Seven’s director of network programming Angus Ross explains how the country’s lockdown is benefiting Seven’s channels and catch-up viewing, the need to rejig the schedule, and flags a raft of upcoming Australian shows.
Q: At-home viewing levels are spiking for the free-to-air networks, Foxtel and the streaming services, resulting in big gains for your primary network, particularly 7News and Sunrise, 7Plus and 7Flix?
A: It is great to see viewers turning to FTA, particularly 7NEWS, Sunrise and The Latest. These programs are Australia’s dominant and most trusted news brands. We are seeing viewing spikes across all of our channels and 7Plus is breaking viewing records on a daily basis.
Q: While this lockdown may last for six months, I assume you are hoping many viewers will have ‘rediscovered’ FTA TV and so you may retain a lot of those viewers?
A: We had banked a lot of our local productions before the lockdown so the increased eyeballs across all platforms is certainly a welcome promotional tool to alert viewers to our upcoming tentpole programming.
Q: The House Rules premiere was the top entertainment show for 25-54s, so vindication for the show’s “makeover”?
A: So was episode 2 – it was our best result since 2016. We are very happy with the show this year and are looking forward to hooking more viewers as we hit the key reveal episodes.
Q: I know you have plenty of new shows to premiere through the year. What can audiences look forward to with Between Two Worlds, Big Brother, Extreme Weddings, First Dates, Mates on a Mission, Farmer Wants a Wife and Wife Swap Australia?
A: You forgot Plate of Origin and The All New Monty – Guys & Gals. Plenty of new local shows to come in 2020. I’m hopeful we can deliver the right mix of primetime programming to play our part in helping to keep Australia entertained as we all navigate this difficult period.
Q: Any other upcoming shows you’d like to highlight?
A: There is a noisy, four-part true crime series from CJZ called Murder in the Outback: The Falconio and Lees Mystery. Likely to premiere in May. We have also secured the rights to Britain’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent – both will run close to the overseas broadcast.
Q: You are “resting” Home and Away until production can resume?
A: Home and Away returns on Monday April 13 at 7pm. We will be running four episodes per week on the assumption production will resume soon.
Q: With most US and UK shows shutdown, do you have enough first-run programming for your digital channels?
A: The key US dramas that we use on the main channel like The Good Doctor, 9-1-1 and The Rookie had all finished production on their seasons. None of the key US programming that drives results across 7Mate and 7Flix has been affected.
Q: On a personal note, how are you doing? Still in the office or working remotely? How are you filling in the downtime?
A: I am still working from the office and video conferencing in my team who are all working remotely. There’s no downtime at the moment as we have to get creative with the re-jigging of the schedule given the COVID-19 impact on some of our shows and sporting fixtures.
As has been well documented, Holey-Moley, Australia’s Got Talent and SAS: Who Dares Wins were all put on hold. Production delays and the delay of the Olympics mean some shows will move forward and some need to be pushed back. We’re actually busier than ever and like a lot of businesses, having to make some very tough decisions.