Tuesday May 5, 2020

Aussie Gold Hunters strikes it rich again as new season launches

By James Manning

• Electric Pictures keeps filming as it meets COVID-19 regulations

Aussie Gold Hunters returned to TV screens  on Foxtel and Fetch’s Discovery channel on Thursday last week and immediately ranked #1 on the Foxtel platform as the first episode of season five pulled an audience of 106,000.

The program, made for Discovery by Perth-based Electric Pictures, is no stranger to good ratings. “When the season final of series four went to air it was the #1 non-sports program in its timeslot,” Electric’s founder and CEO Andrew Ogilvie told Mediaweek.

For a few years now it has been one of the most successful shows on Foxtel and it brings them steady, loyal audiences.

Andrew Ogilvie

The show, about gold prospecting in WA and now also Victoria, is so popular that Discovery most-recently commissioned two seasons of 20 episodes each for an order of 40 episodes.

The production company has been lucky not to be too impacted by COVID-19. “We have put in place different procedures that allow people in the field to maintain social distance. Because they are so isolated on the shoots we can keep working. We are using lots of hand sanitiser and disinfectant and we comply to guidelines regarding crew and talent. Most of the post-production crew are working on machines at home. It slows us down a little, but not too much, and we are lucky to actually be a little bit ahead of schedule on Aussie Gold Hunters season six.”

As to the appeal of the program, Ogilvie said: “A lot of Australians relate to it because it is about people like them doing something that many would dream to do if they could give up their day job.

Electric Pictures is one of the oldest factual production companies in Australia, calculated Ogilvie. “I launched the business in 1992.” The first production was called The Joys of the Woman, a documentary about an Italian women’s choir that became popular in WA and then toured around Australia.

Aussie Gold Hunters is the longest-running program Electric Pictures has made. “It has certainly helped us build a bigger business and provided a lot more employment on a regular ongoing basis for people.”

About 18 years ago Electric first worked with Discovery on the series Dinosaur Dealers about fossil theft. “It was filmed in Australia plus internationally including the US and China,” said Ogilvie.

But it is Aussie Gold Hunters that really put Electric Pictures on the map internationally. “It is seen in about 125 countries. At a guess we think as many as 40m people might have seen the show. In the UK it is frequently in the top 10 of the non-public broadcasting shows. It is often the #1 show for the Quest channel in the UK, a FTA channel owned by Discovery.”

Aussie Gold Hunters covers different types of prospecting, from dry blowing involving sending soil through a machine that separates the dirt from any gold through to hand held metal detecting.

One of the production elements a viewer gets to enjoy is the program’s drone work hovering across remote parts of Australia, with Ogilvie noting Electric Pictures were early adopters when it comes to drones. “We have used them for all of the series and we train all our sound recordists to fly drones. It is very hard to record useable sound while the drone is in the air so it puts our sound recordists to good use.”

The gold hunters that the show profiles are generally successful in meeting their targets and providing a living for themselves. “We try to make the series celebratory and aspirational too. The focus is only on groups or couples, small miners and prospectors. Sometimes they have a big windfall which is what gold fever is all about. The teams go through some hardships until they might find a decent nugget. The amounts that people can find vary widely from just a few ounces to kilos of gold.

The good thing about the show is it immediately puts a dollar value on every discovery big or small. “The biggest discovery was a nugget worth about $200,000,” said Ogilvy.

In addition to the 40-episode commission, Electric is also talking to Discovery about a number of one-off specials focusing on different elements from past seasons.

The Electric Pictures portfolio also includes award-winning other programs for the ABC and SBS over the years. Productions have included a two part documentary on Rupert Murdoch through to the recent motion picture Hotel Mumbai.

Ogilvy said making that film was a great experience, but… “There is a special art to making feature films. There is a particular sort of person who makes feature films, and that’s not me. You need to be independently wealthy to be a feature film producer.” [Laughs]

Ogilvie is much more at home with his factual TV. The business relies on many freelancers, telling us he had about 50 working for him at present, either permanently or as freelancers.

Wednesday: Discovery’s director of factual content & channels Darren Chau on taking Australian content around the world

ViacomCBS to now produce all Foxtel music channels

• In: MTV Classic, Club MTV & Nick Music Out: [V], Max & CMC

• Agreement expands Foxtel music channels with more music genres including a new kid friendly music channel

Foxtel has announced a landmark partnership which will see ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI) provide a new line-up of music channels offering a wider range of music genres for Foxtel subscribers.

From 1 July 2020 the new look music line-up will cover every music style, rock and pop, contemporary and country, charts and dance, urban R&B, easy listening and the all-time classics.

The music channel collection will by spearheaded by MTV HITS, together with MTV Classic, Club MTV, CMT (Country Music Television) and the new Nick Music, a kid-safe and family-friendly music video channel for 4-15 year olds featuring chart-topping hits by the world’s most popular artists.

The move means Foxtel will no longer produce its own channels [V], Max and CMC (Country Music Channel). Channel [V] was one of the original subscription TV channels in Australia and was originally produced for Foxtel by XYZ Entertainment which was jointly owned by Foxtel and Austar. Some Foxtel staff will be impacted by the change with discussions underway about possible alternative employment.

The expanded portfolio will be owned and operated by VCNI with the MTV and CMT-branded channels all programmed in Australia for Australian audiences.

