The big red train – and Leckie – rolls into 2012. But what happens when Warburton enters the mix?

So what to make of Seven’s 2012 launch last night?

More of the same was the big message of the night.

More of the same programming that took it to such a big win this year.

And more of boss David Leckie’s very individual presentation style. His big red train was back, as was his another-brick-in-the-wall strategy, complete with Pink Floyd backing.  

And those were the two topics of conversation among media agency folk afterwards.

Nobody was expecting big announcements on programming. When a schedule is working, why change it?, was the consensus.

Nevertheless it was a useful exercise to bring the network’s customers together to remind them that it’s number one.

There was less consensus over Leckie. I’m certainly not going to suggest he was pissed, but his speech was the subject people kept raising afterwards. There was more division of opinion there than there was around the schedule. The more senior traders – particularly those who’ve had dealings with him – took the view that it was Leckie being Leckie.

But I did speak to a couple of younger agency folk who had never seen him perform before and were somewhat surprised by his gregarious, and slightly slurred, presentation style.

The other conversation that bubbled up was, inevitably, the rival networks.

Ten had its launch – which was even slicker (although it needed to be) – a few weeks back. I’m yet to hear a peep from Nine about 2012 although the speculation is that we’ll see Underbelly Queensland early doors.

But the big question was what would happen when Ten’s new boss James Warburton (and the man once most likely to be Leckie’s successor before he walked) finishes his non compete and enters the fray at the start of the year.

The prediction was that he’ll be doing deals – big deals. Which may make it worth the while of agencies dragging out negotiations on share commitments with other networks until he gets there.

The view seemed to be that Seven is in a position of strength and is okay. Nine is vulnerable though.

Regardless, 2012 is going to be one of those years where we see big changes in the TV ecosystem.

Tim Burrowes


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