaker interviews truly put the network on the international stage. From our CNN family to Larry’s, we send our thoughts and prayers, and a promise to carry on his curiosity for the world in our work.”
CNN noted how Larry King built an iconic career interviewing celebrities and newsmakers and many of them paid tribute to the broadcasting legend following his death.
Former President Bill Clinton said he was interviewed by King more than 20 times and remembered him as having “a great sense of humour and a genuine interest in people.”
CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour posted a remembrance of King. Amanpour called King “a giant of broadcasting” whose “name is synonymous with CNN.”
Fellow CNN colleague Wolf Blitzer called King “an amazing interviewer and a mentor to so many of us.”
Fellow broadcasting legend Oprah Winfrey paid tribute, saying, “It was always a treat to sit at your table. And hear your stories.”
One of the many highlights over the years on Larry King Live was when comedian and the host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher guested on his show. Maher posted on social media:
“I don’t usually post anything when someone dies, but Larry King touched my life in a big way. Dozens of times he gave me the whole hour on his CNN show when that show ruled smart TV. That time together with him is a great memory as are all the other times we spent. Great guy.”
CNN’s Anderson Cooper is on-air these days in King’s old timeslot of 6am Pacific/9pm eastern and he spoke on the phone to Wolf Blitzer about the man he explained was “unlike anyone else”.
By James Manning
• Seven and Nine level as BBL faces up to 60 Minutes and Princess Diana
• Best of the rest: Pint-Sized owerhouse Pettifleur ejected from Aussie jungle
• Joanna Lumley’s magnificent adventures, NCIS/Bondi Rescue drives 10 Bold again
Nine and Seven were tied on a primary share of 17.4% last night. The Big Bash League clash on Seven faced up to a combo of the UK special on Princess Diana’s interview with Martin Bashir followed by 60 Minutes. Nine News (welcome back returning newsreader Peter Overton in Sydney) and the Diana doco were Nine’s most watched.
At Seven Sydney newsreader Mark Ferguson returned from break and then the cricket guided the channel for the rest of the night. The Sydney Sixers fell short of beating the Hobart Hurricanes total by only 7 runs. Matthew Wade (86 of 44) made most of Hobart’s runs.
10 again had the most-watched non-news program with I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! starting its new week on 605,000. Pint-sized powerhouse Pettifleur was ejected and Grant Denyer faced even more snakes than he has encountered on his media career.
The ABC was peddling a five-year-old Grand Designs special at 7.30pm but then followed it up with the second episode of the magnificent Joanna Lumley clipshow series Unseen Adventures. Being unable to travel, this is the next best thing.
10 Bold was again #1 multichannel as audience warmed again to an hour of Bondi Rescue and then four hours of NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles.
|ABC KIDS/ ABC TV PLUS||2.5%||7TWO||3.2%||GO!||3.2%||10 Bold||4.5%||VICELAND||2.0%|
|ABC ME||0.5%||7mate||3.8%||GEM||3.3%||10 Peach||2.8%||Food Net||1.1%|
|ABC NEWS||3.4%||7flix||2.1%||9Life||2.2%||10 Shake||0.5%||NITV||0.6%|
|9Rush||1.3%||SBS World Movies||1.8%|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC TV PLUS||3.6%||7TWO||3.7%||GO!||3.1%||10 Bold||3.8%||VICELAND||1.1%|
|ABC ME||0.7%||7mate||4.4%||GEM||2.8%||10 Peach||3.9%||Food Net||1.2%|
|ABC NEWS||2.7%||7flix||2.1%||9Life||2.4%||10 Shake||1.0%||NITV||0.2%|
|9Rush||1.5%||SBS World Movies||1.5%|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC TV PLUS||2.7%||7TWO||2.1%||GO!||3.0%||10 Bold||4.5%||VICELAND||0.8%|
|ABC ME||0.6%||7mate||3.8%||GEM||3.6%||10 Peach||2.2%||Food Net||1.2%|
|ABC NEWS||2.3%||7flix||1.3%||9Life||1.9%||10 Shake||0.6%||NITV||0.2%|
|9Rush||1.2%||SBS World Movies||0.8%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC TV PLUS||2.1%||7TWO||3.6%||GO!||2.9%||WIN Bold||5.9%||VICELAND||0.8%|
|ABC ME||0.8%||7mate||4.7%||GEM||5.2%||WIN Peach||2.5%||Food Net||1.0%|
|ABC NEWS||2.3%||7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)||1.5%||9Life||2.7%||Sky News on WIN||0.9%||NITV||0.3%|
|SUNDAY METRO ALL TV|
Friday Top 10
Saturday Top 10
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
The Prime Minister has slapped down a threat from Google to remove its search product from Australia if the current form of the proposed news media bargaining code proceeds, reports AFR‘s Miranda Ward.
