By James Manning
• Plus Music streamer LiveXLive acquires US parent of PodcastOne
One of the bonuses of being part of PodcastOne Australia is that programs get promotion across the Hit or Triple M Networks depending on the program content.
Former Hit Network breakfast host-turned podcaster Em Rusciano was on air last week at her home station The Fox promoting her Emsolation series.
“All care, but no responsibility,” is how she describes her radio appearances now as a guest. But despite what she calls 2DayFM’s “ridiculous breakfast radio money,” she told Mediaweek, “Even after all my live shows were cancelled this year, I still don’t regret walking away from that huge sum of money.”
Rusciano added: “I am happy to make radio guest appearances, or to fill in, but I never want to go back. Being able to do my podcast on my own terms is something I love so much.”
Emsolation features Rusciano and her best friend Michael Lucas with two new episodes every week on Tuesday and Thursday. The recording takes place at Rusciano’s kitchen table in her outer Melbourne suburb. “In the background you will hear chirping birds, my baby, my dogs – that’s what I want. I don’t want a polished, slick environment – there is nothing polished or slick about me.”
The podcast has recently attracted sponsorship from Hello Fresh, with Rusciano particular about who she will endorse. Also featured on the podcast are appearances from Rusciano’s husband Scott – “He balances my ridiculousness with some sage advice. He’s a high-performance coach who helps people through high pressure situations.”
The Rusciano army (nearly 500,000 on Instagram and Facebook) have helped drive podcast take up. “In the four weeks we have been on air we did something like over 200,000.”
Rusciano also appears on The Project on Thursdays and is “slowly” working on her next book, now past deadline. “I am also working on a new live show and developing a virtual special. There’s a lot going on at home too with a 15-month-old baby and 13 and 18-year-old students studying at home.”
LiveXLive Media, an LA-based global digital media company focused on live entertainment music, has signed an agreement to acquire Courtside Group, Inc., the owner and operator of PodcastOne, a leading US subscription and advertiser-supported podcast network home to popular and star-studded podcasts across many genres including sports, comedy, celebrity culture and entertainment, in an all stock deal. The transaction is valued at US$18.1 million based on LiveXLive’s closing price on May 7, 2020. The US business PodcastOne had revenues of US$27.5m in 2019.
Southern Cross Austereo has an exclusive partnership agreement with PodcastOne US and operates as PodcastOne Australia.
PodcastOne US generates over 2.1 billion downloads annually and produces over 350 episodes per week. PodcastOne’s library of over 300 podcasts includes shows from Adam Carolla, A&E’s Cold Case Files, Steve Austin, Shaquille O’Neal, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Dr. Drew, Heather and Terry Dubrow, Chael Sonnen, Kaitlyn Bristowe, LadyGang, Mike Tyson, Rich Eisen, Spencer and Heidi Pratt, Autumn Calabrese, Demi Burnett, Gals on the Go, and many more.
PodcastOne’s founder and executive chairman, Norman Pattiz, will join LiveXLive as a significant shareholder and remain as executive chairman of PodcastOne. Pattiz is regarded as a pioneer in the radio industry having founded and built Westwood One into the largest radio network in America.
The COVID 19 Pandemic has changed Australian lives. Some say forever. Investigative journalist and PodcastOne contributor Adam Shand speaks to experts in their fields to explore what might be the new norm in a new series launching Friday.
A vaccine may help us return to normal but is Australia still vulnerable to the next viral pandemic? It’s globalisation versus localism, an opportunity for this island continent to re-set for safety and self-reliance.
After a pause of close to 24 months, the prize-winning JMO Confidential podcast has been relaunched. Hosted by News Corp’s most prolific journalist, Jonathon Moran, the entertainment podcast has started with a bang with the host dropping five episodes in the first eight days of the month.
The first stars to submit themselves for interrogation include Corey Feldman, Lisa McCune, Home and Away’s Ethan Browne and Emma Wiggle.
Back by popular demand, season three of The Babble now features three episodes a week. The episodes include the return of Monday’s listener letters and special guests, Thursday’s review of all things celebrity and entertainment to get listeners through their isolation blues and an all-new fan requested Pop Culture Quiz episode on Saturdays.
