By James Manning
• Global audience demand is leading to more local commissions
Discovery may not have a big reputation as a commissioner of local content amongst people who don’t watch the channel. But let’s fix that misconception. The Foxtel and Fetch brand commissions more Australian content than any other international channel.
Flagship franchise Aussie Gold Hunters launched in the first year that former Foxtel and freelance executive producer Darren Chau arrived at Discovery. The channel’s director of factual content & channels explained to Mediaweek how the fledgling reality show grew over the years. “We started with just eight episodes in season one. Then we grew to 10 in season two and then 13 and in seasons three and four. Last year we made the decision to really upsize Aussie Gold Hunters and we ordered 20 episodes. We did a double commission making it a 40 episode order across two years.”
While Aussie Gold Hunters has become a flagship production for Discovery in Australia, there is plenty else going on. “In 2019 we commissioned and produced over 120 hours as a company.”
Chau expects there could be even more in 2020, despite the impact of COVID-19. “At the moment I am overseeing 80 hours in production with about another 20 hours to start production. In my first year at Discovery we only had 16 hours of local content.”
The simple reason he is commissioning more is that the programs are resonating with audiences. “Aussie Gold Hunters has been the #1 factual series on Foxtel for the last three successive years. Outback Opal Hunters is right behind it.” The series where prospectors hunt for gold and opals are made for Discovery by Perth production companies Electric Pictures and Prospero Productions respectively.
“As we have increased our commitment to local production, the shows are finding bigger audiences not only in Australia, but now with audiences globally.”
Chau explained that Discovery partners with its colleagues in the UK on commissions. “We have a FTA channel in the UK called Quest and Aussie Gold Hunters is the #2 show on Quest. Outback Opal Hunters is top five on Quest. The popularity of these shows has also spread across the rest of Europe.”
Aussie Gold Hunters has now been screened in over 135 countries while Outback Opal Hunters has been shown in over 100 countries. “Both series have now been picked up by Discovery in the US. The #1 cable channel for men launched Outback Opal Hunters in November and it was so successful they immediately rolled into season two. Aussie Gold Hunters has just launched in the past few weeks. Both series now air on the channel’s biggest night of the week.
“Because these shows are finding audiences all around the world, Discovery is looking for more Australian content. Discovery’s biggest US franchise is the factual show Gold Rush and the entire new season of Gold Rush: Parker’s Trail has been filmed in Australia to premiere later this year.”
The Australian programs are expensive shows to make, said Chau, and Discovery has yet to commission them in 4K. “We want them to look as good as possible, but we also need to work within very structured finance plans that involve various screen bodies. 4K is something we continually consider, but we need to be clever with budgets to make sure we can continue increasing output.”
Chau currently watches edits of new episodes in his home office and before the lockdown he tried to visit on location as often as he could. “Before lockdown I spent some time in Kalgoorlie where we held an event for locals who supported the series.”
In the first three seasons of Aussie Gold Hunters the prospecting was only in Western Australia. For season four Electric Pictures and Discovery introduced a team in Victoria.
Season five has been expanded to seven teams looking for a gold bonanza. “I met our crews for the new season and the Dust Devils are targeting 400 ounces of gold which equates to over $1m.” Chau didn’t give much away, but he hinted it could be good to track their progress in season five to see how successful they are.
Chau even went prospecting one afternoon, but despite dreams of instant wealth, he didn’t uncover much.
Aussie Gold Hunters has led to a dramatic increase in prospecting licences and tourism. Chau: “These are everyday folk in our show and a lot of them go out with just their metal detectors. With everyday city life a real challenge for many, particularly since the coronavirus,, heading into remote areas, living off the grid and not working for “the man”, has a real appeal.
While Discovery is unlocking 100s of hours that has never been on FTA before in its new JV with Nine for 9rush, Aussie Gold Hunters and Outback Opal Hunters won’t be amongst them.
There will be some Aussie content though. “We have already launched Dirty Jobs Down Under on 9rush. There will be others,” said Chau.
By James Manning
• Lingo Pictures partner says local casts the key to industry restart
Lingo Pictures partner and executive producer Helen Bowden is “stranded” in New Zealand during the COVID-19 lockdown. She went to visit her 91-year-old mum for a week two months ago and could now possibly be on a farm near the Bay of Islands until August. “There are worse places to be,” Bowden admitted to Mediaweek.
