Friday November 10, 2023

Seven AGM 2023
Seven West Media AGM: The impact of digital, VOZ, and financial results

By Tess Connery

Plus: Kerry Stokes on the prominence framework proposal

Seven West Media held its annual AGM on Thursday, with Kerry Stokes AC taking to the stage first for the Chairman’s Address.

“Seven West Media performed well during the year despite a softening of the overall TV and wider advertising market, while our transformation to a broadcast, print and digital business has accelerated,” Stokes told shareholders.

“The Seven Network continues to be the most watched free to air network and digital platform in Australia, reaching and engaging 91% of the population, with a broadcast audience of more than 17 million people a month and more than 13.5 million registered 7plus users.”


Speaking about the company’s earnings, Stokes said that digital earnings contributed over 49% of Seven’s overall earnings in the 2022-23 the year, and pointed to the new agreement between Seven and NBCUniversal as a highlight.

“The deal sees Seven acquiring and broadcasting NBCU’s scripted network and cable dramas and comedies on Seven and 7plus. Our new broadcast and digital channel 7Bravo is the recipient of unique content and is experiencing a very strong take-up by viewers,” Stokes said.

One of the biggest topics at the 2024 Upfront, Seven’s acquisition of digital streaming rights for AFL and cricket also got a mention from Stokes.

“A key development in the 2022-23 financial year was the signing of new media rights agreements with the Australian Football League and Cricket Australia, ensuring the most popular winter and summer sports will remain on Seven – live and free – for many years to come. Importantly, the new agreements give us digital rights to both sports for the first time.

“The combination of AFL and cricket will give 7plus four billion minutes of new content and change the way sport is watched online.”

AFL Grand Final 2023 seven

AFL Grand Final 2023

VOZ and Prominence 

With VOZ already supplying data ahead of its complete rollout, and the announcement of VOZ Streaming, Stokes said that he was “delighted” about the new OzTAM Virtual Australia ratings system.

“The total pool of revenue from this more accurate measurement of audiences is estimated to be worth $6.5 billion and we are confident we will pick up a major share of the incremental revenue in coming years.”

Speaking about the ongoing prominence debate, Stokes told shareholders that “we have worked with the industry and proposed a solution to Government that retains free and prominent carriage of our trusted local TV services on connected TV. We call on the Government to legislate the prominence framework as soon as possible.”

Seven’s Key Financial Results

Following Stokes’ address, managing director and chief executive officer James Warburton took to the stage to provide a financial update, saying that the results “represented a solid performance in a challenging environment.”


James Warburton

The key points were:

• Since FY20, Seven West Media’s cost base has grown for the Prime acquisition and through a combination of investment in content and efficiency at less than 1.5% a year for everything else.
• During FY23, revenue declined 3% to approximately $1.49 billion.
• Excluding depreciation and amortisation, Seven’s costs increased by 0.9% over the prior year to $1.2 billion.
• EBITDA declined 18% to $280 million, and underlying net profit was $146 million.
• Net cash flow before temporary and capital items was $155 million.
• Net debt of $249 million was down slightly from $256 million in the prior period, with prudent leverage of 0.9 times maintained. 

“Our strategy is to be Australia’s most connected news, sport and entertainment brand,” Warburton said.

Seven also announced that it has refinanced its syndicated debt facility.

The new facility has been downsized from $600 million to $525 million, and has also increased from three years to a four-year term. Despite recent market movement, funding costs have been held at approximately 2.4% above BBSY.

Warburton, said: “At SWM we continue to deliver on our ambition to be Australia’s most connected news, sport and entertainment brand. While we accelerate our digital future, partnering for growth is one of our key priorities.

“This refinancing continues a significant partnership with our supportive lender group and reflects SWM’s ongoing progress in transforming the business and reducing debt.”

Inside Nine AGM: Chair Peter Costello and CEO Mike Sneesby on performance, Paris and profits

By James Manning

Nine updates Olympic preparation, reveals on track to sell all partnership packages

Nine Entertainment Group chairman Peter Costello was the first speaker at the Nine Annual General Meeting held before a small group of shareholders inside Nine’s North Sydney tower.

The full Nine Entertainment board was in attendance, joined by the recently appointed board member Mandy Pattinson.

“In FY23, Nine successfully built audience share and revenue share across all our key platforms,” Costello told visitors and the bigger online audience.

“We have a strong balance sheet and unrivalled diversity in Australian media. Our focus is to create the best content, distribute it broadly and thereby engage our audiences and advertisers. In particular, we continue to use our premium content to build our digital future.

FY23 was more challenging than FY22. The local economy stumbled against a backdrop of higher inflation and rapid interest rate rises. Nine performed well, maintaining revenue on FY22 and taking market share.

“There was some cyclical softness in advertising markets, but Nine’s ability to create and monetise the best content was reflected in clear share gains across our unique suite of platforms – television, radio and publishing. In FTA, our metro market revenue share was above 40% in FY23, which is the highest share recorded by any broadcaster for at least 20 years. We reported growth in digital revenue and EBITDA from our wholly owned businesses, and our success in diversifying the drivers of revenue is shown by subscription revenue now contributing 28% of the wholly-owned total.

“Content is the key to Nine’s business and will be instrumental in our future success. Across all our platforms – total television, radio, publishing, Stan and Domain – Nine is focused on our audiences, the content they want, and how best to distribute and monetise it.”

Mike Sneesby on Nine performance, Paris and profits

Chief executive Mike Sneesby spoke at length recapping Nine’s FY2023 results. Summing up that performance, he said:

“Through FY23, Nine has continued to solidify its position at the forefront of media in Australia and further build on its digital strength. Whilst we have faced tougher economic conditions which have impacted the broader industry, Nine has risen to the challenge, continuing to drive audience and revenue share and invest in the future of the business. In FY23, Nine’s EBITDA and net profit were both our second strongest on record, beaten only by FY22’s record results.

Nine’s evolving business model

“Nine’s business model continues to evolve as the market embraces the digital delivery of our premium content. We believe that we are at the forefront of the Australian media market and our outperformance against our traditional peers is tangible – in digital television, audio and publishing our share in digital against our traditional peers is markedly higher than our historical share. We are proud of our progress as our business extends across multiple digital platforms.”

See also: Nine Entertainment results – Net profit drops 25%, but grows audience and revenue share


Nine CEO Mike Sneesby
Top photo: Nine board [L-R] Catherine West, Mickie Rosen, Mandy Pattinson, Sam Lewis, Andrew Lancaster, Mike Sneesby, Rachel Launders and Peter Costello

Nine’s preparations for Paris 2024: Advertisers already on board

Sneesby explained: “Across our broadcast and streaming television, audio and publishing, Nine will bring the Paris Olympics and Paralympics to all Australians, with an unprecedented cross-platform strategy – we will deliver more content from the Olympic and Paralympic games with greater opportunities for commercialisation than ever before.

We have recently gone to market with the first wave of commercial opportunities for advertisers. We have developed a powerful games advertising proposition which is built on Uniting Australia through our unrivalled content offering. Our proposition includes an almost 10 month marketing platform for advertisers – the Road to Paris – starting with the Gangwon Winter Youth Olympic Games in January and running all the way through the Paris Olympic Games and culminating with the Paris Paralympic Games in September.

“We have presented our full integrated Olympics partnerships to all IOC and AOC partners as well as a range of Australia’s largest advertisers and the results to date have been very pleasing. We have a number of partnerships confirmed and we are on track to sell all major partnership and sponsorship packages. We are also confident that progress in our commercial partnerships around tentpole assets like the Olympic and Paralympic Games will contribute further to underlying revenue share performance across all of our platforms.”

AI-driven initiatives coming throughout 2024

“AI also drives content recommendations on Stan, 9Now and on our publishing sites which helps to acquire audiences and increase their consumption across the Nine ecosystem,” said Sneesby.

“It is key to our recent launch of the ‘listen to this article’ text to audio feature available on the AFR, The Age and The SMH – the first phase of our generative AI tools and a likely precursor to new products that can further customise content to each reader’s preference and habits.

“It is also helping us produce our sport ‘Minis’ on 9Now and Stan, condensing full games into 20-30 minute packages, increasing engagement by offering new consumption alternatives to our premium sporting content. This was particularly successful with the recent Ashes series where consumers could catch up on a whole overnight session from the UK in around 40 mins the next morning.

“What is significant about a number of these initiatives is that they are utilising Nine’s existing premium content from all platforms to develop new products and applications and ultimately generate revenue.