Matty J and producer Ruby Teys dissect their crazy lives, dive into the biggest stories in pop culture, TV and from the internet, rummage through rogue listener letters and invite high-profile guests to share their outrageous stories exclusively for The Babble fans!
On Mondays Matty J and Ruby act as the world’s worst agony aunts, answering listeners burning questions and offering their (not always practical!) advice to fan’s letters.
It shouldn’t be any surprise that Christian O’Connell has built a significant body of work since arriving in Australia. In the UK the award-winning broadcaster hosted an Absolute Radio breakfast show across eight stations. His deal with ARN doesn’t let him do that, yet, but in addition to hosting the #1 FM Melbourne breakfast show of Gold 104.3 he is now at work at the other end of the day with an evening show on Gold.
Now O’Connell is launching his own podcast series Stuff of Legends where one of his initial guests will be his Sydney Pure Gold Network colleague Amanda Keller.
By James Manning
Since taking on the top job at the newly merged ViacomCBS in Australia and New Zealand, chief content officer and executive vice president Beverley McGarvey has had to assume additional duties at the same time as surrendering others. McGarvey replaced Paul Anderson who announced his departure in early March.
“It’s been quite a busy period, and an unusual one as just after Paul announced he was going we went into lockdown,” McGarvey told Mediaweek. “We have many capable people in the business that I have been able to delegate some of my former duties, while continuing to do some of them.”
Although plotting day-to-day management under lockdown and seeing how it could impact future strategy is a challenge, McGarvey noted there had been an upside. “Our ratings have been great. When you are a content person seeing the ratings in the morning that show more people engaging with your programming puts you in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day. It’s made it easier to be operating when MasterChef and many of the other shows have been performing so well.”
Network 10 is still operating on a nine-day fortnight for many staff which started at Easter and will continue to June when it will be reviewed.
While Nine and Seven have started carefully managing their primetime schedule with the available content, 10 seems to be in a good place at present with MasterChef still running five nights a week.
McGarvey and chief sales officer Rod Prosser held an UpClose at Home presentation for advertisers last week to detail recent audience growth and update the market on the schedule.
Speaking to Mediaweek about the COVID-19 impact, McGarvey said:
“Normally by this time we would have played Bachelor in Paradise, but it’s now coming later because we went early with MasterChef. We have managed to get away Have You Been Paying Attention? and a season of Gogglebox. We have been lucky to a certain degree in that our shows have largely been protected.
“Our challenge is that the shows we get from overseas have been impacted. We were lucky too that we had finished I’m A Celebrity and Survivor All-Stars when we went into lockdown.
“Might we have some challenges later in the year though with the odd Sunday, Wednesday or Thursday that we are not 100% happy with? Possibly.”
Like all broadcasters, the 2020 schedule is still a work in progress. At 10 MasterChef will lead into Bachelor in Paradise. There then could be something 10 has yet to announce before viewers get to see The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.
The Masked Singer will go into production soon leaving the year to finish with the return of Junior MasterChef.
“You can see that we have a lot of strong content coming through, add to that another cycle of Gogglebox.” McGarvey conceded there had been some chat about a Celebrity Gogglebox season, but as yet there was no plan for it. “I think viewers would be up for it, and if we get offered it we would take it.
“We realised there is no chance we could be doing The Amazing Race overseas this year so we are committed to doing it in Australia once the state borders open up. We had to produce it quickly last year and we are ready to do it again, noting it will be easier the second time around. After what we’ve been through this year, I think viewers would love to see contestants travelling around Australia.”
McGarvey added that 10 is also exploring options to film Australian Survivor in an Australian location and that if the Trans-Tasman travel bubble included the Pacific they would also look at that option.
The success of MasterChef straight out of the blocks this year helped 10 make the decision to re-commission Junior MasterChef nine years after it was last on air. “We have talked about it for a long time. We all felt that the family appeal of the format now would be accepted. It also felt the right time because so many more people are now engaged in cooking for various reasons. It will be a short run.”
The performance of 10 News has improved as have the numbers for all broadcasters. Of particular note at 10 is the growth at 6pm with their extended evening bulletin. “We are having great ratings in the early evening at 7.30pm and 6pm has obviously helped keep viewers on the channel.”