Scott Morrison said Australia made its own rules, warning the government did not respond to threats.
“Let me be clear. Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That’s done in our parliament. It’s done by our government. And that’s how things work here in Australia. And people who want to work with that, in Australia, you’re very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats,” he said.
Local Google boss Mel Silva told a Senate hearing into the proposed code that its current form would leave the search giant with “no real choice but to stop making Google search available in Australia”.
Australia’s largest media companies have called for an urgent resolution to the debate over the failure of digital platforms to compensate news organisations for the use of their original content, and reinforced their concerns that the market dominance of the tech giants is a serious threat to democracy, reports News Corp’s James Madden and David Swan.
Representatives from News Corp, the ABC, SBS, AAP, the Guardian, Nine and Free TV appeared at Friday’s Senate committee hearing into the federal government’s proposed mandatory media bargaining code, pleading a collective case for its introduction without delay.
Josh Frydenberg has accused tech giants of constantly “changing the goalposts” after Google threatened to pull its search engine from Australia in response to the government’s proposed news media bargaining code, reports News Corp’s Adeshola Ore.
The Treasurer said Facebook and Google had constantly shifted their position on proposed legislation which would force the platforms to pay for news content created by Australian outlets.
“It seems the digital giants keep changing goalposts,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.
“Originally they were against what we were putting forward on algorithms, then they were against what we were putting forward on a final arbitration model. Now it seems they’re against paying for any clicks on search. They keep changing the goalposts.”
The centrepiece of Google’s solution to paying for journalism is “Showcase”, a product that is not in operation in Australia and has not been shown in detail to the regulator, a senate committee heard on Friday, reports News Corp’s David Swan.
Appearing before the committee probing looming mandatory media bargaining laws, Google Australia managing director Mel Silva said Google’s Showcase platform was a “good viable solution” for paying publishers for journalism, given it has a global budget of $1.3bn over three years and has nearly 450 news partners globally.
However, multiple media executives, including top-ranking officials from Nine, The Guardian, AAP and News Corp, told the committee they had not seen a live, working version of Showcase.
Google describes News Showcase as offering an “enhanced storytelling experience” in which users will be able to read entire articles, including in some cases paywalled content, in a similar platform to Apple News, and Facebook’s news tab. The product has been launched in Germany and Brazil but its launch is on pause in Australia.
The ABC has defended its decision to officially refer to January 26 as “Invasion Day”, maintaining it would be inappropriate to insist that staff only call it Australia Day or “use any one term over others in all contexts”, reports News Corp’s Steve Jackson.
The national broadcaster attracted a barrage of criticism — and was accused of stoking national disunity and promoting its own political agenda — after publishing a story on its ABC News website in which the terms “Invasion Day” and “Australia Day” were used interchangeably.
Scores of Australians were quick to register their disapproval online after the article — an otherwise unassuming guide to activities taking place in capital cities around the country on Australia Day this week — was uploaded on Sunday morning.
The news story, entitled “Australia Day/Invasion Day 2021 events for Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin”, described the January 26 public holiday as “one of the most polarising dates on the Australian calendar”.
One of the architects of the negotiate-arbitrate model aimed at tackling Google and Facebook’s monopoly in Australia has been tapped to lead Seven West Media’s regulatory and government affairs team, reports SMH‘s Zoe Samios.