We will continue to roll-out AI-driven initiatives throughout 2024 with the goal of creating more relevant content in more formats with greater efficiency, increasing the amount of time our audiences spend with us and building more advertising products that deliver outcomes for our clients.

Nine current trading: Q1 FTA revenue TV down 12%

“Across Nine’s wholly-owned businesses, operating performance for the first quarter was broadly consistent with the comments made at our FY23 result in August,” said Sneesby.

“The Nine Network and primary Channel Nine are once again expected to win the metro TV and BVOD ratings in all of our targeted demographics for calendar 2023.

The metro FTA television market however, remains challenging, with Q1 revenues down around 12%. While September showed some improvement on the rate of decline in July and August, Nine has seen no discernible improvement into the December quarter.

“By contrast, in the September quarter, 9Now’s revenues and the BVOD market, continued to grow in the low-mid teens on a percentage basis.

“Nine is continuing to focus on the costs and efficiency of the group’s total television business. We are now expecting total TV costs to be slightly down in FY24 on pcp, excluding the NRL step-up and the cost of additional cricket. Ongoing cost initiatives across total television are expected to enable us to more than absorb inflationary costs, as well as our material investment in technology, including cyber security.

Nine Radio’s Q1 advertising revenues declined by around 3% on pcp, supported by strong growth in digital revenues, and with an increasing contribution from live audio streaming.

“Stan’s paying entertainment and sport subscribers have shown clear growth since our result in August, driven by exclusive content, including the Rugby World Cup, the return of the UEFA Champions League and the Stan Original series C*A*U*G*H*T as well as exclusive licensed shows. We continue to expect that higher ARPU and paying subscribers will drive further growth in both revenue and EBITDA in FY24 for Stan.

Nine’s publishing business continues to benefit from its focus on quality, differentiated journalism, with strong digital subscription revenue growth of 12% in Q1, slightly ahead of earlier expectations. Nevertheless as cited in August, given the challenging digital advertising market, we continue to expect FY24 publishing EBITDA to be slightly ahead of the H2 FY23 run-rate.”

Mike Sneesby nine media code
Mike Sneesby calls for video to be considered in media code negotiations

By Tess Connery

Nine’s original three year media code agreement with Meta is set to expire in 2024

Nine Entertainment’s CEO Mike Sneesby has said that the move by Facebook and Instagram to prioritise video content should be considered when renegotiating news media bargaining code deals.

See Also: Inside Nine AGM: Chair Peter Costello and CEO Mike Sneesby on performance, Paris and profits

Speaking at Nine’s AGM on Thursday, Sneesby told shareholders that “There has been a significant increase in the use of our video content – news-related, sport-related and entertainment-related video content – across both Facebook and Instagram’s Reels businesses.

“Notwithstanding the fact they may be considering their position in the traditional image and text-based news, video content has ramped up considerably. I don’t have a specific figure, but it’s material. And that certainly is an important thing for us to come to the table on to work out how we reach agreement on compensation for that video content.”

In 2021, Nine joined other major Australian news outlets in signing on to the News Media Bargaining Code to ensure that Nine would be paid for content running on Meta and Google’s platforms.

The deal with Meta was for the supply of news video clips and access to digital news articles on Facebook news products, for a term of up to three years with a minimum amount payable over the term. 

With that three year term set to expire in 2024, next year will see the company join the tech giants at the table to renegotiate a deal – something that Nine has already suggested they may be hesitant to do

Back on Thursday’s AGM, however, Nine chairman Peter Costello said that “he would like to continue” the agreements with Meta and Google., but that “the critical question is whether Meta is going to stay in this particular business.”  

“This is just a new iteration of a very old point. In the old days, you made a movie and if Joe Blow got a copy and started showing it in his picture theatres, you were entitled to a cut. Now, these days, somebody gets some footage, and they put it up on TikTok, or Meta, they get advertising. And it’s the same thing.”

News Corp
News Corp Q1 2024: Group profitability strong with growth and challenges in Australia

By James Manning

Foxtel Group subscriptions total 4.6m, News Corp Australia revenue down, but subs climb higher

News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson has reported financial results for the three months ended September 30, 2023, the first quarter of financial year 2024.

“We had a sterling start to the new fiscal year, with rising revenues and increased profitability despite difficult economic conditions in some of our markets,” Thomson said this morning on the earnings call.

“Our first quarter revenues were slightly higher at $2.5 billion, while our profitability rose 4%, marking the second consecutive quarter of profit growth.

Our positive performance in the quarter follows the three most profitable years since the creation of the new News Corp.

News Corp Q1, 2024

News Corp

News Corp questions market valuation

Thompson continued: “In our view, these results certainly highlight the disparity between the value of our company and our share price, which we believe does not reflect our present profitability, yet alone the potential of our incomparable, growing businesses.”

AI to exploit premium content

Thomson also pointed to a new profit centre. “We are actively working to make the most of our premium content for AI and are engaged in advanced discussions that we expect to bring significant revenue to the company in return for the authorised use of our peerless content. Our quest is to maximise value for all investors, so we are assiduously reviewing our structure.”

First Quarter Highlights

News Corp reported fiscal 2024 first quarter total revenues of $2.50 billion, a 1% increase compared to $2.48 billion in the prior year period, primarily driven by increased physical book sales and improved returns at the book publishing segment resulting from the absence of Amazon’s reset in the prior year and higher revenues at the Dow Jones segment due to robust growth in its professional information business.

The increase was partly offset by lower revenues at the digital real estate services segment due to continued challenging housing market conditions in the US, a $14 million negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations and lower advertising revenues at the News Media segment.

Digital Real Estate Services

Revenues in the quarter decreased $18 million, or 4%, compared to the prior year, reflecting an $11 million, or 2%, negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations. Segment EBITDA in the quarter increased $3 million, or 3%, compared to the prior year, primarily due to higher revenues at REA Group and cost savings initiatives at Move, which were largely offset by lower revenues at Move and a $5 million, or 4%, negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations. Adjusted Revenues and Adjusted Segment EBITDA (as defined in Note 2) decreased 2% and increased 8%, respectively.

In the quarter, revenues at REA Group increased $9 million, or 4%, to $261 million, driven by higher Australian residential revenues due to price increases, increased depth penetration and an increase in national listings, as well as $3 million, or 25%, of higher revenues from REA India. The increase was partly offset by an $11 million, or 4%, negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations and $4 million of lower financial services revenues due to a decrease in settlement activity. Australian national residential buy listing volumes in the quarter increased 1% compared to the prior year, with listings in Sydney and Melbourne up 16% and 14%, respectively.

Patrick Delany at Foxtel 2024 Upfront

Subscription Video Services

Revenues of $486 million in the quarter decreased $16 million, or 3%, compared with the prior year, due to a $21 million, or 4%, negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations. Adjusted revenues of $507 million increased 1% compared to the prior year. Higher revenues from Kayo and BINGE, driven by increases in both volume and pricing, were partially offset by the impact from fewer residential broadcast subscribers.

Foxtel Group streaming subscription revenues represented approximately 30% of total circulation and subscription revenues in the quarter, as compared to 25% in the prior year.

As of September 30, 2023, Foxtel’s total closing paid subscribers were nearly 4.6 million, a 2% increase compared to the prior year, primarily due to the growth in streaming subscribers driven by Kayo and Binge, partially offset by fewer residential broadcast subscribers. Broadcast subscriber churn in the quarter improved to 11.4%, compared to 14.2% in the prior year. Broadcast ARPU for the quarter increased 3% year-over-year to A$85 (US$56).

Dow Jones

Revenues in the quarter increased $22 million, or 4%, compared to the prior year, driven by growth in circulation and subscription revenues led by growth in professional information business products. Digital revenues at Dow Jones in the quarter represented 81% of total revenues compared to 79% in the prior year. Adjusted Revenues increased 3%.

Circulation and subscription revenues increased $22 million, or 5%, including a $4 million, or 1%, positive impact from foreign currency fluctuations. Circulation revenues increased 1%, primarily due to the continued growth in digital-only subscriptions, which was helped as a result of bundling, partially offset by lower print volume. Digital circulation revenues accounted for 70% of circulation revenues for the quarter, compared to 68% in the prior year.

