“No matter how you cut it”: Seven’s Warburton and Ross talk TV ratings win


Plus: OzTAM, The Olympics, Cricket TV rights, and SVOD

Saturday, November 26, marks the end of the TV Ratings Survey for the year, but Seven has already been able to claim victory for the year in both metro and national viewership.

Seven was the most-watched network in total people and 16 to 39s nationally in both the 2022 OzTAM television ratings survey year and in the 2022 calendar year to date. In 25 to 54s, Seven was just 0.2 share points, or 2,000 viewers, away from being #1 nationally.

In metro tv ratings, Seven was #1 in total people in the survey year and grew its audience shares in total people, 25 to 54s and 16 to 39s during 2022.

By the end of the survey period, Seven will have won 29 survey weeks nationally. In the metro markets, Seven is on track to win 21 of the 40 survey weeks. 

In regional viewership, Seven was #1 in total people, 25 to 54s and 16 to 39s.

in BVOD, 7plus streamed 10.6 billion minutes and increased its audience 16% year-on-year in BVOD and 41% in live streaming.

Following these results, Mediaweek caught up with Seven West Media’s managing director and chief executive officer, James Warburton, as well as the company’s director of network programming, Angus Ross, about what these results mean for the business and the broader issues that are affecting it.


JW: “We’re really proud of the team to get the crown for number one in 2022. Importantly, we’ve converted that to revenue, which we showed with our FY 22 results, and then obviously, the first quarter of the KPMG numbers that came out for this year.”

When asked about feedback from the industry about Seven’s use of national ratings as its key metric, Warburton said that ultimately it didn’t matter because Seven was the winner either way.

JW: “No matter how you cut it, it’s a winning position. We’re winning Metro, we’re winning regional, no matter how you cut it when you look at FY 22 or even the start of this next financial year, July to September, we’re number one in revenue, we’re number one in metro, we’re number one in regional, and then when you put it together from a total television position, we’re number one as well.”

Seven Upfront

Seven’s James Warburton in the Upfront movie

Warburton also said that the company’s acquisition of Prime and transition to being a national broadcaster has allowed Seven to build a formable proposition. 

JW: “What we’ve been able to do with 7Plus is build a totally unbeatable platform. From the metro point of view, we’re winning, we’re winning the ratings, and we’re winning the revenue. That is what matters. We’ve got an incredibly powerful network, from Sunrise in the morning, all the way through the day. We are dominant in lifestyle with Better Homes and Gardens dominant and lead into the news with The Chase. Our focus is a whole of television proposition. Our sales team is actually selling and putting linear metro, regional, and digital together. Selling 7REDIQ and data is an incredibly attractive proposition. You can see it in the case studies. The Unilever, PHD case study is an example in terms of convergence and how we’re changing and changing the way we sell.


Sunrise hosts David Koch and Natalie Barr

Seven’s NBCU deal and possible SVOD future

Warburton also forecasted more strong results in 2023, with a new content deal coming into place with NBCU, and the addition of another multichannel in 7Bravo.

JW: “There’s so much more to come. You saw that with our upfronts with a lot of new programming, and a lot of new investment.

“7Bravo is launching on the 15th of January. It is not just a linear product, but obviously a streaming product as well. The NBCU catalogue will be huge for 7Plus. The AFL digital rights that come later in 2025 gain really important for 7Plus.”

AR:From a programming perspective, we were number one last year and this year with one less channel than our key competitor. I’m delighted that James has given us the ability to secure another channel. It’s a very targeted channel for women under 50. It complements our existing set of multi-channels, which are the leading set of multi-channels. We view it as a great way to get an incremental audience to the network. It’s keeping a key us content pipeline open, which is getting increasingly difficult for the network across both broadcast and streaming.”

Off the back of this content deal, Warburton said that Seven is still exploring opportunities in the SVOD space to challenge the likes of Nine’s Stan or Paramount’s Paramount+.

