What is the television value of Justin Bieber?

Tens of thousands of teenage girls turned out at Sydney’s international shipping terminal to hear the Canadian teen popstar sing three songs. It was his only Australian appearance; with his handsome KD Lang-style looks, what teenage girl could resist?

The excitement turned to outrage, however, when the crowd started getting out of control. The excited (and sleep-starved) teenage girls began to push forward. With so many in the crowd, those at the front began to get hurt. An ambulance spokesperson reported that at least 10 were taken to hospital due to hyperventilation, and another girl with a fractured knee. Other teens were reported to have been treated after not having had any food or water throughout the night as they camped for Bieber.

Said Sunrise producer Adam Boland: “I don’t think anyone expected Justin to be as big as this. His own people weren’t sure about coming to Australia as they didn’t think it was a market he had cracked and we thought we were taking a risk by holding the concert.”

With the concert cancelled, thousands of girls decided the best thing to do at 6:30 in the morning was to descend on Martin Place, where Sunrise is filmed, on the chance that Bieber might make an appearance there.

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Thousands more teenagers piled into Martin Place as the show continued on, finally rewarded by the appearance of Bieber at the window performing a single from his album.

Sunrise dumped its entire format, keeping its focus on the Bieber situation. News bulletins continued as scheduled, but the rest of the show was wall-to-wall Bieber. It was admittedly a quiet news day, so its difficult to fault the show too heavily, but there was certainly an element of over-kill. That said, it was difficult to turn to a different channel throughout the morning. It almost felt like a certainty that Bieber would perform a song during the show, but the element of danger (and what seemed so compelling from a viewers standpoint) was the situation outside the studio. Would it be a repeat of the incident that saw the initial concert cancelled?

The Sunrise brand will take a slight hammering due to the backlash against them for the concert, however it isn’t likely they’ll see any long-term repercussions. No doubt there has been a few high level meetings at Seven today regarding the incident. That said, within a few days it will be business as usual for the Sunrise team. Though, maybe next time they host an outside concert of this nature, they might introduce a ticketing system.

Ultimately, was there any benefit to the Bieber concert this morning? For Sunrise, one would have to see it as being more trouble than it was worth. The possible ratings gain this morning may be trivial compared to a possible backlash (especially if talkback radio gets its claws into the incident tomorrow). For Bieber’s management, today could not have gone any better. It’s made Bieber a household name and cemented his status as a bona fide sensation.

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Peter Fray

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