May the best idea win for breakfast viewing

When it comes to filling 35 hours of live TV each week, the best idea always wins says Sunrise’s Michael Pell

One of the most common questions I get asked is how on earth we fill three hours of live TV each day on Sunrise. That’s 15 hours a week. Add on Weekend Sunrise and it’s 20 hours a week. Throw in Sunrise Extra and The Morning Show and our production unit generates 35 hours of live television in a week.

Our ratings get knocked around by lifestyle factors more than most timeslots: school holidays, public holidays, traffic, cold mornings, dark mornings… depending on the target demographic, those variables can have a huge impact on the figures. The hosts are also a big consideration when audiences make their choice in the morning.

So much of Sunrise is about the on-air presenting team connecting with viewers. But when all variables are relatively equal, it always comes back to content. Content is king. Content (and the promotion of that content) is the one basic truth in television.

There is no holy grail to ratings gold – if you put good content to air, the audience will watch (most of the time).

So, that brings me back to the question. How do we come up with all that content? We have a saying at Sunrise which I’m certain is not confined to our Martin Place offices: the best idea wins. We don’t care where the idea comes from and, often, it can emerge in the most unlikely of places.

A good starting place is the producers themselves. Much of what you see on air comes from their lives.

When someone suggests a segment on infidelity during a production meeting, you quietly suspect something might be up at home. Our ideas also come from our viewers’ lives. We get thousands of emails daily to the Sunrise Soapbox.

The consumer is the ultimate producer. Of course, the news and publicity cycle also dominate a lot of what we put to air, but if you ever wonder how we fill all that airtime, the most honest answer is: the best idea wins.

Michael Pell is the executive producer of Sunrise on Seven. 


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