McGarvey didn’t have much to add about the impending fourth channel launch which is expected on air later this year. “All I can confirm is that it will target under 50,” said McGarvey. “There is a lot of ViacomCBS content available that does really well. 10 Bold and 10 Peach are both doing incredibly well and we will add a channel that will complement them. We have waited this long to launch a new multichannel because we wanted to wanted to be sure we had a really solid content pipeline.”
Tomorrow in Mediaweek: Network 10 chief sales officer Rod Prosser
Top Photo: 10’s chief content officer and executive vice president Beverly McGarvey at this week’s UpClose at Home virtual event
The new Podcast Ranker chart has been released today. Stuff You Should Know from ARN/iHeartMedia again ranks #1 on the overall chart.
PodcastOne’s Hamish & Andy podcast has climbed back to #1 on the overall chart and now sits back at #1 on the Australian chart.
Triton Digital’s Australian Podcast Ranker provides insight into the Top 100 Podcasts in Australia from participating publishers for the April 2020 reporting period of 30 March through 3 May, as measured by Triton’s Podcast Metrics measurement service. The Ranker has been expanded this month to include popular titles from Wondery, NBC News, and Wavelength Creative.
Twenty-seven new entities debuted in the Top 100 Podcast ranker this reporting period, including The Dollop with Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds (Wondery), Fake Doctors, Real Friends with Zach and Donald (ARN/iHeartMedia), and I Catch Killers with Gary Jubelin (News Corp Australia). Stuff You Should Know (ARN/iHeartMedia) remained in the #1 spot as the most downloaded podcast in the region from 30 March through 3 May.
The total Average Weekly Downloads for the Top 100 in this reporting period is 5.5M, up 14% from the last reporting period (17 February through 15 March 2020).
As for the All-Australian Top 100 Podcast Ranker, twenty new entities debuted this reporting period, including Emsolation (SCA-PodcastOne Australia), Saving Apollo 13 (Wavelength Creative), and Survivor’s Guide to Coronavirus with Nazeen Hussain and James Milsom (ARN/iHeartMedia). Hamish & Andy (SCA-PodcastOne Australia) claimed the #1 spot as the most downloaded podcast in the region.
The total Average Weekly Downloads for the All-Australian Top 100 in this reporting period is 3.9M, up 10% from the last reporting period (17 February through 15 March 2020).
Participating publishers in the Australian Ranker include Southern Cross Austereo, News Corp Australia, Nova, Schwartz Media, TOFOP Productions, SEN / Crocmedia, The Parent Brand, Australian Radio Network, Nine, ARN/iHeartMedia, Wavelength Creative, Stitcher, Wondery, and NBC News.
CA Digital has reported its biggest viewing month ever with a mix of curated archive footage and player-driven content has drawn enormous numbers to its social media channels.
Cricket.com.au’s YouTube page has now ticked over 5m subscribers, making it by some distance the most popular sporting YouTube channel in Australia, recording twice as many domestic views and three times as many minutes viewed in Australia compared to April last year.
Meanwhile, cricket.com.au’s Facebook page recorded 168m video views in April, its biggest month ever, with an average of 346k Australians engaging with the page daily. Its Instagram channel saw 9.3m video views for the month (a 497% increase YoY) while Twitter video views were up 400% to 1.5m.
The numbers have been driven by the archive content which has seen a resurgence of interest in recent weeks with live sport halted around the world, along with features focused on player interviews and extracts from The Unplayable Podcast.
Full match or test day ‘Flashback’ replays have become appointment viewing on a Sunday afternoon with ‘as live’ coverage resulting in lengthy watch-times on and off-platform – particularly in Australia – and in-running highlights driving enormous numbers domestically and overseas.
Meanwhile, the inaugural Top 20 in 2020 countdown (focused on the best Test moments of the century so far) proved a multi-platform success, sparking no shortage of debate while providing 7 of the top 20 most engaged posts on Nielsen’s ‘Social Content Ratings Sport’ (Apr 27 – May 6).
Nielsen Sports also ranked the Australian Men’s Cricket team as the team with the most owned engagements across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (w/c May 4) while the Australian Women’s Cricket Team saw an almost ten-fold increase in video views on its Facebook and Instagram channels YoY (to 637k).
And it wasn’t just international teams drawing significantly increased attention, with video views of BBL content up 192% YoY on its official Facebook page and the WBBL equivalent seeing an 86% increase.
