Seven’s Tim Worner on taking back #1, contract talks and AFLX future

• Seven ready to do battle – first half of TV year should be strong

Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner presented the first-half results this week as the channel faced life as #2 in commercial revenue share for the first time since 2005.

• Seven West Media half year: Profit after tax of $100m

He told Mediaweek the network is keen to get back on top and be a clear #1 in ratings and ad share.

“We didn’t do our best in the first half just reported in either ratings or revenue – our programming and sales teams and I think we can do better. We have a group of people here who are very fired up about proving they can do better.

“We have been in this situation before where we have been challenged and we have been able to respond. Now we are building our response again and I have to say we are really pleased with the way we have started. Now we just need to maximise that momentum.”

Seven will milk that momentum on Sunday night when it launches its much-anticipated Australian Spartan followed by the Winter Games closing ceremony.

With a mix of sporting events, reality and drama, Seven should dominate much of the first half of calendar 2018. However there seem to be still some question marks about how Seven might go July 2018 onwards.

“There will be questions marks until such time that we roll the shows out and we see how they go,” responded Worner.

“We have taken a far more strategic approach to our second half, which is something that we noted at our allfronts. We are very happy with the progress we have made on those shows.”

Seven is using the Commonwealth Games as a launching pad for some of its new shows, some of which run into Q3 as well.

As to quarantining the audience from another round of cost cutting, Worner said he didn’t think that would be a problem.

“There are a couple of things we need to preserve. This gets to the art of managing a modern media company – trimming your costs for your sales to match what is going on in the market, but preserving the quality of your storytelling and preserving your capacity to service your customers.”

Is Worner staying with Seven?

“My contract is a rolling contract and as I understand it there is 12 months’ notice on either side. There is lot more interest in my contract out there than there is in here,” said Worner when we asked about his future with the media company.

“I am very fired up about the future and I am firing up the team around me. We do have a challenge and we have made a good start.”

Asked again if he expected to be staying with Seven, Worner replied: “I certainly haven’t been given any indication to the contrary. I am on a rolling contract so I will be around in one form or another for the next little while.

“I don’t allow that to characterise the way that we work here. We know what we have to do.”

AFLX: Something to build on

Although Worner thought there were a few issues around the colour of the ball and the time of year the new AFL spinoff occupies, he thought there was certainly something to build on.

“Some of the venues could have been better. But I really enjoyed it and I think it has enormous potential.

“I loved the BT and James Brayshaw commentary combination. There is a chance they will work together again this year.”

Worner admitted the timing last weekend didn’t suit Seven. “With a better time it will get a much higher profile and a bigger audience.”

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