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Seven execs: Winter Olympic Games will be ‘the largest digital event’ of 2022

With the 2022 Winter Olympic Games kicking off this week in Beijing, Mumbrella's Emma Shepherd speaks with Seven West Media's chief revenue officer and director of sales Natalie Harvey to discuss its predicted audience reach, and the network's broadcast coverage.

The Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 Opening ceremony will be broadcast live and free on Seven and 7Plus in what the network is calling this year’s “biggest broadcast and digital event”.

Seven West Media’s chief revenue officer and director of the Olympics, Kurt Burnette and director of sales, Natalie Harvey tells Mumbrella it’s been one of the most sought-after Olympics from media buyers, and have had over 300 advertisers already invested.

“What the advertisers are looking at and the way we’re presenting The Winter Olympics is the mass reach, which is generally reached through broadcast, and our digital proposition on 7Plus, is a highly-targeted and addressable proposition,” Burnette says. “It does mass reach, delivering scale, with addressability, targeting, segment-base buying, intent to spend, and different consumer sectors.”

In 2000, the Seven Network accepted the honour of welcoming the world to Australia as the television network of the Olympic Games. Beijing is the next chapter in Seven’s journey. This year Seven acknowledges a 66-year partnership with the Olympic Games. 

“We’ve got a lot of learnings from the Olympics over the years, and more recently from Tokyo. What we know is that we want to cater to the superfans in terms of the events themselves, as well as the more broader Australian-only events, and more broadly, everything else under that,” Burnette explains. “Our broadcast schedule is going to be aired on Seven and 7Mate, and we’ll be switching between channels. On 7Plus, over 20 different channels will give audiences access to each individual sport, as well as curated feeds of news and updates on how the Australians are performing. We are forecasting that this will be the largest digital event of 2022.”

Burnette says one of the most crucial parts of the success of an Olympics, in terms of audience reach, is that the viewers need to have an understanding of how to navigate and move around the 7Plus product, which makes for a stronger user experience.

“We’ve done an extensive amount of research post-Tokyo Olympics, where we were asking about what they thought of the 7Plus product and the broadcast itself. Everyone is now very familiar with how to get around the product,” he explains. “One of the things we were most happy with – outside of the audience – was how broadcast, and how Seven and 7Plus work together, and how the hosts would bring the viewer in and talk to them about where to find what events they were looking for. It’s a full on-air curation of how our hosts can move people around, and the consumer can also move around the ecosystem very freely. 

Sports broadcasters Hamish McLachlan and Abbey Gelmi will lead the Seven team which include Australia’s female aerial skiers, Jacqui Cooper and Lydia Lassila, and Olympic Winter cult legend Steven Bradbury.

Just like Tokyo 2020 on Seven, there will be one destination to watch every medal ceremony, and every record from the Winter Games.

7Plus will be the only place to watch 20 channels of sport, see what’s on when, keep up to date with the medal tally, create a watchlist to follow events or catch up on highlights. 

“In terms of numbers and ratings, It’s going to be one of the biggest programs of this quarter of broadcasting, and in digital the biggest for the year, and of course the time zones will be very helpful. COVID-19 is unfortunately still very much prevalent, and the only positive we can really take out of that, is that the audience viewing will be up,” he admits.

Burnette adds that the network had well over 10 million registered users from the Tokyo Games, and he predicts this number will grow again to 3 to 4 million new registered users on top of that.

“One of the things that we’re able to do is that we have that hard to reach light viewer reach outside of Tokyo. Because of our registered users, we can actually re-target them. They may not have watched a lot of broadcast post-Tokyo Games but we can re-target them to come back to the 7Plus Winter Olympics product,” explains Burnette. “Particularly in the digital system we have a direct line into the consumer now, which is not something we’ve had to this level before.”

Harvey adds: “Some of our modelling around broadcast audiences has up to 200% growth for younger demos. If you have a look at some of the numbers of late, particularly on some of the shows that traditionally attract younger audiences, it’s getting harder, harder to find those 18–39-year-olds. But we’re forecasting for our audience to be up two-fold over that period. Many brands are really looking at this as an opportunity to reach light TV viewers, on the traditional linear broadcast as well as on Connected TV.”

Burnette adds one of the things that the network was able to do is have that hard to reach light viewer reach outside of Tokyo. 

“Because of our registered users, we can actually re-target them. They may not have watched a lot of broadcast post-Tokyo Games but we can re-target them to come back to the 7Plus Winter Olympics product. Particularly in the digital system we have a direct line into the consumer now, which is not something we’ve had to this level before.”

Meanwhile, last year, Seven West Media has a partnership with Kerv Interactive, to deliver a shoppable ad experience, 7ACT.

The product will enable advertisers to have even greater access to consumers, inserting QR codes into video assets, enabling brands and content to showcase products and other relevant information in programs and ads.

Burnette says these ad e-commerce ad products will be available throughout the Winter Olympics’ coverage.

“Our Enhanced Advertiser and Viewer Experience (EAVE) proposition, underneath that is our ad products which include 7 Interactive and 7ACT, which is e-commerce activated creative, so that will be working, with certain brands, throughout the Olympics coverage,” he says.

In terms of media buyer’s responses, Harvey adds she’s never seen this much interest ever in any other Olympic Games.

“Particularly over the last two months we’ve seen a massive increase in investment, and I would go as far to say that it is our most successful Winter Olympics for the Seven network on a commercial level.,” she says. “Part of that is also the flow-on effect from Tokyo. Our clients had an excellent experience throughout that event from an audience perspective. We did a survey after the Tokyo Olympics and 100% of our clients, who did the survey said that they would re-invest into another Olympic Games.”

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