“With so little live sport available, we’re delighted to be able to provide some top-quality cricket action to so many fans in Australia and around the world during an unprecedented period,” said Patrick Horan, CA’s head of digital.
“Even the greatest cricket moments are best enjoyed in as high-quality a presentation as possible on the platform of your choice, ideally with context and some insights from those involved which we’ve always strived to provide.
“Hopefully reliving those amazing moments have whetted the appetite for what we hope will be a huge summer of live action to come.”
Val Morgan Outdoor (VMO) has partnered with one of Australia’s leading personal trainers to launch an online version of its popular ‘Active Nation’ program for employees of the media industry.
The Australian Government has announced gyms and health clubs will begin to reopen once states and territories move into Stage 2 of the eased coronavirus restrictions plan.
VMO is warming up for the reopening of these facilities by hosting its ‘Active Nation at Home’ sessions, which will be led by Fitness First personal trainer, Kristy Curtis. Facilitated by Zoom and beamed directly into participant’s living rooms, the free program kicks off today and will feature two 30-minute sessions each week over the next four weeks.
“Australians are really missing the health club environment at the moment, and so we wanted to play a part in bringing the agency community together by offering them access to virtual group training,” Geoff Cochrane, national sales director VMO said.
“For many of us, the gym is an essential part of our daily routine. ‘Active Nation at Home’ provides a sense of normality, and a taste of what is to come, as we collectively and eagerly await the reopen.”
The VMO Active network consists of over 4,000 screens across 770 gyms and health clubs in Australia which will be reactivated as facilities reopen.
If you’d like to participate in ‘Active Nation at Home’, contact your VMO Active account manager.
Finalists for the 16th annual Siren Awards, which honour excellence and creativity in Australian radio advertising, have been announced ahead of a special virtual awards event to be held on 28 May. Fourteen creative agencies from across Australia will be in the running to be awarded the top prize – the Gold Siren – for 2020’s best radio advertisement.
The online 2020 Siren Awards ceremony will begin at 4pm AEST on Thursday, 28 May, with viewers able to watch live via the event website. To secure your “seat” for the virtual event click here.
Making the finalists list are leading Australian agencies BMF, Sydney; Clemenger BBDO, Melbourne; DDB, Melbourne; Deloitte, Melbourne; Eardrum, Sydney; EMOTIVE, Melbourne; JAMES, Adelaide; McCann, Sydney; Meerkats, Perth; Rare, Perth; Special Group, Sydney; The Monkeys, Melbourne; The Royals, Sydney; and VMLY&R, Melbourne.
In the running for top spot are a diverse range of individual commercials and campaigns for clients such as Tourism Tasmania, Beyond Blue, Carlton Dry, Opera Australia, Suzuki, Sportsbet, Menulog, Uber Eats and Australia Post.
This year, as a result of COVID-19 Government restrictions concerning interstate travel and event size, the Siren Awards will run as a live virtual ceremony. The online event will be facilitated by industry body Commercial Radio Australia and again hosted by Lawrence Mooney. Mooney, one of Australia’s top comedians and a well-known star of Australian radio and TV broadcasting, presents the Triple M Sydney breakfast show Moonman in the Morning.
CEO of Commercial Radio Australia Joan Warner said: “The Siren Awards have become a pinnacle event to showcase the impressive talent and vision of Australian creative agencies, as well as the versatility and impact of radio advertising. While the event will look a little different this year, we are thrilled to still be able to come together to celebrate outstanding radio advertising in Australia and we invite everyone to join us online on 28 May.”
Beyond the Gold Siren, three Silver Sirens will also be awarded for the best radio ads across three categories: single, campaign and craft. The winners will be decided by the Siren Creative Council – a panel of creative directors from leading ad agencies. An additional client-voted Siren Client Award will also be presented.
The complete list of 2020 Siren Awards finalists is below. To listen to the finalist ads click here. For further details see www.sirenawards.com.au
Photo Credit: Ash Mar
A new feature film from Baz Luhrmann, screen adaptations of novels by Marcus Zuzak and Melina Marchetta, and a family drama from Matt Okine are among the latest projects to receive story development funding.
Eleven feature films, five television series and two online projects will share in over $620,000 from Screen Australia.