The new agreement with VCNI also includes renewal of the channels Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and MTV on the Foxtel platform.

The deal could clear the way for Network 10 to offer a ViacomCBS music and/or kids channel as a multichannel addition for its free-to-air audience.

Foxtel chief commercial officer Amanda Laing said: “We are delighted to forge this new partnership with ViacomCBS which reaffirms Foxtel’s commitment to music television designed for Australian audiences.

“The agreement continues the refresh of Foxtel’s channel line-up and provides our customers with an even greater choice of music genres. ViacomCBS are global leaders in music television with a long-standing commitment to Australian music and we are pleased to continue building on our relationship with them with this historic new arrangement.”

ViacomCBS executive vice president, music & talent programming/events, Bruce Gillmer said: “Expanding ViacomCBS Networks International’s portfolio of music channels allows us to build even deeper relationships with Australian music fans, artists and labels. These branded channels resonate with music fans all over the world and launching in Australia gives us even more opportunity to bring audiences great music across genres.

“We’ve showcased incredible Australian artists from Gang of Youths to The Veronicas internationally. Launching these new music brands on Foxtel gives more Australian artists the opportunity to connect with fans locally and, potentially, around the world.”

Foxtel executive director of television Brian Walsh added: “Music remains as a strategically important part of the Foxtel content story and emphasises the depth and richness of our programming. These new channels will all be programmed by Australians, for Australians continuing our passion for local music curation.

We are proud of the heritage of our owned and operated music channels and the success they have enjoyed entertaining Foxtel customers for the past 25 years. I want to acknowledge the management and music teams, past and present, who created Channel [V], Max and CMC.

“Creating a great entertainment experience for our subscribers means constant renewal in every aspect of our business and our partnership with Viacom provides a fresh, new direction for music on Foxtel.”

Channel [V]’s SuperMercado remembers the glory days of music TV

By Andrew Mercado

Foxtel’s original music channels, Channel [V], Max and CMT are no more. At its peak, Channel [V] was pumping out over 26 hours of live TV per week with VJs Jabba, Andrew G, Yumi Stynes, James Mathison, Maya Jupiter, Mike Kerry and openly gay entertainment reporter called SuperMercado.

Read more: ViacomCBS to now produce all Foxtel music channels

From 1998, many of these shows came from a street front studio in the Entertainment Quarter, Fox Studios. Back then, the place would be crawling with school kids trying to get up close with their favourite musicians. You could see bands like the Foo Fighters for free, or dance alongside US actor Jerry O’Connell in Room 208, a dance competition show that was so popular, it became the first cable show to grace the cover of The SMH’s TV Guide.

SuperMercado (left) with Andrew G, now better known as Osher Günsberg

The backstory of Room 208 was interesting. Channel [V] was memorable for taking its staff away on wild conferences and Jabba and I would often share together. But fed up at everyone partying in our room, we begged for separate rooms, then stayed where we originally were. That meant everyone went crazy in the spare room across the hall, and till all hours too. The next day, despite hangovers and a lack of sleep, we workshopped a new show idea and named it after the site of our debauched shenanigans … Room 208.

None of this would have happened without Barry Chapman, our mighty boss who also thought it might be fun to hire a bus. It was. Music fans around Australia, some of whom were watching us 24/7, then got to see us in their town, with a couple of hot Aussie bands, as we travelled up and down the east coast for several summers.

They were crazy days, but the proof was always in the ratings. [V] and its sister channels always outrated the MTV channels, when they were competitors on the Optus network, and then on the same platform. Now MTV is the last one standing which proves having the more recognisable brand name is sometimes the most important thing of all.

All-stars who steered Foxtel’s Channel [V] on its music TV journey

Just over four years ago Foxtel’s executive director of television Brian Walsh told Mediaweek about the pay TV platforms new music strategy as it stopped hosting music played on Channel [V] and sister station Max.

“We are not abandoning Channel [V] as a brand,” said Walsh. He was right. Re-badged back then as [V] Hits, the channel lasted four more years before it became a victim of cost cuts as Foxtel finds ways of meeting audience demand, but at a lower cost.

At the time Walsh added: “Viewers for music channels have been in steady decline over the past few years as audiences fragment. People under the age of 30 are getting their music from a number of different sources now.

“The ratings for Channel [V] over the last two years have declined more dramatically than we would have hoped and we had to make a commercial decision about what the format should be.”

Australia first had a subscription TV music channel called RED back in the early 1990s on the Galaxy platform. The channel was later rebranded Channel [V], as it moved to the Foxtel platform. The music TV brand had recently appeared in Hong Kong on Star TV, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s global media empire.

Early staff working at the channel including ABC music guru Stephanie Lewis who had also worked with Midnight Oil and on ABC TV’s Rage.

The channel was part of XYZ Entertainment, a production company jointly owned by Austar that provided programming to both owners. XYZ chief executives over the years have included Patrick Delany, Bruce Mann, Paul Melville and as director of acquisitions Richard Finlayson.

Mark Fennessy was channel manager at Red during which time it was relaunched with a special silverchair performance. Later Barry Chapman took over as Red became Channel [V].

Other media executives that passed through the doors included Ben Richardson (now with merged ViacomCBS), Paul Fenech (before Fat Pizza), Donna Andrews (now Sticky Pictures), Leah Purcell (actress, director and writer), Jet Wilkinson (now a US director/producer).

