Seven looks to Tokyo Olympics and exclusive content to grow 7Plus

The Seven Network is looking to attract eight million registered users to 7Plus, its Broadcast Video on Demand service, for the delayed Tokyo Olympic Games.

Originally slated for July 2020, the rescheduled Olympic Games will run from 23 July – 8 August 2021, and the Paralympic Games from 24 August – 5 September 2021.

Seven’s chief digital officer Gereurd Roberts, said the service had grown significantly in 2020, despite   implementing mandatory sign-in. “We are halfway across that process of mandatory sign-in across platforms, even pre-mandatory sign in, we saw an increase of just under 90% in user registrations last year.”

Gereurd Roberts from Seven

The majority of Seven’s Olympic coverage will be on 7Plus, providing more viewing hours than ever before. “This year we will have two broadcast linear channels, and over 30 streams on 7Plus,” said Brook Hall, the network’s head of scheduling.

Roberts added that 7Plus will offer a “digital experience that will far exceed anything Australians have seen before” for the upcoming Olympic events.

The Olympics is not only expected to be a win for advertising partners, but Seven is also banking on the increased viewing to promote its own upcoming slate of content.

“As well as providing the biggest marketing opportunity for advertising clients, we have lined up the biggest amount of content, both locally produced and other new and returning series around that July and August period. So, if for some reason something happens, we are lined up with all of our cannons fully-loaded, with the most content we have ever had,” said Roberts.

Speculation about the Olympic and whether or not it will be able to proceed has been high following second and third waves of COVID-19 around the world.

Seven paid $170 million for a three-Olympic game package to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and has also secured the rights to the Winter Olympics in Beijing, China in 2022.

IOC vice-president of the and Australian Olympic Committee president, John Coates, recently told media that the Tokyo games “should” and “will” go ahead in 2021 as slated.

Several paid streaming providers have recently entered the sport broadcast market in Australia, with Nine’s Stan Sport picking up Rugby and several tennis, Foxtel’s Kayo announcing a deal with Netball Australia and lastly Amazon Prime signing up with Swimming Australia.

For now, Seven is committed to remaining a free broadcast product according to Roberts: “Our focus is on free. All of the research shows that Australian consumers prefer a free streaming service, and that is our focus, being the best free service.”

While the Olympic coverage is set to attract increased usage of the 7Plus platform, Hall and Roberts are confident that the trajectory for the service is only just beginning.

According to Hall, the service is already attracting a significant number of viewers separate to the main linear channels with exclusive content.

“We are very aware that when we are building these services, they are almost independent of broadcast when they need to be,” he said. “50% of total audience consumption on 7Plus is exclusive content that does not air on broadcast at all.”

While the network has been limited to largely “library series from local and overseas” for 7Plus exclusive content, it will be shifting that into individual local productions and spin offs later this year. With that, Hall expects the volume of exclusive content viewing on 7Plus to grow even further.


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