During the first quarter, total average subscriptions to Dow Jones’ consumer products reached 5.3 million, an 8% increase compared to the prior year. Digital-only subscriptions to Dow Jones’ consumer products grew 12%. Total subscriptions to The Wall Street Journal grew 6% compared to the prior year, to 4.0 million average subscriptions in the quarter. Digital-only subscriptions to The Wall Street Journal grew 10% to over 3.4 million average subscriptions in the quarter, and represented 87% of total Wall Street Journal subscriptions.

Advertising revenues decreased $3 million, or 3%, primarily due to 6% and 2% declines in print and digital advertising revenues, respectively. Digital advertising accounted for 66% of total advertising revenues in the quarter, compared to 65% in the prior year.

News Media: Australian ad revenue slips, sub dollars lift

Revenues in the quarter decreased $5 million, or 1%, as compared to the prior year, primarily driven by lower advertising revenues, partially offset by the $7 million, or 1%, positive impact from foreign currency fluctuations and higher circulation and subscription revenues.

Revenues at News Corp Australia decreased 7%, driven by a 5% negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations and lower advertising revenues, while News UK increased 3% driven by the 7% positive impact from foreign currency fluctuations. Adjusted Revenues for the segment decreased 2% compared to the prior year.

Circulation and subscription revenues increased $6 million, or 2%, compared to the prior year, primarily due to a $5 million, or 2%, positive impact from foreign currency fluctuations, price increases and digital subscriber growth, partially offset by lower print volumes.

Advertising revenues decreased $10 million, or 5%, compared to the prior year, primarily due to lower print and digital advertising at News Corp Australia, lower print advertising at News UK and a decline in traffic at some mastheads due to platform-related changes. The decline was partially offset by a $2 million, or 1%, positive impact from foreign currency fluctuations.

News UK also incurred one-time costs pertaining to the proposed combination of print operations with DMG Media which, pending regulatory approval, is expected to provide long-term savings. The decrease was partially offset by lower production costs at News UK, driven by lower volume.

News Media subscription revenues

Digital revenues represented 37% of News Media segment revenues in the quarter, compared to 36% in the prior year, and represented 35% of the combined revenues of the newspaper mastheads. Digital subscribers and users across key properties within the News Media segment are summarized below:

• Closing digital subscribers at News Corp Australia as of September 30, 2023 were 1,049,000 (937,000 for news mastheads), compared to 1,012,000 (929,000 for news mastheads) in the prior year (Source: Internal data)

• The Times and Sunday Times closing digital subscribers, including the Times Literary Supplement, as of September 30, 2023 were 572,000, compared to 532,000 in the prior year (Source: Internal data). The previously disclosed methodology change resulted in a 59,000 and 64,000 increase to the closing digital subscriber number at September 30, 2023 and 2022, respectively

• The Sun’s digital offering reached 134 million global monthly unique users in September 2023 (Source: Meta Pixel; prior year comparable statistic unavailable)

• New York Post’s digital network reached 127 million unique users in September 2023, compared to 151 million in the prior year (Source: Google Analytics)

See also: News Corp Q4 2023 – News Corp transformation: Robert Thomson reveals digital revenue now over 50% for full year

Atomic 212° - Rory Heffernan
"It's rewarding": Rory Heffernan discusses Atomic 212°'s strong year of business wins, retention and driving growth in 2024

By Alisha Buaya

“We’re riding a bit of a wave at the moment where the industry is a bit ripe for disruption”

Atomic 212° has had a strong year. With a slate of new business wins including Entain (Ladbrokes and Neds) and My Muscle Chef, its ranking as Australia’s top-performing independent agency by RECMA and COMvergence, and the announcement last month that it had retained the BMW Australia account, the independent media agency is finishing out the year on a high.

National managing director Rory Heffernan told Mediaweek this year’s successes were the result of 13 years of hard work competing against the big media agencies.

This year saw Atomic 212° top the COMvergence report as the highest-ranked independent agency for the first time, with $24 million in new business and a 100% retention rate.

“We’re riding a bit of a wave at the moment where the industry is a bit ripe for disruption, and it’s not just us. There’s a whole range of independents having great success at the moment, which is awesome.”

“We compete against the OMDs and GroupM, these behemoths. For us to develop in-house media mix modelling and econometrics, technology, and attention-based planning tools, it feels like we have completely levelled the playing field. It’s rewarding and exciting to be in that position.”

The agency’s strategic partnership with Mutinex as part of its Platinum Partnership Program has been another highlight. The partnership sees the Mutinex GrowthOS market mix modelling platform, and the marketing ROI metric will become central to planning and evaluating media spending at the independent agency for eligible customers.

“We’ve gone through a bit of maturity, where we know exactly what we can bring to the table. We’ve got quite a few more tools in the arsenal now that we’ve built in-house that we can put in front of clients and have real confidence that we can drive an impact, and that’s translating into all the new business wins,” says Heffernan.

Atomic 212°’s new business streak has included wins such as Craveable Brands, Entain (Ladbrokes and Neds), Victoria University, My Muscle Chef and Growth Faculty, as well as retaining Northern Territory Government and Tourism Northern Territory.

Its most recent success has been the retention of the BMW Australia account, which was announced in October. The agency has worked with the luxury motor vehicle company since 2020, and its remit will include BMW, MINI, BMW Financial Services, BMW Aftersales and BMW Motorrad. It will also include the BMW New Zealand media account, effective January 2024.

“We absolutely love working with that client. They’re such a fantastic team and brand, and I think the whole industry gets excited about that. A lot of the time, specific pitches aren’t talked about openly in the press, and that one garnered a lot of attention.

“It’s a brand and a client that people love working with, and they’re doing such exciting things as in the electric space. and I think everyone also knows the complexities of the brand in the account as well,” he said.

“So, to be able to retain and grow it into New Zealand is a huge achievement. I’m so very proud of the team that worked on that BMW and Mini, that was a big one,” he added.

See also: Atomic 212° retains BMW Australia account, expands to New Zealand

The evolution of Atomic 212°

As the agency’s first full-time employee, Heffernan has witnessed the agency’s evolution.

From its early days as Atomic Search, through the relaunch as a full-service media agency to the current data-led, client-driven media powerhouse, which employs 166 people across its offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin and Auckland.

“It was a completely different business. There was only a handful of us working there in the early days, based out of Sydney, in a little office in The Rocks. It was a tiny space, one big table that could sit about six people on it, and that was us for the first few years.

“Back then, we were just doing paid search and SEO. It was like the gold rush of digital media; it was brand new, and we had some amazing early success with foundation clients like AMP, TAB and several others that were early adopters into this space.

“We were all upskilling ourselves as we went and learning new skills and channels as they came out. So, we were evolving, as the industry did. It was exciting, and we had nice momentum,” he added.

But the journey hasn’t always been easy for Atomic 212°. In 2017, the agency courted negative attention after actions taken by its former CEO Jason Dooris were exposed and plastered across the industry trade press. Legal action followed, and the agency’s reputation took a hit.

Heffernan, who was based in the agency’s Melbourne office at the time, says it was a “tough period” for the agency. While Atomic 212° didn’t lose any clients, he says it was a “shock” and “disappointment”.

“For all of us who have been around since that happened, to see the kind of success we’re having and the amazing feedback we get from our people and clients, it’s probably extra special. Many people probably thought we wouldn’t have even made it through that. To be doing as well as we are extra sweet,” he added.

Driving growth in new markets

Atomic 212° announced its expansion into New Zealand last month, and Heffernan is predicting strong growth despite the tough economic conditions.

“It’s a different market, and many operating principles and ways of doing effective media will translate. But there are media nuances and cultural nuances in New Zealand that are a bit different, and we’re excited to see how it translates,” he said.

Heffernan is equally positive about the Brisbane business, which launched in the first quarter of 2023, largely due to the city’s status as Olympic Games host in 2032.

The office, which launched with just one person before winning the Ladbrokes and Neds account, is seeing good growth.

“There will be a lot of economic stimuli on the road to the Olympics. We’ve already had great interactions in that market, and we’ve got strong relationships with the Brisbane media and a large client with the Entertain Group. So, it’s given us a strong platform to continue growing up there.”

The year ahead

The year ahead of Atomic 212° is focused on continued growth in terms of headcount, client billings and revenue. Another strong focus is investing in supporting its people.

Heffernan said: “What we’ve been focusing on is how we take what has Atomic successful, and what our core offering is, and roll that out to all these new people and make sure they feel like they know where they’ve landed, what we do and what’s different,” he said.

“We’re doing a lot of work on processes, training and defining with proper systems and processes.

