It’s an awful lot of work for little or no progress. Just look at what Seven last night revealed it is offering us to watch in 2017 (and some of 2018).

No X Factor (it wasn’t mentioned), no Dancing With The Stars (it was rested this year, now it’s gone to the vault). But Seven’s line up in 2017 will have first time Yummy Mummies, more First Dates, and more Seven Year Switches. New Cold Case programs, one with a million dollar reward, another Blue Murder series, with Richard Roxburgh reprising his first big role as Roger Rogerson, mini stories on Hoges, Livvie Newton John and Warnie. News (but not mention of Today Tonight on the East Coast), lots of sport, My Kitchen Rules, House Rules, The Secret Daughter, 800 Words, Wanted. 

In other words, a lot like this year, with some more colour and movement and a program hinted at but not revealed because of its controversial nature (hint, it’s all about people marrying, despite of family objections etc). It was all about Seven and its digital efforts – oh, and the programming, with the print side (the West) being mentioned only in passing.

There was lot of data about Seven’s digital efforts (three years ago they were mentioned, but took second place to the programming. Last night digital was front and centre. Such as the Rio Olympics: Seven said more than 18 million Australians watched all or part of the Rio 2 Games across Seven, 7TWO and 7mate. Seven delivered 37.7 million live and VOD streams with a total viewing time of 325 million minutes, and an additional 73.8 million social video views. Facebook delivered 46.4 million social video views of Seven’s content, YouTube delivered 15.9 million views of Seven’s coverage, Twitter delivered 6.5 million views of Seven’s coverage and Snapchat delivered 5.0 million video views of Seven’s coverage. Across Seven and its various channels and other outlets Australians viewed 20.7 billion minutes of coverage of the games. And that sort of coverage is being offered to marketers for 2017 and 2018 programming (The Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast), the tennis, the AFL, golf and more.

And a new offshoot – Platform 7 aimed at those very reluctant millennials and which Seven’s new digital content division creating tailor-made digital content for all social networks and audiences. Platform 7 is from Seven Productions and it will sit along side the Seven network and its channels, 7Plus the streaming offer, the new Freeview streaming offering and anything Seven has tucked away.

Even compared to the 2016 launch a year ago, last night’s pitch from Seven (which was held simultaneously in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane) was very, very different. The programming  — new and of shows and gleams in various producers’ eyes, used to dominant the upfront/next year launch functions — now its the workhorse, with everything else hanging off it. The overwhelming impression from last night was that there is an awful lot of effort from Seven to sell its programs and ideas to the market and advertisers, as it should be in these days of fragmenting audiences, Netflix, and video streaming on demand, Facebook, Snapchat etc etc. But in reality it is also awful lot of running up and down on the spot for very little reward or gain. Everyone knows that TV audiences will fall again next year, as they have been falling for years, but the effort has to be made, the offering finessed and fiddled with, new ideas found and talent tried. All for little gain in the next year? Seven West Media’s 2015-16 profit announcement in August had the bad news ahead of time for the coming year

“Impacted by the combination of softer market conditions and increased content costs from the Olympics and AFL, underlying Group EBIT is expected to be down 15-20 per cent in the coming year.”

So all that effort, all those new and old programs, the digital campaigns and offerings, other investments (Airtasker, for instance) just to make sure the fall in earnings isn’t any worse than the forecast 15-20% range. And once earnings go in a declining industry, they are very hard to get back those lost earnings. Not unless more, deeper cost cuts, an unlikely surge in revenue (hard to see as Facebook hoovers it all up) or another round of value-destroying mergers (don’t be surprised).

So to on air last night: the penultimate night of The Bachelorette was weak for Ten. Tonight is the big, big test for Georgia and the ratings (viewers) for the program and Ten. The Bach managed 926,000 national (697,000 metro/230,000 regional) viewers – not convincing.

Nine won night in the metros – overall and the main channels – Seven won both in the regions. Ten was a safe third in both. Nine News was again weak, losing Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to Seven. Nine won Sydney. The Block had 1.288 million nationally for a weak night, Doctor Doctor again starred for nIne with 1.243 million

In the regions. the most watched programs were Seven News with 554,000 viewers, Home and Away was next with 511,000, Seven News/Today Tonight was third with 481,000. Beach Cops was fourth with 472,000 and Doctor Doctor was 5th with 466,000. — Click here to read Glenn Dyer’s TV Ratings. 

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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