Continuing our series with the people that control what goes to air on Australian TVs, Mediaweek’s James Manning speaks with Foxtel’s executive director of TV, Brian Walsh.
This is the second part of a two-part interview. Read part one here.
We never look at overnight ratings figures. It is all about how the consolidated ratings look. We haven’t had a drama show that has underperformed for some time.
It has been gratifying that the stories we make are also finding audiences internationally, which is great for us commercially. That allows us to reinvest in even more Australian drama.
We recognise that, increasingly, Australians are moving to an on-demand environment. Therefore linear channel viewing, while it will remain, will be less important.
That means it is time for a comprehensive review of the channels we carry. That will cause some distress and discomfort for consumers. The fact of the matter is it is a much more attractive proposition to have fewer channels that have a richer offering with a stronger lineup and fewer repeats.
We then have to let go of those channels that don’t meet our performance criteria.
This is the era of super channels. The audiences are so fragmented and there is so much choice available now that you want to have very robust, strong channels that are real destinations that people will a) recognise and b) go to.
That is our objective now with showcase, FOX8 and a number of our channels.
We have had discussions with our commercial channel partners, telling them we are reviewing our channel lineup and we want to have fewer, bigger and better channels. That is the future – fewer, bigger, better channels and a much deeper library available for people to watch VOD.
By 2020 we firmly believe linear viewing will decrease, VOD viewing will increase and correspondingly the number of linear channels will decrease.
It is a matter of identifying what those super channels are going to be. They will be the brands that get all the marketing and promotion.
We see Foxtel as being a house of brands – great brands that are globally recognised and local brands that we nurture and market very strongly, showcase being one of those.
If we look at the total channel lineup, include all the +2 channels and the audio channels, Foxtel would certainly have had well in excess of 200.
If you consider all that, plus what customers have through Netflix and Amazon, and the opportunities they have to watch on demand via iview and SBS On Demand, there has never been more choice for people.
You need to make Foxtel an easier navigation. You can do that more effectively with fewer channels that are stronger and a VOD environment that has multiple programming across many genres.
It’s inevitable that the plus 2s will probably disappear as we consolidate.
[Foxtel’s head of channel and operations Stephen Baldwin also joined our discussion with Brian Walsh. Baldwin’s remit includes the factual channels, lifestyle, entertainment, arts and music. More recently he has also taken over the on-demand portfolio.]
SB: We have had great success with our Lifestyle local productions. We would always love to do more but it will always be reliant on budgets. We do have a large number of returning series that are successful, which is fantastic. It also means that it uses a lot of the budget, which makes it difficult to commission a whole bunch of new shows, which we would like to do.
We are constantly monitoring the performance of those shows and we will make decisions to potentially let some of those shows go so we can bring new programs into the schedule.
As we continue our look at News Corp’s We’re For You campaign, chief marketing officer Tony Phillips tells Mediaweek’s James Manning about securing support from editors around Australia.
“The initial editors’ letters are a solid commitment to our customer base,” said Phillips.
“Through those messages we want to speak to lapsed readers and light users. I am also very keen to make sure we are speaking to future readers as well from any demographic.
“We are a product for Australia and we have an extraordinary network that touches most of Australia and we would love more people to be reading what we do.”
Phillips laughed when we asked if some of the editors were better at keeping deadlines than others.
As we spoke on the Friday before launch, many of the letters had yet to be received.
Phillips: “If we had given them another month, they still might have been doing it two hours before deadline as they are all so busy.”
News Corp reaches out to readers. Customers buying the Townsville Bulletin got a message this week from editor Jenna Cairney, which read in part:
Our newsroom has transformed into a 24/7 multiplatform operation that breaks news as it happens. More readers turn to us than ever before with 256,000 of you connecting with the Bulletin every month. Yet it’s not just about bringing you the breaking news.
Townsville is proud of being the unofficial capital of North Queensland, defined in the early years by gold, cattle and sugar, now bolstered by industry, our military hub, James Cook University’s expertise in education, and our port.
