Has CVC bought a lemon with the PBL Media assets it has so far paid more than $1.7 billion for?
It has 75% of PBL Media with the Nine Network, ACP Magazines, Ticketek, half of Ninemsn and various odds and sods such as management rights over the Acer Arena in Sydney. PBL Media has also paid $250 million for the NSW regional TV operator, the Newcastle-based NBN.
But there are signs the assets are a bit faded, some of them overblown and underperforming.
The Nine Network continues to struggle: it’s losing ratings, losing viewers advertising share and looking tatty around the edges.
It doesn’t have enough programming. Nine is being kept in the game by a 6% to 8% rise in TV ad revenues, and it has kept in touch with Seven through defensive programming designed to boost profits but not viewer numbers. It’s why its share in the over-50 viewing audience is now the highest of any network.
Figures prepared by Sydney media specialist, Fusion, this week show that so far in the ratings year Nine had the second highest level of repeats, or the highest if you discount what Ten does with The Simpsons at 6pm Monday to Friday.
Nine screened more than four times as many repeats as ratings front runner Seven, which is putting more first run, new programming to air than any network.
Seven has shown a total of 23 hours of repeats in peak night prime time from the start of ratings in February, Nine had shown 104 hours and Ten, 140.5 hours. But Ten strips The Simpsons at 6pm and has done so for years. It’s a way of not going head to head with the Nine and Seven News at 6 pm while keeping its target demographics of 16 to 39 and 18 to 49 happy.
And Fusion says that although Seven has the ratings year won (and will have the most revenue and the biggest profit), it is still planning to bring 13 hours of new programming each week to viewers in the rest of the year (that’s completely new programs). Nine, which has boasted about how its going to bring a lot of programs to viewers this half, has only 7 hours of new programming planned, while Ten has 9.5 hours.
It’s all about programming for profits and fits the old James Packer/John Alexander dictum that Nine should pursue profits not ratings.
Then there’s that half interest in Ninemsn … it isn’t worth what it was valued at in the CVC sale last year. It’s been passed by Fairfax Media’s news sites as the most visited online news site in the country.
According to the monthly Nielsen Market Intelligence report: ”Ninemsn’s National Nine News site was overtaken in unique browsers, the internet’s most accepted traffic measure, by Fairfax Digital’s The Sydney Morning Herald website for the month of July. It marked the first time the Nine News site had been beaten.”
Kerry Packer boasted that he only had one Alan Bond in his life when Bond gave Packer $800 million in cash and a $200 million debenture for the Nine Network in 1987. Has James Packer already found his Alan Bond, in CVC?