Seven Upfront 2024: How Seven is demystifying the category

Logies - Chris Brown and Sonia Kruger

“We’re out in the market listening to what consumers want”

The Seven Network has held its 2024 upfronts at the ICC during South by South West and made a series of major announcements at the event.

To talk about all these announcements, Mediaweek caught up with Seven’s chief revenue officer, Kurt Burnette, chief marketing officer, Mel Hopkins, and national digital sales director, Rachel Page.

When asked what to expect from this upfront, Mediaweek was told there will be announcements that are ready to go.

Page: “Everything tomorrow is underway, so it’s not it’s coming soon upfronts, it is a 2024 upfronts. Everything we talk about is happening, Databricks is underway, we’ve had two months of learning there. Phoenix has been underway for a couple of years, so everything is real and happening.”

Seven Rachel Page

Rachel Page

Hopkins said to expect myth-busting about free-to-air TV.

Hopkins: “We are redefining and demystifying the category. We’ll talk about the absolutely massive reach and impact that our programmes garner, every single week. We’re going head-to-head with Ted Lasso. Home and Away is the number one most streamed drama in all of Australia. We’re as big, if not bigger, than the digital players, particularly YouTube. It is important that the market understands it’s not just TV or nothing, but we are big and large and still garner great reach, and there is lots and lots and lots of air in our tires to go for. We want people to get excited and fall in love again.”

Melissa Hopkins media fragmentation

Melissa Hopkins

Seven’s content slate

One headline from the upfronts is that Seven continues to invest in content.

Seven’s line-up of returning show includes 7NEWS, Sunrise, The Morning Show, The
Chase Australia, Home and Away, Better Homes and Gardens, Farmer Wants A Wife,
The Voice, Dancing With The Stars, The 1% Club, Australian Idol, RFDS, My Kitchen
Rules, Big Brother, 7NEWS Spotlight and the TV WEEK Logie Awards.

While the newcomers to its schedule include Dream Home, Stranded On Honeymoon Island,
Made In Bondi, Once In A Lifetime and all-new First Dates.

Also new next year are Ego: The Michael Gudinski Story, The Wave, Australia’s Most
Dangerous Prisoners, The Hunters, The Rise And Fall Of Kings Cross, King Con: The
Life And Crimes Of Hamish McLaren and The Australian Roast Of John Cleese will feature on Seven’s schedule

Burnette: “We know how to grow an audience across total TV. Next year, we will bring those shows back and add a few more little stories in there, and a couple of new hosts or judges or whatever it needs to give it another little push forward.

“When we add content, we look at all the data on a daily basis about what’s happening in the economy and what the viewing habits are. We’re starting to see a pickup on 7Plus about some of the content that we’ve got in relation to renovation and building. That’s why we’ve commissioned Dream Home for next year with Chris Brown as the host. This is a very clear decision on content that’s right for the moment. It’s about content with heart. We’ve got lots of brands that have come around it and want to become a part of it, which is awesome.

“Then shows like Stranded on Honeymoon Island and Made in Bondi which are about relationships, noise, with sexy products all through there are going to get a lot of attention, particularly through digital and social.”

voz streaming

Kurt Burnette

Page: “We respect the role that each screen plays for the viewer and for the advertiser. It’s about creating the right content. 70% of the content sitting behind 7Plus is exclusive to 7Plus.

“The exclusive content for example, with Big Brother we’ll be running across both screens, but then we’ll do an hour special on 7Plus to unlock that content to go after that audience. It all works together.”

This content announcement comes after Seven announced an early TV ratings win, almost two months out from the TV ratings survey ending on December 2. A reason for the win was that major tentpole programs such as MKR, Farmer Wants a Wife, and The Voice achieved strong growth.

See Also: “Any way you cut it”: Why Seven declared an early TV Ratings win

These strong growth stories come off the back of Hopkins’ appointment as CMO earlier this year. When asked about what marketing tactics have been changed amidst these strong results, Hopkins said that it was a team effort across the company.

Hopkins: “Part of it has to go to our programming team, along with insights from 7REDiQ and our sales team around what consumers really want. There’s been a real shift since Covid-19 to programming in how people have evolved from that.

We’re out in the market listening to what consumers want, we’ve just finished a really large piece of work with Forethought, where we’ve gone out and done a whole lot of qualitative and quantitative research around expectations of any content for any Australian. That has been super helpful to understand that most Aussies actually see content as an opportunity for self-care or some connection, be that together or on their own terms.

“Our really big job has been sharing with people outside the large audiences that we always get on Seven that don’t realise what we’ve got on. In response to this, we are doing a lot more off-platform marketing. We’ve been doing some great work digitally. We’ve been doing a lot of fantastic activations. Even our promo strategies changed. We’ve stopped doing traditional promos, we’re doing ads. The promos for our shows should be just as good as some of the best ads in Australia and ensure that they’ve got a strong creative idea in it. That is garnering really great results.”