The producer has been on a roll with three of the best dramas on Australian TV in the past two years – Upright, Lambs of God, and the Bowden-produced The Secrets She Keeps.
The latter is screening now on 10 and has been doing bumper business. Episode two was up on the launch and the catch-up numbers saw episode one climb to 424,000 in overnights and 823,000 when 10 factored in BVOD and encore screenings.
Because Lingo Pictures is just Bowden and her business partner Jason Stephens, the two work on separate projects as executive producers. “One of us takes the lead and is the hands-on producer and the other one is the EP. We can also swing into action for each other when required.”
The two producers didn’t know each other before they formed the company five years ago. “We got to know each other very quickly because it is pretty exciting, yet very demanding work. It has turned out to be a really wonderful partnership.”
Bowden and Stephens both have to like something before they go ahead with it. “There is a constant pool of ideas that are coming in and we are often meeting with talent. We do come at things from a slightly different angle. Jason started in comedy and had a commercial television upbringing. I was more film, ABC, SBS and Foxtel. We are often in agreement for ideas we love and those we don’t. Then we go to the customer [broadcasters] and if they don’t want to make it you have to move on.”
Although Lingo Pictures addresses the Australian market first, international sales are part of the business model. “No one broadcaster can now found a complete series anymore and hasn’t been able to for some time. A significant amount of your money needs to come from offshore. If you do get it right, as we have with [international sales for] The Secrets She Keeps, then it is a revenue source for the investors which includes Network 10.”
The series is a winner on several levels for 10 – bringing strong overnight and catchup audiences, new audiences to 10 Play and the network shares in international sales revenue.
Bowden said former Harper Collins publisher Shona Martyn was doing some work for Lingo Pictures as a literary scout when she casually asked Bowden one day if she knew the bestselling author of The Secrets She Keeps, Michael Robotham, was an Australian. (Martyn is now editor of The Sydney Morning Herald’s Spectrum section.)
“I have ready many of his books, all of them set in the UK. Shona told me he writes on Sydney’s northern beaches. I was up there not long after having coffee with him, trying to persuade him to let us adapt The Secrets She Keeps. I realised straight away that it doesn’t need to be set in London, it could easily be Sydney.”
Robotham knew some people who had worked with Bowden and they gave the writer glowing references.
Next was finding a broadcaster: “We showed it to Rick Maier at 10 and really the next morning he had read the book and said let’s do it. It was one of those ideas that was meant to happen.”
A key to the series’ success are the female leads. Particularly Laura Carmichael as Agatha. “She really wanted to do it. She had heard about it and spoken to her agent and she sent us multiple messages expressing her desire to do it. She thought she needed to do something very different after Downton Abbey. She had spent almost all her working life on Downton. She graduated and then went on to do seven series and a movie.”
Jessica De Gouw is also brilliant as the other lead. The actress had been around for a while and was just getting better and better, said Bowden. “I was not sure initially if she would be a credible mother of two, but she has got such a grounded feel and she’s an incredibly lovely woman. I was just thrilled with her performance. She has the glamour that you can totally buy as a mummy blogger.”
No producers are able to reveal what they are working on next. But we tried: “A whole lot of things,” said Bowden. “Possibly a second season of Upright,” she hinted before adding she wasn’t sure of its current status given the impact of COVID-19 on the industry. “Among other programs in development is a New Zealand project.”
Bowden said there is a feeling that the film and TV industry could start filming in Australia and New Zealand before everybody else. “We could possibly be shooting this year. The safety aspect has to be addressed, but people are gearing up for work. Projects where you don’t need to import a lot of people will be first.”
• Foxtel issues this statement this morning:
Foxtel and WarnerMedia have consolidated their long-standing relationship with a major new multi-year licencing agreement covering programming from Warner Bros., HBO, HBO Max and WarnerMedia networks which will continue to power Australia’s most extensive range of television provided through Foxtel’s broadcast and on demand services.
The deal ensures Foxtel’s 2.5 million customers will continue to enjoy the breadth and depth of Warner Bros., HBO and WarnerMedia networks content from award winning television series such as Game of Thrones, Succession, Big Little Lies and Batwoman to fan-favourites Friends and The Big Bang Theory along with blockbuster movies and popular children’s content from the Cartoon Network and Boomerang.