Nerida Moore, Screen Australia’s head of development said, “With many productions temporarily halted it is more important than ever for us to support the development of Australian stories for all platforms. I’m encouraged to see the industry is taking advantage of this time, and we’ve seen a significant increase in Story Development applications with 92 applications received in April. This number includes the first Premium Plus applications.
“What excites me about this latest mix of projects is the strategic pairing of emerging creators with experienced producers. We’re also thrilled to support teams taking on new challenges, with Bjorn Stewart adapting his short film Killer Native to a feature film, the team behind Robbie Hood developing a prequel story, and Adele Vuko building on the success of Over and Out with new science-fiction series Galactic Guardian. Baz Luhrmann developing a coming-of-age story set in regional Australia is also very exciting.”
Dalhousie: A television adaptation of Melina Marchetta’s novel The Place on Dalhousie, written for the screen by Marchetta (Looking for Alibrandi) and produced by Louise Smith (Riot). This multigenerational family drama set in Sydney’s Inner West follows Martha who, having just turned fifty, is struggling to complete the house her late husband worked on for 20 years. When Martha’s 21-year-old step-daughter Rosie Gennaro arrives on her doorstep with a baby and plenty of attitude, a stand-off begins between the two women who refuse to budge from the home they both lay claim to. But Martha and Rosie have both underestimated each other, and the power of the community they belong to.
Dirty Thirties: A six-part television series centred on a group of thirty-something African and Middle Eastern Australian friends who return to the dating world after breaking up from long-term relationships. With their new-found freedom, and faced with a modern dating landscape that has changed significantly since they were last single, the friends find themselves regressing back to the maturity levels of their twenties. Dirty Thirties is created by Khaled Abdulwahab (hip hop duo Diafrix) and John Kassab (12 O’Clock Boys) who will also write, direct and produce. The creative team also features writers Jane Allen (Janet King), Craig Irvin (Nowhere Boys) and Candy Bowers (One The Bear) and executive producer Michael McMahon (Ali’s Wedding).
Invasion of the Killer Natives: A horror comedy film about a British couple who try to make a new life in the new colony of Sydney, but soon find themselves under threat from the zombie natives. After being infected with small pox, the Aboriginal population is back from the dead with a vengeance. Based on his short film Killer Native, this feature film is written and directed by Bjorn Stewart. It is produced by Majhid Heath and Hayley Johnson from Noble Savage Pictures whose credits include horror anthology Dark Place.
The Creek (working title): A feature film from award-winning writer/director Baz Luhrmann (The Great Gatsby), about a man who returns to a small Australian country town, triggering memories that lead him on a journey of self-revelation. Catherine Knapman, Paul Watters and Schuyler Weiss who previously collaborated on Luhrmann’s Australia are attached as producers.
The Galactic Guardian: A six-part online series from writer/director Adele Vuko whose project Over and Out won Best Short Form Series prize at Canneseries in 2019. This science-fiction comedy centres on Celeste, a self-destructive dirtbag and unwilling Galactic Guardian with inter-dimensional powers, who is responsible for protecting the Milky Way against evil. When she accidentally opens a wormhole to a dark realm, Celeste is forced to grow up and accept responsibility for her actions, or else pay the ultimate price.
The Messenger: A six-part television series based on Marcus Zuzak’s award-winning novel of the same name, to be written for the screen by Sarah Lambert (Lambs of God), Kirsty Fisher (The Family Law) and Leon Ford (Upright). The story follows Ed Kennedy, whose peaceful daily life is disrupted when a playing card inscribed with a cryptic message arrives in the mail. Following the clues, Ed makes his way through town helping people in need, and is determined to find out who is behind these assignments. The Messenger is produced by Jason Stephens and Helen Bowden of Lingo Pictures (Lambs of God, Upright).
Thou Shalt Not Steal: An eight-part television series follow up to the critically-acclaimed online series Robbie Hood which tells the story of Robbie’s mother, Robyn in her teen years. After finding out a dark family secret, Robyn travels from her small desert community to Adelaide in search of her long lost father, learning some much needed moral lessons along the way. This project sees the return of writer/director Dylan River and producer Tanith Glynn-Maloney, with executive producers Daley Pearson and Charlie Aspinwall of Ludo Studio.
