Nine’s Voice on Song, Seven Rules and TEN adopts Gamification…Event Sport!
It was a tumultuous start to the year for all the Networks, with major changes and implications to their business. We will start with Ten who received the most coverage after CEO James Warburton was shown the door and replaced by Murdoch family favourite Hamish McLennan. Warburton left Ten after less than 13 months in the role that ended on a day the Network received 8.1% of the audience share (one of the lowest in the Network’s history). McLennan has already started to make some big plays in market securing the 2014 Winter Olympics then almost snatching the Cricket away from Nine. They did end up with the Domestic Big Bash Series (previously on Fox Sports) and made Nine pay a substantial increase for the cricket, but what they need urgently is some consistency in programming. It seems Ten have finally caught onto the fact that being a TV broadcaster for the under 40’s is a flawed strategy as this is precisely the audience leading the vanguard in watching their content via other avenues. Ten are now saying they are targeting People 25-54 but judging on recent audience shares, no one has told these people yet…….of course you can’t turn the Titanic around on the head of a pin.
However, recognising that broadcasting TV’s success seems to come from more ‘event viewing’, TEN’s emphasis on securing some big sporting plays seems a wise one.
Nine had an interesting period also…..after off-loading ACP to the Bauer Group to ease their debt woes, they still managed to almost fall into receivership. Financial backers came in at the last second to save the day and since then they have been on a roll. Starting the year with a solid cricket season, followed by The Block All Stars and the Voice and then strong performances by old stalwarts; Big Bang Theory, 60 Minutes, The Block & House Husbands. Nine may just deliver on their 5% increase in audience guarantee.
Seven have had the most pleasant time by far………My Kitchen Rules ruled, and this had a positive impact on their ratings across the week. The MKR Finale is the highest rating show to date (average of 3.2 million total people). The Tennis, A Place to Call Home, Revenge, Downton Abbey, and Packed to the Rafters all performed exceptionally well. The nicest boardroom shuffle also occurred with Don Voelte moving on from CEO of Seven West Media to Managing Director and Chief Executive of Seven Group Holdings. They then rewarded the programming boss Tim Worner to CEO Seven West Media after years of delivering no. 1 share for the network. This leaves the Seven Network CEO to be fought out by Kurt Burnette (current Chief Sales and Digital Officer) and Rohan Lund (former Yahoo!7 CEO).
The back half holds more of the same for each network. Nine to continue strong performance off the back of Big Brother, Underbelly: Squizy, Australia’s Got Talent and the Great Australian Bake-Off. Seven will be a bit lighter with X Factor its biggest property to look forward to. Ten have started off badly with the newest series of Masterchef under-performing but positive that the Lions Tour, Reef Doctors (uh oh), Wonderland, Ripper Street and season 2 of Puberty Blues can reverse the trend.