Monday May 11, 2020

Hutchy’s Crocmedia update: How COVID-19 impacted broadcaster

By James Manning

• Plus SEN Track launch, live sport revenue, Footy Record, podcast strategy

Having no AFL to cover is hurting Crocmedia’s SEN stations in Melbourne and Adelaide when it comes to advertising revenue. But it’s not going to silence them. “Like everybody we are doing it tough, and we are eligible for JobKeeper,” Crocmedia CEO Craig Hutchison told Mediaweek. “I don’t think we are any different to the rest of the industry – it has been a big challenge for everybody.”

Hutchison said diversification had been an important strategy since they took over the radio licences in 2018. “About 20% of our radio business is live sport with 80% programming. I feel very bullish that we will emerge a better business after COVID-19.”

When asked if Crocmedia could survive 2020 if there was no return of AFL, Hutchy replied: “Yes we could.”

SEN Track launches

Crocmedia’s bold plan to establish a national network of racing radio stations is still underway despite the ad revenue hammering media companies, including Crocmedia, have been taking from COVID-19.

“It is the first full independent racing (harness and greyhound) network. We have long worked in those sectors – we have built long-term relationships and we are long-term fans of those codes.”

SEN Track doesn’t yet broadcast thoroughbred racing meets, but Hutchison calls it “the new sound of chasing, pacing and racing” indicating there is still discussion about thoroughbreds. “We want to be an advocate for all three. Our product is designed to be different. Most of the racing [media] assets are owned by industry or by code or wagerer. We are the first independent in the radio space. We will be more fun, more social, we don’t want to be just wall-to-wall racing. We want lots of discussion, interview content – we have been going to country race meetings for 14 years with Country Racing Victoria and we see how the towns come to life and the reliance on the track in those towns.”

Hutchy likened SEN Track to the audio version of a WhatsApp group on a Saturday morning with your mates with games and punter’s clubs. “We have launched the stations a bit earlier than we planned. Crocmedia covers 17 sports and 16 of them are off at present. That gave us an opportunity to throw our energy on the new stations plus 1116 SEN and 1629 SEN SA.

“We have been blown away by the huge audience reaction. People are enjoying all the different elements and we have stumbled onto a really good formula.”

SEN Track now broadcasts seven days a week after building up from one day a week. The company has used existing staff, some redeployed from other sports.

“There are new shows starting all the time and we have been industrious with partners about we create content for them. It is designed to be a national network.”

The regulations governing the broadcast licence mean SEN Track can’t simulcast too much of the main SEN feed because it is registered as a racing network. “We have a lot racing interviews and discussion programs, including overnight. We are celebrating the industries and getting right behind them. There is so much content we offer from animal health, to celebrating the participants – drivers and jockeys to syndication, breeding and owning.

“The racing industry is a massive driver of the economy with about 160,000 employees contributing billions. We started as a pop-up station thinking we might be only on air for three or four weeks if racing got shut down.

“We are adding to the model every week and tweaking the content every day.”

SEN Track’s biggest programming play will be later this year when cricketer turned broadcaster Ian Healy and Brisbane sports commentator Pat Welch host a breakfast show initially running Monday to Thursday into Brisbane and the Gold Coast. “We already have turned on two FM licences in the north of that state in Atherton and Ingham.”

In NSW there are existing SEN Track stations broadcasting into Wollongong and Gosford, with more to come.

In Perth the SEN Track station takes SEN 1116’s Gerard Whatley as its breakfast show because the time zone works and it is also broadcast on other stations.

We have been slowed down a little about how aggressive we can be by the circumstances surrounding COVID-19.

In Adelaide the SEN breakfast show with Kane Cornes and Andrew Hayes broadcasts on both stations. In Melbourne SEN Track is on 1377.

SEN 1116 Melbourne

Hutchison on the company’s flagship: “We are very happy where we are this year. We have a great breakfast with Gary and Tim and a great morning show with Whateley. Dwayne Russell has been a winner in afternoon and we are thrilled with what Bob and Andy have been able to in drive.”

Any discussion with Hutchy about radio success leads him to highlight the growth of the digital business. “Gary and Tim and Whateley will probably be the two biggest sports podcasts in the next Podcast Ranker. They did just under 1.1m podcasts between them in March with the footy off. They did even better in April.”

Hutchy is not the biggest believer that GfK radio ratings data accurately portray how the business is performing. “Our average time spent listening on our app is 308 minutes a week. We own five hours of people’s time and our digital audience is growing at 80% YOY. Either our digital numbers are not real or our radio numbers are not real. One is real and one is predictive.

Recent initiatives at the Melbourne stations has included SEN Small Business Grants, a Police Appreciation Day for Victoria Police, a version of Better Stay Home Please which had about 160,000 views in its first week with Bob Murphy singing with SEN talent. “We have a campaign with imar Insurance starting this week called ‘Be Good to You Hood’.

I am really pleased where the content is and our head of content Sam Thompson has done a fantastic job.

AFL Footy Record

Crocmedia acquired the AFL Footy Record from the AFL for $8.1m in 2019. “It was structured in a way that is highly attractive,” said Hutchy. “The first year was really good for us. It is 108 years old. There will be one year where it was hugely impacted because its major revenue source is sales to football fans at the grounds. The other revenue source is still active which is ad sales.

Crocmedia has a Footy Record digital version which is being distributed while the football is on hold. There has never been a digital version before because the AFL wanted to keep it print only so as not to compete with the League’s digital properties, however that changed because of COVID-19. The digital edition is attracting more readers than the hard copy did even though the football in on hold. Crocmedia is hoping it might be able to also offer a digital version to fans when the print edition returns.

Podcasting strategy

Hutchison: “We get a big audience out of our existing content on podcasts, but we have only two unique podcasts – The Sounding Board and Don’t Shoot the Messenger. I’m not a big believer in podcasts for podcast’s sake. I want any content to be very clear about what the product is and what you are trying to achieve with it. Our existing podcasts are very clear about what they do and they speak to very different target audiences.