The Bulletin is for reminding the latte-sippers who shuffle down George Street that it’s the fluoro-clad workers who spend long days underground and weeks away from their families or the dusty cattle cockies or the cane farmers cutting out a crust in the tropical heat who make their world go round.
Like those who banded together after the Night of Noah or after Cyclone Debbie hit the southern end of our region, we’re for the carers, nurses, doctors, paramedics, police and emergency service workers. Those who save lives every day.
We tell their stories with pride. We fight for the underdog, share the remarkable stories and we’ll strive every day to make our community a better place.
• Digital subs for SMH, Age and AFR up 50,000 to 283,000
• Fairfax to exit 35% of NZ print publications through sale or closure
• Streaming update: Stan’s subscriber base closing in on 1m
Fairfax Media has announced its results for the half-year to December 2017.
• Revenue of $877.1 million, down 3.9% from the prior corresponding period.
• Net profit after tax of $38.5 million, compared with $83.7 million in the prior corresponding period.
Underlying Results (excluding significant items):
• EBITDA of $146.9 million up 1.3%.
• EBIT of $119.8 million down 5.5%.
• Net profit after tax of $76.3 million down 9.9%.
Chief executive and managing director Greg Hywood said: “This is a good result we are presenting to the market today. It shows the solid performances of our businesses – virtually across the board – and demonstrates the strength of the Fairfax Media portfolio.
“Fairfax is strongly positioned due to the success of growth and transformation initiatives we have implemented over the past five years. Domain’s digital growth is continuing, Metro publishing has delivered increased earnings, the radio business is showing the benefits of the merger and Stan is going from strength to strength.
“Group revenue of $873 million was a modest 3% lower than the prior year.
“Our ongoing cost and efficiency focus delivered a 4% reduction in expenses, notwithstanding continued investment in growth initiatives at Domain and Stuff.
“Net profit of $76.3 million was down 10%, with earnings per share of 3.3 cents. This result reflects the increase in minority interests associated with the separation of Domain from 22 November 2017 and the improved Macquarie Media results.
“We will pay an interim dividend of 1.1 cents per share, 100% franked. We note Domain declared a 4 cents per share dividend for the half.
“Our balance sheet is strong with a net cash position for Fairfax’s 100%-owned entities.
“We will take advantage of opportunities arising from media consolidation as and when it occurs. Any decisions we take will be in the best interests of our shareholders.”
Despite the departure of CEO Antony Catalano, Hywood stressed: “Domain is underpinned by a first-class management team, currently led by executive chairman Nick Falloon. Domain’s strategy is well established and its implementation continues apace, building on the achievement of breadth and scale.
“Domain delivered 22% digital revenue growth. This was supported by residential depth revenue growing 24% and strong performance from developers, commercial and transactions. Print revenue declined 12% reflecting the transition to a digital business.
“Our 60% stake in Domain remains a key strategic asset and its strong fundamentals underpin our great confidence.”
“Our three publishing businesses are profitable and generating valuable cash flows. Each has benefited from an ongoing emphasis on digital publishing, a continuing focus on cost and efficiency, maximisation of print earnings, and development of new revenue opportunities.
“We have progressed our recent positive discussions with News Corp Australia to seek industry-wide efficiencies in printing and distribution. We have had successful collaborations around shared trucking and printing titles for News in Queensland.”
“Metros are in good shape – the best they’ve been in recent history. And there’s more to come. Initiatives to deliver rapid innovation across consumer products and advertising are well under way – and we haven’t let up on driving cost efficiency.
“Metro’s impressive 11% decline in costs – largely from savings in staff, technology and print production – more than offset the decline in revenue of 9%. Publishing advertising revenue declined 15%.
“Overall circulation revenue was modestly lower, benefiting from strong growth in paid digital subscriptions and increases in cover prices, offset by declines in print circulation volumes.
“Net paid digital subscriptions for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review recorded their strongest reported uplift in four years, increasing by almost 50,000 from August 2017 to more than 283,000. We are encouraged by positive trends in consumers’ willingness to pay for trusted and quality content, as evidenced by strong trends in Australia and overseas markets. All three titles delivered growth, with the Financial Review delivering a particularly strong B2B uplift.”
