Sales directors prep for busy summer of TV, while Ten admits 2023 is a year for ‘measured risks’

As the official TV ratings period comes to an end and the festive season approaches, the major Australian TV networks are gearing up for a bumper content offering throughout the summer period. Mumbrella’s Emma Shepherd speaks to Nine’s Matt Granger, Seven’s Natalie Harvey, and Ten’s Rod Prosser, on what strategies are in place for next year, how ad sales are looking, and what they're most excited about coming into the new year.

“Seven won TV this year, and we won that with one less channel, and we are in an even stronger position as we gear up for our summer of TV viewing and 2023 content slate,” Seven’s national sales director Natalie Harvey tells Mumbrella.

“With the addition of 7Bravo coming in the new year, and all that new content coming in on 7plus, it is going to put us [Seven] in a really strong position, particularly because it was an area where we weren’t as strong in that under-50s women,” explains Harvey. “So, we’re going to really give the other networks a run for their money on that. And we can win with one less channel and that’s what happens when you add another one that has a complementary audience to the other channels.”

The 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, which is the eighth edition of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup tournament, held in South Africa, will air on Seven and 7plus from 10 to 26 February 2023, with Australia as the defending champions.

“The Women’s World Cup next year is also going to be huge,” says Harvey. “The amount of advertiser interest in the WWC is something I have never seen in my time at Seven, it’s incredible. And the Men’s World Cup is doing well now, too and Australia is moving into a good spot there. I would suggest that the Men’s World Cup is a fantastic advertisement for an even bigger event next year here on home soil.”

Seven will also air Big Bash League and the Test series, which Harvey explains has been a hit for media buyers.

“The new year’s Test will be good, all cricket has been popular with advertisers,” she says. “If you flick the TV on now you can see sponsors all over it, so, it’s been really positive, and well-received in market.”

Last month, Seven unveiled a line-up of exclusive content and new shows coming to 7plus this summer, on 15 January 2023.

7plus’ supersized summer schedule will offer audiences a bigger and deeper selection of entertainment shows, reality programs, drama series and new FAST (free ad-supported streaming TV) channels.

Seven will also launch the new channel, 7Bravo, which along with Seven’s partnership with NBCUniversal, offers quality reality, entertainment and true crime content to Seven and 7plus, including the unscripted TV franchises Real Housewives, Below Deck and Million Dollar Listing.

“Across the summer, you would have seen, we’ve just put out a press release around our focus on 7plus. And growing that audience in the lead-up to NBCU content coming in on the 15th of January. We also announced that Home and Away would be doing a FAST channel, showing the best episodes of the show to date,” says Harvey. “It’s also coming back earlier on linear, so we are changing our strategy with it, which means we should have a strong entertainment offering as well as a sport offering across December and January.”

“It’s about getting that balance right, between entertainment, sports content and news,” she adds. “Australian Idol launches in late January, early February, so, I think the mix of content is the best we’ve ever had.”

As for strategies coming into 2023, Harvey notes that while some may think linear TV measurement is dying, it still commands huge audiences and still has a huge reach.

“We don’t look at linear in isolation, it’s total video when we come to audiences and when we come to revenue. I don’t believe that you can reach across Seven, Nine and Ten at 630pm at night, a couple of million people on any other platform.

“Linear television goes up and down. But for us, the focus is around total video and going audience-led versus platform-led, which seems to be a bit of an old way of looking at it,” says Harvey.

Meanwhile, over at Nine, it has used its tennis launch to highlight how Tennis on Nine in 2022 is not only summer’s “biggest marketing platform” but also the most effective.

“We’ve seen demand in the form of a premium partner point-of-view, which is exciting,” Nine’s director of sales – sport, Matt Granger says. “We have got several returning brands which is always a positive thing, but particularly several new brands and categories that are looking to activate the Australian Open, d take advantage of our proposition.”

“In 2023, those brands extend even further into our tennis ecosystem, particularly in total TV, publishing, and audio,” he says. “So, now, we’re feeling very, very confident about where we’re at with the partner level and the brands are involved.”

As for ticket sales, Granger says Tennis Australia is confident that 2023 will be a successful year in pulling both on-ground audiences and TV audiences. “I’ve heard that when Tennis Australia released tickets, they were still getting demand through the doors that they were hoping for.”