The last on-air presenter on the payroll was Danny Clayton who finished up three years ago. Other presenters over the years included Jane Gazzo who moved from [V] to Max, the sister station, where she worked with Chit Chat, and for a time Molly Meldrum and James Reyne.

The last two dedicated music channel managers at Foxtel were Shaun James and more recently Rebecca Batties. Fraser Stark currently looks after music as part of his group GM entertainment and music role.

The good news is that Foxtel is not abandoning music fans. In a statement yesterday, Walsh said:

“Music remains as a strategically important part of the Foxtel content story and emphasises the depth and richness of our programming. These new channels will all be programmed by Australians, for Australians continuing our passion for local music curation.

“We are proud of the heritage of our owned and operated music channels and the success they have enjoyed entertaining Foxtel customers for the past 25 years. I want to acknowledge the management and music teams, past and present, who created Channel [V], Max and CMC.

See also: ViacomCBS to now produce all Foxtel music channels

See also: Channel [V]’s SuperMercado remembers the glory days of music TV

Top photo: Channel [V] presenters in 2013 hosted a daily program called The Riff: [L-R] Billy Russell, Carissa Walford, Danny Clayton and Marty Smiley

News Corp launches Feed Appeal: fundraising for food relief charities

News Corp Australia’s food brands taste.com.au, delicious. and Australia’s Best Recipes have launched the Fill the Pantry campaign in partnership with Feed Appeal, a fundraising initiative for community food relief charities.

The campaign has been developed in response to the recent rise in food insecurity and decrease in food availability and will encourage donations to the Feed Appeal to help fill the pantry of struggling Australian households. Most food charities have been forced to pivot their operations to hampers and food boxes, particularly pantry staples and fresh produce, with the highest increase in need coming from students and families.

The four-week editorial and advertising campaign, created by Food Corp, will run across the company’s food brands. The campaign will also utilise the power and reach of News Corp Australia’s network, starting on Wednesday, 6 May in metropolitan print and digital publications.

News Corp Australia’s director of Food Corp Fiona Nilsson said: “We’re really proud to collaborate with Feed Appeal on this campaign and make a difference where we can for those who are struggling right now. The traffic to our food sites has risen exponentially over the last few weeks with people looking for solutions for what to cook with pantry staples. Sadly, there are many Australians with empty pantries right now and this is a simple way, for those who can, to help.”

The Fill the Pantry campaign encourages readers to donate to provide pantry staples to those in need. A $15 donation will help fill a student’s pantry; $25 donation will help fill a small household pantry; $40 will help fill a household fridge; $60 will help fill a large family pantry; and a $100 donation will help stock a family kitchen. There will also be the option to donate a $10 treat bag for a family, and to set up weekly pantry subscriptions for $25 per week.

Feed Appeal CEO Katherine Gokavi-Whaley said: “We are so pleased to be partnering with News Corp Australia on this campaign. We are in regular contact with food relief charities across the country, whose resources and services were already stretched. Drought, bushfires and now COVID-19 has resulted in an increased demand of 50-70%, they are seeing queues of people waiting at times hours to get food. People who have never had to ask for help are reaching out as their pantry is bare.

“Feed Appeal has always believed that hunger is a community issue that needs a community solution. The Fill the Pantry campaign provides a simple way to support struggling Aussies and make a difference now.”

The Feed Appeal is an important part of News Corp Australia’s News in the Community initiative, helping to support vulnerable communities and build a better Australia. The Fill the Pantry campaign forms part of News Corp Australia’s decade-long support for Feed Appeal, which will continue to roll out across the company through new and ongoing appeals over the coming months.

For further details on the Feed Appeal, including how to help fill the pantry of a struggling Australian household, visit feedappeal.org.au/fillthepantry

Nine Radio exits syndication agreement with Crocmedia

• As Crocmedia secures new funding, hires new sales boss from Seven

Nine Radio’s managing director Tom Malone has advised staff of a major syndication deal the business has cancelled. Crocmedia used to syndicate Nine Radio content including Ray Hadley and Alan Jones to stations around Australia. Nine Radio will now syndicate its own content.

In an email to staff late on Friday evening, Malone started by noting the impact of COVID-19 had been significant with radio revenue taking an “unprecedented downturn”.

“This is causing us to examine everything we do, as we prepare our business to survive through the crisis, and emerge on the other side – stronger and more efficient. With uncertainty in the revenue market, we have been looking closely at our cost base in particular, with a view to minimising any impact on jobs or salaries.

One cost saving that Malone has made is cease a syndication deal Nine Radio had with Crocmedia. However Malone noted Crocmedia will continue to be a partner in the supply of sports rights and it will continue to produce the Sportsday radio program for Nine Radio’s 3AW hosted by Gerard Healy.

“We are in the process of communicating with the stations who buy our content, with the change being effective today – May 1,” said Malone.

“Ultimately we have a strong business, and decisions like this will help us deal with the many challenges ahead as we prepare for the post-COVID world.”

Nine’s decision came just hours after Pacific Star Network (the listed parent of Crocmedia) resumed trading on the ASX after shares had been suspended due to refinancing discussions.

Crocmedia’s existing debt facility of $15m had been extended to provide an additional $13.5m of funding.