JW: “We’ve been very clear about the fact that we are still in discussions with international partners. We still have the ambition to actually get into the SVOD space. For us, it’s actually moving the needle and pivoting to digital growth markets. That’s really been the focus, with deals like NBCU, not just 7Bravo as a channel, but as a streaming service close to 1000 hours, plus the NBCU library. There will definitely be consolidation in the market from an SVOD point of view and we’re still in active discussions around that. Our relationship with NBCU certainly doesn’t hurt.”


OzTam Issues

TV Ratings haven’t been completely smooth sailing for Seven, not from a performance point of view, but rather having accurate measurements of their shows. OzTAM has confirmed multiple corrections to their tv ratings this year that produced lower results for Seven that have added up to affecting almost a quarter of the tv ratings survey period. Warburton and Ross agreed this was a disappointing result that had far-reaching ramifications across the business.

JW: “It’s been obviously disappointing. It’s 94 days, it’s effectively a quarter of the survey year, and the last rectification came through on Monday. It’s caused a lot of anxiety at the network, Angus has looked stressed in parts.

“We always play what’s in front of us. We always work very, very hard on all of the metrics on every time slot. As an example, Sunrise, seven of those weeks looked tough in Sydney, and then we got them all back – we’ve got the year back and we’ve won every single market. Seven News looked really poor and the Commonwealth Games as well.”

AR: “We knew something was wrong and we were very adamant about that. When you’ve been looking at these numbers for a long time, as we all have, you recognise when something has gone very crook.

“We started digging into it and applied the pressure. It’s taken a long time. It’s taken years off people’s lives in some cases but we’ve got the rectification. But it’s been a problem, a big problem for the network. And as James said, rectified very late in the day.

“It impacts a lot of things. It impacts programming, it impacts sales, it impacts rate negotiations for next year. It is a big problem.”


7 AFL Commentators 2022

Warburton has also called for a change to the way TV ratings are assessed and welcomed the near arrival of VOZ.

JW: “When you think about putting all the methodology together, and what we need to do in terms of bringing VOZ to market having two years of back data, so people can understand what the change are versus just going cold turkey into VOZ. Getting it into all of the software and the reach and frequency systems for post-analysis for media buyers is an enormous project. What I’ve been vocal about is we’re not measuring and accurately reflecting viewing, we’re only measuring the thing on the wall, and we’re not even looking at digital numbers. Getting VOZ to market is well and truly due. My frustration is people should really be looking at a minimum of seven days, and it’s starting to get there.

Counting the Olympics

When asked about criticisms about Seven and OzTAM counting the Olympics, Winter Olympics, and Commonwealth Games in the tv ratings, Warburton and Ross dismissed concerns. 

AR: “They have never been stripped out of the ratings before. Never. They can say what they like. Our sporting team did an absolutely incredible job in putting together an unmissable primetime option. I mean, seriously, let’s start ripping out the Australian Open or State of Origin.”

JW: “That’s never happened before, I think that that would be a sign of desperation.”

“Nine had, they had Barty win the Australian Open, they had Kyrgios go to the Wimbledon final, a local T20 World Cup, they’ve got an extra channel and no matter how you cut it, its pretty dominant by Seven.


Seven’s Cricket future

When asked about how Seven feels about the results of its cricket coverage, Warburton said that it was a mixed bag with the company much happier with its Test matches than its Big Bash League (BBL) ratings.

JW: “We’ve been pretty, pretty pleased with that. From a BBL point of view, we’ve just been disappointed with the quality of the competition – Cricket Australia has made some changes with a draft, and getting more Australian players, so that could improve. We’re in negotiations at the moment and have been pretty clear that we are keen to pursue the Tests but not the BBL.”

See Also: “Commercially Viable”: Why key demos are the aim of the game for Nine
See Also: TV Ratings: How 10 has done things differently as Australia’s youngest FTA network

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