“We have added a third podcast, The Sport of Gardening, just last week. This is a podcast-led strategy in that it airs on radio two days after being first released.”

Hutchy said it is possible they will release more podcasts, but only after careful analysis about the potential audience.

Crocmedia is quick to release its radio shows as podcasts, recognising much of SEN 1116’s audience want to choose when and how to listen. “If you look on our app you will find about 35-40 podcast titles for radio shows we make.”

The Brag Media braves COVID-19 to launch Rolling Stone magazine

By James Manning

• How subs saved today’s first edition after some advertisers pulled out

Sydney independent publisher The Brag Media launches its first print edition of Rolling Stone magazine this week. The company announced it had secured the rights to the brand for Australia late last year and it launched a digital Rolling Stone Australia platform in February.

But could launching a print edition be a step too far after numerous publishers have tried and ultimately failed with a print execution in the past?

Mediaweek asked The Brag Media CEO Luke Girgis if many people thought it a crazy idea to restart the magazine in Australia? “I initially thought it was a bit stupid as well. When we did the licensing deal for Rolling Stone we had no intention to do a print magazine.

Luke Girgis

What changed his mind was a week in New York visiting the brand with Brag Media and Rolling Stone managing editor Poppy Reid. “After spending time with all the New York team, we didn’t fully appreciate how important the magazine was, commercially and editorially, for Rolling Stone until we were there. It wasn’t until on the plane back home that Poppy and I came to the same conclusion – we have to do a magazine.

Poppy Reid

“It is not just a magazine full of syndicated content with a glossy cover. We are investing very heavily in the stock of the magazine. The intention is to make it a quarterly border-line coffee table book. And we are supporting long-form print journalism.”

Part of the time spent at Rolling Stone was with Penske Media’s president and chief operating officer of Wenner Media, Gus Wenner, who now looks after the brand. Gus is the son of Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner.

The publishers generated good advertiser interest for the launch edition, but then something happened.

Girgis: “COVID-19 has been terrible from an advertising point of view and more than half of the ads for that edition were pulled or deferred. But we will be OK because we have had a lot of subscriptions. Even if we don’t sell a dollar of advertising, we are not going to lose money. The investment is paying off.

The Brag Media has been pleased with the demographics Rolling Stone online has attracted so far this year – from younger readers through to older Rolling Stone fans.

Many advertisers who parachuted out of the launch edition have moved to September with Girgis noting the second edition would feature a good mix of music and non-music brands.

The Brag Media is optimistic about the May launch date, noting there will be less titles on offer at newsstands because of some titles being suspended. “There will also be people stuck at home on their computers,” said Girgis. “We see this as a way for people to unplug from the internet and experience music art and culture in their hands.”

Girgis likened the print experience to that of people purchasing music on vinyl. “I am a vinyl collector and there is no rational reason to be one. Everyone has got all their music on Spotify, but people still buy vinyl.

“Seeing people subscribing to the magazine makes me feel like it has a similar appeal to vinyl. That’s why we are investing heavily to ensure a quality product, not just a glossy magazine.”

As to how The Brag Media is filling the website and print edition with fresh content, Girgis said: “We are lucky we have got very prolific writers on our team. We had an unpaid intern when we first bought Tone Deaf three years ago. His name was Tyler Jenke and he was so hungry and incredibly talented and went above and beyond what he has to do. We gave him a fulltime job as a writer, and he smashed every KPI we put in front of him. We then promoted him to news editor and now he is the editor of Rolling Stone Australia and he is absolutely crushing it. He reports to Poppy and they have a team of full timers and casuals working for us.”

Tyler Jenke

The editorial focus of the new Australian edition is broad – music, politics, television and culture “and we are experimenting with sport,” said Girgis.

COVID-19 impact on The Brag Media

The publishing business has taken a substantial hit in the past couple of months. “We lost $1m worth of advertising in three days,” said Girgis after COVID-19 landed. “And that doesn’t include the book revenue that was deferred. We are lucky in that we have passionate owners who are really backing us. They see Rolling Stone Australia as an opportunity to be different. While everyone else is closing we have yet to stand anyone down or reduce their salaries. We have even hired three new people recently.”

Because advertisers buy across many of the group’s verticals, Girgis said the impact was felt by all of its brands. Those include The Brag, Tone Deaf, The Industry Observer and Don’t Bore Us.

The Brag Media is owned by the diversified Seventh Street Ventures who also operate in early education, property development and finance. Girgis is a minority equity holder in The Brag Media.

Rolling Stone Australia
Cover price: $14.99
Distribution: Newsagents, supermarkets and Metro branded service stations (250 along the east coast)
Print run: 10,000. Now reprinting extra copies.

Sony Music global chief celebrates another milestone for Denis Handlin

The lockdown regulations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic mean what friends and industry colleagues of Sony Music Entertainment chairman and chief executive officer of Australia and New Zealand Denis Handlin won’t be able to celebrate in person this month his significant anniversary that ticked over on Friday.

Sony Music global chief executive Rob Stringer has sent this internal note to all staff today:

I’m writing to recognise an extraordinary milestone for one of Sony Music’s all-time legends, Denis Handlin, who today celebrates 50 years at the company.

It’s impossible to sum up Denis’ prolific career in the space of an email, but I’ll share just a few highlights. From his humble beginnings as a junior record assembler at what was then known as the Australian Record Company, Denis has risen to become one of Australian music’s most influential leaders.

Over the last half century, he has played a key role in our company’s evolution, launching many historic careers and re-shaping the musical landscape in the process. In the early 70s, he took Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run and Billy Joel’s Piano Man to radio. In the 80s, he was heavily involved in the development of two of Australia’s proudest exports, Men at Work and Midnight Oil. It is not, however, accurate that in the early 90s, Denis failed an audition to join Human Nature before they became successful.