Foxtel Group Chief Executive Officer Patrick Delany said: “We are pleased that after working together for almost 25 years we can announce an expansion of our relationship, not only with Warner Bros. and HBO, but with the extended WarnerMedia family. The diverse output from WarnerMedia to the Foxtel Group will power our broadcast and streaming strategy on multiple platforms and multiple brands ensuring our customers continue to enjoy the very best of TV and on demand from the world’s number one producer of television.
“WarnerMedia has a long history in creating the world’s best television. From Bugs Bunny to Batman, Carrie Bradshaw to Rachel Green, Jon Snow to Tony Soprano, WarnerMedia’s characters are amongst the most beloved and iconic in television. There is only one home in Australia for the diversity and volume of product from WarnerMedia and that is Foxtel.”
Foxtel-WarnerMedia Agreement Highlights
• Foxtel continues as the exclusive Australian Home of HBO and the new exclusive licensee for Warner Bros.’ produced and distributed scripted Originals from HBO Max which will launch in the US on 27 May.
• Extends exclusive rights for Warner Bros. TV and rights for Warner Bros. extensive movies catalogue.
• Continuing carriage agreements supporting Foxtel’s kids’ offering with Cartoon Network and Boomerang along with expanded SVOD rights, and ongoing CNN access.
• Extensive SVOD rights supports the continuing expansion of Foxtel’s on demand content and the Foxtel Group’s ambitions in streaming.
• Partnership includes a commitment to scripted and non-scripted programming for Warner Bros. International Television Production in Australia.
Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution President Jeffrey R. Schlesinger said: “We are incredibly pleased to have the opportunity to pull together a diverse collection of audience favourite films, series and documentaries from Warner Bros., HBO and HBO Max as well as continued access to leading news and entertainment networks CNN, Cartoon Network and Boomerang and be able to offer all of this in one deal.
“It is a first for our company and a true exemplification of WarnerMedia’s international distribution strategy of putting the viewer first. We look forward to the promise that this deal will offer between Foxtel and WarnerMedia, be it in the delight of audiences continuing to enjoy the quality and first-rate programming of HBO and HBO Max, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, the highly-respected journalistic excellence of CNN, award-winning and popular box-office hits from Warner Bros. or first-time access to fan favorites Friends and The Big Bang Theory.
“We also applaud Foxtel’s commitment to local production in Australia and look forward to developing an impressive slate of programs.”
Agreement Content Highlights
• HBO Max Originals will bring a collection of stories targeted at younger streaming audiences including the much-anticipated reboot of Gossip Girl, The Flight Attendant starring Kaley Cuoco and Ridley Scott’s upcoming sci-fi series Raised by Wolves.
• As the Australian home of HBO the much anticipated Game of Thrones prequel along with returning seasons of Succession, Barry and Westworld along with every HBO drama series ever made, perfect for bingeing on demand, including Game of Thrones, Sopranos, Sex in the City, Insecure, The Wire and Veep.
• Renewal of Warner Bros. scripted output and new scripted productions, made for US Network, cable and OTT platforms along with Warner Bros catalogue of TV series including PAYTV and SVOD rights for two of the world’s most popular comedies The Big Bang Theory and Friends for use across the Foxtel Group.
• Extension of Foxtel’s Movies relationship with Warner Bros. including first-run feature films and its acclaimed library of classics.
• New co-production agreement to create original content, Australian made and locally produced continuing Foxtel’s’ long-term commitment to the Australian production community.
ARN’s commercial offering has been further strengthened with the launch of ARN Dynamic Audio – something the broadcaster is calling a world-first dynamic advertising technology that delivers more personalised and measurable campaigns for ARN’s radio clients.
The technology sees ARN become the first and only media business in the world to have the capability to provide dynamically targeted advertising on AM, FM and DAB+ radio in real time, ensuring the messaging is relevant, engaging and timely.
This global breakthrough was developed in partnership with A Million Ads, a world-leader in dynamic audio technology. ARN is the exclusive production partner of A Million Ads in Australia, having already successfully implemented their dynamic technology across the iHeartRadio Australia app.