The Kerry Stokes-controlled media company has appointed former Nine Entertainment executive Clare Gill to lead government and regulatory affairs as the fight to introduce laws to level the playing field between local media companies and international tech giants heats up.
Gill left Nine (owner of this masthead) after four years in late 2019. Nine’s chief executive Hugh Marks and Gill were under scrutiny in 2019 for hosting a $10,000 a head fundraiser for the Liberal Party.
Seven, which owns The West Australian newspaper, is expected to have a more vocal position on the news media bargaining code, given Ms Gill’s experience working on ways to regulate Google and Facebook in her time with Nine.
Award-winning journalist Ticky Fullerton has been appointed The Australian’s Business Editor at Large, as the nation’s premier masthead deepens its coverage of business and finance.
Fullerton, widely respected at the highest levels of corporate Australia, will write broadly on the most important issues facing business operators and investors as the nation emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
She has more than 20 years’ reporting experience at the ABC and News Corp and joins The Australian from Sky News, where she was Business Editor and co-presented the channel’s flagship business program Business Weekend.
For someone who accidentally fell into business journalism, Ross Greenwood has made a pretty good fist of it, reports News Corp’s James Madden.
As of this week Greenwood will bring his skills to Sky News Australia, having been appointed the network’s business editor and the anchor of one of its flagship programs, Weekend Business.
In December, the newspaper established the Australian Business Network, which combined its premier national business team with the local expertise of state masthead journalists for the first time.
Greenwood will front his first episode of Weekend Business on January 31.
Glass Animals have topped this year’s Hottest 100 countdown with their pared-back single Heat Waves, reports SMH‘s Broede Carmody.
The British psychedelic pop group were the favourites in the lead-up to the annual music countdown thanks to their hit song’s simplicity and the fact it has become something of an anthem for young people during lockdown.
Glass Animals frontman Dave Bayley previously promised to get a tattoo in the shape of Australia on his buttock if his band took out the top spot. Calling Triple j from the UK, he said he still intended to get the tattoo – which will be his first.
Channel 7 is leading a double life in its relationship with cricket but there remains a chance the station may never cover another Test match, reports Robert Craddock.
Seven West Media will stay the course in its fight for a cut in rights fees over the quality of matches and scheduling issues despite the Border-Gavaskar Trophy between Australia and India delivering massive ratings.
It remains to be seen whether daily press releases from Seven spotlighting the station’s strong Test match ratings will be used against the network in its fight for a discount.
Following the last day of the final Test in Brisbane last Tuesday, Seven released a statement saying the series had reached 10.8 million Australians, and ratings on the fourth Test were up 11% on when the Indians last visited Australia two years ago.
The strength of Seven’s argument for a cut in fees may, perversely, be undermined by its strong ratings this season, however, its plea for a better deal stretches wider than the Test series.
Seven pays more for the Big Bash than it does for Test rights and it has claimed the Big Bash, with traveling hubs and a lack of star players, is a diminished product.
CA and Seven are awaiting an independent ruling of the value of the rights from designated assessor, Venture Consulting chief executive Justin Jameson.
It was the bold top secret programming steal executives at media company Nine dreamt would deliver a golden marketing opportunity – “an unparalleled launch platform” as they pitched it in 2018 – for its TV shows, reports News Corp’s Annette Sharp.
Yet the decision to dump one national summer sport and replace it with another by switching from cricket to tennis may yet be remembered as a questionable call by outgoing Nine CEO Hugh Marks.
It’s a gamble that has proven a diverting distraction for industry playmakers and the sporting world alike in recent weeks as the pandemic plays havoc with Nine’s broadcast schedule – along with the field of competitors – for this year’s Australian Open, Nine’s $300 million summer sports investment.
Caught short by the pandemic, Nine, despite all its confident gesturing, has, after just one season, effectively surrendered that much coveted launch platform – for which Nine turned its back on a three-decade long association with Cricket Australia — to its rivals Seven and Fox Sports, which also broadcasts the cricket.
According to TV insiders, the lost promo platform isn’t the only thing now hurting Nine with the media company forced to invest in an expensive grab-bag of content to fill the three-week programming void created when the tennis tournament was moved from January 18-31 to February 8-21.