“Heading into next year will make us more match fit and organised. We’ve got so many naturally gifted and intelligent people, and everyone united under the Atomic way of doing things is really exciting,” Heffernan added.

Top image: Rory Heffernan

Mavournee Hazel NCIS Sydney
How does NCIS Sydney's Blue compare to NCIS' Abby? Mavournee Hazel hopes fans can see the difference

By Anita Anabel

Mavournee Hazel: “They were thoughtful in how they wanted Blue to be different”

Mavournee Hazel’s NCIS Sydney character Blue Bird (AKA Blue) may be a forensic pathologist like NCIS icon Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette); however, that’s where the similarities end.

Speaking to Mediaweek before the November 10 premiere of the Paramount+ series, Hazel admitted that she hoped “fans remove themselves from that comparison”.

“I think comparison is the thief of joy,” she said before adding that she was “aware” that this may happen.

“I never thought I’d be in a position where I would be playing a role like Blue that is compared to someone like Abby’s iconic cultural resetting character,” she said. “Obviously there are similarities in what we do, but straight from the get-go, our team behind the scenes were so considered and thoughtful in how they wanted Blue to be different, and that she wasn’t going to be Abby and that she is her own person.”

In the classic NCIS style that die-hard fans know and love, Blue’s character will evolve as we learn more about her and her backstory.

“Hopefully people love her as much as Abby,” she said.

Mavournee Hazel Pauley Perette NCIS

(l-r) Mavournee Hazel and Pauley Perette. Paramount+

Who is Blue, Mavournee Hazel’s NCIS Sydney character

For the 27-year-old, Blue Bird, as a character, is a blessing.

“She was part of an upcoming forensic Outreach Programme with the AFP, the Australian Federal Police, and she’s brought into the team by chance because their usual go-to forensic scientist can’t quite make it. So, Blue gets the opportunity to show the team what she can do,” she said.

“She’s such a genuine, authentic character, and she’s so intelligent to a degree that I don’t think we fully even touched on in this season.” 

NCIS Sydney cast

L-R: William McInnes, Sean Sagar, Tuuli Narkle, Todd Lasance, Olivia Swann and Mavournee Hazel, NCIS Sydney Cast. Paramount+

William McInnes and Mavournee Hazel visited the AFP

While Hazel is a key member of the core cast, the actor she spends the most time with is William McInnes who plays AFP Forensic Pathologist Dr. Roy Penrose. Given his tenure in the Australian TV and Film landscape, it was a joy to work with him and they even got to visit the working Australian Federal Police labs.

“That was amazing,” she exclaimed. “We got to go into the labs and see what they do there to protect the borders. It was fascinating seeing them analysing certain materials because Blue gets to do as well. I learned a lot from seeing them.

She added: “I was also so surprised by how many young women were actually in these labs and go into the forensic world that is a little bit more male-dominated.”

Mavournee Hazel and William McInnes, NCIS Sydney

Mavournee Hazel and William McInnes, Paramount+

Blue’s dedicated set 

Mediaweek was fortunate to visit the set of NCIS Sydney during filming, with one warehouse that housed three different sets on a Sydney wharf.

Blue’s lab in particular was a stand-out, with some of the most intricate details with a nod to the character’s quirky personality and style.

For Hazel, it was just as thrilling.

“I think I cried when I saw it for the first time, because, it was also my first day on set and to have a whole set dedicated to my character. She’s such an apologetic person who doesn’t want to take up any space and to have permission to be like, this is your nest, it was amazing.”

NCIS Sydney premieres on November 10 on Paramount+.

NCIS Sydney
Mercado on TV: Local cast shine in NCIS: Sydney, plus Neighbours back at its best

By Andrew Mercado

International drama – a US show about Australia being made for a US audience and Ramsay Street’s Flashback Week

It is a big week for Paramount+ and 10 with an international franchise, NCIS: Sydney (Paramount+), coming down under, and their international reboot of Neighbours (Amazon FreeVee) airing a can’t-miss Flashback Week.  

NCIS is a show I’ve never had any interest in, but this Sydney version turned out to be surprisingly good. The local casting is superb, with a sassy Tuuli Narkle, and accident-prone Mavournee Hazel and gruff William McInnes creating a fun workplace relationship.

It’s hard to avoid cliched shots of the Opera House and Habour Bridge and that’s because NCIS: Sydney is set right on the harbour. When the show heads elsewhere, local wildlife like kookaburras and koalas takes over. This is a US show about Australia being made for a US audience, so let’s at least be thankful they are teaching Americans the correct way to pronounce Bondi. 

NCIS: Sydney’s Australian showrunner Morgan O’Neill describes us as “these weird people that inhabit the world’s largest island on the southern tip of the Southeast Asian archipelago”. Now that is a mouthful, and it might explain why Americans are so fascinated by our rhyming slang, even though so few of us actually use it today. “Get used to it,” says JD (Todd Lassance) in the first episode as he explains to the Yanks why he is calling them “septic tanks”.

Almost every American series that films down includes rhyming slang. Sadly, there’s no use of the expression “billy lids” instead of kids, as once said by Delvene Delaney in The Love Boat (1981). And nor does NCIS include a reference to “having a naughty with a franger” as so memorably discussed by Brooke and Ridge in The Bold and The Beautiful (2008).

NCIS: Sydney understands its audience and it sticks to that formula, no matter how ridiculous the scenario is. It has served them well for many years, but Neighbours (10 and 10 Peach) chose a much riskier proposition when it was axed and returned a year later, but jumped forward two years in time. There were new characters, radical recasts and the shock new coupling of Terese (Rebekah Elmaloglou) marrying Toadie (Ryan Moloney), but how did they get there?

Ever since it’s come back, Neighbours has struggled to find its groove amongst all these changes. Two weeks ago, however, it kicked into high gear. This is a show that likes to play a long game, and Flashback Week does more than just fill in the gaps. Other storylines, all seemingly unrelated to each other, suddenly collide with each other to tell an intricate and well-planned story arc. 

Neighbours even goes back to that big finale last year, by showing a new version of the Ramsay Street party from a different angle. A bunch of former characters return and the scene is set for a stack of new stories still to come. Neighbours, it’s great to have you back at your best.

Read more Mercado on TV here.

Welcome to TV Gold: Mediaweek’s weekly TV podcast

Listen now on your favourite podcast platform for 30 minutes of TV reviews and recommendations every week from Mediaweek’s Mercado on TV columnist Andrew Mercado and editor-in-chief James Manning.
We want your comments, feedback and questions – [email protected].

This week: NCIS: Sydney, All The Light We Cannot See, The Curse, Bodies

The four TV series looked at this week live on just two streaming platforms. The fifth instalment of the NCIS franchise is reviewed this episode as NCIS: Sydney (Paramount+, series) launches in Australia before it debuts in the US on CBS. Also this week we look at World War II drama All The Light We Cannot See (Netflix, series), a time-traveling thriller Bodies (Netflix, series), and the patience-testing reality TV parody The Curse (Paramount+ series).
Tell us what you have been watching. Email: [email protected]

Listen online here, or on your favourite podcast platform.

ABC Upfront: More Paradise, Grand Designs, Bluey, Kitty, Micallef, Maggie, Miriam & Myf

Commissions for Bunya Entertainment, Northern Pictures, BBC Studios, Fremantle Australia

The ABC has revealed its programming highlights for 2024. The schedule is studded with spin-offs and continuing runs of well-known series.

Highlights include:

• Return to Paradise – an Australian spin-off of the Death in Paradise series

Shaun Micallef will be back with a new show that’s promising entertainment

• Returning seasons of Total Control, The Newsreader, Fisk, Bluey including a half-hour special, Spicks and Specks, Miriam Margolyes, and more Muster Dogs

Debi Mazar, Miranda Otto and Jessica De Gouw in 60s department store drama Ladies in Black from Bunya Entertainment

• Grand Designs Australia plus spin-off called Transformations hosted by Anthony Burke and Yasmine Ghoniem from Fremantle Australia

• Tony Armstrong to present another solo shot with Extra-Ordinary Things

Maggie Beer to change the lives of our older Australians in Big Mission

Key ABC commissions

Ladies in Black from Bunya

A six-part drama series Ladies in Black will be led by American actress Debi Mazar (Younger, Entourage), Miranda Otto (The Clearing, Talk To Me) and Jessica De Gouw (The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson, The Secret She Keeps).

