TV execs from Seven, Nine and Ten on their focus and strategies for 2022

This year’s official ratings period – which begins in February and ends in November – kicks off this week. Mumbrella's Emma Shepherd sat down with TV executives from Seven, Nine and Ten to discuss changes in TV reporting, measurement and strategies for 2022.

Having been edged out by Nine in 2019 and 2020, Seven reclaimed the title of Australia’s #1 television network and achieved the strongest free-to-air commercial audience share growth of any network in 2021.

Now entering into 2022, Seven West Media’s chief revenue officer, Kurt Burnette, tells Mumbrella the network’s strategy across the year is to build on the success of 2021 through demographics growth and audience share for People 25-54 across Seven and 7Plus.

“Our focus is first and foremost about great content. Around that, our philosophy continues to be driving towards an Enhanced Advertiser and Viewer Experience (E.A.V.E) to deliver more impactful ad breaks for viewers across Seven and 7Plus and for brands delivering interactive ads and more engagement through innovation of e-commerce and interactivity,” Burnette says. “Plus our focus is on making dealing with Seven easier and more effective through technology. All of which are already proving to show great results and grow the audience year-on-year and attract younger audiences.”

He explains: “Our strong line-up of exclusive sport content, including the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and the XXII Commonwealth Games, plus hit shows including the #1 regular series of 2021, The Voice, will also help us [Seven] achieve these goals.”

So far, Seven has kicked off the year with a packed schedule of sport, news and entertainment – with The Voice: Generations providing a massive boost to its timeslot audience year-on-year, according to OzTam data.

Burnette says the rest of this year is set to be an even bigger line-up of content on Seven and 7Plus.

“We’ve just launched February with the highly-anticipated Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, with SAS Australia and Dancing With The Stars: All Stars still to come this month. Plus Home and Away, The Chase and Better Homes and Gardens are back,” says Burnette.

Meanwhile, the rest of the year on Seven sees both returning and new shows including the AFL that kicks off with the Grand Final replay on Wednesday 16 March, The Voice, Farmer Wants A Wife with Samantha Armytage, the XXII Commonwealth Games, Big Brother, AGT, Claremont, Police Strike Force, Code 1: Minute by Minute, Supercars, horse racing, and the return of My Kitchen Rules.

In terms of demos, the Burnette admits the network will continue to focus on attracting and growing a younger audience.

“Seven was the only network to increase its audience shares in the key demos during calendar 2021, and we plan to build on these demos further in 2022. Our key tentpole shows such as The Voice, Big Brother, SAS Australia, Farmer Wants A Wife and Dancing With The Stars: All Stars have changed our demographic profile to be younger, bringing in more 25 to 54 and 16 to 39 viewers,” Burnette explains.

“7Plus is an outstanding success and is a critical part of attracting and growing younger key demos for Seven. 7Plus was the #1 BVOD platform in Australia in 2021 and it continues to attract younger audiences that can be difficult for brands to reach,” he admits.

Meanwhile, the Seven’s priorities regarding measurement, will be to continue to push away from overnight reporting and focus on Total TV audience numbers.

“The seven-day Total TV audience numbers are the real and most important numbers that show the impact of our content across all screens and deliver the most accurate and relevant metric for advertisers,” he says.

“Our rapidly growing data and verified users through 7REDIQ are also proving to be a powerful insight for planning and targeting.”

Burnette does add that although this is the case, sport and news are traditionally watched live with much less catch-up viewing in VOD.

“Despite this, though, It is still critical to capture any BVOD figures, including the huge audience numbers who stream sport live via BVOD. As we’ve seen with the Winter Olympic games already, streaming on 7Plus is up 300% on the 2018 Games and we expect 7Plus to continue to grow strongly in 2022.

Burnette explains: “When I talk about accurate reporting, I include the OzTam Total TV ratings that includes Total TV numbers. We believe and have been very vocal that the Total TV numbers that includes Metro, Regional and BVOD needs to be the focus.”

Nine’s chief sales officer, Michael Stephenson tells Mumbrella he couldn’t be happier with how the ratings year for the network has launched.

“Married at First Sight is absolutely hitting it out of the park. More people watch Married at First Sight than The Voice: Generations, and Survivor combined,” admits Stephenson. “What we are seeing is the consumption of all of that amazing content across multiple screens, it’s not just free-to-air linear, it’s how people are consuming via the live streaming on 9Now, or catching up on 9Now, all of which, we, are, the leader.”