“ACM’s total revenue declined 9%, with stable contribution from agricultural-related advertising offset by weakness in local and real estate revenue,” Hywood said.
“Digital revenue increased 20%. Circulation revenue declines reflected lower retail volumes. Other revenue increased 11%, benefiting from a strong performance from Fairfax Marketing Services, which delivers full digital marketing solutions to regional clients.
“ACM is well managed with operating costs improving by 7%, building on the 9% reduction in FY17. During the half, six community titles and one speciality magazine were closed, with positive EBITDA contribution to be reflected in the second half.”
Hywood said: “The recent renaming of the New Zealand business as Stuff recognises the tremendous power of the Stuff brand, the increasing role it plays in everyday Kiwi life and its position as the centrepiece of a significant digital growth opportunity.
“Digital revenue growth of 33% benefited from strong growth from Stuff Fibre and Neighbourly, offset by lower print advertising. Total revenue declined around 5% in local currency terms. Digital and non-print revenue now represents 17% of Stuff’s total revenue.”
“We are announcing today a plan to exit around 35% of our NZ print publications through sale or closure. The rationalisation of these smaller community titles and free inserts will deliver additional EBITDA contribution over a full year – and bring forward the time when increases in digital revenue outweigh declines in print.”
“Stan’s strong active subscriber momentum continued and delivered a subscriber base of impressive scale at around 930,000. Subscriber growth, combined with the first price increases since launch three years ago, underpinned 83% growth in subscription revenue. The strength of the operating model is reflected in revenue growth far outpacing the increase in operating costs.”
• Married At First Sight again the giant-killer – assumes top spot
• My Kitchen Rules with defence force foodies just short of 1m
• Oldfields shake up Celebrity camp, but viewers not responding
By James Manning
Home and Away is getting another stalker with the Tuesday episode on 684,000 after 704,000 on Monday.
Defence force foodies Matt and Aly were the chefs on My Kitchen Rules. Their Brisbane kitchen dished up a total score of just 60. The entrée of scallops and the dessert of tart scored well, but the main of pulled pork tacos was a major fail with both judges giving it one out of 10. The episode did 988,000 after 1.02m on Tuesday last week.
Female bobsleigh was amongst the sports on offer on the Winter Olympics night 11 with 799,000 after 914,000 a week ago.
The Bunnings Bandit, two people who didn’t want to be filmed and then the best phone plans filled A Current Affair with 863,000 after Monday night’s record 989,000.
The grooms’ homestays continued on Married At First Sight with 1.23m. After eight seasons with My Kitchen Rules calling the shots at the start of the ratings years it is a major change in the TV landscape to see a new program topping the chart. My Kitchen Rules started the year in front and led in the first six head-to-head battles with Married. The pendulum then began to swing though with MKR and Married level one night and Married then winning the last six clashes. Last night Married recorded its biggest winning margin, ahead of MKR by 245,000 in metro markets.
Episode 2 of Date Night did 464,000 after a debut of 510,000 a week ago.
One Night With My Ex then did 183,000.
The Project finished with Missy Higgins, who is talking about her good fortune to secure the support act slot for Ed Sheeran in Australia. The show did 531,000 after 7pm, which is also bang on what it averaged this week last year.
I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! has been struggling to attract the crowds it was doing last year. In week 7 2017 the show’s best was 911,000 while week 7 this year its best was 644,000. The Oldfields entered the camp on Monday and last night David Oldfield was involved in some heated discussions. The audience is not warming to the new arrivals yet though with the Monday audience of 534,000 dropping to 489,000 last night, which is the smallest audience ever for the format here.
Hughesy, We Have A Problem included Fiona O’Loughlin amongst the guests before she headed for the jungle. The episode did 463,000 after 437,000 last week.
NCIS: Los Angeles then did 267,000.
Brands under the microscope on The Checkout included Aldi, while the team looked at best practice when hiring a builder. The audience of 446,000 was down a little on last week’s 494,000.
Catalyst was investigating the case of a Sydney woman with gut problems and anxiety. Dr Joanna McMillan was trying to help the patient, which she labelled one of her most challenging cases. It all got a bit weird though when she Skyped a medical colleague for advice while she was sitting in a Sydney blues bar with a guitarist soloing in the background! The show did 419,000.