That initial funding had been used for a number of acquisitions, including:

• AFL Record, $8.1 million (July 2018) Now offering digital editions for 2020
• Melbourne United Basketball Club 25% shareholding, $1.0 million (July 2018)
• Narrowcast radio licences, $6.9 million (July 2019) now being rolled out as SEN Track
• Rapid TV, $2.2 million (July 2019)
• Liam Pickering’s Precision Sports, $0.5 million (August 2019)

Crocmedia said the $13.5 million debt facility extension provides pro-forma cash liquidity of $18.5 million, inclusive of $5.0 million cash on hand as of 30 April 2020. Available liquidity will predominantly support incremental working capital requirements associated with COVID-19 pandemic disruptions to sporting seasons and events.

New Crocmedia commercial director is ex-Seven West Media

The company has appointed Patrick Moloughney (pictured) as commercial director commencing 1st July 2020. Moloughney was most recently in the role of network director of sport sales with Seven West Media nationally and is at the forefront of commercialisation of sporting events and broadcasting.

Moloughney replaces former Crocmedia chief commercial officer Sam Bingley who stood down in March after being appointed North Melbourne Football Club chief commercial officer under North Melbourne FC’s CEO Ben Amarfio.

“I had an incredible nearly 14 year-career at Seven so it’s exciting to be entering a new chapter,” Moloughney said. “The opportunity to join Crocmedia held great appeal and I’m looking forward to leveraging my long career in sports media sales to drive new opportunities to connect brands with sports fans through Crocmedia’s broad content offering across radio, TV, digital and events.”

IMAA announce partnership with independent agency network thenetworkone

Independent Media Agencies of Australia (IMAA) have announced an alliance with thenetworkone, the world’s largest independent agency network, this partnership will provide its members with a range of benefits and access to events.

Established in 2006, thenetworkone has 1,200 agency members across 109 countries. Members are provided with a network-on-demand that enables them to find partners and specialists where and when they need them. This enables independent agencies to compete effectively with the major communications holding companies and consulting businesses.

As part of the alliance, all IMAA members will also become members of thenetworkone, with benefits including its free inter-agency staff exchange, member events, newsletters, reviews, networking and information sharing.

Read more: Media agency owner Dominic Pearman on COVID-19 impact

thenetworkone can also facilitate agency partnerships if IMAA members require agencies in other disciplines beyond media, in Australia or in other markets, including the creation of bespoke networks of ‘go-to-partners’ for specialist agencies that require a depth of knowledge, such as healthcare.

thenetworkone Director, Paul Squirrell, said: “We are excited to be working with the IMAA and providing its members with access to hundreds of potential best-in-class partner agencies around the world to learn from, share and collaborate with.

“We truly believe that an agency no longer needs to own all the resources that a client might require to deliver a media campaign.  Instead, why not just seek out the best partner and solution for a particular project?  This is a network on-demand and, it works because independent agencies are naturally curious and collaborative!

“By building a relationship with the IMAA and its members, thenetworkone hopes to encourage inbound business activity to Australian media agencies and also empowering those same agencies to compete for, win and deliver international media assignments. We are looking forward to working together.”

IMAA Chairman, Dominic Pearman, said: “We are delighted to be a part of thenetworkone and all the benefits it brings to our members. The IMAA was established as a not for profit industry association that gives the thriving independent media agency industry a collaborative voice and supports Australian owned businesses. The alliance with thenetworkone allows our members’ access to a fantastic global resource of a range of independent agencies.

“There are many benefits for advertisers to work with independent media agencies, one of the most important being the depth and longevity of experience they provide and staff consistency and stability. Specialist skills from around the world and knowledge sharing capabilities will now also be at our fingertips.”

The IMAA and thenetworkone will host a member webinar for Australian members on Wednesday 6 May at 4.00pm where Paul Squirrell will discuss what it means to be part of the wider group and the resources members have access to.

thenetworkone has also announced “Webinar Wednesday”, a series of webinars featuring discussing a variety of topics from ‘how to lead an agency through a crisis’ to ‘where agency new business really comes from’.   These webinars are available free for independent agency leaders.

New Zealand’s Benee next artist to visit Nova’s Red Room Live Stream

Nova’s Red Room Live Stream promises fans intimate live music and one on one experiences with their favourite artists, with one of the hottest new artists Benee, the next to hit Nova’s virtual stage on Thursday 14 May.

Hosted by Smallzy, New Zealand indie pop sensation Benee will perform several tracks for Nova’s Red Room Live Stream, including her latest single Supalonely which has reached over 200 million streams and is now Platinum in Australia. Winners will also have the chance to ask Benee questions in an intimate Q & A.

Listeners can win their exclusive invitation to take part in Nova’s Red Room Live Stream with Benee by entering at novafm.com.au and listening to Nova’s night show from 8pm tonight.

Benee has quickly gone from canvasing Soundcloud with GarageBand covers, to rising up the charts with her latest single Supalonely. In mid 2018 Stella Bennet, aka Benee, released the viral hit Soaked and within months she had inked a deal with Republic Records.

She released her debut EP Fire On Marzz followed by her second EP Stella & Steve in November 2019.