His work with Pink and her manager Roger Davies has been integral to her unprecedented success in Australia. He continues to break many of our future global artists first in Australia and New Zealand. And, he has launched the careers of many hugely successful recent Australian artists including Delta Goodrem, Guy Sebastian, Jessica Mauboy, Amy Shark and, in the last few months, Tones and I.

For the last 10 years, Denis has also successfully set up our company’s business in the Asia Pacific region where we’ve expanded our presence significantly. He oversaw the development of our joint venture label with Tencent Music, Liquid State, and the opening of our new headquarters in Beijing just last year.

A great deal has changed since Denis assembled his first record, but one thing that hasn’t is the passion, dedication, and heart he brings to our global teams, our artists, and the Australian music industry he has been so integral to shaping. I can’t imagine a better representative for the enduring strength of our Company during this challenging and uncertain time.

On a personal note, I first met Denis three weeks into my Sony career in September 1985 and he has been an ever-present angel and/or devil on my shoulder since then. I am sad that I am not celebrating with Denis in Sydney as we planned next weekend at a big industry event in his honour, but we will make that happen at some point soon.

I hope you will all join me in congratulating Denis, his amazing wife Jan and his six wonderful children and grandchild, Dolly, who will start working for the company in 2040.

Enjoy the photo below of Denis wearing a groovy promo t-shirt in his early company years sporting a haircut that he is currently trying hard to grow back in the lockdown.

Crisis in magazines continues: TV Week takes another hit

Just weeks after Bauer Media pulled the plug on the TV Week Logie Awards for 2020 comes the news that the editor of the magazine is stepping down.

Thomas Woodgate leaves Bauer Media today, believed to be taking redundancy.

Woodgate joined Bauer Media in 2014 and was deputy editor of the weekly TV magazine for over three years until September 2017. Woodgate then took over as editor from Emma Nolan (who moved to Pacific Magazines) until his departure this week.

In March this year TV Week publisher Fiona Connolly pulled the plug on the Gold Coast Logies event, but committed to the 2020 awards being held in some form.

Then just last week Bauer Media’s Connolly announced a backflip and called off the awards completely for this year:

“We have spent the last few weeks discussing with our event partners what the TV Week Logie Awards could look like in 2020, whilst adhering to Government restrictions and working around the challenges of COVID-19. All parties agree the most positive outcome is to not hold the TV Week Logies, including public voting, in 2020, but to stage an even bigger event on the Gold Coast in 2021. The TV Week Logies is loved because it is a live event, with viewers at home enjoying seeing the red-carpet glamour and the entertainment community coming together to celebrate the television industry.

“In addition to the world-class awards telecast, we want to continue to build on the success of our public event, Stars in the Park – which gives fans a chance to meet their favourite television stars in person.

“We would like to thank Queensland for being a wonderful Logies host and partner in delivering this event over the past two years and we cannot wait to return to The Star Gold Coast next year.

“While we are postponing the TV WEEK Logie Awards for 2020 and returning in 2021, the 2021 Logies will be an epic event that will take into consideration the 12 months of television just past, as well as all programs that will air for the remainder of this year.”

Ai-Media expanding with US acquisition, closes fundraising round

Ai-Media, a global provider of technology-enabled live and recorded captioning, transcription and translation services, has announced the acquisition of US captioning services company Alternative Communications Services (ACS) to accelerate its growth in the North American market.

The acquisition follows the recent completion of Ai-Media’s latest fundraising round, which attracted A$10.3 million (US$6.6 million) from new and existing investors, including CVC Emerging Companies Fund and US-based technology investor Anzu Partners.

Funds from the latest investment round, which take total capital raised by Ai-Media to more than A$20 million, will be used to help fund the ACS acquisition and accelerate Ai-Media’s international expansion through organic growth and other carefully selected strategic acquisitions.

In the past three years, the proportion of Ai-Media’s revenue generated outside of Australia has risen from approximately 5 per cent to more than 25 per cent, with the company confident this will pass 50 per cent by 2021-22.

Chicago-based ACS is one of the leading providers of voice-to-text captioning and sign language services in North America, with more than 800 customers, including Dow Jones, Verizon, the US Federal Reserve and the Detroit Lions football team. Co-founded in 2007 by Chief Executive Officer and owner Phil Hyssong, ACS has developed a reputation for high- quality service delivery.

Ai-Media Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Tony Abrahams said the acquisition of ACS would complement Ai-Media’s rapid organic sales growth in the North American market, delivering customers, proprietary technology, local knowledge and a committed, passionate workforce.

“In ACS, we have found a strong and growing business that shares our values of access, inclusion and delivering the highest quality service to customers. It is a beautiful cultural fit and we’re very excited that Phil Hyssong will lead the Ai-Media team in the United States,” Abrahams said.

Hyssong said the team at ACS was delighted to join Ai-Media. “Access to innovative products and technologies will allow us to deliver even greater levels of accessibility, service and support to all our customers,” he said.

Jonathan Pearce, a Director of CVC who has joined the Ai-Media board, said: “The team, culture and focus of ACS all align with the direction of Ai-Media. The US is a key region of focus and Ai-Media is growing rapidly from both a customer and an industry basis. ACS continues to support this strategic direction.”

Ai-Media Chair Deanne Weir said the company was delighted with the calibre of new and existing investors who backed the board’s vision to build a global leader in captioning, transcription and translation services.

“With the support of our investors, we will have the ability to maximise opportunities to expand in new regions and in fast-growing industry sectors, such as the provision of live captioning and translation services for corporate, government and education events,” Weir said.

“There are a number of tailwinds that support Ai-Media’s ambition to build a global business that delivers on our vision of making the world’s content accessible, one word at a time.