The doco The Pacemakers followed on 192,000 with men in their 90s prepping for the World Masters Championships.
British actor Derek Jacobi was the guest on the UK episode of Who Do You Think You Are? with 157,000 watching.
Insight featured young adults dealing with cancer and did 142,000.
Dateline then looked at the refugees swapped in a deal between Australia and the United States with 114,000 watching.
|ABC ME||0.5%||7mate||6.0%||GEM||3.6%||ELEVEN||2.0%||Food Net||0.7%|
|ABC||Seven Affiliates||Nine Affiliates||Ten Affiliates||SBS|
|ABC ME||0.7%||7mate||5.3%||GEM||5.3%||ELEVEN||2.6%||Food Net||0.8%|
|TUESDAY METRO ALL TV|
16-39 Top 5
18-49 Top 5
25-54 Top 5
Seven West Media and Southern Cross Austereo yesterday announced an extension of their regional television affiliation agreement for Tasmania, Darwin, Spencer Gulf, Broken Hill, Central & Eastern Australia and Mt Isa.
The agreement will see SCA continue to broadcast Seven’s metropolitan free-to-air television content in its existing zones from July 1 2018 for three years with an option for each party to extend for a further fourth year.
SCA will pay Seven an affiliation fee of 50% of its television revenue.
SWM CEO Tim Worner said, “This is a great outcome for Seven and SCA. We are confident that, together, we will continue our very successful and long-standing relationship and offer a premium viewing experience for audiences and a unique platform for advertisers.”
Welcoming the extension of the agreement, SCA CEO Grant Blackley said: “I’m excited SCA is continuing its long-term agreement with Seven. Our partnership enables us to deliver a strong lineup of programming, particularly in Tasmania where we enjoy an almost 60% of audience share.”
The Victorian Government has locked in the world’s largest online video conference, VidCon, at the Melbourne Convention and Event Centre (MCEC) for another two years.
Last year’s inaugural VidCon in Melbourne attracted more than 7,000 attendees, delivering a $9 million boost to the economy.
Melbourne is the only city in the Asia Pacific region to host the convention, which will see thousands more digital content creators, online video fans and businesses come together later this year.
VidCon will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre August 31-September 2 2018.
Viacom announced earlier this month it had acquired VidCon.
Meanwhile Live Nation has announced the lineup of featured creators for VidCon Australia 2018 includes Ashly Perez (itsashlyperez), Jazza (Draw with Jazza), ChoppA (Cakes by ChoppA), Mathew McKenna, Shae-Lee Shackleford: SketchShe, Anna Akana, Damian Parker (HeyoDamo), Safiya Nygaard, Georgia Productions, Hannah Hart and Hank Green.
Tickets sales have opened with prices ranging from $100 to $550.
Rupert Murdoch has upped his pledge to maintain a Sky-branded news service from five years to “at least 10 years” in revised submissions to the UK’s competition watchdog, reports Press Gazette.
The pledge is a bid to smooth over concerns that Murdoch’s £12bn proposed takeover of Sky, for the 61% he doesn’t already own, is not in the public interest on media plurality grounds.
He also offered a commitment to establish a “fully independent” and “expert” Sky News Editorial Board, which alone would oversee the appointment of the head of Sky News, in a bid to install protocols that put some distance between editorial decision-making and the Murdoch family.
GroupM, the media investment management group of WPP AUNZ, has announced the appointment of Rosie Baker to the role of group communications director.
It was in that capacity that Baker recently enjoyed a long lunch on Woolloomooloo Wharf with GroupM CEO Mark Lollback and group marketing director Greg Graham. Exactly two weeks after the afternoon at China Doll, GroupM has announced Baker’s new role.
At GroupM Baker will take on responsibility for group PR and marketing, as well as bringing an editorial focus to GroupM’s internal and external communications. She will work closely with GroupM’s senior leadership team and report to Mark Lollback.
