Seven Upfront 2024: Media buyers share their thoughts and opinions on the network’s offerings

Seven - UPFRONT (4)

The network showcased its “massive” new announcements for the year ahead as part of the SXSW Sydney

Seven went all out for its 2024 upfront presentation at the ICC in Sydney’s Darling Harbour on Wednesday night. 

The network showcased its “massive” new announcements for the year ahead as part of the SXSW Sydney, including a raft of new and returning content announcements, new digital rights, and new partnerships.

Media agencies – from the holding companies to the independent – were treated to an impressive star-studded show featuring the network’s talents, including Natalie Barr, Matt Shirvington, Samantha Armytage, Ant Middleton, Guy Sebastian, Sonia Kruger and Dr Chris Brown, who was recently named co-host of Dancing With The Stars.

The glitter has since settled, and media buyers shared their thoughts and opinions with Mediaweek about the biggest selling points of the presentation, what it means for advertising spend, the network’s approach to technology and innovations, and new and returning content.

Rebecca Ho, head of investment, Starcom Sydney

Seven Upfront 2024 - Rebecca Ho, Starcom

In the ever-evolving landscape of media, Seven’s 2024 proposition was confident, ambitious, and showcased an intent to be progressive. Seven revealed their strategies to future-proof their business model and capitalise on changing viewer expectations by improving viewer experiences and enhancing how brands connect with their customers. 

Seven has always been renowned for driving connections through their stories and being a part of cultural moments that matter, and 2024 will be no different with their line-up. The introduction of free digital streaming for every AFL and Cricket match marks a significant milestone in sports broadcasting.

This commitment to democratising sports content for all Australians will provide a platform for Seven to grow and attract new viewers. For advertisers, this will deliver large-scale audiences to drive mass reach and contextual alignment within premium environments.

Seven Phoenix

The investment into AI, technology and personalisation is a transformational game-changer for Seven. Leveraging AI to predict audiences and using technology to understand propensity modelling and optimise the right ad load to the right audience are steps towards greater effectiveness. This level of personalisation to their 13.5 million 7Plus users will enhance the viewer experience and grow their userbase, ultimately resulting in a more engaged audience for brands to connect.

The launch of Phoenix is an evolution of TV trading, bridging the gap between buying models and the shift in consumption. This viewer-centric approach to buying Total TV provides advertisers with seamless precision whilst driving efficiencies. It also offers the ability to understand the impact to business outcomes with real-time reporting. I anticipate there will be high interest from brands to further explore the implementation and effectiveness of this new buying model. 

Seven’s approach to content, technology and innovation places customers at the heart of their ecosystem, undoubtedly positioning themselves as a dominant media player. Their deep understanding of their audiences, commitment to evolving their customer experience and focus on creating cultural moments sets them up as a content and entertainment powerhouse for the future.”

Tom Cumberworth, head of partnerships, Rufus Powered by Initiative

‘Consistent, reliable and growing’ was the line from CEO James Warburton at the start of the presentation and the networks undeniable strength resides in their 52-week content strategy that is underpinned by a backbone of sport, news and current affairs, that delivers the consistent and reliable mass reach audiences they professed across both linear and 7Plus.

The acquisition of the digital rights for both the Cricket and the AFL is a huge win for Seven, ensuring that Australians can stream their favourite sports, for free for the first time and giving advertisers further opportunities to align with Australian audiences key passion points.

With sports broadcast rights continuing to be hotly contested and highly competitive, the move further solidifies Seven’s positioning as a key destination for sport, as screens audiences continue to migrate onto digital platforms.

James Warburton, CEO of the Seven Network

The shift of focus to 7Plus and positioning as a content company vs a TV network was clear from the outset, with the announcements of the total TV trading system – Phoenix and the Databricks partnership further elevating their converged trading proposition and addressable capabilities, giving agencies and advertisers greater opportunities to engage and connect with Seven’s audiences in impactful ways that drive business outcomes.