“These include the rise of remote learning and working, the growing popularity of video as a communications medium and the increasing number of jurisdictions around the world mandating captioning to ensure access for all.”

Ai-Media was advised on the ACS transaction by Atlas Technology Group.

Top Photo: Clockwise from top left: Deanne Weir, Phil Hyssong, Jonathan Pearce and Tony Abrahams

Week 19 TV: Seven achieves elusive 2020 first, without entertainment hits

By James Manning

It hasn’t been a good weekend for Nine. Two bits of news took some of the gloss from its 2020 ratings dominance.

The first came in the form of a spread in The Sunday Telegraph showing the Nine chief executive, branded “Hollywood Hugh”, in the story, having lunch in the park with a colleague. Accompanying the story was a report claiming: “Some members of Nine Entertainment’s board are now pushing openly for the removal of company CEO Hugh Marks.”

The second, and perhaps more significant, Sunday morning bombshell was that Seven has manoeuvred to win its first ratings week of the year. Seven managed to do this without a clear entertainment winner in the 7.30pm timeslot.

Seven managed to win by getting the basics right. It continues to dominate at 6pm every night of the week, with its news division laying the groundwork for a primetime win. Seven also got a helping hand from Nine who ran only two episodes of Lego Masters this week, but to claim that was the sole reason for Seven’s win is to undervalue what Seven was doing right.

Seven has managed the win despite being cash strapped. Seven’s scheduling across week 19 saw the primary channel win five successive nights Tuesday to Saturday.

Here is how the week panned out for each FTA primary channel:

Seven Week 19

In primetime the 6pm news continues to lay the framework for its ratings performance. The 6pm half of the bulletin averaged over 1.2m for the week and was a clear winner in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Seven trailed Nine narrowly in Sydney while it trailed also in Melbourne with a slightly larger gap.

Although MasterChef and Lego Masters were the 7.30pm champs Sunday – Thursday, House Rules High Stakes managed to outperform Nine at 7.30pm Tuesday and BGT did it on Wednesday.

While it might not help the primetime share directly, Sunrise is a critical part of the Seven news brand and it did its job in breakfast this week with an average weekday audience of 294,000. That is the first weekly average under 300,000 since COVID-19 hi-jacked the news in early March.

Primary all people 18.5%
Network all people 27.0%
Multichannels: 7mate 3.4%, 7TWO 3.1%, 7flix 2.1%

Nine Week 19

Nine’s primary share only slipped by 0.1 this week, but it was enough of a slip to let Seven slither through the gap into first place.

Lego Masters offered the two most-watched entertainment programs of the week. But the trouble was there was only two of them. While both Lego Masters made it over 1m, nothing else in the 7.30pm slot made it to 500,000. $500k is the new 1m (and there was a time not far in the past that 1m was considered a poor performance in the timeslot.)

Primary all people 18.2%
Network all people 26.5%
Multichannels Gem 2.7%, GO! 2.6%, 9Life 1.9%, 9Rush 1.1%

10 Week 19

Channel 10 is able to claim #1 channel in under 50s in prime time. Also #1 channel 16 to 39 and 18 to 49.

Meanwhile in Network 10 share (10 + 10 Bold + 10 Peach) it ranks #2 under 50 and 25 to 54 in prime time. It is also shining as #1 network in 16 to 39.

Across the week, 10 dominated key demos under 50, 16 to 39 and 18 to 49 with seven of the top 10 shows thanks to MasterChef Australia, Have You Been Paying Attention? and The Project 7pm. 10 also had more than half of the top 10 shows in 25 to 54, with six of the top 10 shows.

Have You Been Paying Attention? had its biggest season launch ever, up 19% compared to its 2019 launch. Across the week, MasterChef Australia was up 54% compared to its 2019 average.

Two of the five MasterChef episodes screened made it to 1m, while two others were over 950,000. It was just Monday again that slipped below the 900,000 mark.

Two Australian productions performed well in a later timeslot – How to Stay Married just over 400,000 and The Secrets She Keeps just under.

Primary all people 14.0%
Network all people 20.2%
Multichannels: 10 Bold 3.8%, 10 Peach 2.4%

ABC Week 19

The channel’s top five programs again for the week included News, 7.30 and Australian Story. Also ranking top five were Death in Paradise on 851,000 and Hard Quiz with 709,000.

Primary all people 13.1%
Network all people 17.7%
Multichannels: Kids/Comedy 2.4%, ABC News 1.7%, ME 0.5%

SBS Week 19

The broadcaster has been enjoying its best fortnight of the year this month with shares of 5.3% and now 5.4%.

Great Canadian Railway Journeys was again the audience magnet with 329,000 on Tuesday, an audience big enough to outrate Nine in the timeslot.

World’s Most Beautiful Railway now airs Thursdays and its second episode was the next most-popular show of the week with 295,000.

Primary all people 5.4%
Network all people 8.6%
Multichannels: Viceland 1.1%, Food 1.0%, World Movies 0.9%, NITV 0.1%

ARIA Chart : Drake lands his third #1 with Dark Lane Demo mixtape

By James Manning

• Singles: Megan Thee Stallion gallops into top 10, Roses still #1


Roses spends it fifth week on top for Guyanese-American singer-songwriter Saint Jhn. He first started working on the track in 2015, released it as a single in 2016 and it appeared on his debut album in 2018.

There in only one new entry into the top 50 this week – Marshmello and Halsey with Be Kind.

The biggest mover up the chart is American rapper, singer and songwriter Megan Jovon Ruth Pete (aka Megan Thee Stallion) with Savage leaping from #20 to #4 in its sixth week on the chart. The new activity is spurred from a remix featuring Beyoncé.

The only other new arrival in the top 10 is DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch with Rockstar which goes from #14 to #9 in its third week.