Following the 2018 film of the same name and drawing inspiration from the 1993 novel, Ladies in Black, the television adaptation sees the women from Goodes Department Store (aka David Jones) fling open their shop doors to the 60s.

Also joining the cast are Kate Box (Deadloch, Wentworth), 2022 NIDA graduate Clare Hughes, Azizi Donnelly (Secret Society of Lies), Julian Maroun (Aftertaste), Carlos Sanson Jr (Bump), Tom Wilson (Heartbreak High), Sacha Horler (The Letdown), Huw Higginson (Total Control), Russell Dykstra (Rake), Thom Green (Of an Age), Hamish Michael (The Twelve), Krew Boylan (Simply Red), Ngali Shaw (The Twelve), Hazem Shammas (The Clearing), Peter O’Brien (Tidelands), Gemma Ward (While The Men Are Away) and Todd McKenney (Significant Others).

The series is written by Greg Waters (The Twelve) who also serves as script producer, Sarah Bassiuoni (House of Gods), Joan Sauers (Wakefield) and Randa Sayed (Halal Girls).

Production credits: A Bunya Entertainment production. Major production investment from the ABC, South Australian Film Corporation and Screen Australia. Financed with support from Screen NSW. Producers: Sophia Zachariou, Angela Littlejohn, Greer Simpkin, David Jowsey. Executive Producers: Greg Waters, Sue Milliken, Allanah Zitserman. ABC Executive Producers: Rachel Okine & Louise Smith. Distributed by ABC Commercial.

Pictured above: Debi Mazar, Miranda Otto & Jessica De Gouw


AUSTIN – Ben Miller, Michael Theo, Sally Phillips

Austin from Northern Pictures

Filming has begun in Canberra on Austin, an eight-part narrative comedy series for the ABC.

Produced by the multi-award-winning team at Northern Pictures, Austin stars well-known UK actors Ben Miller (Bridgerton, Death in Paradise) and Sally Phillips (Veep, Bridget Jones’s Diary). They are joined by Gia Carides (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Big Little Lies) and Roy Billing (Jack Irish, Underbelly). Making his acting debut is Michael Theo, a breakout star of the ABC’s Love on the Spectrum.

When much-loved children’s author Julian Hartswood (Ben Miller) inadvertently causes a social media storm, his career and that of his illustrator wife Ingrid (Sally Phillips) appears to be over. That is until Austin (Michael Theo), the neurodivergent son that Julian never knew existed, turns up out of the blue.

Production Credits: A Northern Pictures production for the ABC. Writers/creators: Darren Ashton, Ben Miller, Lloyd Woolf, Joe Tucker, Adam Zwar and Kala Ellis. Producer: Joe Weatherstone. Executive Producers: Catherine Nebauer, Darren Ashton, Ben Miller, Sally Phillips, Lloyd Woolf, Joe Tucker, and Peter Anderson. ABC Executive Producers: Todd Abbott and Rebecca Anderson. ABC Head of Scripted: Rachel Okine.

Death in Paradise down under from BBC Studios

The Death in Paradise is coming to Australia with an original, homegrown spinoff series, Return to Paradise. The series is being produced by BBC Studios Productions Australia with Red Planet Pictures for the ABC in association with the BBC, who will screen the series on BBC One and iPlayer in the UK.

Set in the fictional beachside hamlet of Dolphin Cove, Return to Paradise will feature six murder mysteries – all set against the backdrop of the Australian coastal landscape.

Australian ex-pat Mackenzie Clarke is the golden girl of the London Metropolitan police force – with an intuitive approach to detective work, she has built a reputation for being able to crack the most impossible of cases. However, she’s suddenly forced to up sticks and move back to her childhood home of Dolphin Cove, a beautiful, coastal paradise… and Mackenzie’s worst nightmare.

Created and executive produced by Peter Mattessi, James Hall and Robert Thorogood, Return to Paradise features an Australian writing team led by Mattessi alongside Elizabeth Coleman, Alexandra Collier and Kodie Bedford.

Return to Paradise will air on ABC and ABC iview next year and will be shown on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK. It will be distributed globally by BBC Studios.

Production Credits: BBC Studios Productions Australia, Red Planet Pictures. Produced for the ABC in association with the BBC. Executive Producers for BBC Studios Productions Australia are Kylie Washington and Warren Clarke, for Red Planet Pictures are Belinda Campbell and Tim Key and for ABC are Rachel Okine and Brett Sleigh.

Other ABC programs for 2024

House of Gods (Matchbox Pictures)

Shaun Micallef’s Unnamed Project (ITV Studios Australia & Giant Baby)

Miriam Margolyes Impossibly Australian (Southern Pictures)

Maggie Beer’s Big Mission (Artemis Media)

Tony Armstrong’s Extra-Ordinary Things (Fremantle Australia)

C*A*U*G*H*T stan
Stan named top commercial commissioner for Aussie drama in FY23

This is the third consecutive year the streamer has taken the title

In FY23, Stan has come out on top as the leading commercial commissioner of Australian drama titles.

Screen Australia’s 33rd Annual Drama Report positions Stan as the top streaming commissioner in the Australian General Subscription TV and SVOD category, for the third consecutive year. 

The Annual Drama Report also showed that Stan has commissioned more drama titles than the commercial broadcasters, making Stan the leading commercial commissioner in Australia. 

Stan held the largest single share of total titles and total hours in this category, with eight titles – including Christmas Ransom, Totally Completely Fine, Year Of, C*A*U*G*H*T, Wolf Like Me S2, and Prosper, created in collaboration with production partners Every Cloud Productions, Fremantle Australia, Roadshow Rough Diamond, Deeper Water Films, Made Up Stories, and Lingo Pictures. 

See Also: A-list cast walk Stan’s blue carpet for premiere of Kick Gurry’s C*A*U*G*H*T

Three of these titles are in partnership with global content leaders, with Totally Completely Fine in partnership with AMC Networks’ Sundance Now and Fremantle, Wolf Like Me S2 with Fifth Season and Peacock, and Prosper with Hollywood studio Lionsgate.

These eight drama titles contributed to a total of 21 Stan Originals across FY23.

Stan chief executive officer Martin Kugeler said: “The latest annual report from Screen Australia highlights Stan’s commitment to investing in premium local content that champions Australian screen stories. We thank Screen Australia, the state screen agencies, and our production partners in Australia and acknowledge the extraordinary breadth of talent from the creatives who bring these stories to life on Stan. 

“We continue to invest in Australian drama despite increasing challenges – regulatory pressures, significant increases in production costs, shortage of skilled workers and facilities. 

“As we collaborate with award-winning and emerging creatives to capture and entertain Australian audiences, we also acknowledge our global partners Lionsgate, Fremantle, Fifth Season, AMC Networks’ Sundance Now and Peacock, who work alongside us to bring our content to international audiences. We are excited about the content Stan will be premiering in 2024 and beyond.”

Dessert Masters
MasterChef spinoff Dessert Masters is set to bring viewers the best of the after dinner menu

By Jasper Baumann

Dessert Masters premieres November 12 at 7:30 pm on 10 and 10 Play

10’s brand new series, Dessert Masters, will bring the after-dinner treat to the next level, with the best of the best competing to be named the first-ever master of desserts.

While it’s hard to resist a cheeky bowl of vanilla ice cream with caramel topping on the couch after dinner, ten of Australia’s greatest pastry chefs, chocolate connoisseurs and baking experts have arrived to make fantastical desserts that would give the bowl of ice cream a run for its money.

A spinoff of Masterchef Australia, Dessert Masters differs from the amateur cook format, focusing on already established pastry chefs and their impeccable dessert techniques. 

See also: Snow Fox unmasked as Dami Im takes the title on The Masked Singer 2023

With names such as Reynold Poernomo and Adriano Zumbo set to appear, judges Melissa Leong along with newcomer Amaury Guichon have got their work set out for them, although it’s arguable anyone would call it work.

While Leong is jumping over from MasterChef Australia, internationally renowned dessert chef Amaury Guichon is making his debut appearance as a judge. Known for his delicate sugar work and life-sized chocolate sculptures, Guichon is set to bring a fresh perspective to the world of the sweet tooth.

Mediaweek caught up with Sarah Thornton, Head of Non-Scripted at Paramount Australia to discuss the dynamic of the judges, how the new show is different from the MasterChef format and what determines the best of the best.

Thornton revealed that casting is all about balance, in terms of approach and flavours, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the food.

Sarah Thornton, Head of Non-Scripted, Paramount Australia

“It’s no different to when we cast for MasterChef, it comes down to the cooking,” she said.