ARN said Dynamic Audio goes beyond what all standard production techniques used in the market can currently offer and delivers time-saving, cost-effective, automated and simple solutions for clients. As well as being more personalised, ARN Dynamic Audio gives advertisers a better way to measure and account for the success of their radio campaigns using real-time data.
Research has shown that compared to non-targeted messaging, this new technology delivers a 52% uplift in advertisement recall, a 49% increase in engagement and a 240% increase in customer conversions.
The rollout of ARN Dynamic Audio, across AM, FM, DAB+ and iHeartRadio, is part of ARN’s long-term strategy to expand and diversify its comprehensive commercial offering for clients with more personalised creative campaigns. Another key part of this strategy is the use of the interactive ShakeMe audio advertising technology. Giving clients the unique ability to empower audiences to connect with their ad by responding immediately to a call to action either by shaking their mobile phone or using a voice command, ShakeMe technology is the next evolution in audio advertising.
ARN’s chief commercial officer Pete Whitehead (pictured) said: “ARN’s implementation of ARN Dynamic Audio via our partnership with A Million Ads is revolutionary. Never before has a media company been able to automatically deliver tailored advertising to radio audiences in real time, but that is exactly what ARN can now do. We can help advertisers send the right message, to the right audience at the right time… in real time. This technology can be applied by ARN for any client across any industry, whether it’s a retail business who want to advertise a sale or a food delivery business who has a new menu item they want their customers to try. The increased conversion of personalised, real-time messaging is undisputed and will radically change the way we help our clients connect with audiences, through AM, FM, DAB+ and iHeartRadio.”
Steve Dunlop, founder and CEO of A Million Ads said: “Personalisation is the next frontier in advertising so it’s great to be able to bring it to ARN’s broadcast platforms as well as streaming and podcasts. Partnering with ARN was an obvious choice for us as they share our vision of a personalised future, driven by data and great creative that helps clients stand out.”
On the implementation of ShakeMe technology, Whitehead said: “What is so exciting about the ShakeMe technology for our clients is we have removed all barriers that usually come following traditional advertising’s call to action. For example, a person listening to an ad for a new car can now simply shake their phone or give a voice command to open a website, get directions to their nearest dealership or even call the dealership directly – making it easier than ever for our advertisers to ‘close the loop’. A listener doesn’t even have to unlock their phone or look at their screen to access an advertiser’s offer.
“ARN is committed to constant evolution of our commercial solutions for clients. Both of these new technologies allow ARN to deliver more innovative, creative, dynamic advertising campaigns than ever before and are a key part of our ongoing strategy to increase the diversity of our 360 degree offering for clients.”
ARN’s CEO Ciaran Davis added: “In the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, all shows across our network were able to instantly adapt the content they were creating for their audiences and advertisers. Only audio has the capacity to turn around new messaging within hours for clients and leverage the genuine connection radio talent have with their audiences.
“With people staying home in unprecedented numbers, there has been a significant growth in audio consumption, as measured with data released by Commercial Radio Australia, from research by podcast platform Megaphone, and from ARN’s iHeartRadio. ARN is retaining audiences for longer, enabling brands to seamlessly integrate across Australia’s most complete audio offering across digital, on-demand and broadcast. This includes across the iHeartPodcast Network which has more than 30 million monthly Australian impressions across international, local and catchup podcasts. These are bolstered by our Run of Genre ad offering and are all host-voiced to enhance the listening experience and geo-targeted to Australian listeners.
“As an industry-leading media business and the #1 national radio network, no matter the market conditions, ARN will continue to define audio as it adapts and strengthens both its content and commercial offering and solutions for clients.”
By Trent Thomas
The TV Demand charts have seen movement from top to bottom this week with changes at the top also complemented by new entries sprinkled throughout. The only show that has retained its spot at #1 is Brooklyn Nine-Nine which is still the top show on the Overall TV chart in Australia.
The movement at the top of the charts sees Star Wars being replaced by Star Wars as The Mandalorian drops down one spot and is replaced by Star Wars: The Clone Wars as Disney+ holds the top two spots of the Digital Original chart in Australia and New Zealand for the second week in a row. There was also a change on the Overall TV chart in NZ with Westworld taking top spot ahead of the season finale for its third season which aired on Monday.
The Last Kingdom has made a strong impression on the digital Original charts in both Australia and NZ with the British historical drama based on Bernard Cornwell‘s The Saxon Stories receiving a surge of interest centred around Netflix’s release of its fourth season on April 26.