Canadian rapper and producer Drake lands at the top for the third time on the ARIA album chart with the mixtape Dark Lane Demo Tapes. While it is his third #1 album, Drake can also boast eight separate visits to the top 10 of the album chart. The new release features contributions from Future, Young Thug, Playboy Carti and others. One critic has called this a crisis care package to help people through these troubled times.

Three other new releases debuted this week:

#38 Elevation Worship with Graves Into Gardens (Live). The US religious group from the Elevation Church chart for the third time, and their first since There is a Cloud three years ago.

#45: Killswitch Engage with Atonement II B-Sides For Charity. A fundraiser for COVID-19 fighters from the US metalcore band.

#49: Wil Wagner with I Hope I Don’t Come Across Intense. The vocalist from The Smith Street Band rereleases a set of tracks that was originally released in 2015. There has been a flood of content recently from his band too with the albums Don’t Waste Your Anger and Live at the Triffid.


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TV Ratings Sunday May 10 Week 20 2020

By James Manning

• Seven won’t lie down: Gets oh-so-close to Sunday upset
• Lego Masters Star Wars build lifts audience to 1.2m, Nine wins
• Two eps of House Rules and ABBA: Seven’s best in 6 weeks
• MasterChef sends home Chris, seventh cook to be eliminated

Seven News 1,231,000
Nine News 1,118,000
ABC News 812,000
The Virus 642,000
The Project 393,000/614,000
60 Minutes 543,000
Insiders 468,000
Nine News Late 366,000
10 News 350,000/315,000
Sunrise 316,000
Today 206,000
SBS World News 242,000

Nine: Lego Masters had its third Sunday over 1.2m in four weeks. However the big crowd watching the Star Wars build couldn’t stop Nine recording its lowest Sunday share since the Australian Open.
60 Minutes wasn’t able to outrate a second episode of Seven’s House Rules with the Nine audience on 543,000, close to a low of 532,000 recorded a fortnight ago. Is it time for Nine to experiment with 60 Minutes in the 7.30pm slot on another night?

Seven: Seven recorded its best Sunday share in six weeks and its third-best since survey started. It ended the night trailing Nine in all people share by 1.5. The boost came from two episodes of House Rules with the second running until around 9.30pm. The two episodes did 641,000 and 657,000 as the Queensland build was revealed.
A repeat screening of ABBA Forever did 346,000.

10: The channel recorded its lowest Sunday share since the launch of MasterChef four weeks ago. The elimination of Chris, the man in the hat, had an audience of 941,000, down from 1m a week ago.
Earlier in the night The Project started with 393,000 and then 614,000 after 7pm.
An episode of FBI: Most Wanted then did 282,000. 

ABC: ABC News was over 800,000 and then the short COVID-19 update The Virus did 642,000. Shortening the news seems to give people an exit from the channel.
Grand Designs New Zealand was on 484,000.
The fourth episode of Mystery Road lifted the numbers to 576,000 after exactly the same overnight number a week ago.
Killing Eve then did 212,000.

SBS: Egypt’s Top Ten Treasures had the second biggest audience (after World News) with 230,000 after 7.30pm.
The 2018 feature doco Whitney then screened to 134,000.

Week 19-20 TV: Friday-Sunday

ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 13.6% 7 22.0% 9 16.8% 10  8.5% SBS One 4.7%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.8% 7TWO 2.6% GO! 3.4% 10 Bold 3.8% VICELAND 1.2%
ABC ME 0.6% 7mate 4.2% GEM 2.6% 10 Peach 2.8% Food Net 1.4%
ABC NEWS 1.9% 7flix 2.5% 9Life 2.2%     NITV 0.1%
        9Rush 1.1%     SBS World Movies 1.3%
TOTAL 18.9%   31.3%   26.0%   15.1%   8.7%


ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 16.3% 7 16.5% 9 16.0% 10  7.8% SBS One 5.9%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 3.7% 7TWO 3.9% GO! 3.1% 10 Bold 3.6% VICELAND 1.1%
ABC ME 0.7% 7mate 3.9% GEM 3.6% 10 Peach 2.6% Food Net 0.9%
ABC NEWS 1.7% 7flix 4.0% 9Life 1.8%     NITV 0.3%
        9Rush 1.3%     SBS World Movies 1.1%
TOTAL 22.5%   28.2%   25.8%   14.0%   9.4%


ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 10.9% 7 19.6% 9 21.1% 10  14.9% SBS One 5.9%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.3% 7TWO 2.2% GO! 2.6% 10 Bold 3.0% VICELAND 0.6%
ABC ME 0.5% 7mate 3.5% GEM 4.2% 10 Peach 1.3% Food Net 0.7%
ABC NEWS 1.5% 7flix 1.7% 9Life 1.6%     NITV 0.1%
        9Rush 1.0%     SBS World Movies 0.8%
TOTAL 15.1%   27.0%   30.5%   19.2%   8.1%


ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 12.0% 7 20.6% 9 18.4% WIN 10.7% SBS One 5.5%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.6% 7TWO 3.6% GO! 3.1% WIN Bold 4.0% VICELAND 0.7%
ABC ME 0.8% 7mate 4.4% GEM 4.8% WIN Peach 1.3% Food Net 0.6%
ABC NEWS 1.4% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 1.7% 9Life 1.5% Sky News  on WIN 1.9% NITV 0.2%
                SBS Movies 0.7%
TOTAL 16.8%   30.4%   27.9%   17.9%   7.7%


89.0% 11.0%
All People Ratings

Friday Top 10

  1. Seven News Seven 1,156,000
  2. Nine News Nine 1,076,000
  3. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 1,069,000
  4. Nine News 6:30 Nine 1,020,000
  5. ABC News ABC 815,000
  6. A Current Affair Nine 685,000
  7. The Chase Australia Seven 650,000
  8. Gardening Australia ABC 624,000
  9. Better Homes And Gardens Seven 592,000
  10. Hot Seat Nine 536,000