As for Nine’s strategies in place for the rest of 2022, he says it’s all about consistency.

“As a business it is incredibly consistent. We’re not up, down, left, right, follow, or copy anyone else. We have our own plan,” he admits. “That’s what we’re doing. It’s nice to see our competitors try and emulate that. It’s a bit flattering.”

He adds: “Our [Nine’s] plan has been simple. Create the best content, distribute it across every platform to engage the biggest audiences, and we do that from the beginning of the year with the Australian Open all the way through to the end of the year with Snackmasters and Lego Masters etcetera, and we just deliver this consistency of demographic audience. That’s why we have been so successful over the past six years – because we deliver that consistency to brands.”

In terms of how the network measures its success, Stephenson says it is – like Seven – focusing on Total Television.

“We’ve been working with OzTam to create, develop, and share the virtual Oz database, and there is almost nothing more important to me than that,” says Stephenson. “The future of television is a combination of live linear, live streaming on demand, which is what we know as Total Television. You can only do that if you can measure it, and VOZ allows you to measure it.”

”I’ll give you a really interesting data point as to why this is so important. Up to 10% of Nine’s total audience for any of our shows, like Married at First Sight, is now being consumed via the live stream. In the younger demos, it can be up to 15%,” he adds. “When you think of that reach, the Australian Open reached 13.3 million Australians on television, but there were one million people that only consumed it on 9Now. They didn’t watch the linear signal at all.”

As for advertisers, and agencies, Stephenson admits it’s critical, and so important now to think about how Nine aggregate and think about audience consumption across all platforms.

“It’s not just TV either. It’s also audio. 20% of our audio audience is consuming via a live stream. Just like we have Total Television, there’s Total Audio, which is live radio like you know it, plus live streaming and podcasts, and then alongside that you have Total Publishing, as we’ve seen for quite a while now, people consuming our news media content via a printer product, digitally via an app, or online. These are not new and emerging things anymore, this is now the way in which people are consuming content,” he admits.

Heading over to Ten ViacomCBS, the network’s chief sales officer, Rod Prosser says he’s “thrilled” with the network’s 2022 launch pad.

“That launch pad at the beginning of the year is really critical to get right. We’ve [Ten] have been fortunate enough now for a number of years to have I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here to really help kickstart our year and create that launchpad into the TV ratings period,” Prosser tells Mumbrella. “We’re really thrilled with its performance, and obviously it does really well with not only the demographic but also Total People. It’s a nice competitor to the sport that’s on, and it really held its own. When you look at the Total TV audiences, you’ll see that there’s this wonderful uplift of its universe. Thrilled with the way that we started.”

Like Seven, Ten’s focus this year is to continue to draw in younger demographics.

“We’ve got a schedule across the year that is familiar but the exciting part to our format and schedule is that we’re peppering some new formats as well which we haven’t ever before carried, and I think that’s really critical, because I think the audiences, and particularly our audiences which skews slightly younger, really expects new content,” says Prosser.

“We’ve got known formats that are played overseas that we know will work, so there is a lot of security, but we kind of do risk it slightly. But, the biggest focus of ours is to continue to bring innovation and new content to the screen. On top of that, our attention goes to BVOD and streaming services which we’re investing a lot of time and money into those services to really grow our overall audience in minutes, and in BVOD.”

Prosser adds that the network will also be focusing on driving its subscriptions higher on Paramount+ across the year.

“Paramount+ is doing incredibly well and above expectations, which is fantastic, and to broaden out the library across all platforms. So, you’ll see a lot of investment into our content library, particularly across 10 Play throughout the rest of this year,” he admits.

Like Seven and Nine, Ten will also be focusing its attention on Total TV this year. “As an industry, we will slowly move towards Total TV. I wish it was faster, but it’s going to be a slow move to Total TV across the year,” Prosser explains.

“Certainly, media buyers now buy across all of our platforms. It’s a one-dimensional view if we just look at the linear ratings and it’s got to move there. As a network we have always been fixated on Total TV Audience. Our measurement of our shows and the way we position ourselves in market has always been around Total TV. That’s our main focus, is to continue to draw our attention to Total TV.”


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