With their vision ‘that by 2030, every ad and integration served by Seven West Media will be personalized, optimized and addressable.’, it was refreshing to hear a more conservative timeline outlined, with the announcements of Phoenix and Databricks a step in the direction of Seven delivering on that ambition.

Lorraine Woods, national head of trading, Atomic 212°

Seven Upfront 2024 - Lorraine Woods Atomic 212 (2)

Seven is entering 2024 with a highly competitive program slate and innovation across all its touchpoints. With a returning slate of solid, consistent programs and adding in new, engaging content to complement their current line up should see the network maintain the strong audience run they have had in the back half of this year.

Seven has invested heavily in new local content such as Made in Bondi, Stranded On Honeymoon Island and Dream Home. The new shows plus proven, dependable formats should see them win over both new and existing audiences, putting them in a strong position to compete against the lead up into what should be the biggest sporting event of the year. 

The major headline was the live and free streaming of all AFL and cricket games for the first time ever in Australian viewing history. This will benefit the network, with fans remaining on the channel and advertisers investing more to reach these audiences along with their innovation in tech and data. 


Seven chief marketing officer Melissa Hopkins

Seven has innovated their 7plus platform to place them front and centre in the AVOD landscape, matching the content across SVOD platforms where advertisers have low opportunity to reach these audiences. From user experience to a convincing content line up, Seven has a very polished platform that will continue to enhance personalisation for users and advertisers and deliver on getting the right ad at the right time in the right place.

Continuing to evolve their converged trading platform will be a timely solution to fragmented audiences and delivery for media campaigns, underpinned by their unique AI partnership enabling greater accuracy in audience predictions and hopefully, to use their words, the death of makegoods. Improved advertising features will be effective in answering audience and impact connections in the BVOD space and I’m excited to see the roll out of Phoenix into phase three where the real benefits will be advantageous to agencies and advertisers. 

Next year is shaping up to be a highly competitive year and I like the fact that the free to air networks, particularly Seven and Nine, are going head to head with content, data and improved technology which will all be a major benefit to advertisers. 

Nick Thomas, chief investment officer, EssenceMediacom

Seven Upfront 2024 - Nick Thomas, EssenceMediacom

The ICC was buzzing with over 1,000 industry professionals who had gathered for Seven’s major upfronts, a highlight of the ongoing inaugural SXSW Sydney festival.

The event was not just big, it was massive. Seven’s CEO, James Warburton, kicked off the evening, visibly excited about the presentation his team was about to deliver to the packed room.

Seven exuded a sense of swagger and confidence as they look forward to 2024, a year that promises to be monumental for the network as they ‘rise from the ashes’ (a nod to Phoenix).

The content lineup for the coming year is broad and deep, offering something for every Australian. It includes more free sports (all AFL and Cricket games free for all Australians) and a plethora of singing, dating, and renovation shows. The message was clear: they’re not aiming for sporadic ratings spikes, but consistent weekly ratings victories, whether it’s a one-off special or a mainstay of their schedule. The schedule features a mix of returning favourites like Farmer Wants a Wife, SAS, The Voice, MKR, Dancing with the Stars, Idol, and Big Brother, along with a host of new entertainment shows like Dream House, Made in Bondi, First Date, and Honeymoon Island.

Having successfully delivered in 2023 and proudly claiming to be the number 1 network in News, Sports (with Tillies taking the top spot for the year), and most key demographics, the network’s momentum was palpable. They even showcased audience growth across key properties this year.

Anthony DeCeglie and Natalie Barr

The event marked a shift for Seven, positioning themselves not just as a TV network, but a digital content business capable of competing with giants like Google, Netflix, and Meta. They even compared their daily streamed minutes to Netflix, boasting a 63% vs 37% lead over the streaming behemoth. With what seems like significant investment and a complete revamp of Seven+, the streaming platform’s user experience, back catalogue, data, and large user base are set to be a major attraction for advertisers.