Saturday Top 10

  1. Seven News Seven 1,112,000
  2. Nine News Saturday Nine 990,000
  3. ABC News ABC 896,000
  4. Death In Paradise ABC 851,000
  5. A Current Affair Nine 620,000
  6. Call The Midwife ABC 509,000
  7. The Latest: Seven News Seven 500,000
  8. Getaway Nine 441,000
  9. Border Security – Australia’s Front Line (R) Seven 373,000
  10. 10 News First 10 342,000
Sunday FTA
  1. Seven News Seven 1,231,000
  2. Lego Masters Nine 1,202,000
  3. Nine News Sunday Nine 1,118,000
  4. MasterChef Australia 10 941,000
  5.  ABC News Sunday ABC 812,000
  6. House Rules: High Stakes – Late Seven 657,000
  7. The Virus ABC 642,000
  8. House Rules: High Stakes Seven 641,000
  9. The Sunday Project 7pm 10 614,000
  10. Mystery Road ABC 576,000
  11. 60 Minutes Nine 543,000
  12. Grand Designs New Zealand ABC 484,000
  13. The Sunday Project 6.30pm 10 393,000
  14. Nine News: Late Edition Nine 366,000
  15. Seven News At 5 Seven 364,000
  16. 10 News First 10 350,000
  17. Abba Forever (R) Seven 346,000
  18. Insiders AM ABC 319,000
  19. Weekend Sunrise Seven 316,000
  20. 10 News First 6pm 10 315,000
Sunday Multichannel
  1.  NCIS Ep 2 (R) 10 Bold 167,000
  2. A Few Good Men 9Gem 162,000
  3. M- Justice League PM (R) 7mate 158,000
  4. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 156,000
  5. Insiders AM ABC NEWS 149,000
  6. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 140,000
  7. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 133,000
  8. Shaun The Sheep AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 126,000
  9. Go Jetters AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 120,000
  10. Dog Loves Books ABCKIDS/COMEDY 112,000
  11. Border Security – Australia’s Front Line -7PTMWO(R) 111,000
  12. Floogals PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 110,000
  13. Book Hungry Bears AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 110,000
  14. Spicks And Specks ABCKIDS/COMEDY 107,000
  15. Weekend Breakfast: 10am AM ABC NEWS 107,000
  16. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 106,000
  17. Would I Lie To You? ABCKIDS/COMEDY 105,000
  18. Dot. AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 105,000
  19. The Terminator 9GO! 104,000
  20. Bondi Rescue Ep 2 (R) 10 Bold 103,000
Sunday STV
  1. Outsiders Sky News Live 86,000
  2. Outsiders Sky News Live 82,000
  3. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 55,000
  4. Calvin & Kaison’s Play Power Nick Jr. 45,000
  5. Top Wing Nick Jr. 39,000
  6. Blaze And The Monster Machines Nick Jr. 38,000
  7. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 38,000
  8. Teen Mom OG MTV 36,000
  9. The Brokenwood Mysteries FOX Sleuth 36,000
  10. Outsiders Sky News Live 35,000
  11. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 35,000
  12. Midsomer Murders UKTV 34,000
  13. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 34,000
  14. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 33,000
  15. Mrs. Brown’s Boys UKTV 33,000
  16. Blaze And The Monster Machines Nick Jr. 33,000
  17. Ride Like A Girl Movies Premiere 33,000
  18. Selling Houses Australia Lifestyle Channel 32,000
  19. Sunday Agenda Sky News Live 32,000
  20. Selling Houses Australia Lifestyle Channel 32,000

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

Sports Media

NRL set for massive payday in historic Foxtel, Nine broadcast deal

The cash-strapped NRL is just days away from securing a stunning new TV broadcast deal worth up to $2.3 billion, the richest in Australia’s sporting history, reports News Corp’s Phil Rothfield and Peter Badel.

Channel 9 and Fox Sports are on the verge of agreeing to a lucrative seven-year contract that will lift rugby league from a financial scrapheap, safeguard the game’s long-term viability and guarantee the survival of all 16 clubs.

Independent commission chairman Peter V’landys is hoping to reach an agreement in principal by Friday for the remaining three years of the current contract plus a four-season extension until 2027.

It would be the most lucrative broadcast deal in the history of Australian sport, averaging out at almost $330 million a season – a remarkable outcome given the long-term global financial uncertainty over the COVID-19 crisis.

The new TV contract will allow the NRL to establish a seven-year strategic plan, including grassroots development, long-term investments, possible expansion and a stadium policy for Sydney’s nine clubs.

[Read more]

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Chammas and Chris Barrett report:

The NRL is considering a proposal from Nine Entertainment Co for a long-term extension to its television deal with the free-to-air network, which wants to cap its annual rights fee for the sport at about $90m to $100m.

According to sources with knowledge of the negotiations, it is expected that while Foxtel, majority owned by News Corp, may be close to signing a long-term extension, Nine won’t commit beyond the three years that remain in its existing deal unless League Central agrees to its offer for a reduced long-term arrangement.

Sources say Nine, the owners of this masthead, wants to cap its annual rights fees for the sport at $90m to $100m. Nine is this year paying $115m for NRL rights, a figure that will rise to $120m next year and $125m in 2022.

Sources said an extension with Foxtel would not grant the subscription television outlet prized simulcast rights to State of Origin and the NRL grand final.

[Read more]

Business of Media

ACM’s Antony Catalano in talks to buy News Corp's regional papers

Discussions between Antony Catalano and News Corp Australia, which is led locally by Australasia chairman Michael Miller, have been underway for some time, dating back to when the former Fairfax Media executive bought ACM, which includes titles such as the Newcastle Herald and The Canberra Times, from Nine for $125 million, which completed at the end of June 2019.

However, as the coronavirus health crisis escalated in Australia, News Corp began a strategic review of its regional and community newspaper portfolio, which global chief executive Robert Thomson revealed on Friday was “well advanced”.

