Seven unveils plans to use cricket to dominate summer and win back the demographics

Cricket will be the centrepiece of Seven’s plan to dominate television ratings in the latter part of the year, launching with a women’s one day international immediately after the AFL Grand Final, the network has revealed.

The network aims to command 40% of the audience across all demographics during the summer period following a family friendly programming push to address what CEO Tim Worner previously described as a disappointing last few months of 2017 for Seven.

Seven’s Kurt Burnette: “It’s total domination”

Kurt Burnette, Seven’s chief revenue officer, said the numbers the network was aiming for with cricket were significant, which is not surprising given the $1.1bn price tag on the combined deal with Foxtel.

“It’s a big number. It’s total domination, certainly through that December and January period and it’s not just through the male demographic,” said Burnette.

“It’s about people 25-54, it’s about total shoppers and it’s about the female demographics.”

Over summer this year, Seven’s coverage of the Australian Open tennis – which next year will be broadcast on rival Ninebrought in large audiences, as did its Commonwealth Games coverage, but Burnette and Worner are now banking on cricket’s appeal, and the tail end of the year.

“Cricket effectively creates a prime-time television landscape regardless of what time it’s on,” said Worner.

The AFL Grand Final and cricket season launch will herald an end-of-year push by Seven across its family entertainment lineup including Little Big Shots, All Together Now, Dance Boss and dating show The Single Wives with the network looking at attracting new audiences for the sport through cross promotion on other Seven West Media properties.

Seven’s Burnette laid out how sports will underpin the network’s entertainment offerings.

“You’ll see cricket players across all our properties,” Burnette told Mumbrella.  “In things like The Chase, you’ll see front covers in Women’s and Men’s Health, the West Australian will be doing lots of feature, through to My Kitchen Rules and House Rules. So any time we can make a connection with the audience around the brand of cricket, that’s what we’ll do.

“The shape of the audience is going to be quite different.”

David Barham, Seven’s head of cricket, told Mumbrella how the network will deal with Foxtel owning the digital rights to the sport, a move which Cricket Australia’s digital boss described as bittersweet.

Barham said: “It’s a pretty clear line, when a bowl is being bowled, it won’t be on digital. So we’ll be telling stories that aren’t being told on the screen. That’s the interesting thing for advertisers.”

Seven will be also running cross-promotions with News Corp to highlight community cricket, along with cricket tragic of the year and a catch of the year competition which may extend to local games and backyard cricket.

“Before we start we’ll have 40 online features ready to go,” Barham said.

Barham who joined Seven earlier this year, also announced British commentator Alison Mitchell and former ABC AFL commentator Tim Lane will join the commentary team which already includes Glenn McGrathMichael Slater and former captain Ricky Ponting.

Barham told Mumbrella the cricket coverage, which will see Big Bash League games being shown on Seven at 7pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, will lock cricket fans into its network: “It’s the end of the remote control. If you’re a cricket lover, you won’t get off your couch from 9am in morning until 11pm at night.

“I’ve got enormous respect for the Nine network and what they’ve done for cricket over time, so we don’t take that lightly,” Barham said about the coverage. “We’re not going to turn the game on its head with the changes being subtle. I think the changes will come from the voices and talent.”

The official ratings period for the TV networks ends on 1 December, but over summer Ten frequently dominated the overnight ratings thanks to its Big Bash coverage.


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