The boss of one of Australia’s biggest media businesses, MediaCom’s Sean Seamer (pictured below), believes sports rights – primarily the NRL and the AFL – will now be firmly in the sights of Network Ten’s new owners, CBS.
Seamer’s comments follow one of the industry shocks of 2017 – CBS’s surprise acquisition of the embattled Ten Network yesterday.
“There’s no way CBS has bought Ten to leave it as it is,” Seamer told B&T, before adding the American giant’s deep, deep pockets will allow it to produce and buy content that should not only worry rivals Seven and Nine but push up the price for anyone prepared to bid for it.
“This has given Ten huge purchasing power and it’ll be interesting to see how they leverage that in the market place.
“Seven and Nine won’t be immediately concerned but it’ll be very interesting to see what Ten does around things like sport.
“When the rights for the big sports like NRL, AFL and the cricket come up or other pieces of content then it will be very, very interesting to see what happens there,” Seamer speculated.
With much of the programming in place now until the end of 2018, Seamer didn’t predict much change to Australia’s TV landscape for the next 18 months, but after that “things will get very, very interesting”.
Seamer added he was surprised as anyone that the American giant was interested in the Australian market at all, but believed its acquisition of Ten was a positive sign for the local industry and for advertisers.
Nor did he believe a CBS-owned Ten would simply become a dumping ground for its US programming and believed it would – and would need to – invest heavily in local content, too.
“This is a very big investment and they obviously see an opportunity for a continuance in the platform and perhaps this is a larger play for these guys in the Australian market place,” Seamer said.
“With the changes in the media reform then I’d say that this is their first step into the market and definitely not their last.”
Seamer didn’t believe advertisers would have an adverse reaction to the buy-out either who, ultimately, want a strong and viable third free-to-air broadcaster.
“Clients follow audiences,” Seamer said. “Their primary objective is building their businesses in Australia and, whoever owned Channel Ten, if they’re generating audiences, they will follow them, because that’s what marketers do.
“I don’t think the ownership structure (of a broadcaster) really impacts their ability to generate those local audiences and that is why investing in local content is critical.
“I think there’s a lot that the Australian market can lean from the US market. The free to airs over there have been through a revolution and the type of content that they are now creating for TV – longer formats, high production values – they’re things you hope that they will replicate here in Australia.
“And, no, I’m not saying the US networks have it all figured out but you only need to look at the profits of CBS to know they’re doing a pretty good job.
“You are talking about a huge business here and they obviously have a game plan and see the Australian market as a huge opportunity but,sure, it remains to see how that plays out. I think you’ll find the purchase won’t be nearly as interesting as what the strategy will be,” he said.