MKR Winners 2023

Burnette said that Seven will also make sure that they maximise these strong viewership results and new content by using and integrating new ad products.

Burnette: How we create that is that there’s the linear broadcast in one respect and then after that is catch-up, live stream, short form, product integration. We’re using our new ad products inside those formats with everything from e-commerce to freeze frame on the connected TV and a whole bunch of stuff. Every show that’s been selected has been decided, as the NBCU content deal was, for a particular reason. There are 24,000 hours of new content next year on 7Plus, before we get into a full season of the AFL on 7Plus.

Seven Network’s Sporting Revolution

Seven will have a full 52-week schedule of sports including the AFL, cricket, horse racing,
Supercars, the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and more.

Seven will also enter a new era for its sporting rights when the AFL and cricket debut in full on 7plus, marking the first time Australia’s biggest and most popular sports will be available for free on a streaming platform.

Seven’s digital rights to cricket start in October 2024, with Test matches, Women’s Internationals, BBL and WBBL running on 7plus for the first time.

Burnette: “For an advertiser, it means that for the first time, they’ll be able to have the ads that exist on broadcast between goals of the AFL and between wickets of the cricket and be able to also get their brands in that live stream. The most powerful 30 seconds in advertising are those ads between goals and wickets. Any of the integration that we’re doing within the sports will also travel through all of Australia. Then the work that we’re doing through second screen and gamification advanced ad units, e-commerce, that will get launched when we launch into next year. ”

Hopkins: “It just goes to show Seven’s ambition to provide democratised content for all of Australia and content that they really care about. It would be a little bit like if all of a sudden the news went behind a paywall. People expect to get trusted news and to be able to access that. We believe that Australians should be able to access the best of Australian sport without having to pay for it. That talks to the heart of what Seven stands for and the role we play in Australians’ lives.”

AFL Grand Final 2023

AFL Grand Final 2023

Another announcement that Burnette in particular said is an important piece of Seven’s sports offering, is its deal with West Australia based business, Streamer.

Burnette “Streamer exists in the West at the moment and is becoming national. Streamer just plays beautifully into the fan of sport, whoever you are, and whatever age or gender you might be. Streamer offers the local community sport, you can watch your kid’s favourite sport or your local community sport. It’s live now and it’s going national and going to be absolutely massive for community brands. We think that it’s one of the big sleepers coming into next year.”

Digital Investment

Seven also announced a partnership with Databricks, a cloud, data and AI company, that uses AI to drive contextual, relevant advertising experiences for its audiences.

The deal with Databricks helps establish Seven as a media industry leader in the use of AI. It comes after the launch of Seven’s market-leading personalisation engine – built with Amazon Web Services (AWS) – which is delivering highly customised recommendations and enhanced content discovery to 7plus users.

Databricks imaghe

Seven also announced new data and insights partnerships with View Media Group and
Raiz Invest which further strengthened its audience intelligence platform 7REDiQ and Seven’s enhanced advertising and viewer experience strategy.

Page: “We want to be organic in the way we deliver that product and make sure there are contextual environments. We are working with Databricks on AI and audience predictions. We’ve been working with those every couple of months now.

We can predict where the audiences on 7Plus will be seven days out to within a 91% accuracy. We from a programming content point of view, can look at individuals and personalise that and see what they’re watching and improve that. From an ad load point of view.

“We can watch audiences and watch how they tolerate ad load, and therefore, serve ad load based on demo or segment tolerance. Then from a point of view of putting personalised ads in, how do we take content and drop an ad in that is contextual to the environment? For example, with Dream Home, we can put lifestyle products into the show. The AI with Databricks is predicting and will help you improve content, ad load and ad delivery.”

Rise of the Phoenix

Seven has also unveiled Phoenix, a platform that they hope becomes the world’s most advanced total TV trading system.

Seven Phoenix

Burnette: “It’s a culmination of many years of work and investment, over $60 million in investment. Phoenix represents the most advanced platform that’s ever been put together. For broadcast and digital trading, we believe around the world, it’s certainly going to set the agenda. We’re using some of the largest tech vendors in the world and put this together. 

“It will bring together the audiences and the screens of Seven with the push of a button. Metro, regional, digital, one-channel, multiple channels together or separately, using VOZ to measure. The other thing that we’re offering for the first time using agile reporting is an overnight report on VOZ (metro, regional, and digital), but also sharing voice and attribution around site visitation based on brands going to air. If you are ever in question about your effectiveness of using television in a commercial environment, using Phoenix, we will have a report that can show you the very next day exactly what effect your brand has had on a consumer. It’s incredibly powerful. We’ve worked on it for a long, long time. It’s going to be a game changer for agencies and our own people. It will create not just ease of trade but more effectiveness that’s never been before.”

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