Seven West Media Group’s Upfronts on Tuesday saw a number of major announcements across content, partnerships, and opportunities for brands.
B&T sat down with network sales director Natalie Harvey and chief revenue officer Kurt Burnette to discuss the biggest announcements of the Upfronts.
For Harvey, Seven’s tech investment through the launch of CODE 7+, its new media trading platform, is particularly significant.
“We’re moving into a new, evolved world for television buying and trading and delivery. And when I say television, I mean broadcast and digital, transmitted through, in particular, connected television,” Harvey explained.
“That, I feel was the most significant [announcement] not only from a cost perspective but the opportunity it brings brands and agencies to evolve into the future.”
CODE 7+ will be supported by the very latest in CRM technology from Salesforce, as well as other leading technology vendors.
On the partnership with Salesforce, which uses the Salesforce’s Media Cloud, Burnette said: “For the first time, you can buy audience across broadcast and digital together in an automated way, and for our customers it means that it’ll be incredibly fast and efficient. It’ll allow for the integration of VOZ and REDiQ…it allows advanced audience trading. It’s setting up for now, but also for the future.”
He described the partnership as a “long term technology play”.
Harvey added that, in Seven’s client surveys, “speed and delivery are two things that come up every time, in particular for linear trading of television.”
One of the other significant announcements from the Network was the unveiling of 7Shop and 7Rewards, which will be integrated with Seven’s audience intelligence platform, 7REDiQ.
7Shop allows viewers to instantly buy the products shown on the programs they stream, while 7Rewards is a partnership with The Entertainment Group, which produces the Entertainment Book.
“What this brings is a whole new element to that content, which is enjoying watching the content, being inspired by the content, and [shopping] what you see in the content,” explained Burnette.
“Television is generally known for brand building. We will be brand-building, plus we have the ability now to drive e-commerce strategies.”
7Shop, Burnette said, was in part a response to the eCommerce boom, which has undoubtedly been stimulated by the pandemic.
“We’re not creating a new consumer behaviour here. We’re getting in the flow of that consumer behaviour – it’s important that we don’t break that. That’s why we think it can be successful. That model…we’re not a marketplace, we’re not creating a new marketplace,” he said.
“It’s an enabler, so whatever brand wants to come with us with an existing eComm strategy or an online trtding strategy, we will be the window and the gateway to making people directly purchase with them.”
On 7Rewards, Burnette explained the potential possibilities – for example, the opportunity for viewers to be rewarded with two for one tickets to see James Bond by watching more 7Plus the day before, or by watching different shows.
“That’s an engagement strategy for your audience…but it’s also a brand proposition where we can put brands in that…then it’s [also] a data capture piece. It does a number of things.”
Content was also key to the Upfronts, with significant announcements such as the return of Australian Idol and My Kitchen Rules.
Seven’s core entertainment slate, The Voice, Big Brother, SAS Australia, Farmer Wants A Wife and Dancing With The Stars: All Stars will continue into the new year, and be joined by a new program, The Voice: Generations.
When asked about what the biggest show of 2022 will be, Harvey was clear: The Voice.
“I think The Voice will be the biggest linear and BVOD piece, because I think the linear will continue to be really strong, and I’m also gonna say, I think the Olympic Winter Games will surprise everybody with just how big that will be, particularly from a digital perspective.”
Burnette agreed, pointing to The Voice as the most successful show-based programming.
But, like Harvey, he was confident about the success of the Olympic Winter Games.
“Stop the fight now! The Winter Olympics will be the biggest digital, most-streamed event full stop,” he said.
“That’ll be the biggest out of anything in 2022, that’s a guarantee.”
“The Winter Olympics and the Commonwealth Games [also announced at the Upfronts]; those events are a continution of this really great feeling that came from the Tokyo Olympics…from a business perspective it just creates fantastic audience, brand new audiences coming in that help launch your next lot of shows coming through.”
Both Harvey and Burnette shared their key learnings from the Tokyo Olympics, with Harvey pointing to the release of VOZ, which co-incided with the Games.
“We were able to use the biggest digital event in history to mine the VOZ data.”
She also pointed to the success of the Olympics as a platform for other programs.
“The ability to launch new content out of the back of such a big event – we’re going to see that again next year with the Olympic Winter Games, the Commonwealth Games, the AFL. All the big cultural moments we have are used as promotional vehicles for our other content, so it has a pretty significant halo on the rest of the schedule.”
For Burnette, one of the most significant effects of the Olympics was the “education” of the consumer in transitioning seamlessly between the linear Seven channels and the 7Plus app.
“It’s the first time we’ve really seen that agnostic movement across screens, and the viewer was quite willing to move across those screens seamlessly, and that’s a very powerful thing to do,” he explained. Harvey agreed, citing the “exceptional” production team.
Finally, it would remiss to discuss the Upfronts without mention of sport outside of the Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games.
Seven was sure to highlight the cricket and AFL offerings, as well as its recent landmark deal with Racing Victoria, Racing NSW, Racing Queensland and Racing SA for thoroughbred horse racing.
When asked about whether the network will pursue rights to the NRL – currently owned by Nine – Burnette played coy.
“I think James [Warburton, CEO] has gone public [that] the fact is, we’re interested in major codes in this country. We’ve got two of them, cricket and AFL, and we’d be interested in the NRL, but everything has to make sense as well.”
“If we can make sense of it, I don’t think anything’s off the table.”
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