Last week Supalonely rocketed to #10 on the Spotify Global Top 50 Chart, #23 on the US Top 50 chart and rose to #58 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song has been used in over 10 million TikTok videos, earning over 150 million video views. Benee was just crowned 98th most listened to artist on Spotify with 22 million monthly listeners and Supalonely passed 140 million streams on the platform. In addition Supalonely has been certified Gold in New Zealand, Australia and Canada, reached #6 on the Australian Top 50 Spotify Chart and Top 20 on the UK Airplay chart.

Kidspot.com.au launches Kids@home online series

Kidspot.com.au has launched Kids @ home, an online series aimed at supporting families with indoor entertainment and education sessions available Monday to Friday at 10.00am AEST.

The Kids @ home series is designed to support families by giving them practical advice and ideas centred on activity-based learning to help parents who are spending more time at home.

The free weekday series ranges from workouts to craft and cooking activities which can be done by the whole family.

Kidspot.com.au executive editor Melissa Wilson said: “We are navigating difficult times right now and parents are facing the unique pressures of ensuring their little ones are well cared for, home schooled and entertained while continuing to juggle daily life and even work from home.

“We may have started off with the best of intentions, maybe even invested in some hobbies to spend isolation time wisely, but at the end of the day we’re emotionally drained and can’t quite get to the peak level of creative and active parent that we imagined.

“This is why we’ve created Kids @ home, to support families over the coming weeks with a range of activities to do in the kitchen, some to coax out creativity and some to burn off the extra energy and stay active. The sessions are designed for parents to do with the kids, or sit back and watch while they have some fun.”

The Kids @ home with Kidspot.com.au schedule includes classes such as storytime with Jimmy Giggle, a family workout with Sam Wood and craft with early childhood teacher Brooke Louttit:

Mon 4 May Family workout: Sam Wood, 28 by Sam Wood
Tue 5 May Healthy cake: Lorraine Sarayeldi, PomPom Paddock
Wed 6 May It’s storytime: Jimmy Giggle
Thu 7 May Barre for families: Emma Seibold, Barre Body
Fri 8 May Get crafty: Early childhood teacher Brooke Louttit
Mon 11 May Barre workout: Renee Scott, Barre Attack
Tue 12 May Healthy dinner idea: Tanya Nagy, Bite Nutrition
Wed 13 May Art attack: Cork and Chroma painting class
Thu 14 May Yoga together: Beth Borowsky, The Karma Class
Fri 15 May Family workout: Lauren Patterson, MadMaxMum

Box Office: Highest ever grossing film in Australia

By Trent Thomas

With cinemas across the country still shut down, Mediaweek is using this time to take a look at the historical box office in Australia. This week we will be examining the top box office totals in Australian cinematic history.

The number one film was James Cameron‘s Avatar which achieved this feat despite not having a top 10 opening week or weekend instead relying on a slow burn to achieve its total of $115.78m. 

Read more: Box Office: Top opening weekends of all time
Read more: Box Office: Top opening week of all time

This ranking has followed the trend of the top week and weekend rankings with a large Disney influence with the top five compromising of four Disney films, although you could count it as five with Avatar which was released by Fox now also being owned by Disney. 

#1 Avatar $115.78m, Fox, 2009

The oldest film in the top five has set an extremely high bar for any other film to match with smash hits from Disney failing to get very close to breaking the $100m threshold let alone catching Avatar. Released over 10 years ago and distributed by Fox the film stars Australian Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana with the latter being the second highest-grossing (globally) actress of all-time which is helped by the fact that she features in three of the films in this ranking.


#2 Star Wars: The Force Awakens $94.01m, Disney, 2015

The return of the Star Wars franchise was a hit with Australian audiences after a 12-year absence from theatres. The highest-grossing film of the franchise launched a fresh trilogy which also spawned another top 10 all-time ranking film (#6 Star Wars: The Last Jedi). When the film was released in 2015 it opened on the highest number of screens ever 941, set a new record for the biggest opening day ever and the biggest opening weekend ever which helped push the film to #2 on the all-time box office list.


#3 Avengers: Endgame $84.17m, Disney, 2019

This film was partly expected to dethrone Avatar when it was released in 2019 with Endgame being the culmination of over 10 years of storytelling by Disney and Marvel including three other Avenger films which were all top 10 in the all-time box office rankings. This expectation was heightened after a record-breaking opening week which featured: 

• Highest opening day in cinema industry history
• Highest ever individual Wednesday / Thursday / Friday / Saturday / Sunday gross in Industry history
• Highest ever 5 day opening weekend (Weds-Sun) – beating Avengers: Infinity War
• Highest ever 4-day weekend (Thurs-Sun) – beating Star Wars: The Force Awakens
• Highest ever pre-sale total
• Highest ever opening screen count
• Highest & second highest single days of total business in industry history (Wednesday $11.46m & Thursday $11.26m)– beating Anzac Day 2018 $11.25m

Although the film ultimately fell short of Avatar and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, $84.17m is nothing to scoff at and it also has the small consultation of being the highest-grossing film internationally of all-time with $2.79b.


#4 The Lion King, $64.06m, Disney, 2019

The remake of the 1994 classic opened on 930 screens as was also the #5 biggest opening week ($20.53m) and weekend ($20.53m) in Australian history. The newest film in the top five is the highest-grossing live-action remake of Disney’s classic animated films and grossed $1.65b.