Gereurd Roberts, the Chief Digital Officer, announced two new data partnerships with View and Raiz, providing advertisers with more tools to dissect and target their audience, all supported by Phoenix, their groundbreaking trading platform. One of the most thrilling tech advancements was the contextual ecommerce feature within 7+ that allows viewers to shop directly from the screen, as demonstrated with Dream Home where users can pause, click, and purchase the furniture displayed on screen!

The night was wrapped up by Kurt Burnett, who emphasized that Seven offers a wide and deep range of content, delivered through advanced technology to reach all of Australia. It was indeed a massive night.

Karen Shin, media director, Avenue C

Despite not having the coveted Olympic rights, Seven revelled in the triumph of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, placing sports at the forefront of their presentation. With Seven’s acquisition of the digital rights to both the AFL and Cricket from September 2024, the stage is set for an unprecedented transformation in the Australian streaming landscape.

These iconic sporting events will, for the first time be available to stream on 7Plus with no paywall to their 13.5 million registered users. We’ve also seen the continued investment in 7Plus in 2023 and moving into 2024, bringing personalisation and exclusive content to the platform. These monumental shifts are poised to bring additional viewers onto the platform, making it a contender for the biggest BVOD player in market.

The unveiling of Phoenix, an amalgamation of technology is set to revolutionise media trading and bring to life Seven’s true proposition of convergence across all of its platforms, with the key difference that peak inventory will be included. This highly anticipated announcement is not only an improvement to the old Code7 platform, but has now surpassed competitors in leading the evolution of Total TV audience trading. As a trading platform, Phoenix has the potential to claw back share on the total marketing budget from digital advertisers who have previously invested heavily across the Google and Meta universes.

Made In Bondi

Seven announced a number of returning fan favourites, retired underperforming programs, and introducing new properties which borrow themes from successful formats. In terms of new shows, the two stand-outs were “Dream Homes” with Dr Chris Brown as the host promises to be a down-to-earth renovation competition, transforming homes into the quintessential Australian dream. “Stranded on Honeymoon Island” from the producers of MAFS will play on the familiar theme which we know works and delivers a consistent and robust audience.

Seven produced a highly competitive 2024 plan, with tangible benefits to see the network succeed with not only audience growth, successfully themed new properties, and data/technology to help with campaign delivery against business outcomes. Advertisers should be confident in partnering with the Seven Network heading into 2024, even despite not having the Olympics.

Stephen Leeds, chief executive officer, The Media Store

Whilst programming will remain in tried and tested categories, it was clear that 7Plus is a priority for Seven. Announcing more premium first run content and streaming AFL and cricket live will be a huge hit with audiences and advertisers – with ad revenue already up 20%. They clearly have all streaming competitors top of mind with this strategy, as evidenced by the reference to minutes watched on 7Plus versus Netflix with a rough 60:40 split. was revealed – a streaming platform for local clubs and kids sport to enhance their commitment to community – it was light on detail, but I think will resonate with brands looking to reach these communities. With a major sponsor in BHP already secured, there will be interest when this comes to the wider market.  I guess watch this space.

But it’s the way agencies will interact with Seven that looks to have evolved the most – with converged linear and BVOD trading, the reveal of Phoenix total TV video trading, their data overplay, real time reporting and guaranteed audiences across all markets and platforms.  On face value it is a no brainer offering less touch points, and no makegoods through daily optimisation.  To the sceptics, you’d want assurance that all inventory is offered.  Networks have long protected their most sought after, premium content, and so they should, but if Phoenix offers access to buyers across all inventories, then Seven are definitely meeting the market.

Seven’s 13+ million subscribers offer personalisation at scale and the presentation of the AWS personalisation engine was impressive – every device, every screen, with contextual content discovery and personalised show art, they will truly offer one to one at scale.  Opportunities exist for advertisers to interact with viewers/customers in a truly personal way by using AI to serve ads and integrate brands into content.  They claim by 2030, every ad and integration can be converged, optimised and addressable.

Natalie Modderno, head of investment, OMD Sydney

With a clear content strategy and data roadmap presented to brands and agencies, Seven successfully struck a balance between playing to their core strengths as a traditional broadcaster, whilst incorporating just the right amount of innovation to future proof their business.