“Given it’s a show about masters, we have to cast people considered not only the best of the best at their craft but also in terms of delivering beautiful, enticing desserts in a pressured environment.”

The MasterChef formula has proven to work wonders for 10, and Thorton says that Dessert Masters differs from MasterChef in more ways than one.

“I would say Dessert Masters is an homage to MasterChef, it has everything we love about the original show, but it has a very different feel, a distinct flavour if you will.

“The distinct flavour comes from the fact that desserts are just inherently fantastical, so I think every episode brings you into another sugary fantasy. It also helps that all of the contestants are at the top of their game, which means the food that is being turned out is genuinely impeccable.

“One might think that negates all risk or pressure, but I would say because of the calibre of the contest, there’s even more pressure for them.”

Dessert Masters

Inaugural judge Amaury Guichon brings a pastry prestige to a show already full of it, and fellow judge Melissa is set to bring her MasterChef merit to the battle of the best.

“I think both Mel and Amaury are brilliant on the show and have amazing chemistry that viewers will latch on to and they will also notice what they each bring to the judging process.

“Amaury’s presence speaks for itself. He was the youngest executive pastry chef in Paris at only 21 and is an utter perfectionist, and viewers will see that by the way he appears and holds himself. His eye for technical detail is next to none.

“What really binds Mel and Amaury is their deep love of food and the art of cooking. They are both just enjoying themselves so much across the series and it makes it such a better watch to see their chemistry drip off the screen.”

Paramount has confirmed that major MasterChef sponsors Coles and Harvey Norman are following the franchise into Dessert Masters.

Dessert Masters is produced by Endemol Shine Australia. 

Dessert Masters premieres Sunday, November 12 at 7:30 pm on Channel 10 and 10 Play. 

The Australian - Green Energy Players
The Australian reveals the nation's top 100 green energy players

Helen Trinca: “It’s increasingly clear that a green economy is generating new businesses and jobs at a rapid pace”

The Australian has published the third edition of The List: Australia’s Top 100 Green Energy Players, recognising the leaders who are driving significant sustainability change,

The reveals the top 100 innovators, developers, investors, policymakers, environmentalists and energy gurus who are bringing about positive environmental change.

It also showcases the depth of talent helping to drive Australia’s green future, from pioneers who have spent decades advocating for meaningful climate action to the rising stars making a real impact.

Edited by The Australian’s associate editor, Helen TrincaThe List: Australia’s Green Energy Players is also guided by an advisory panel with deep industry knowledge. The panel includes Simon Currie, Energy Estate founder and Clean Energy/Hydrogen Expert; Zoe Whitton, managing director and head of Impact, Pollination; and Perry Williams, business editor at The Australian and former editor of The List.

Trinca said: “Putting this magazine together we had a lot of lively discussion with our expert panellists about who makes the list, along with canvassing the wide range of initiatives and ideas that the commitment to reducing global emissions has had, and is having, on our lives.

“There are immense opportunities for the nation as we move towards a decarbonised economy and a greater sophistication and maturation of the ‘green industry’.
“Advocacy and activism are morphing into advice and assistance in transforming business and lives: The List rankings are shared among carbon-reduction brokers, seaweed farmers, battery developers, waste recyclers, solar specialists, lithium processors and software producers, to name a few. Indeed, it’s increasingly clear that a green economy is generating new businesses and jobs at a rapid pace.”

The Australian - Green Energy Players
Along with The Green List, the issue looks at green energy, innovations, thinking and motoring. It draws on the knowledge and expertise of The Australian’s specialist journalists.
Rural reporter Charlie Peel looks at the development of products designed to limit the methane emitted by ruminants, senior reporter Tansy Harcourt digs deep into the nation’s red rubbish bins and suggests all that gunk can help meet renewable energy targets, and senior business reporter Eli Greenblat captures what the big chains are doing to meet consumer demands and save the planet.
The issue is supported by key advertisers including KPMG, Audi, Commonwealth Bank, Polestar, Jaguar Land Rover, Omega and Rolex.
The List: Australia’s Green Energy Players
features the following categories, with some of the key players in each category included below:
• Agriculture
 – Elizabeth O’Leary, global chair, Agriculture and Natural Assets, Macquarie Asset Management; Sam Elson, CEO, Sea Forest
• Bioenergy – Heidi Hauf, global sustainability leader; Shahana McKenzie, chief executive, Bioenergy Australia
Carbon – Skye Glenday and Josh Harris, co-chief executives, Climate Friendly
Finance – Sam Reynolds, managing director, Octopus Investments; Kara Frederick, David Finn and Jeff Phillips, partners, Jekara Group
Hydrogen – Andrew Forrest, founder, Fortescue Future Industries; Daniel Kim, CEO, Ark Energy Corporation
Impact – Katherine McConnell, founder and chief executive, Brighte; and Andrew Bray, national director, Re-Alliance
Innovation Vince Allen, CEO and co-founder, Sundrive; Rose Amal, Scientia Professor, University of NSW
Land Cissy Gore-Birch, co-chair, Indigenous Carbon Industry Network
Local Manufacturing Heroes – Marcus Dawe, chief executive and managing director, and Sophia Hamblin Wang, chief operating officer, Mineral Carbonation International
Policy – David Pocock, Independent ACT Senator; John Grimes, CEO, Smart Energy Council
Recycling – Jordy and Julia Kay, Co-CEOs and Co-Founders, Great Wrap
Renewables – Andy Evans, chief executive, Oceanex Energy
Technology – Robyn Denholm, chair, Tesla; Craig Wood, CEO, Vast Solar
The List: Australia’s Top 100 Green Energy Players
is available online exclusively to subscribers at and as a large-format magazine inserted into The Australian newspaper today, Friday November 10. 

Music Library on Canva
Canva introduces access to popular music library for Pro and Education customers

Silvia Oviedo: “A universal language that serves as a powerful tool for self-expression”

Canva has introduced a new feature for its Pro and Education customers, offering a library of music clips from various artists. This move aims to enable its users to incorporate songs into their design work more easily.

Through partnerships with major labels like Warner Music Group, Merlin, and others, Canva now provides access to sixty-second clips of commercially released songs for personal use in different content formats such as videos, social media posts, presentations, and educational materials.

Canva will allow users to browse and embed over half a million songs from a wide range of genres and artists, including Michael Bublé, Vance Joy, Kenya Grace, Curtis Mayfield, among many others.

The feature aims to pioneer the integration of commercially released music directly into the creation process for content shareable across multiple platforms. The platform has seen a surge in content creation for social media, particularly in the realm of video-based formats.

Apart from providing creative opportunities for users, this integration serves as a bridge for record labels and artists to reach a broader audience and earn royalties when their song clips are used in published Canva designs.

Silvia Oviedo, head of content, discovery, and Print at Canva, stated, “Music, like visual communication, is a universal language that serves as a powerful tool for self-expression. Adding popular music into Canva is a natural evolution of our vision to consolidate the entire visual communication ecosystem into one platform.”

Canva Pro’s music library covers a wide range of genres and is easily accessible from the audio tab in the Canva editor. Users can now infuse their designs with music, allowing for diverse applications across various fields.

The expanded music library is initially available for Canva Pro and Education customers, with plans to extend to other account types in various countries. Free users can browse the music library but will need an upgrade for usage in designs intended for non-personal or commercial purposes.

This introduction of popular music aligns with Canva’s commitment to simplifying design capabilities into a user-friendly platform.

See Also: TikTok expands Business Booms campaign with Canva

The Amazing Race
The Amazing Race 2023: The winning team forced a bold twist in a history making Grand Final

Their charitable move made history in the international franchise of The Amazing Race

The Amazing Race Australia: Celebrity Edition was certainly one for the books. While there was one team that arrived at the end first, there turned out to be three pairs of winners.

Established race leaders throughout the season, Darren McMullen and nephew Tristan Dougan, saw host Beau Ryan at the Pit Stop first but refused to step on the mat. Instead, they chose to wait the other two teams had arrived so they could jump together and share the $100,000 across three worthy charities.

On the first episode of The Amazing Race Australia: Celebrity Edition 11 teams embarked on an adventure of a lifetime across the world. The competitors were whittled down until three very strong teams were left to battle it out: Singer Alli Simpson and mum Angie, TV personality Darren McMullen and nephew Tristan, and former Wiggle Emma Watkins and sister Hayley.

