Seven’s Natalie Harvey on the role of VOZ during Tokyo 2020 and a prediction on 7Plus subscriber numbers

Seven received a late surge of bookings once it became obvious the Tokyo Olympics would not be postponed again, director of sales Natalie Harvey revealed on this week’s Mumbrellacast, to be published this afternoon.

The uncertainty over whether these games would go ahead, after being postponed a year, continued until as late as last week with a significant increase in COVID cases in the host city.

“We certainly saw a huge surge… even over the last six or seven weeks. Brands are looking to be part of it because of the positives that the event brings,” Harvey said.

“We look at the Olympics not just as a sporting event, but as a huge cultural moment. And I think that brands are looking for more and more ways to be able to connect with audiences. And there’s less and less opportunities [like this].

“We’re in a better position than where we were at the same time in the lead into the Rio Olympics.”

Seven network sales director Natalie Harvey

There has been a vast range of clients with a variety of budgets getting involved, Harvey revealed, as Seven prepares to offer its most segmented buying opportunities ever across linear television and up to 43 channels on 7Plus.

“The Olympics appeals to so many brands. We’ve got clients spending $5,000 all the way out to millions of dollars to be part of the event. It doesn’t actually stop. We usually have people calling in the middle of the event to try and get on and to be part of it.”

Harvey added that with a huge variety of sports all being broadcast live, Seven has seen an influx of brands you wouldn’t necessarily expect to be interested.

“I think you’ll see that there’s a lot of brands in there that you wouldn’t normally see on television… The connected television opportunities have attracted some new brands as well, and some digital-first brands that are also leading with BVOD and 7Plus [spots].”

Harvey also provided an update on 7Plus users, revealing that as of Monday 19 July there are just under seven million users. “We’ll see that grow to at least nine or ten million by the time the Winder Olympics comes around in February.

The build-up had a different feel this time around, with COVID protocol meaning only a skeleton staff have been able to fly over to Tokyo compared to the usual number of Seven employees who would be there in person.

“We’ve had to make some pretty significant changes from a production perspective,” Harvey admitted. “It’s a very trimmed down version of what we would normally have on the ground at an Olympics

“I’ve been at Seven now for a touch over six years and my favourite time was the Rio Olympics. So we’ve missed a little bit of that build-up with half the team in lockdown across Sydney and Melbourne.”

This Olympics will also be the first major sporting event to be reported on by the television industry’s new measurement system, VOZ.

Harvey revealed that Seven won’t be looking too closely at the VOZ numbers in terms of measuring success, but the team will be using the new data to generate new insights.

“We’ll be looking to find different viewing habits and interesting data points … The insight we’re going to get into consumption behaviors will be something that we’ve never seen before.”

With a significant part of Australia set to be in lockdown for some, if not all of Tokyo 2020, Seven is expected to get a boost to its numbers during the games.

“I think what we’ll see is a similar pattern to last year where audiences are looking for entertainment. We’ll see people at home all day, productivity potentially at an all-time low, except at the Seven Network where we’ll be working very hard.”

Listen to the full chat below (17:39): 


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