The series is set in the year 872 and revolves around the various kingdoms that occupy what is now modern England and the threat of the Vikings. The story centres around Uhtred, a Saxon who has been orphaned by and then raised by the Vikings as he struggles with his two identities.
Defending Jacob has also joined the Digital Original charts in Australia and is currently the only show from the Apple TV+ platform on the TV Demand charts. The mini-series shows a family dealing with the revelation that their 14-year-old son may be a murderer. The show stars Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery, Jaeden Martell, Cherry Jones, Pablo Schreiber, Betty Gabriel, and Sakina Jaffrey.
The black comedy After Life starring Ricky Gervais has entered the Digital Original charts in both Australia and NZ after releasing its second season on Netflix on April 24. The first two seasons of the show comprise 12 episode and centre on Gervais’s character who is depressed and suicidal after his wife’s death and decides to punish the world by behaving however he wants.
American reality TV show 90 Day Fiancé joined the Overall TV chart in Australia, after debuting in 2014 the show has gone on to make seven seasons with the most recent being released in November 2019. The show follows couples who have applied for or received a K-1 visa which is available to foreign fiancés of US citizens and have 90 days to marry each other.
By James Manning
• Seven’s House Rules not winning, but channel & network #1
• Poh dodges bullet in MasterChef’s suburban elimination shootout
• 10 ranks #1 channel & network in key demos and under 50
Tuesday news highlights
Seven News 1,238,000/1,183,000
Nine News 1,119,000/1,060,000
ABC News 861,000
Current Affair 713,000
The Project 405,000/631,000
10 News 453,000/314,000
The Drum 271,000
SBS World News 216,000
News Breakfast 208,000
The Latest 205,000
Nine: The channel stuck with a repeat of Perfect Holiday at 7.30pm as its Tuesday share slipped week-on-week from 15.6% to 14.9%, its lowest weeknight survey share of the year. Perfect Holiday was on 321,000 after 301,000 a week ago.
The 2008 movie What Happens in Vegas then did 198,000.
Seven: The channel’s most-watched after 7pm was Home and Away with 668,000.
The renovations on House Rules moved to Queensland with the show delivering 532,000, up slightly from 479,000 a week ago.
First Dates Australia then helped the channel into a winning position with 323,000 after 9pm.
10: MasterChef reclaimed top spot on the channel and the episode was #1 entertainment and in key demos for the night. The program has continued in the suburbs with an elimination cook last night in a brick veneer home which doubles as an exclusive restaurant. After a taste test gave immunity to all but three, Poh and Ben managed to survive as Rose became the sixth contestant sent home.
The premiere of the second season of How to Stay Married followed with the Aussie comedy on 427,000, the best audience since episode two of season one.
ABC: Foreign Correspondent had 489,000 after 8pm.
Catalyst then did 392,000 followed by a doco on cartoonist Michael Leunig, The Leunig Fragments, on 240,000.
SBS: Great Canadian Railway Journeys pushed above 300,000 again with 329,000.
Insight was on 207,000 and then Dateline did 143,000.
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.3%||7TWO||3.6%||GO!||2.9%||10 Bold||4.1%||VICELAND||1.4%|
|ABC ME||0.5%||7mate||3.6%||GEM||2.4%||10 Peach||2.3%||Food Net||1.2%|
|9Rush||0.9%||SBS World Movies||0.8%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||10 Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC KIDS/ ABC COMEDY||2.7%||7TWO||4.5%||GO!||3.9%||WIN Bold||3.9%||VICELAND||1.8%|
|ABC ME||0.5%||7mate||6.5%||GEM||3.7%||WIN Peach||2.3%||Food Net||0.5%|
|ABC NEWS||1.4%||7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)||2.0%||9Life||2.4%||Sky News on WIN||2.6%||NITV||0.2%|
|TUESDAY 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
Nine Entertainment boss Hugh Marks has declared he has “no deal” with the NRL over broadcast payments for the 2020 season, warning of a willingness to walk away from the code as the network looks to save $50m in sports rights deals, reports The Australian’s Leo Shanahan.
