Compared to the peanuts most reality TV stars in Australia are paid for their 15 minutes of fame, former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce’s reported $150,000 is quite a tidy sum.

The Weekend Australian revealed Seven’s deal with Joyce and his partner Vikki Campion on Saturday. The six-figure pay packet is hefty compared to the usual $11,900 it costs to produce an hour of news and current affairs programming, and doesn’t even include the usual production costs that will still apply to the program. But if the episode of Sunday Night produces anywhere near the amount of drama the Joyce-Campion story has so far, it could be worth more to the network than the average $645,700 it costs to produce an hour of narrative TV drama in Australia.

Victoria University screen media lecturer Dr Marc C-Scott told Crikey that Seven obviously thought the cash would be good value if they were willing to fork it out.

“The network must assume they can gain that value back through ratings, and companies that will pay for advertisers,” he said. “If the story’s there and the network believes they can gain back that value, they’re always going to pay for it.”

C-Scott said Seven was the best of the commercial networks at using its multiple platforms to repurpose and promote its programs. “All the networks have been playing the cross-media, cross-platform space since 2012, but now they can gain value off it. They’re making sure their content’s not just going on TV,” he said. “Seven has been quite smart in the way they utilise that.”

So as well as ads for the Sunday Night program, you’re likely to see promotion ahead of the interview on Seven’s TV programs, its website and social media accounts. And afterwards, the interview will probably be re-packaged in short clips for the news, and social media.

That’s not to mention the free advertising Seven will get from other outlets because the story itself is newsworthy.

“There’s already been a bit of hype around it,” C-Scott said. “They’ll start to build that up again before it airs. They need to hit it at the right point and not wait for that hype to die down (to get the most value for money”.

Peter Fray

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