The final leg of the race took place in the metropolis of Kuala Lumpur. Here, the contestants were tested on the skills that they’d perfected throughout the race.

The Amazing Race

The Amazing Race. Ten.

First, their communication skills were put to the test. One teammate had to recreate an intricate dessert that they had never seen while following their teammate’s instructions. And to up the ante, there was a rather large and hissing slippery distraction. No points for guessing what that was!

Hayley was terrified by the gigantic albino python which was summoned and wrapped around her neck. Angie was busy telling her daughter Alli to calm down because she was convinced that it was just a plastic snake. Meanwhile, Tristan was visibly distraught as he faced his very real phobia of snakes.

Next, their map skills were tested as they navigated their way around a maze-like bookstore, hunting for a solitary book amongst a huge library of literature. Darren and Tristan deciphered the map in clear view of Alli who overheard the information and passed it straight on to Angie. Darren and Tristan didn’t make the same mistake again and were sure to be discrete about their clues.

The next challenge involved dancing and Darren dove straight in, but his backup dancer nephew Tristan didn’t share the same enthusiasm. This challenge was made for Emma Wiggle and Hayley who nailed it on the first attempt, meanwhile, Angie took a while to loosen up.

The Amazing Race

The Amazing Race. Ten.

Finally, teams had to rely on their memory to recall and organise some obscure photographs from the past 11 destinations. Emma and Hayley arrived first, but Darren and Tristan managed to overtake them after Darren spotted a sneaky red herring among the photos.

En route to the final Pit Stop, and in a bid not to get lost, Darren used his Scottish charm to befriend a local father and his six children, who were more than happy to join two strangers and a camera crew on a train.

Darren and Tristan arrived first, but before jumping on the mat, Darren took a moment to tell Beau that they had decided to wait for the other two teams so all three charities could have a share of the prize.

The Amazing Race mat

The Amazing Race. Ten.

Linked arm in arm, all three teams hit the mat at the same time, and it was an emotional ending to The Amazing Race Australia: Celebrity Edition.

The Amazing Race Grand Finale 2023
TV Ratings November 9, 2023: $100k shared across three charities during The Amazing Race: Celebrity Edition Grand Finale

By Anita Anabel

• Home and Away continues Thursday success
• RBT a winner for Nine

Overnight TV Ratings, November 9

Primetime News
Seven News 837,000 (6:00pm) / 821,000 (6:30pm)
Nine News 622,000 (6:00pm) / 638,000 (6:30pm)
ABC News 478,000
10 News First 110,000 (5:00pm)/ 72,000 (6:00pm)
SBS World News 110,000 (6:30pm)/ 81,000 (7:00pm)

Daily Current Affairs
A Current Affair 544,000
7.30 399,000
The Project 147,000 6:30pm / 243,000 7pm

Breakfast TV
Sunrise 194,000
Today 202,000
News Breakfast 131,000

Share summary

Seven won Thursday night with a primary share of 18.4% and a network share of 27.1%. 7Two has won multi channels with a 4.1% share.

Nine received a primary share of 19.9% and a network share of 26.5%.

10 took a 10.7% primary share and a network share of 17.9%.


Nine’s A Current Affair (544,000) spoke with Melissa Kearney, a mother of two children who live with epilepsy, who described feeling “powerless” as Optus’ nationwide meltdown meant she was unaware her daughter had suffered a seizure.

Then, 392,000 watched RBT episodes Two Brothers/Chicken Man.

Emergency followed for 333,000, where doctor Scott Taylor feared that a tradie would have life-altering neck damage after a ladder fall. 

133,000 also sat down for a repeat of Big Miracles. 


427,000 began their evening in Summer Bay with Seven’s Home and Away where Harper lent an ear to Tane and Justin received a worrying phone call.

183,000 stayed on for Big Brother Australia as Louis and Minee’s attraction to each other was palpable as they sat in the garden, talking about fashion and style… or Louis’ lack thereof.

Then it was time for a Thursday night movie with The King’s Man. 165,000 tuned in.


399,000 watched ABC’s 7.30 put the spotlight on Anthony Albanese who has faced questions about whether Australia is doing enough on climate change. The program also looked at how questions remain unanswered over the Optus outage and the fraud trial that will decide the future of Donald Trump’s business empire.

323,000 then watched Martin Clunes: Islands of the Pacific. Martin Clunes explored the legendary Galapagos, getting up close to sea lions, iguanas, tortoises, penguins, finches and baby sharks. 

A repeat of Grand Designs was up next for 249,000 where former skydivers Leigh and Richard fell head over heels in love with a listed but derelict 17th-century flour mill. 

101,000 also saw Miriam Margolyes: Australia Unmasked. 


On 10, The Project (147,000 6:30pm / 243,000 7pm) looked at how experts at Deakin University have discovered that our discarded clothes can be recycled and turned into paint. Comedian Dara Ó Briain also joined the desk.

The season finale of The Amazing Race: Celebrity Edition followed. Unbeatable race leaders, Darren McMullen and nephew Tristan stopped short of the mat, choosing instead to wait until all three teams, which included Emma Watkins and sister Hayley and Alli and Angie Simpson had arrived so they could jump together and share the $100,000 across three worthy charities. 465,000 tuned in to The Finish Line while 404,000 watched the overall Grand Finale.

154,000 then watched Law and Order: SVU.

SEE ALSO: The Amazing Race 2023: The winning team forced a bold twist in a history-making Grand Finale


The highest rating non-news show on SBS was Every Family Has A Secret with 180,000 tuning in to see distinguished Australian historian Professor Grace Karskens investigate her Dutch family during World War II.

83,000 also caught Luke Nguyen’s India before 41,000 sat down for a double episode of Erotic Stories.

SEE ALSO: Erotic Stories’ Mark Coles Smith on how his “matriarchal lineage set the standard” for deeper connection

Total TV Ratings, November 2

870,000 viewed Seven’s Home and Away, up 27% while 819,000 watched Home and Away – Late, up 33%.

704,000 watched 10’s The Amazing Race: Celebrity Edition, up 46%.

610,000 sat down for a repeat of Nine’s RBT, up 9%.

Week 45: Thursday
ABC12.2%718.4%919.8%10 10.7%SBS4.7%
ABC KIDS/ ABC TV PLUS2.9%7TWO4.1%GO!1.7%10 Bold3.4%VICELAND1.6%
ABC ME0.5%7mate2.2%GEM1.3%10 Peach3.1%Food Net1.2%
ABC NEWS2.8%7flix1.0%9Life2.2%Nickelodeon0.7%NITV0.4%
  7Bravo1.4%9Rush1.5%  SBS World Movies2.2%
        SBS WorldWatch0.0%
TOTAL18.4% 27.1% 26.5% 17.9% 10.1%


ABCSeven AffiliatesNine Affiliates10 AffiliatesSBSSky Regional
ABC10.9%718.2%919.5%107.8%SBS3.7%Sky News Regional4.3%
ABC KIDS/ ABC TV PLUS3.4%7TWO4.1%GO!1.1%10Bold4.6%VICELAND1.5%  
ABC ME0.8%7mate3.6%GEM1.9%10Peach2.9%Food Net1.2%  
ABC NEWS2.6%7flix (Excl. Tas/WA)1.0%9Life1.8%Nickelodeon1.1%SBS World Movies2.6%  
  7Bravo1.5%    SBS WorldWatch0.0%  
TOTAL17.7% 28.4% 24.3% 16.4% 9.4% 4.3%


  1. Seven News Seven 837,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 821,000
  3. Nine News 6:30 Nine 638,000
  4. Nine News Nine 622,000
  5. A Current Affair Nine 544,000
  6. The Chase Australia Seven 484,000
  7. ABC News ABC TV 478,000
  8. The Amazing Race Australia: Celebrity – The Finish Line 10 465,000
  9. Home And Away Seven 427,000
  10. The Amazing Race Australia: Celebrity Grand Finale 10 404,000
  11. 7.30 ABC TV 399,000
  12. RBT Nine 392,000
  13. Emergency Nine 333,000
  14. Martin Clunes: Islands Of The Pacific ABC TV 323,000
  15. The Chase Australia-5pm Seven 319,000
  16. Hot Seat Nine 302,000
  17. Nine’s Afternoon News Nine 254,000
  18. Grand Designs (R) ABC TV 249,000
  19. The Project 7pm 10 243,000
  20. Tipping Point Nine 224,000
Demo Top Five