At Tuesday’s Macquarie investor conference Nine Entertainment chief executive Hugh Marks revealed the network’s free-to-air television revenue dropped nearly 30 per cent in April and outlined even tougher cost savings plan of almost $300m.
According to Monday’s presentation Nine expects to save $50m in broadcast rights of NRL and remaining cricket rights – including the Twenty20 World Cups – by the end of the 2021 financial year.
Nine’s free-to-air revenue in April was down 28.8 per cent despite maintaining the number one position in ratings, largely thanks to the performance of its hit show Married At First Sight. Marks attributed 9 per cent of that decline to the postponement of the NRL season.
Nine says it hasn’t agreed to anything yet with the NRL as the broadcaster, Foxtel and rugby league try to salvage the 2020 season on mutually acceptable terms in a war of words over rights that threatens to transform the code and its TV future, report The AFR’s Sarah Turner and Vesna Poljak.
Nine has already paid 25 per cent of its rights fee this calendar year, for which it has received almost no value since the COVID-19 pandemic stopped matches, CEO Hugh Marks said on Tuesday.
Marks said the NRL needed to “get your head around” the fact that the most significant growth in its costs had been “off the paddock” and to dedicate yourself to “investing on the paddock, which is the clubs themselves”.
One avenue could be asserting control over the league’s digital assets, instead of the NRL competing with broadcasters by investing in its own platforms. “That can be facilitated through Nine, and through Fox Sports and by us supporting the NRL.com web site. We can do that a lot more cost effectively than they can.”
“Sports rights were already becoming unsustainable. Now in this environment, they have certainly become unsustainable,” Marks said.
Fox Sports has begun preparing for the possibility of a future without Channel Nine, with the pay-TV operator looking to form an alliance with a rival free-to-air network to broadcast rugby league, report The Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Chammas and Zoe Samios.
Such a move could see Fox win the right to screen rugby league’s long-coveted crown jewels, the grand final and three State of Origin matches, although the games would have to be simulcast on a free-to-air network to satisfy anti-siphoning legislation.
Foxtel already has a strong relationship with Channel Seven through its partnership with cricket and AFL, as well as racing through the Sky network.
Rugby league bosses are willing to contemplate a whopping five-year extension to their current broadcasting deals with Foxtel and the Nine Network as they look to future-proof the code and ensure their clubs and players have a billion-dollar backstop for protection, reports The Australian’s Brent Read.
On the same day Nine boss Hugh Marks warned the station’s love affair with rugby league may be coming to an end, News Corp can reveal the idea of a new deal that would secure the game’s broadcasting rights until the end of 2027 is in the mix.
There has been talk that contracts with Nine and Foxtel could be extended as part of those negotiations and it is understood rugby league officials are open to additional five years if that helps get a deal over the line.
The slow progress of broadcasting talks have delayed an announcement on the draw and hampered efforts to set the salary and football caps for next season and beyond.
The value of the AFL’s prized TV rights is tipped to fall as the sports media industry reels from the coronavirus crisis, report News Corp’s Michael Warner, Glenn McFarlane and Lauren Wood.
Experts believe the prospect of a cashed-up new player such as Amazon, Google or Facebook emerging at the bidding table has diminished.
A more likely move is a two-year extension with current rights holders Channel 7 and Foxtel.
But AFL Media, the league’s in-house digital business, could be significantly downsized as a result of the negotiations and refocused on supporting club websites.
The current six-year, $2.56 billion AFL deal – averaging $418 million a season in cash and contra – expires at the end of 2022.
For the first time in the game’s history, the price of the game’s broadcast rights is expected to fall. The current six-year, $2.56 billion deal, is worth about $418 million a season – a figure experts predict cannot be matched in the post-COVID climate. Talk of a two-year extension for current rights holders Channel 7 and Foxtel is strong.
Walt Disney executives on Tuesday afternoon offered the first look at the extent to which the novel coronavirus has crippled their once seemingly indestructible entertainment empire, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
The company’s earnings per share, excluding certain items, dropped 63 percent to 60 cents for the first quarter of 2020, below what Wall Street was expecting. Quarterly revenue grew 21 percent to $18 billion. Disney estimates that the coronavirus’s impact on Parks, Experiences and Products segment, hit hard by the global shutdown, was approximately $1 billion due to lost revenue.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic has had an appreciable financial impact on a number of our businesses, we are confident in our ability to withstand this disruption and emerge from it in a strong position,” said CEO Bob Chapek. “Disney has repeatedly shown that it is exceptionally resilient, bolstered by the quality of our storytelling and the strong affinity consumers have for our brands, which is evident in the extraordinary response to Disney+ since its launch last November.”