Untitled Matt Okine Project: A feature film from writer Matt Okine (The Other Guy), based on his own experiences of growing up in Brisbane. This comedy/drama is set in 1998, when 12-year-old African-Australian Mike Amon struggles with entering high school, finding first love and learning that his mother has been diagnosed with late stage cancer. Okine is joined by producers Angie Fielder and Polly Staniford and executive producer Jude Troy who previously collaborated on The Other Guy.
Top Photo: John Kassab, Khaled Abdulwahab
By James Manning
• Seven again ranks #1 all people with 500k at 7.30pm
• MasterChef twists again as 10 ranks #1 under 50
Seven News 1,226,000/1,150,000
Nine News 1,100,000/1,055,000
ABC News 830,000
A Current Affair 753,000
The Project 380,000/599,000
10 News 434,000/292,000
The Drum 242,000
News Breakfast 224,000
SBS World News 193,000
Nine News Late 115,000
Nine: A Current Affair held close to 750,000 again as the show featured an interview with the travel industry executive who had verbally attacked Tracy Grimshaw.
Advertised as the season final that will captivate Australia, the last episode of Doctor Doctor’s season took a long time to get here after having a year off. Shifted to 7.30pm, the audience hasn’t blossomed in the early timeslot. Not that there’s anything too shabby about 500,000 overnight for drama in any timeslot. Dr Hugh Knight farewelled his fans with 482,000 watching.
Paramedics then did 474,000.
Seven: Britain’s Got Talent helped Seven to win the night with 523,000. That would have been a magic trick once, but if you get good numbers at 6pm and then follow it up with Home and Away on 650,000, any channel will be hard to beat.
The 2007 Mark Wahlberg movie Shooter then did 262,000.
10: The channel continues to perform well off the back of MasterChef where another twist last night in the first part of a slightly drawn-out two-night immunity process kept the audience close to 950,000. But this year it’s all about the food and the journey and not the destination. Late ingredients being added to the Mystery Box was the twist and there were loads of good dishes despite the surprise.
The Secrets She Keeps then had its biggest episode of the season with 419,000 after 390,000 last week.
ABC: Hard Quiz ended its current run with specialist subjects snakes, clarinets, Transformers and the Middle East. The run ended with 760,000 after 709,000 a week ago.
The Weekly with Charlie Pickering climbed from 587,000 to 638,000. Highlights last night were Yard Chat with Andrew Gaze, Charlie Pickering with Miriam Margoles and a different sort of tribute to Alan Jones.
At Home Alone Together then premiered with a strong 466,000 at 9pm, ranking #1 in its timeslot. There was much to laugh at with Ryan Shelton (and brother Jason) back on TV, while Deborah Mailman reading Shakespeare at home on Zoom was very funny.
SBS: Britain’s Cathedrals with Tony Robinson visited the wonderful Liverpool Cathedral last night with 286,000 watching.
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.1%||7TWO||3.2%||GO!||2.1%||10 Bold||4.8%||VICELAND||1.2%|
|ABC ME||0.5%||7mate||2.6%||GEM||2.1%||10 Peach||2.5%||Food Net||1.0%|
|9Rush||1.1%||SBS World Movies||1.0%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.4%||7TWO||4.5%||GO!||2.5%||WIN Bold||6.3%||VICELAND||1.2%|
|ABC ME||0.7%||7mate||3.3%||GEM||2.9%||WIN Peach||1.7%||Food Net||0.7%|
|ABC NEWS||1.3%||7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)||1.2%||9Life||1.9%||Sky News on WIN||2.5%||NITV||0.2%|
|WEDNESDAY METRO ALL TV|
16-39 Top Five
18-49 Top Five
25-54 Top Five
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
BuzzFeed is to end its news operations in the UK and Australia, effectively marking the end of the digital upstart’s global ambition to shake up traditional news media, reports The Guardian.
Once derided for its focus on traffic-grabbing “listicles”, BuzzFeed transformed into a highly respected peer to traditional media outlets. On Wednesday it said it was giving up on local news and politics coverage in favour of news that “hits big” in the United States.
The company, which had been struggling before the coronavirus pandemic further hammered its lifeblood of advertising revenue, has furloughed its 10 UK news staff and four in Australia as part of the strategic cutback. BuzzFeed launched a local news operation in the UK just over six years ago.
According to sources, those furloughed are “highly unlikely” to return to BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed UK will keep staff covering news with a “global audience”, such as its investigations operation and celebrity news coverage, for now at least.