16-39 Top Five

  1. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 72,000
  2. The Amazing Race Australia: Celebrity – The Finish Line 10 71,000
  3. Seven News Seven 68,000
  4. The Amazing Race Australia: Celebrity Grand Finale 10 65,000
  5. Nine News 6:30 Nine 64,000

18-49 Top Five

  1. The Amazing Race Australia: Celebrity – The Finish Line 10 164,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 150,000
  3. Seven News Seven 144,000
  4. The Amazing Race Australia: Celebrity Grand Finale 10 138,000
  5. Nine News 6:30 Nine 112,000

25-54 Top Five

  1. The Amazing Race Australia: Celebrity – The Finish Line 10 210,000
  2. Seven News At 6.30 Seven 197,000
  3. Seven News Seven 195,000
  4. The Amazing Race Australia: Celebrity Grand Finale 10 177,000
  5. Nine News 6:30 Nine 159,000
  1. Peppa Pig ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 92,000
  2. Hey Duggee ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 92,000
  3. Odo ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 88,000
  4. Kiri And Lou ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 88,000
  5. Shaun The Sheep ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 87,000
  6. NCIS (R) 10 Bold 84,000
  7. Miss Scarlet And The Duke 7TWO 83,000
  8. Supertato ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 83,000
  9. Hard Quiz S8 ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 83,000
  10. Bull (R) 10 Bold 78,000
  11. Kiri And Lou ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 78,000
  12. Love Monster ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 77,000
  13. Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 76,000
  14. Spicks And Specks ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 75,000
  15. Bluey ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 72,000
  16. Tish Tash ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 71,000
  17. ABC National News ABC NEWS 70,000
  18. Bargain Hunt 7TWO 69,000
  19. Andy And The Band ABC Kids/ABC TV Plus 67,000
  20. NCIS: New Orleans (R) 10 Bold 67,000
  1. Live: ICC CWC: NZL V Sri FOX CRICKET 62,000
  2. Credlin Sky News Live 58,000
  3. Paul Murray Live Sky News Live 55,000
  4. The Bolt Report Sky News Live 45,000
  5. Outback Opal Hunters Discovery Channel 44,000
  6. Sharri Sky News Live 44,000
  7. The Late Debate Sky News Live 40,000
  8. Live: ICC CWC Innings Break: NZL V Sri FOX CRICKET 37,000
  9. The Bay BBC First 33,000
  10. The Bay BBC First 33,000
  11. The Great British Sewing Bee Lifestyle Channel 32,000
  12. Love It Or List It Australia Lifestyle Channel 29,000
  13. Chris Kenny Tonight Sky News Live 28,000
  14. The Late Debate: The Papers Sky News Live 28,000
  15. Live: G1 Kennedy Oaks Sky Racing 27,000
  16. Sister Wives TLC 25,000
  17. Live: ICC CWC: NZL V Sri FOX CRICKET 24,000
  18. Love It Or List It Australia Lifestyle Channel 23,000
  19. Glenn Maxwell: 200 From The Big Show FOX CRICKET 22,000
  20. Highway Patrol Real Life 22,000

Shares all people, 6pm-midnight, Overnight (Live and AsLive), Audience numbers FTA metro, Sub TV national
Source: OzTAM and Regional TAM 2023. 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

The Cat’s ACM takes a swipe at Southern Cross, makes approach

It was only a matter of time. Antony Catalano has taken his first official step towards spoiling ASX-listed ARN Media’s plans to acquire rival Southern Cross Austereo, Street Talk can reveal, report Nine Publishing’s Sarah Thompson, Kanika Sood and Emma Rapaport.

It is understood Catalano, who chairs regional publishing group Australian Community Media, has made an approach to the Southern Cross board, outlining a preliminary plan to merge the businesses.

While the details are unclear, sources close to Southern Cross said the letter was sent by Catalano, and his business partner in ACM, Alex Waislitz, on Thursday. The missive is believed to propose selling part of ACM into Southern Cross in return for scrip in the target.

[Read More]

Lachlan Murdoch rallying call to condemn anti-Semitism

Australia must address rising anti-Semitism without equivocation following last month’s terror attack on Israel, News Corp co-chair Lachlan Murdoch has urged, reports The Australian’s Jenna Clarke.

“Let’s be very clear. When it comes to anti-Semitism there is no room for equivocation. There is no fence-sitting,” Murdoch said in Sydney on Wednesday.

“From Brisbane to Broome, from Launceston to Lakemba, anti-Semitism does not belong in Australia. It is our duty to address and tackle it, as it is to address and tackle all forms of hatred.”

[Read More]

With the strikes over, the mood in Hollywood Is decidedly mixed

It should be a rapturous time in Hollywood, reports The New York Times’ Brooks Barnes.

Writers have been back at their keyboards for a month, having negotiated a strike-ending deal so favorable that it seemed to leave even them a bit gobsmacked. On Wednesday, the actors’ union said it had negotiated a tentative contract of its own, all but ending its 118-day strike and clearing a path for the film and television business to roar back to life for the first time since May.

Instead, the mood in the entertainment capital is decidedly mixed, as celebratory feelings compete with resentment over the work stoppage and worries about the business era that is coming.

[Read More]

News Brands

Seven West taps Grant Samuel for debt renegotiations

The Kerry Stokes-backed Seven West Media has tapped advisory firm Grant Samuel and law firm Ashurst to refinance its $600m worth of debt, reports The Australian’s Bridget Carter.

It comes after the advisory firm was recently working with Southern Cross Media Group before the regional broadcaster instead hired UBS when it became subject to a buyout proposal from ARN Media in recent weeks.

The $442m Seven West, which held its annual general meeting on Thursday, said it had downsized its $600m worth of debt to $525m and extended the payment period to a four-year term from three years.

[Read More]

Sky Network board in the spotlight over rebuffed offer

Sky Network Television’s board now faces intensifying pressure execute on its strategy after it rejected a buyout offer from a US-based private equity firm that was 50 per cent higher than the share price last traded before the deal was announced, reports The Australian’s Bridget Carter.

DataRoom understands that the board canvassed the views of major shareholders before making the decision on the indicative proposal, believed to be around $NZ3.70 per share.

The feedback from investors is that some with an influential position were holding out for a bid of over $NZ4 and believed what was on the table was too low.

[Read More]

Jezebel, the pioneering feminist website, will shut down

The parent company of the website Jezebel announced on Thursday that it was shutting down the site and laying off its staff, citing economic headwinds and shifting audience priorities, report The New York Times’ Benjamin Mullin, Johnny Diaz and Amanda Holpuch.

The layoffs will affect 23 people, including the Jezebel team, Jim Spanfeller, the chief executive of G/O Media, said in a memo to the company’s staff. He also announced that the G/O Media editorial director, Merrill Brown, would be departing the company.

“While G/O Media is a lean, nimble organization, we are not immune to the economic headwinds rattling our business,” Spanfeller wrote.

[Read More]


Why Homer Simpson is no longer strangling Bart

Hit animated TV series The Simpsons has retired one of its recurring scenes, saying Homer strangling his son Bart is no longer appropriate because “times have changed”, reports the Telegraph’s Andrew Buncombe.

The decision was revealed in the third episode of the long-running show’s 35th season, in which Homer indicates he is a changed man after more than 750 instalments about life in fictional Springfield.

Homer strangling Bart had been a regular feature of the animated comedy sitcom since it first aired in 1989.

[Read More]

Channel Seven’s Big Brother move

Channel Seven is changing Big Brother’s timeslot in the hopes of drawing in more viewers, with the latest series failing to pull in a huge audience, reports News Corp’s Joshua Haigh.

The show launched earlier this week and failed to hit even 300,000 viewers nationwide. Ratings for the show have since dropped to as low as 214,000 and it’s prompted Channel Seven to find ways to bring in more viewers.

The show, which had been airing at 7.30pm in the evenings will now air an hour later, starting from next Monday.

Channel Seven told that it’s not “unusual” for shows to switch timeslots, and revealed some of its flagship shows have increased their viewership this year.

[Read More]

Q+A dodges ABC axe

There has been speculation all year, after low ratings and personnel exits, that Q+A would not be renewed for 2024, reports TV Tonight.

And while ABC News titles were curiously absent from yesterday’s 2024 content showcase, ABC sources have confirmed the show will return in 2024.

That’s despite the show’s timeslot shifts -from Monday to Thursday and back to Monday- host changes, executive producer departure and pointed criticisms from former host Stan Grant.

[Read More]

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