“This Is Just The Start For Us”: Gereurd Roberts On The Astronomical Rise Of 7Plus

“This Is Just The Start For Us”: Gereurd Roberts On The Astronomical Rise Of 7Plus

The Seven Network had officially released its streaming numbers for 2021, showing impressive growth propelled by the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and The Voice.

According to the Network, 12 billion minutes of content have been streamed so far on the platform, 21 per cent higher than its nearest competitor.

Of course, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games amount for a not-insignificant portion of that.

4.74 billion minutes of Tokyo content were watched on the platform, and 7plus added 2.6 million new registered users during the Games.

In an interview with B&T, Gereurd Roberts, Seven’s chief digital officer (pictured right with James Warburton, CEO) described the Olympic Games as “significant for streaming in Australia in general.”

“I mean, it was the biggest digital event in Australian history, and that’s a really meaningful marker.  I think it was a signifier of where we see audiences going.”

The first Sunday of the Games beat the previous biggest streaming day in Australian history by four times.

Crucially, one of Seven’s core priorities now is maintaining the momentum of the Games in terms of users.

“From a long term perspective…retaining those new registered users is now really a focus for us,” continued Roberts.

“Ensuring that we convert them from new users to engaged and regular daily users is where we’re spending a lot of our time now. That’s where a lot of our focus sits.”

Even with no Olympics on the horizon for another four years, Roberts is confident that streaming will continue to grow.

“From our perspective, since James [Warburton] has come in, he’s really put a focus on the digital business and on SevenPlus, in particular, at the heart of that. We’re increasingly investing in the 7Plus platform, and that goes for everything from the content to the technology, and the data structure that underpins all of that.”

Part of Seven’s strategy is synthesising BVOD with linear TV.

A core example is The Voice, which consistently performed at over a million viewers on live broadcast, and was also a success on streaming, up 151 per cent on the 2020 live streaming average.

For Roberts, what makes a show a success on streaming is no different to what makes a show successful on broadcast. Instead, the benefit of streaming is “the ability to be able to market and target audiences specifically with the shows.”

“It’s [about] how we can leverage what we understand about our audiences to be able to push programming that’s appropriate to them on 7Plus.”

The numbers certainly show triumph on that front, with 7plus netting a 47.3 per cent share of total commercial free-to-air BVOD viewership.

Rather than BVOD slowing as Australia (hopefully) exits lockdown, and as an increasing number of subscription TV services hit the market, Roberts is confident of continued growth.

“This is just the start for us. We’ve come late to the party,  from a 7Plus perspective, but we’ve made some incredible gains already,” he said.

On the possibility of Seven entering that paid subscription market – to compete with Nine’s Stan and 10’s recently launched Paramount+ – Roberts acknoweledged that “we do want to get into that space.”

“But we’ll be cautious and make sure that anything we do is in line with strategy, and really well planned and partnered.”

He repeated James Warburton’s stance on the subject: that it needs to be the right partnership.

For Roberts, free-to-air streaming is still a powerful competition to the subscription services.

“The only other thing I’d say is, don’t sleep on BVOD…All of the research that we see says that people still prefer a free streaming platform.”

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