Seven is very much leaning in and building on their content successes for 2024. One of the biggest announcements of the night included ‘the biggest change in sporting rights in history’ with both the AFL and Cricket streaming available on 7Plus, though for brands there is no immediate impact, and they will have to wait until 2025 for Seven to stream all their matches on 7Plus.

The future scale of Seven’s sport footprint is hard to overlook and they presented a compelling 12 month sport strategy, rivalling the mass scale Nine will have with the Paris Olympics next year. It was evident that Seven aimed to establish themselves as the go-to destination for free and accessible sport in 2024.

The increasing focus on sport content is both smart and strategic. Despite ongoing declines in linear TV audiences, sport is bucking trends and consistently attracting mass audiences much to the benefit of advertisers who still want to reach a mass audience with a single 30 second spot.

Seven demonstrated a continual focus in evolving their 7Plus offering and investment in advanced advertising innovation. Addressable audiences have been steadily building momentum with brands and the new partnerships announced, in particular with Databricks, continue to level the targeting playing field, in terms of ensuring maximum scale, quality and personalisation with their digital rivals.

Seven databricks

Using AI to create more personalised and shoppable formats including Contextual in Content placements, Seven is proving they are listening and are now positioning themselves as an attractive, brand safe alternative to advertisers. They are already doing a lot in the space, and it would have been great to see Seven showcase some of the creative and innovative work they have executed with brands over the last 12 months.

For media buyers, the introduction of Seven’s automated buying platform, Phoenix, is a welcomed game changer. The announcement of Seven’s partnership with 7Red IQ and Databricks to harness the power of machine learning to predict audiences fosters confidence in Seven’s bold promise to the death of makegoods. However, for this to take flight (pun intended), Seven will need to leverage the newly announced partnership with Adgile to show tangible and measurable results to brands and agencies to shift to a new trading model.

Joseph Pardillo, managing director, Ryvalmedia Melbourne  

‘Seven made a bold statement at their annual 7Upfront event, spearheaded by their trade positioning – ‘That’s Massive’ which was the underlying theme of their showcase… and it didn’t disappoint!

Whilst it was NO major surprise nor a massive statement for them to claim themselves as being #1 across News-Sports-Entertainment, as this is what we expect to hear from all Networks no matter which way you cut the numbers (in Seven’s case it was substantiated by their ability to reach 17m+ Aussies monthly across their content platforms), the big headline was their advancement in their data & tech-driven total screens trading system (the launch of PHOENIX) which really took centre stage!!

Buoyed by its record FIFA World Cup audiences – which bolstered its weekly program ratings, catapulting its commercial share nationally in all people and key demos, complimented by its strength in the West, and in combination with its unwavering focus on being the leaders in content… PHOENIX was their pièce de résistance.

Chief commercial officer, Kurt Burnette

What resonated strongly about PHOENIX for me, advertisers and agencies alike was a quote from Seven West Media’s Chief Revenue Officer, Kurt Burnette, who said:

“PHOENIX uses inventory optimisation and AI audience prediction engines to deliver guaranteed outcomes – every channel, every zone, every market, separate or converged, however our customers choose to engage – and to do more with their budgets and reach more people, more efficiently and effectively, with even more accountability.”

“It is our vision that by 2030, every ad and integration served by Seven West Media will be personalised, optimised and addressable. We are well and truly on that journey… which ultimately means our customers can buy Seven’s audiences at the touch of a button, with 7REDiQ data overlay and real-time reporting. PHOENIX therefore creates a connected, seamless experience for advertisers – and means an increase of effectiveness and the death of makegoods.”

All in all, PHOENIX aside, it was a unanimous vote from most in attendance, that the 7Upfront was on point and they certainly demonstrated having a strong roadmap in what has become a truly fragmented and disrupted screens landscape.