#5 Avengers: Infinity War $62.01m, Disney, 2018

Infinity War made its debut in cinemas on Anzac Day with a massive $8.7m on 871 screens claiming the title for the third-biggest opening day ever in Australia. The film was the highest-grossing Marvel movie at the time before being overtaken by its sequel the next year.


TV Ratings Monday May 4 Week 19 2020

By James Manning

• Lego Masters plot twist: Challenge to get back into the competition
• Best ever HYBPA? launch, stars in lockdown outrate MasterChef

Monday news highlights
Seven News 1,346,000/1,277,000
Nine News 1,111,000/1,037,000
ABC News 909,000
Current Affair 816,000
7.30 741,000
The Project 431,000/668,000
10 News 508,000/326,000
Sunrise 291,000
The Drum 269,000
The Latest 219,000
News Breakfast 216,000
Today 209,000
SBS World News 203,000

Nine: “Plot twist” this week on Lego Masters as two recently eliminated teams have the chance to return to the competition. The Monday episode managed to keep over the magic 1m with 1,089,000 to secure Nine a Monday victory. The Monday ep last week did 1,098,000.
Earlier in the night A Current Affair was on 816,000 after an average of 712,000 last week.

Seven: The judges gave their verdict last night as Kayne & Aimee topped the House Rules leader board with 31. Judge LLB didn’t hold back, unloading on Kimmy & Rhi over the bathroom work before scoring them 5 out of 10. The episode did 625,000, up nicely on 564,000 from a week ago.
Home and Away started the week on 717,000, a strong start after a week 18 average of 609,000.

10: Star of the night was the return of Have You Been Paying Attention? with 934,000 which is its biggest launch episode ever and the second biggest episode ever after 944,000 in October last year off the back of an episode of The Masked Singer. The isolation episode worked beautifully with seemingly few timing challenges.
MasterChef had to take second place last night as the program presented a team challenge from a suburban Thai restaurant in the outer Melbourne suburb of East Ringwood. Khanh’s team won which means Poh is amongst those cooking for survival in a pressure test tonight. The Monday episode was on 877,000 after 826,000 a week ago.

 ABC: Australian Story was well down on last week’s 910,000, with 667,000 watching an equally illuminating episode on former NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.
Four Corners then featured life on the coronavirus front line with health workers telling their stories. The episode did 505,000 after 747,000 a week ago.
Media Watch then did 491,000 followed by Q+A on 359,000.

Week 19 TV: Monday

ABC Seven Nine 10 SBS
ABC 13.5% 7 17.6% 9 21.7% 10  16.7% SBS One 4.6%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 1.7% 7TWO 3.3% GO! 1.2% 10 Bold 3.2% VICELAND 1.1%
ABC ME 0.4% 7mate 3.5% GEM 2.7% 10 Peach 2.0% Food Net 0.7%
ABC NEWS 1.2% 7flix 1.8% 9Life 1.5%     NITV 0.1%
        9Rush 0.9%     SBS World Movies 0.9%
TOTAL 16.7%   26.2%   27.9%   21.9%   7.4%


ABC Seven Affiliates Nine Affiliates 10 Affiliates SBS
ABC 13.8% 7 19.9% 9 18.0% WIN 13.0% SBS One 3.7%
ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY 2.3% 7TWO 4.3% GO! 1.4% WIN Bold 4.0% VICELAND 1.2%
ABC ME 0.7% 7mate 5.4% GEM 3.3% WIN Peach 2.1% Food Net 0.4%
ABC NEWS 1.2% 7flix (Excl. Tas/WA) 1.6% 9Life 1.2% Sky News  on WIN 2.2% NITV 0.1%
                SBS Movies 1.1%
TOTAL 18.0%   31.2%   24.0%   21.4%   6.6%


89.7% 10.3%
Monday FTA
  1. Seven News Seven 1,346,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 1,277,000
  3. Nine News Nine 1,111,000
  4. Lego Masters Nine 1,089,000
  5. Nine News 6:30 Nine 1,037,000
  6. Have You Been Paying Attention? 10 934,000
  7. ABC News ABC 909,000
  8. MasterChef Australia 10 877,000
  9. A Current Affair Nine 816,000
  10. 7.30 ABC 741,000
  11. Home And Away Seven 717,000
  12. The Chase Australia Seven 695,000
  13. The Project 7pm 10 668,000
  14. Australian Story ABC 667,000
  15. House Rules: High Stakes Seven 625,000
  16. Hot Seat Nine 566,000
  17. 10 News First 10 508,000
  18. Four Corners ABC 505,000
  19. Media Watch ABC 491,000
  20. Emergence Nine 443,000
Demo Top 5

16-39 Top Five

  1. Have You Been Paying Attention? 10 305,000
  2. Lego Masters Nine 304,000
  3. MasterChef Australia 10 268,000
  4. The Project 7pm 10 179,000
  5. Seven News Seven 166,000


18-49 Top Five

  1. Lego Masters Nine 541,000
  2. Have You Been Paying Attention? 10 470,000
  3. MasterChef Australia 10 418,000
  4. The Project 7pm 10 315,000
  5. Seven News Seven 315,000