ACM executives Nick Chan, Robert Whitehead and PwC Australia are believed to be advising Catalano, law firm Allens is advising News Corp, while Arnold Bloch Leibler is in ACM’s corner.

Chan, a former Bauer Media chief executive and Seven West Media executive, and Whitehead, a former senior Fairfax executive, joined ACM in December to work with its chief executive Allen Williams on the publisher’s strategy and transformation.

[Read more]

Leo Shanahan reports in The Australian:

ACM and News Corp will continue talks on Monday with a possible deal as early as this week.

One point of contention is over what titles would be included in a potential deal.

News Corp’s portfolio of regional and community news­papers consists of more than 100 mastheads, including dominant titles such as the Geelong Advertiser, Gold Cost Bulletin, The Weekly Times and the NT News.

It is understood that News Corp will want to hold on to some key titles, with the NT News not being part of the sale discussions.

[Read more]

Private equity sale still an option for Bauer Media to exit Australia

Bauer Media Australia has resumed talks with private equity as the troubled German-owned publisher looks for a way to end a difficult seven years in the local market, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

Private equity firm Mercury Capital had been looking to buy the Australian and New Zealand operations but the discussions fell apart in January when Bauer’s acquisition of Seven’s Pacific Magazines was delayed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Bauer has since shut its New Zealand division and has bought Pacific, publisher of New Idea, WHO and Better Homes and Gardens.

Multiple industry sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the publisher has now re-commenced discussions about a sale to private equity, with Mercury the likely buyer. Sources previously told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that a bid from Mercury, run by venture capitalist Clark Perkins, was dependent on the success of the deal between Bauer and Seven’s Pacific Magazines.

[Read more]

News Brands

Daniel Johns receives six-figure settlement from News Corp

Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns has received almost half a million dollars in a settlement with News Corp, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Hornery.

Johns received $170,000 in addition to having his legal costs of up to $300,000 covered by the media company, which also published an extraordinary apology to the musician last Sunday.

Johns, who declined to comment further this week, sued News Corp over an article published in The Sunday Telegraph in August last year that claimed he had been at a Sydney brothel. Johns described the story as “simply untrue” and “hurtful, humiliating, and damaging to me and my family”.

The Kastle’s owner, known as Mistress Scarlett, backed Johns and publicly refuted The Sunday Telegraph report, taking to Twitter to denounce the story which ran on the paper’s front page and featured photos taken of Johns within the vicinity of the establishment.

[Read more]

Nine resorts to legal sniping in attacks on News Corp journos

Nine Entertainment is attempting to reveal the sources of journalists at rival news publications, taking legal action to obtain communications between former SAS soldier Ben Roberts-Smith and The Australian, reports The Australian’s Lachlan Moffet Gray.

Nine mastheads The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age also ran a series of articles last week publicly speculating on the sources behind The Daily Telegraph’s national political editor Sharri Markson’s exclusive story on a multi-government dossier outlining China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Last month, Herald journalists also published articles speculating on The Daily Telegraph’s source for its exclusive story that forced NSW minister Don Harwin to quit over revelations he breached COVID-19 restrictions by visiting his beach house.

Sydney Morning Herald investigative reporter Kate McClymont has questioned whether Malcolm Turnbull’s book publisher, Hardie Grant, would pursue how The Australian’s national ­affairs editor, Simon Benson, obtained key information from the book before Nine was able to publish an official extract. “Will they pursue the pirated copy that fell into the hands of News Corp?” McClymont asked on Twitter.

[Read more]

Nine’s Darren Wick: 60 Minutes to remain in the schedule

Is 60 Minutes about to become the highest-profile TV casualty of COVID-19? Asks The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.

It has certainly been the hot rumour around the corridors of Nine in recent weeks, amid heavy cost-cutting throughout the embattled TV sector.

Nine’s head of news and current affairs, Darren Wick, is ending the speculation once and for all, telling Tabakoff that Nine is committed to 60 Minutes for “the next 40 years”.

“The future of 60 Minutes has never been in question. It’s one of our strongest and longest-running brands and a program we are immensely proud of,” Wick said.

“It’s been telling amazing stories for 40 years, and we’re looking to it telling even better stories for the next 40 years.”

Wick concedes he has made cuts at 60 Minutes and beyond, without specifying numbers. “Yes, we’ve had to make some difficult decisions at all news and current affairs programs. But I don’t think they’re an island in the media on that.”

[Read more]

Tributes flow after death of veteran journalist Frank Crook

Tributes from friends and former colleagues have poured in for veteran journalist and broadcaster Frank Crook who died from a heart attack aged 81, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Sarah Keoghan.

Crook was well-respected within the media industry as a former TV Week editor, radio host and cricket writer. He died in St Vincent’s Hospital.

Crook was a former 2GB weekend mid-dawns host, with the radio company reporting the news on Saturday night.

ABC journalist Michael Rowland described him as a wonderful bloke who was wickedly funny.

“I was lucky to work with him on 2BL Drive. RIP,” he wrote on social media.

[Read more]

Former newspaper editor and broadcaster Mark Day posted on social media:

Vale Frank Crook, writer, raconteur, jazzman, cricket lover, radio personality and the curmudgeon’s curmudgeon. He had lunch with his son Ben yesterday then had a heart attack at Circular Quay on his way home. He made it, against the odds, to 81. A great mate.


Vogue Australia stands alone after Bauer Media suspends titles

During lockdown, the editorial director of Vogue Australia spends her time in Zoom meetings with some of the fashion title’s biggest names, but in her local market, Edwina McCann’s iconic brand stands alone, reports The Australian’s Imogen Reid.

Having led the luxury masthead since 2012, McCann has successfully driven the value and trust of Vogue Australia through the development of diversified streams of revenue – something she thinks has been the point of difference between her and her competitors.