If Seven can deliver on its vision and key promises around broadcasting 1 to 1, creating personalised content engagements fuelled by AI and their tech-stack, produce dynamic ad loading by audience, be able to predict 7-day ratings projections, and ultimately deploy more meaningful advertising impact that drives superior ROAS… then ‘That’s Massive’ indeed!

Sue-Ellen Osborn, head of investment at Spark Foundry Sydney

“Seven’s Upfront presentation was strong. Their key messaging was clear, from their number one audience position and dominance in sport (with coverage every week of the year) to the strength and depth of their general entertainment content.

The biggest selling point for me is their content. Whilst they didn’t announce a lot of new programming – only Dream Home, Stranded on Honeymoon Island and Made in Bondi – Seven already have a strong line up of general entertainment programming, so the announcement of just a few new formats makes sense. Their formula is currently working, so they really don’t need to switch it up too much and risk destabilising their winning format.

Sport continues to be one of Seven’s biggest assets, with Cricket throughout the summer and AFL across the winter. It is great to finally see that Seven will soon have the streaming rights to these sports, which has been the huge missing link for them up until now. It would have been great to see these rights kick in a little sooner instead of waiting until Sept/Oct 2024, but this will strengthen the Seven Plus platform when they do eventually arrive.

Dream Home

I’m interested to see more on the launch of Phoenix, their long awaited and much anticipated automated trading platform. After several false starts with other platforms, I really hope that this is the game changer that Seven presented it to be last night. If it truly does bring on the ‘death of makegoods’, it will definitely be my favourite innovation from Seven. The AI audience prediction powered by Databrick is also intriguing, and I’m looking forward to seeing the benefits of accurate audience forecasting translate into campaign outcomes.

It was clear from presentation that Seven has invested a lot into innovating and strengthening the 7Plus platform. The investment in technology to improve the user experience and the depth of content will be fantastic for consumers, which in turn will benefit advertisers too. The announcement of attribution and attention data with every converged campaign will also add value for advertisers, enabling them to measure campaign success beyond basic reach or impression metrics.

Overall, Seven demonstrated their strength to the market last night and showed why they need to be an integral party of any advertising campaign.”

Dan O’Brien, managing director, Frontier Australia

Overall, I was impressed by what I saw from Seven this year. Starting with the format and flow of the presentation itself, it felt smoother, clearer, and more refined compared to previous years. Talent was effectively used to convey all key messages in a fun and entertaining way, keeping everyone engaged throughout a reasonable duration from start to finish.

The overarching theme of “That’s massive” made sense and was used particularly well to tie everything together, especially when supported by significant audience numbers shared across a few key formats and programs. I particularly enjoyed the comparison of Home & Away to Ted Lasso, and clarification that it was indeed a larger audience overall, even though I’m still trying to figure out how that could be the case, which I suppose is the point, right?

While I admit that it was easy to get a little lost in all the big numbers and “#1’s” being thrown around, the key takeaway here was still very clear:  Seven continues to offer brands and agency partners significant scale through continued investment in quality content. While this might seem like an obvious and simple message to focus on, I thought it worked well to remind the room of the significant position they still hold compared to the likes of Nine, other AVOD/SVOD players, Google, and Meta.

Unlocking some of this scale becomes the real challenge, which brings me to some of the newer announcements made.

Seven in 2024

Firstly, the confirmation that the AFL will land on 7Plus in 2024, while significant news, was not entirely unexpected.

The Phoenix product launch news was interesting, and parts of it felt like a decent step forward, such as the promise of being able to easily trade across total TV and guaranteed audience predictions using AI, etc. However, for those already buying lots of TV already I’m sure it may have come across as an overly simplified option for trading total TV, and the new platform will need further investigation and stress testing to determine how well it will integrate with existing agency/client TV buying tools and processes. The adoption rate across agency groups, in particular, will be interesting. For example, where do rate negotiations across the different formats live in Phoenix before a campaign is set live via an automated self-serve platform? These are all questions that I’m sure Seven will answer, in time.

Overall, I say “bravo” Seven, and I look forward to seeing how we can leverage some of the newer products and program opportunities announced for our clients.


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