“For economic and strategic reasons, we are going to focus on news that hits big in the United States during this difficult period,” the company said.
“Therefore, we will notify staff in the UK and Australia that we are not planning to cover local news in those countries. We will be consulting with employees on our plans regarding furloughs and stand-downs in these regions.”
Cash-strapped Seven West Media has sold the Perth headquarters of its newspapers, The West Australian and The Sunday Times, for $75m, less than two weeks after banking $40m from the sale of its Pacific Magazines business, reports The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich.
In a brief statement, Seven said it has sold its Osborne Park facility for $75m to a special purpose trust called Primewest Media Trust, which is managed by Primewest Management.
Seven West’s newspapers and television station TVW7 will continue to occupy the site, striking a 15-year lease as part of the sale deal.
The property sale is expected to be completed in about four weeks, according to Seven’s statement, which was authorised by chief executive James Warburton.
Nine chairman and former federal treasurer Peter Costello says a mandatory code of conduct on Facebook and Google should force the technology giants to pay about $600 million a year into a fund distributed between Australian media companies, report The AFR’s Max Mason and John Kehoe.
Costello said Nine, owner of The Australian Financial Review, would submit to the competition regulator, which is drawing up the code, that Google and Facebook pay around 10 per cent of the revenue they earn from Australia, effectively for the licensing of content from local media.
“We think that Google and Facebook are driving advertising revenue of about $6 billion in Australia, and roughly 10 per cent of that is as a result of news content,” Costello said.
Costello praised the performance of Nine chief executive Hugh Marks and the company’s strategy after a report in News Corp’s The Daily Telegraph alleged there were boardroom concerns and that some directors were openly pushing for his removal.
“The media is being structurally challenged, particularly by big international technology companies. The response of Nine … has been amongst the best, if not the best, in Australia,” he said.
“We’re now driving 45 per cent of our EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) from our digital properties … which is a very high percentage.
“On our linear television network, we are No. 1 in ratings and No. 1 in revenue. We are in the midst of this huge economic shock which is affecting all businesses, but we are weathering it as well, if not better, than any other media company.”
Outgoing radio broadcaster Alan Jones will be paid out his full 2GB salary despite missing key incentive targets tied to his show’s performance in the advertising market, report Nine Publishing’s Broede Carmody and Zoe Samios.
Jones’ $4 million annual salary included entitlements based directly on his share of the radio market as well as the amount of money he generated from advertisers. The figure has fallen substantially over the past year as brands distanced themselves from Jones’ controversial commentary.
But sources familiar with the arrangements said he would be paid out of his contract as long as he adheres to a non-compete clause preventing him from expanding his media commitments.
One television executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said News Corp has been wanting to increase Jones’ presence on Sky News for some time.
The TV executive said giving Jones a permanent role at 8pm once his non-compete clause is up would finally deliver the broadcaster a “solid Monday to Friday”. The executive added that Jones is lucrative to Sky because its broadcaster, Foxtel, has a subscriber base that – like 2GB – skews older.
“There are currently no changes being made to the Sky News programming schedule,” a Sky News spokeswoman said.
The head of Australia’s peak body for travel agents has resigned after revelations he told travel agents that A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw “needs to be given a firm uppercut or a slap across the face” over the program’s reporting of a travel industry refund scandal, report David Estcourt, Paul Sakkal and Samantha Hutchinson.
Outgoing Australian Federation of Travel Agents chief executive Jayson Westbury said in a statement released Wednesday that his comments should not have been taken literally but were unacceptable, and he would be leaving his post effective immediately.
“His choice of words cannot be condoned,” Tom Manwaring, AFTA chairman, said in a statement.
“His work history stands in good stead for the service he has provided the travel industry and AFTA’s members.”
Westbury recorded an interview on Wednesday morning that was set to be broadcast on A Current Affair on Wednesday night, in which he apologised for his comments.
Senior Nine Entertainment executives are internally conceding they will lose their commanding lead in the nation’s biggest radio market when Alan Jones steps down at the end of the month, but are gambling that the loss of listeners will be offset by a long-term rise in advertising revenue, reports The Australian’s Steve Jackson and Lilly Vitorovich.