25-54 Top Five

  1. Lego Masters Nine 588,000
  2. Have You Been Paying Attention? 10 501,000
  3. MasterChef Australia 10 442,000
  4. Seven News Seven 398,000
  5. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 374,000
Monday Multichannel
  1. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 169,000
  2. Doc Martin PM 7TWO 163,000
  3. Peppa Pig AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 161,000
  4. Bluey AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 158,000
  5. Neighbours 10 Peach 152,000
  6. Bluey ABCKIDS/COMEDY 150,000
  7. Peppa Pig PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 147,000
  8. Floogals PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 146,000
  9. M- Hacksaw Ridge PM 7mate 143,000
  10. Shaun The Sheep AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 139,000
  11. Go Jetters AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 132,000
  12. Bananas In Pyjamas AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 131,000
  13. Dog Loves Books ABCKIDS/COMEDY 127,000
  14. The Simpsons-Ep.3 Pm 7flix 126,000
  15. Book Hungry Bears AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 125,000
  16. Rusty Rivets PM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 122,000
  17. Law & Order: Svu Ep 2 (R) 10 Bold 122,000
  18. Play School AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 122,000
  19. Dot. AM ABCKIDS/COMEDY 121,000
  20. Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom ABCKIDS/COMEDY 120,000
Monday STV
  1. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 77,000
  2. Outlander FOX One 76,000
  3. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 69,000
  4. Credlin Sky News Live 69,000
  5. PML Later Sky News Live 50,000
  6. Kenny On Media Sky News Live 50,000
  7. The Kenny Report Sky News Live 46,000
  8. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver COMEDY CHANNEL 45,000
  9. Escape To The Country Lifestyle Channel 41,000
  10. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 39,000
  11. Jeopardy! FOX Classics 38,000
  12. Blaze And The Monster Machines Nick Jr. 38,000
  13. Ready Set Dance Nick Jr. 37,000
  14. Family Guy FOX8 36,000
  15. Paw Patrol Nick Jr. 35,000
  16. Antiques Roadshow Lifestyle Channel 33,000
  17. Peppa Pig Nick Jr. 32,000
  18. Top Wing Nick Jr. 32,000
  19. Calvin & Kaison’s Play Power Nick Jr. 32,000
  20. Blaze And The Monster Machines Nick Jr. 31,000

Shares all people, 6pm-midnight, Overnight (Live and AsLive), Audience numbers FTA metro, Sub TV national
Source: OzTAM and Regional TAM 2018. The Data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) without the prior written consent of OzTAM

Media News Roundup

Business of Media

Bauer Media axes 60 Pacific Magazines positions via Zoom meeting

The German family-owned publisher Bauer Media told staff in a Zoom meeting on Monday that there were would be significant job cuts as Pacific was integrated into the company, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s Zoe Samios.

About 60 staff were later told they would not be continuing with the business and a further 15 employees were stood down. Pacific titles Men’s Health and Women’s Health will also be temporarily halted.

About 160 Pacific jobs had moved to Bauer on Friday.

Sources said staff from Pacific’s Instyle, BEAUTYcrew, and Bauer’s Belle and Country Style were among those told via Zoom they would not be continuing with the business. The redundancies are in addition to the Pacific roles axed by Bauer late last year.

[Read more]

Scope of the damage at Disney to be revealed this week

After a decade of spectacular growth at Disney, the entertainment conglomerate has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, reports The New York Times.

Its 14 theme parks (annual attendance: 157 million) delivered record profits in 2019. They’re now padlocked. Its movie studios (there are eight) controlled a staggering 40 percent of the domestic box office last year. Now, they’re sitting at a near standstill.

“From great to good to bad to ugly,” Michael Nathanson, a leading media analyst, wrote in a report of Disney’s extreme reversal in fortunes. “Recession will cause further pain.”

On Tuesday, Disney’s new chief executive, Bob Chapek, and Robert A. Iger, Disney’s executive chairman, will offer their first assessment of the damage. Disney is scheduled to report quarterly results after the stock market closes. Analysts are expecting per-share profit of 88 cents, down 45 percent.

[Read more]

News Brands

Secrecy shrouds Ben Roberts Smith v Nine newspapers court case

Attorney-General Christian Porter has invoked a rarely used national security gag order over the defamation case brought by Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts Smith, throwing a veil of secrecy over one of the biggest defamation trials in Australian history, reports The Australian’s Paul Maley.

In what is believed to be an Australian legal first, Porter issued a certificate ordering the National Security Information Act be applied to the Roberts Smith civil trial, which was set to begin in the Federal Court next month.

Roberts Smith is suing Fairfax Media, now known as Nine Entertainment, over a series of articles that he claims portray him as a bully, a war criminal and an abuser of women.

A former SASR soldier, Roberts Smith denies the allegations, saying they are the product of internal rivalries and hatreds within the unit.

Nine is defending the case.

[Read more]

News Corp’s Robert Thomson announces new leader at Dow Jones

News Corp has appointed Almar Latour as the new chief executive officer of Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

Latour, who is currently publisher for Barron’s Group and executive vice president at Dow Jones, will assume the post with the departure of William Lewis, effective May 15. The Barron’s Group portfolio includes Barron’s, MarketWatch, Dow Jones Wealth and Asset Management group, Mansion Global and Financial News.