“We’ve developed a very diverse set of revenue streams through a strong digital channel, social channel and a VIP subscriber channel, which has done exceptionally well through the COVID-19 lockdown in terms of gaining new subscribers,” she said. “The fact we’ve aligned with the pay-and-stay strategy of users is quite different to any other traditional magazine brand in our marketplace.”

McCann’s comments follow Bauer Media’s decision last week to fold seven of its fashion, lifestyle and celebrity titles, just days after acquiring Seven West Media’s Pacific Magazines.

[Read more]


Ray Hadley apology to ScoMo as PM returns to 2GB morning show

The bromance between Ray Hadley and Scott Morrison is back on, three years after Hadley ended it because of ScoMo’s on-air dalliance with the ABC, reports The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.

Back then, 2GB’s morning ratings leader made headlines when he told his audience: “The love ­affair, or the bromance that has been written about, is over.”

Hadley has confirmed: “It was about him appearing on the ABC, when he was unavailable for our morning chat.” Hadley declared at the time: “The regular chat with the treasurer is now abandoned,” dubbing him “boring” and “full of platitudes”.

But three years – and a pandemic – can change things. In an interview on Wednesday, Hadley told Morrison: “A few years ago I had a blue with you and it was the subject of much publicity. I want to apologise … I think you have handled yourself with class, dignity and distinction and a level of energy I’ve rarely seen.”

[Read more]


Lawyer X: Simon Overland blasts Nine ‘haggling over $4k for cops’

Simon Overland has accused Nine of “haggling” over a $4000 charity payment to the families of four dead police officers during a legal dispute over his portrayal in the network’s drama Informer 3838, reports The Australian’s Damon Johnston.

Victoria’s former top cop fired off a legal complaint to the network last week, describing his depiction in its series on “Lawyer X” Nicola Gobbo – watched by close to a million viewers – as a slur on his reputation and character.

In a remarkably quick surrender, just 10 days after receiving the complaint, Nine and Screentime signed a deed of settlement on Thursday.

In the two-part drama based on the life of Melbourne’s gang-war lawyer, Overland’s character, played by Ian Bliss, is shown having multiple meetings and telephone conversations with the secret police informer.

But the five interactions between the Overland and Gobbo characters were a sensationalist invention and ignored evidence in the Lawyer X royal commission that the former chief commissioner and the double-dealing barrister never met or spoke.

To settle the legal dispute and head off a potentially expensive defamation case, Nine and Screentime agreed to insert a billboard at the conclusion of the show that makes it clear to viewers that scenes showing the Overland and Gobbo characters were fictional.

The billboard will also clearly state Overland’s position that he was unaware Gobbo was informing on her clients, including Tony Mokbel and Rob Karam.

Nine declined to comment on Friday. But it’s believed the network offered Overland two settlements: A $10,000 donation and no billboard correcting the record, or a $6000 donation and a billboard.

[Read more]

Axed: Pete's off the menu as Seven sharpens MKR knife

Four years ago, bright-eyed Pete Evans and his French-accented sidekick Manu Feildel were the kings of Australian commercial television, sitting atop the throne of the $50 million My Kitchen Rules advertising cash cow that was the envy of TV land, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Private Sydney columnist Andrew Hornery.

Oh, how times have changed. On Friday morning, Evans parted ways with the once-glorious franchise, and the $800,000 pay cheque that came with it.

“It’s television, no one knows if they’ve got a job next week let alone next year … but you just have to look at the ratings this year to see something has to change … I’d probably get three new judges,” fellow MKR star Colin Fassnidge joked on Friday as PS informed him of the news his “good mate” Evans was gone.

“We’re all good mates, me, Manu and Pete, despite what you might read. I was playing pool with him in Malabar just the other day, his Sydney place is just up the road from me,” the outspoken Irishman said.

At its peak, media buyers estimate MKR was responsible for around $50 million worth of advertising a year to Seven, money which underwrote the fat pay cheques the stars were earning, and underpinned the additional hundreds of thousands of dollars Feildel and Evans have earned in various product endorsements, from chicken stock to cookbooks.

[Read more]

How The Block is continuing during COVID-19 crisis

The Block has put in place a raft of strict health and safety conditions to ensure its restarted production can continue without further delay during the COVID-19 crisis, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.

Contestants and crew returned to the construction site in the up-market Melbourne bayside suburb of Brighton on Monday after filming was halted at the end of March as the corona issue escalated.

“We have a nurse on site full time, we have built a little clinic, everyone gets temperature tested every morning, we have all had flu vaccinations, we have a limited number of people allowed in each room and we have finished the actual structure of the houses that we are building in Brighton, so the outside is finished and our team of builders is down to a skeleton crew,” celebrity tradie Scott Cam said.

“Basically the contestants will be inside their homes fitting out the actual house.”

[Read more]

Next season of 10’s I’m a Celebrity could be filmed in Australia

Contestants on the next season of I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! might be stuck in the bush instead of the jungle, reports’s Andrew Bucklow.

The show will return to Channel 10 early next year and could “absolutely” be filmed in Australia instead of South Africa due to travel restrictions, the ViacomCBS Australia & New Zealand Chief Content Officer and EVP told

“All those things are on the table,” Beverly McGarvey said.

“We love our South African site, the jungle is kind of a character in the show, but we just don’t know if that’s possible or realistic, so we’re just looking at a range of options.

“The show will definitely be back next year … but because of the complexity of the travel, we are having to think about how we do that show, maybe in a slightly different way.”

One of the breakout hits of 2019, The Masked Singer, will start filming “in a couple of months,” McGarvey told

“If there was ever a show made for lockdown, it was this. People are in masks anyway,” she joked.

It’s likely there won’t be a studio audience at all due to social distancing requirements, and it’s unknown if Lindsay Lohan will be able to get back into Australia.

[Read more]

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