The calculated risk comes as part of a broader strategic shift across Nine placing a greater emphasis on commercial sustainability rather than ratings dominance.
Jones stunned listeners on Tuesday when he announced he was retiring from his program after 35 years in radio while barely six months into an $8m, two-year contract.
The team behind Jones’s eponymous breakfast show will learn its fate on Thursday after being summoned for individual meetings with 2GB management.
There are fears many of Jones’s loyal staffers, some of whom have been with him for almost three decades, could be forced to follow him out the door when he switches off his microphone on May 29, leaving incoming breakfast host Ben Fordham with a dearth of experienced operators.
Alan Jones’s departure from Sydney radio station 2GB after 35 years will lead to a drop in advertising revenue for owner Nine Entertainment, although ad bosses anticipate that his successor, Ben Fordham, will attract new brands and younger listeners, report The Australian’s Lilly Vitorovich and Leo Shanahan.
Ad veteran John Steedman forecasts a drop in ad revenue following the changing of the guard. “Obviously, there will be some drop-off in revenue, more so from his direct client supporters. However, I am sure Ben Fordham will do a good job in holding on to a fair share of Jones’s listeners. In fact, the audience may trend somewhat younger,” he said.
PHD managing director Lucy Formosa Morgan also expects some of Jones’s loyal listeners to turn off when he leaves. “I’d assume audiences will decline off the back of his departure but there’s really very little competition out there for loyal talkback radio listeners to go elsewhere or for advertisers to target older audiences on radio.”
In almost every way, Lisa Wilkinson’s childhood was the polar opposite of her mother’s, reports The Age’s Michael Lallo previewing a new episode of Who Do You Think You Are? which starts next week.
While The Project co-host was raised in a tight-knit family, the late Beryl Wilkinson endured a miserable home life. Her peers taunted her for being the ‘bastard’ daughter of a man whose name she didn’t know. Her mother drank too much and became addicted to Bex, a now-banned analgesic powder. Often, Beryl wasn’t sure where she’d be sleeping at night.
“She was thrown into orphanages at the drop of a hat,” Wilkinson says. “When you’re as deprived of love as my mother was, it’s difficult to unlearn a lot of that upheaval and unrest.”
Beryl died in 2018. The following year, Wilkinson signed up to the SBS genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, which took her from Sydney to Brisbane to India. What she discovered only strengthened her admiration for her mother.
If the old adage “start as you mean to go on” is anything to go by, the opening scenes of Julian Fellowes‘ new drama Belgravia, set at one of history’s grandest parties, the Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels in 1815, make a dazzling promise for the six one-hour episodes to follow, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Idato.
The ball, hosted by Charlotte, Duchess of Richmond, was held the night before the Battle of Quatre Bras. Her husband, the Duke, commanded the reserve force in Brussels, which was then part of the United Kingdom, to defend the city in the event of invasion by the armies of Napoleon.
For the new series, based on the book of the same name Fellowes wrote in 2016, the ball serves as a poignant moment on the eve of tragedy. Days later, at the victorious Battle of Waterloo, many of the young men who attended the ball would lose their lives.
And yet Belgravia is neither a story of war, nor of the men who fought it, Fellowes says. Which is why the 70-year-old creator of Downton Abbey chose the ball, and not the more famous battles that followed it, as the place to begin the story.
“The main relationship of the piece in fact concerns two women, different in many ways but united by their shared loss of a child,” Fellowes says. “Given that the female characters define the story, it would seem to me quite wrong to begin the tale on the battlefield, where our principals, by definition, could make no appearance.”
The AFL stands to lose at least $104 million in TV rights cash this year, reports News Corp’s Michael Warner.
Negotiations between the league and its broadcast partners over a reduced arrangement for the 2020 season are continuing.
But industry figures say five fewer rounds and shortened games will slice a minimum of 25 per cent off this year’s contracts.
The league pockets an average of $417 million a year in TV rights as part of its bumper six-year, $2.5 billion deal with Channel 7, Foxtel and Telstra that expires at the end of 2022.
A more savage 50 per cent reduction in broadcast fees this year would equate to lost revenues of $208.5 million.
The revised deal for 2020 is expected to fall within the 50-75 per cent range of the original agreement.
AFL Media, the league’s in-house digital business, could also be significantly diminished and refocused on supporting club websites as a result of the negotiations.