Seven’s Chief Revenue Officer Kurt Burnette is having an excellent start to the year. Sure, Nine had that magic Ash Barty moment that brought in record numbers, but Seven is still bringing in big numbers on a weekly basis.
Burnette is coming off the year where he saw his network win the ratings. While The Winter Olympics isn’t pulling the numbers, The Summer Olympics pulled in last year – it’s still delivering in demos and getting plenty of eyeballs.
So sure, if you were Burnette, you might be feeling sad that the Australian Open is no longer yours, but there are still plenty of wins to cheer him up – like the financial results released this week that saw Seven West Media announce a 48 per cent jump to $128.7 million in underlying net profit after tax for the half-year to December 2021.
Although Burnette is quick to admit he would be pretty happy to welcome the tennis back, “Given Seven’s history of broadcasting tennis, we know the sport better than anyone else, and we have always said we are interested in all key sports, at the right price. A price that makes sense for our business,” he explained.
Seven’s start to the year would warm any revenue officer’s heart. While some networks are still struggling to bring their audiences back, Seven is sitting pretty – winning the night regularly even up against the success of Nine’s Married At First Sight.
Burnette told B&T, “You make a plan when you go into summer, and you certainly hope that what you have planned comes to fruition and it’s kicked off very well!
“Particularly with The Ashes and to kick off with the Winter Olympics and be winning the first week of Surveys in every single demographic, well, it is a testament to the strategy we have in place.”
Of course, it’s not all about sport; Seven has a big year coming up between SAS and Dancing With The Stars – yes, Ricki Lee is returning. They’ve also got My Kitchen Rules returning sans Pete Evans. Burnette was quick to confirm he won’t be back, “He won’t be there, no, but he had a good run there and rest is history,” he said.
So, while there’s plenty to be excited about, sadly, there’s no actual confirmation of a streaming service, though details are still clearly under wraps, “James Warburton has made it clear he wants to be part of a streaming service, and those discussions are still there,” Burnette explains.
Then, of course, there are the never-ending discussions between the networks on what really matters? Is it purely winning numbers, or should the goal always be total numbers?
Burnette’s response is pragmatic, “We led for 12 years in a row, and we know what leadership looks like. It starts by leading in total people and then demos follow. It’s not the other way round in our experience,” he explains.
Still, Burnette is clear that demographics are still crucial. He said: “Of course, demos are important, and that’s what our advertisers want as well. But when you are the most-watched and most trusted network by default, it allows for more targeting because we have the most people.”
What does he mean by more targeting? well, it’s easier to target certain groups when you have the most dog owners watching.
Burnette doesn’t even falter when I ask him what he would prefer; a total win in numbers or demos?
Burnette said: “I would take the total win and then build around it. We know what we are doing. If you lead in total people by the end of the year, that sets you off to be able to win demographics.”
Naturally, Burnette is ultimately pretty confident about the year ahead, “The smart money is coming to seven they can see where the momentum is.”