Lollback commented today: “Rosie is a highly respected editor and journalist in our industry and it’s brilliant to have someone of Rosie’s calibre joining the group. Rosie will take our communications strategy to a new level and promote the group with compelling stories that cut through in the marketplace. I’m personally very excited to have Rosie as part of the GroupM family.”
Baker relocated from London to join AdNews as marketing editor in 2013 and was promoted to editor in October 2014.
Nielsen digital news rankings for January 2018 revealed that news.com.au (5.4 million) remained the top news entity and grew 2% when compared with the prior year.
In second place were ABC News websites (4.8 million, +11%), which moved up from third place when compared to January 2017, switching places with nine.com.au (4.6 million, +4%), which secured the third spot.
Smh.com.au (3.9 million, -3%) remained in fourth place.
In comparison with January 2017, there were changes in the ranking order for the next six news entity rankings.
Yahoo7 News websites (3.3 million, +25%) moved from seventh to fifth place, followed by Daily Mail (2.6 million, -17%), which dropped from fifth place to sixth place.
The Guardian (2.6 million, -5%), which had previously held sixth place in January 2017, moved back to seventh place.
Next was Herald Sun (2.5 million, +8%), which jumped up from ninth to eighth. Ninth and tenth places were tied by MSN News (2.3 million, +6%), which has previously held eleventh place, and BBC (2.3 million, -4%), which had previous held eighth place.
The Sydney Morning Herald is preparing readers for the launch of its new website.
After relaunches in Brisbane last year and Melbourne recently, Sydney remains the last major metro market to get the Fairfax Media web refresh.
Readers are being promised:
Find what matters most.
Our new homepage design brings you the most important stories, front and centre, so you can easily find the news that matters most.
From Good Food, Traveller, Domain and more, you’ll also find the best of our quality content in our new Featured section, no matter your interests.
Pick up where you left off.
With our new Shortlist feature, you can now easily queue the stories you want to read later. You can also revisit your favourite stories and articles with Reading History. Simply log in to sync your Shortlist across all your devices.
Your new Sydney Morning Herald experience launches soon. Subscribe today to access independent, award-winning journalism.
A former 2Day FM staffer has publicly accused a male station executive of raping him, reports Fairfax Media’s Michael Lallo.
Blake Phillips – who resigned from parent company Southern Cross Austereo in 2016 – says the alleged attack occurred in late 2013.
Phillips made the claim in a blog post, which he shared on social media on Monday. He did not name his alleged rapist, who remains a senior figure in Australia’s commercial radio industry.
Phillips says he complained to management at the time but did not pursue legal action, which he now regrets.
He claims 2Day FM responded to his allegation by ending the accused man’s employment and escorting him from the building. The man was later employed by a rival radio network.
In a statement, Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) said the company is assisting police.
“In 2013, on becoming aware of the incident, SCA acted promptly by investigating and terminating the employment of the manager,” a spokeswoman said.
Beyond Distribution has expanded its acquisitions team with the appointment of Justina Hemperek as its new head of acquisitions.
Sarah McCormack, currently acting head of acquisitions, has accepted a new role as SVP, acquisitions for UK, Europe and Kids.
Hemperek joins from Entertainment One (eOne), where she was director, acquisitions – UK, Europe and Australia, International Distribution. She has extensive experience in factual programming and will spearhead the company’s acquisitions and pre-sales activity. She will take up the role in March and report to general manager Michael Murphy.
Prior to eOne, Hemperek held a similar role at ITV Studios Global Entertainment and has also spent time at All3Media International and RDF Rights in the UK.
In her native Australia she worked for Nickelodeon Australia as well as Fox World Australia (a subsidiary of Fox International).
Justina Hemperek said: “I’m thrilled to be joining the team at Beyond and expanding the company’s reach internationally by securing highly commercial properties for multiple platforms worldwide. I’m also very excited to work closely with Sarah as we continue to deliver high-rating shows to our clients.”
The leading ladies of Foxtel’s sensational new drama series Picnic At Hanging Rock have swapped their corsetted costumes for Chanel couture at the opening night of the Berlin Film Festival’s TV program, reports News Corp’s Holly Byrnes.
