“Free To Air Is Still The Biggest Gorilla In The Forest”: Nine Head Of Content

“Free To Air Is Still The Biggest Gorilla In The Forest”: Nine Head Of Content

Everyone knows that when it comes to free-to-air TV, it’s reality TV, news and sport that are the winning tickets to success, but what’s the right recipe to hit the mark every time?

Hannah Edensor
Posted by Hannah Edensor

“The Television market in general is undergoing significant change in how it is consumed. The facts though remain people are watching more television than ever, only in different ways,” Seven West Media chief revenue officer Kurt Burnette said.

“As validated by the fact that Australians are still watching more than 4.15 Billion minutes of TV a day, dwarfing any other video competition.  Free to Air Television is also no longer just tethered to the screen on the wall delivered in a linear fashion.”

When it comes to the delivery of content, Burnette said sport is, and always will be, the king of the FTA jungle.

“What hasn’t changed is the desire for people to watch and share moments together, the tribalism of viewing and talkability of great content is still a powerful motivator. As is immediacy,” he said.

“This is why live Sport is such a drawcard for broadcasters and consumers. In fact at Seven we often make our programs to approximate live Sport. My Kitchen Rule as an example has Teams, Referees, A scorecard, a clock and an outcome. Reality as live sport produced well works.”

Nine Entertainment head of content Adrian Swift agreed, stating, “Television is still driving mass audiences.

“If you think of the MCG or the World Cup, all those that things require reaching a wide audience at one place at one time, not over a great long period over time, that’s what free to air television does. Those of us who work at FTV know that is our role.

And engagement is only growing with the aid of technology.

“One thing I would say is, that social media has shown us is how deep the engagement with TV is because people talk about it in a way which shows they are fundamentally engaged,” Swift added.

“The good thing about multiple devices if you have TV shows like The Block or My Kitchen Rules, or The Voice or Q&A, the wonderful thing is you can see, yes, are people using a second screen, so are they simply sitting and looking at the TV passively? No they are not.

“They are looking at the TV actively they are sitting watching the TV and then typing furiously about it. That is a trend.”

“I worked in online and digital for many years particularly in the UK and I stood up on platforms saying that FTV is dead, but the one thing you realise when you come back to free to air television and you work in it and you see the kind of numbers it drives, you see the power of the product integration and all that sort of stuff.

“The one thing you can say about television is despite dire predictions of its demise, people have spoken too soon. FTA is still the biggest gorilla in the forest.”