One bright spot has been the performance of Disney+, which forged ahead with its rollout in several European countries and India this spring despite global shutdown. The service passed 50 million paid subscribers in early April.
ViacomCBS has announced plans for a virtual US upfront, becoming the first media conglomerate to go ahead with something resembling a full-fledged presentation to advertisers, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
In a memo to clients and partners Tuesday, chief advertising revenue officer Jo Ann Ross detailed plans for “a series of short virtual presentations” showcasing the company’s assets on May 18 and 19. The “ViacomCBS Upfont @ Home” will take place a few days later than what would have been CBS’ traditional upfront on May 13. That show at New York’s Carnegie Hall, along with all other traditional, in-person gatherings for upfronts week, was called off in March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“I planned to be – and frankly, I’d rather be – writing to you this time of year to invite you to one of our intimate upfront dinners or our annual celebration at Carnegie Hall,” Ross wrote. “Clearly, the current climate is different, but as they say at Carnegie, the show must go on!”
Disgraced TV gardening guru Don Burke has cemented his successful, but “ironic” defence of a defamation case brought against him dating back to an expose of his alleged history of sexual misconduct, reports News Corp’s Craig Dunlop.
The ACT Court of appeal on Tuesday refused an appeal brought by journalist Wendy Dent, who had previously lost a defamation case against the celebrity gardener.
Dent was one of a string of women who accused Burke of sexual misconduct, saying the once-popular TV gardener told her she had to go topless in an audition to work on his show.
In a subsequent interview on A Current Affair, Burke denied the claims, denials which Dent argued defamed her by portraying her as a “liar” and as being part of a “witch hunt”.
Dent was ordered to pay Burke’s costs.
For many of us, the coronavirus pandemic has provided the ideal opportunity to improve ourselves and broaden our horizons, reports News Corp’s Antimo Iannella.
But Australian comedian Joel Creasey admits he has managed to do the complete opposite in self-isolation. If anything, he is actually perfected the art of downskilling.
“I have not reorganised anything, I have not reconnected with old friends. I’ve had some really drawn out, petty arguments with my partner. I’ve rediscovered my passion for Burger Rings, I reckon I’ve had a packet every day and I’m re-watching Game of Thrones,” Creasey told Hibernation.
“So a lot of people are going to come out of isolation having made progress. I think I’ve probably taken a step back.”
He has teamed up with GQ Australia magazine to host GQ Live! with Joel Creasey, a weekly series of fun Instagram live interviews with celebrities about life in isolation, what they have been up to and how they have been entertaining themselves.
First up in the series – which kicks off on Wednesday at 1pm on GQ’s own Instagram account (@gqaustralia) – is Australian singer Cody Simpson, live from Nashville, US.
Other big-name guests already locked in for future episodes include Australian Survivor winner David Genat, Aussie funnywoman Julia Morris, former deputy PM Julie Bishop and rising Aussie singer Ruel.
While some shows are continuing on a weekly or even daily basis, how does social distancing impact on TV control rooms? asks TV Tonight.
Most have pulled back on the number of staff in close proximity and instigated strict new measures designed to keep everybody safe.
Jon Olb, director of The Weekly and Mad as Hell says while one ABC Melbourne control room is larger than most it still requires precautions.
“The first thing that we do when we arrive is sterilise our respective areas. We keep our distance wherever possible,” he tells TV Tonight.
“Non-essential operators are moved to less populated areas of the control room, but all the self-monitoring must follow. Even bathroom breaks are twice as long to accommodate the necessary hygiene procedures.”
The Sunrise team is working with a smaller control room at their Martin Place studio but executive producer Michael Pell explains they too have adjusted numbers.
“Our control room is generally a tight squeeze, so we’ve removed two people from the front row and put them in other rooms, so they can still do their jobs, but with appropriate social distancing.
“A middle row of producers now has two, not three, with one upstairs or at home. It’s the same with our back row which is lighting, camera control unit and technical director. They’ve also been separated and appropriate measures put in place.”