Almar Latour

“Almar Latour is patently well-equipped to helm the world’s pre-eminent journalism, business analysis and professional content company,” said Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp. “Over nearly a quarter century at The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones, Almar has ascended from roles as a news assistant and staff reporter, becoming a bureau chief and managing editor, and more recently serving as an editor-in-chief, executive editor and publisher. He has shown distinguished leadership, editorially and commercially, and brings a deep understanding of digital challenges and opportunities. Almar is a worthy successor to Will Lewis, from whom he will inherit a wonderfully talented team and a business that is exceeding records for digital subscriptions quarter-after-quarter. The Professional Information Business has also been revivified and is now a formidable engine for robust growth.”

Latour commented: “I’d like to thank Rupert Murdoch, Lachlan Murdoch and Robert Thomson for their trust – and for their deep and continued support for and investment in quality journalism and the national and international institution that is Dow Jones. Our role is more important than ever before. Our millions of readers and users in the US and beyond are all faced with uncertainty in time ahead and our unique brand of factual news and analysis serves to help them make decisions in business, finance and personal life. Will Lewis and the team have left Dow Jones in great shape. We are well positioned to take The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, MarketWatch, Newswires, Factiva and our other brands to more people everywhere and continue – and accelerate – our growth. As always, our mission is to help people put the truth to good ends.”

Sky News announces Rowan Dean as host of Aussie Larrikin investigation

Sky News Australia has announced it will bring audiences a new television special called The Death of the Aussie Larrikin? on Tuesday 16 June at 8:00pm.

Providing audiences with a first look at the special this week, the program explores whether or not political correctness has caused the demise of the larrikin spirit in Australian life and culture.

The one-hour television event takes a nostalgic look back at the ‘Aussie larrikin’ of the 70s and 80s, then tracks the changing tastes and standards of more recent years.

Providing humour as well as insights and commentary, The Death of the Aussie Larrikin? begins by taking a look at the brash, loud, larrikin culture epitomised by figures such as Paul Hogan. It explores if the humour and spirit of Hogan’s heyday has been crushed by political correctness, the growth of social media, and the “cancel culture” which in recent years has seen online outrage shut down comedy and TV shows.

As well as exploring whether the politics of language and culture has caused the disappearance of the larrikins of the 70s and 80s, it asks if there was a dark, divisive side to the larrikin ethos.

The program is hosted by Sky News Outsiders anchor and political commentator Rowan Dean and features interviews with high-profile Australians including legendary television presenter and co-host of Studio 10 on Network 10 Kerri-Anne Kennerley, comedians Paul Fenech, Vince Sorrenti and Emma Malik, entertainer and actress Delvene Delaney as well as ABC Radio presenter James Valentine.

Channel 10 and TV producers on making content during pandemic

A partnership between Melbourne’s ACMI, Film Victoria and Media Mentors is starting an online series called Running Free Live. The sessions will present a monthly opportunity to network and learn skills from the screen industry.

The first Running Free Live will look at how 10 and its production partners have managed their productions during the pandemic. Good news for content creators and screen professionals: Channel 10 is still commissioning shows and is working closely with production companies to meet Government regulations to keep shows on air.

Head of Popular Factual, Sarah Thornton, will be talking about her productions – including The Project – and what shows she would be interested in commissioning in the current climate. Producer Dan Brown will discuss how he worked with Thornton to turn Coronavirus Australia: Our Story around in 16 days. Fremantle CEO Chris Oliver Taylor will talk re-thinking development and production – including rebooting Neighbours for 10.

YouTube livestream and Zoom meeting room links will be provided on the day of the event.

Running Free Live guests

Sarah Thornton is Head of Popular Factual at Network 10 responsible for executive producing across shows such as The Project, Ambulance Australia and The Living Room. Thornton has over two decades of experience in programming, including over 15 years in the UK developing formats such as Say Yes to the Dress UK, Snog Marry Avoid, Top Chef, Undercover Dads and Kitchen Nightmares. Her shows have been nominated for BAFTA Awards and have won an RTS Award and Rose D’Or. Thornton began her career in News and Current Affairs at the Nine Network.

Chris Oliver Taylor started his career at the BBC in London, working across a number of production roles and programs.  He emigrated to Australia in 2000 and worked at the ABC in a variety of senior roles across Drama, Entertainment and Comedy. Oliver Taylor was promoted to Head of Production in 2005 responsible for the physical production of the entire ABC TV slate. In 2011, he moved to the independent production sector as Managing Director of Matchbox Pictures. In 2018 Oliver Taylor was appointed Fremantle’s CEO Australia, New Zealand and Asia, and assumes full responsibility for the company’s overall management and business performance across these territories as well as being a member of the Fremantle Global Board. He leads the development and production of the company’s scripted and unscripted programming. Fremantle Australia creates, produces and distributes television content including Recording Studio, Escape from the City, Family Feud, Great Australian Bake Off, Wentworth and Neighbours. Recent projects include Picnic at Hanging Rock, The X Factor, Australia’s Got Talent and Australian Idol.

Dan Brown has been creating, producing and directing television for 25 years. He co-founded Joined Up Films in 2010 after spending 8 years at the ABC. Brown has created multiple award winning formats and documentary series. Recent credits include – Coronavirus Australia: Our Story (Channel 10), Is Australia Sexist (SBS), Will Australia Ever Have A Black Prime Minister? (ABC), Secrets Of Our Cities (SBS), Is Australia Racist? (SBS) and Bite Club (Discovery).

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