“We have no doubt that like 2022, we will see some big numbers on the ground and eyeballs on screens,” he admits.

Meanwhile, it’s just a matter of days before the 2023 season launches with the inaugural United Cup for the very first time.

Sydney will welcome some of the biggest stars in world sport in the round-robin stage at Ken Rosewall Arena, with Germany, Great Britain and the USA comprising Group C, and Australia, Czech Republic and Spain competing in Group D, from 29 December to 3 January.

“It’s the first time there’s going to be a mixed-gender tennis competition, and the players also get points for the first time, so they get ATP, and WTA points,’ says Granger. “I think as a pre-leading into the Australian Open that structure is going to be exciting not just for the Australians but for other teams as well, to be able to warm up and, I get points, so be competitive and exciting. And having a mixed-doubles competition like that for the first time is exciting as well.”

“What makes the summer of tennis so special is known as unscripted moments in human stories,” he says. “My perspective on this is Nick Kyrios has had his best year ever. He’s now ranked just outside the top ten. He made a Wimbledon final. He’s consistently beaten the top five players, including Daniil Medvedev, and even his doubles partner Thanasi Kokkinakis and Kyrios now rank five in doubles.

“The likelihood of either of those guys going deep into the doubles, as well as Nick, potentially getting himself in the finals for the Aussie Open, he’s never been in a better position, and I don’t think people want to miss that,” explains Granger.

As for sponsors and strategies for Nine’s summer of TV, Granger said there are still a few he’s unable to announce, however, major partners, Kia, Peters, and Samsung will be returning.

“Our 25-54 profile is really our bullseye ground around what the tennis does, and it has that beautiful balance of male and female viewers across it,” he says.

“That broad range that tennis offers is unrivalled. Tennis has become a festival of tennis or a festival of summer. And that’s because it’s become the number one sport for Australians over summer. Australians stop for that moment at the end of January to make the most of it. And that’s very much our focus and all our promotion and our drive for that will be driven around that demo,” concludes Granger.

Over at Network 10, the network’s national sales director, Lisa Squillace tells Mumbrella she’s confident with ad sales and new formats coming into 2023. 

“Network 10 is part of an agile, global entertainment business and has a confident, fresh approach for 2023,” says Squillace. “Next year our fan favourite reality shows are getting a refresh and our formats look strong for 10 in the first quarter.” 

“Putting the heat back into summer with our new take on The Bachelors Australia, our alternative to sport is a strong proposition for advertisers who have been locked out of broadcast due to sporting deals,” she adds. “Then Survivor Australia will pit Heroes against Villains in Samoa in the ultimate challenge to outwit, outplay and outlast. Not only is Survivor a favourite among the industry and Aussies, but it’s also a worldwide favourite. Sponsors who integrate into Survivor are seen globally by some of the most engaged fans in the world.”   

Adding to Ten’s content slate, bringing the quirky comedy format Taskmaster to Australia, Tom Gleeson and Tom Cashman are joined by established and emerging comedians who are sure to keep the whole family laughing. 

I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! Australia will also return to the jungle in South Africa just in time for the Easter school holidays and is poised to entertain families and get Australia talking with campfire conversations.   

 “Network 10 has always been focussed on entertaining a younger under 50s audience, and we do it well,” says Squillace. “In 2022 we delivered on our strategy to dominate the top entertainment programs in the younger demos.” 

“Network 10 has the most unique, engaged and passionate fans of worldwide sports. F1 fans are glued to the action on and off track, punters around the country stop for the most famous horse race in Australia, and Football fans are some of the most passionate and loyal viewers in the world,” she notes. “Network 10 has reached over 11.9 million national viewers through sport this year with sports continuing to achieve their biggest ever BVOD audiences.” 

As for strategies coming into 2023 for the network, Squillace admits this year is all about ‘measured risks’.

“Paramount ANZ shifts and evolves year-in, year-out and we look for ways to innovate on and off screen,” she says. “We are also adaptable. We take measured risks and boldly leap to try new things, with our audience and advertisers in front of mind.”

“We’re very proud of the Paramount Sports Locker spanning Melbourne Cup, MotoGP, NBL, Formula 1 and A-Leagues, and the dedicated fans that come with them,” explains Squillace. “Our sports broadcast and streaming coverage have reached 11.9 million Australians in 12 months, that’s 46% of the population.” 


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.