Lily Sullivan – who plays Miranda Reid in the reimagining of Joan Lindsay’s iconic Australian novel – dazzled in the French designer label on her first major red carpet, alongside Game Of Thrones favourite, Natalie Dormer, fresh from rubbing shoulders with royalty at the BAFTA awards.
Picking up on the gender protest movement marked in black at the British answer to the Oscars, Picnic’s Canadian director Larysa Kondracki made her own fashion statement – flashing her “future is female” T-shirt at waiting photographers.
Australian productions screening in Berlin include:
• Closer Productions’ short A Field Guide to Being a 12-Year-Old Girl, written and directed by Tilda Cobham-Hervey, in Generation Kplus.
• Closer Productions will also have episodes of comedy series F***ing Adelaide from director Sophie Hyde (who won the Crystal Bear in 2014 for 52 Tuesdays) screening in the Drama Series Days at EFM.
• 6 Season Productions’ feature documentary Gurrumul in Berlinale Special, presented in cooperation with NATIVe.
• Wabi Sabi Studios’ short Lost & Found, from producer Lucy Hayes and directors Andrew Goldsmith and Bradley Slabe, in Generation Kplus.
• Seymour Films’ web series Other People’s Problems, which will have episodes screened as part of the Drama Series Days at EFM.
• Australian/Korean short film Paper Crane, in Generation Kplus.
• FremantleMedia Australia’s drama for Foxtel Picnic at Hanging Rock, in Berlinale Series.
• Roadshow Rough Diamond’s Romper Stomper, which had the most successful debut ever for a Stan original series and has already sold to BBC Three and Sundance TV, will have episodes screening in the Drama Series Days at EFM.
• Matchbox Pictures’ SBS series Safe Harbour, which has just announced a March 7 Australian air date, will have episodes screened as part of the Drama Series Days at EFM.
• Short film Tangles and Knots starring Odessa Young, produced by Janet Brown and written/directed by Renée Marie Petropoulos, in Generation 14plus.
At the 2018 launch of Fox League, the Fox Sports channel has revealed changes to its weekday programming:
Across the week there are four new shows.
New to Monday nights, Big League Wrap, featuring Yvonne Sampson, Mick Ennis and James Hooper with regular contributor Cooper Cronk, will offer unrivalled insight from the weekend’s matches.
Fans can relive every try from the round with Try Time hosted by Lara Pitt premiering on Tuesdays before The Fan offers viewers a look at Rugby League from the game’s biggest fan, Andrew Voss.
Mick Ennis will provide a fresh look at some of the most defining moments in NRL from the best plays, moments and players the game has produced on The Greatest.
Also announced at the launch, Matty Johns, Bryan Fletcher, Brett Finch and The Professor will move to Sunday nights at 6pm with Emma Freedman joining the couch each week to wrap up the round’s action with plenty of laughs on the new-look Sunday Night with Matty Johns.
The revamped channel lineup will see Hannah Hollis take over hosting duties of Queenslanders Only joined each week by the biggest NRL legends north of the border, now on Tuesday nights.
Fox Sports has also announced a new Fox League app, a dedicated Rugby League destination with improved personalisation and the best video, stories and stats.
Foxtel sports subscribers can also enjoy the action on the move using the Foxtel app, at no extra charge.
Mediaweek editor James Manning spoke with new Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany at the launch for Sky News Business. Watch here.
In a new partnership announced this week, Fox Sports is the only place to watch every game of the inaugural Super W season.
The new competition, which features five clubs aligned to each of the Super Rugby franchises, plus a Western Force side, will run for five weeks, kicking off on March 10.
The competition will feature a number of double-headers with the men’s Super Rugby games, plus a selection of stand-alone fixtures.
The matches will be broadcast on Fox Sports or foxsports.com.au on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the five-week season.
Fox Sports has also announced former Wallaroo Mollie Gray will join Nick McArdle, George Gregan, Drew Mitchell and Brendan Cannon as a regular panellist on the program Super Rugby: Kick & Chase to talk all things rugby.
Super Rugby: Kick & Chase returns today (Wednesday February 21) at 7.30pm EDT for the season premiere.