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Whale tales and couch comfort as Ooh Media and Paramount share their 2024 plans
Welcome to a midweek update from Unmade, after a busy day in Upfronts season, with Ooh Media and Paramount both unveiling their plans for 2024. Further down, the Unmade Index once again falls below its 600-point floor level.
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Ooh Media’s whale of a tale
Tim Burrowes writes:
The biggest gamble of Upfronts season paid off for Ooh Media yesterday morning.
Imagine how bleak the trek across Sydney’s Botanical Gardens would have been in the rain. Instead, it was a perfect blue-skied morning. It was impossible to walk towards the Calyx, past the humpback whale sculpture, and not to feel the mood lift.
Ooh Media had a number of stories to tell at its Outfronts.
Sometimes when the penny drops for me, I feel like I’ve belatedly realised something that everyone else had worked out ages ago. In my case, it was around Ooh Media’s retail media play Reooh, which I hadn’t fully understood.
Yesterday, it announced Reooh’s first Australian retail media partner - Queensland and SA supermarket chain Drakes (Ooh is already working with The Warehouse Group in NZ).
I’m sure they’d hate to be described as a sales house, but one of the things Ooh Media can offer to retailers is sales representation via Reooh. For smaller retailers, that will have been one of the barriers to them launching their own retail media offerings. Another is the capital expenditure of building instore screen networks. Reooh takes that problem away for retailers too.
Interestingly, it speaks to the nature of retail media, that Ooh can’t offer the whole retail media network solution. Retailers will still need to work with other partners for the online component.
Yesterday also saw Ooh begin to prosecute its argument that QMS - which holds the City of Sydney contract - is not the only option in the city. Ooh Media has the metro contract which will include the eight new CBD stations. That will include 50 digital screens with 20 large format sites. The flagship of the network will be the Martin Place station precinct. That will include giant, high impact 3D sites.
What was notable by its absence from yesterday’s announcements was the word programmatic. I don’t recall hearing it at all yesterday. That contrasts with JC Decaux and QMS which have leaned into it programmatic buying, even ahead of the launch of upgraded planning system MOVE 2.0.
Also absent, incidentally, was new sales chief Paul Sigaloff. The plan for him to publicly meet the market for the first time was derailed by a poorly timed bout of Covid.
Meanwhile, Ooh tried to seize the data battleground by launching what it called Ooh Outcomes - a promise to offer full performance reporting, via Ooh’s plug-ins into Flybuys and Westpac’s DataX - across an entire campaign, so long as at least half of the media spend is with Ooh. The competitive media politics of that will be interesting.
The other big fish will have something to say about that.
Double declaration of interest: Ooh Media covered my travel and accommodation; I bought more stock in Ooh yesterday after seeing the presentation
Paramount - less linear than ever
Yesterday’s Upfronts from Paramount were both the most, and least, traditional of the season.
Most traditional, in that the original point of Upfronts was to unveil a content slate for the coming year. Instead, in September, Nine put its main focus on the breadth of its platforms and on the Paris Olympics; and last week Seven had very few changes to announce to its existing schedule. By contrast, Paramount had lots to say about new commissions for Ten and Paramount+.
Least traditional, because there was no single gathering of the industry for Paramount. Instead the Paramount management is hosting smaller gatherings of 50 or 60 people at a time. I was at one of the three Sydney sessions yesterday, held at Ten’s Saunders Street headquarters. More will follow in the other metro capitals.
Although Paramount’s rivals had made noises about the approach being a cost saving exercise from the share-squeezed broadcaster, it didn’t feel that way.
In a studio filled with couches, commercial boss Jarrod Villani, content boss Beverley McGarvey, programming lead Daniel Monaghan and sales chief Rod Prosser, moved briskly through their announcements before taking questions (via app) from the audience. Afterwards worked the room.
As an introvert, it was probably my favourite Upfronts experience of the season.
Of most long term consequence was the announcement that streaming service Paramount+ will launch an advertising tier on an unspecified date next year.
The steady rise of Paramount+ has been underplayed. In the most recent quarter that Kantar offers a full comparison between services, Paramount+ moved up to second place in Australia with a 10.6% share of new subscriptions in the market. This year it overtook Nine’s Stan and Foxtel’s Binge. Only Amazon Prime Video, part of the wider Prime package, is further ahead.
With Nine resisting the temptation to launch an ad tier on Stan, that means Paramount will be the only player in the market able to offer advertisers the ability to reach audiences across paid streaming, free to air broadcast and ad-supported streaming.
The end of linear television can’t come soon enough for Paramount. There will soon be a time when Ten’s performance in broadcast share - only just over 20% - matters less. That poor share is likely to continue in the meantime. Live sport and news are the only two types of content that still deliver reliable overnight numbers.
Like Seven, Ten’s presentation focused instead on audience reach.
When that audience - whether on Ten, Tenplay, Paramount+ or lean-back streaming channel streaming service Pluto TV - can be reached across one buying platform, that becomes a powerful offering. Paramount is promising that next year.
As to the slate, one of the big unknowns for Ten is the return of Gladiators. It’s a short run commission but if it creates the kitschy buzz that Nine’s Ninja Warrior did then it will be a decent addition to the beginning of the year. Amusingly, one of the characters is Phoenix, which must delight Seven, which has chosen the same name for the latest reboot of its Code7 buying platform.
Survivor and I’m A Celebrity will also appear early in the 2024 schedule, which is being positioned, of necessity, as an alternative for non-sports fans.
Game show Deal Or No Deal, last seen on Seven, will move across to Ten, hosted by Grant Denyer in the early evening slot. Meanwhile a short run of Wheel of Fortune, hosted from the UK, but with an expat Aussie audience and contestants, by Graham Norton, will air in primetime.
At least for 2024, there will be no return for The Traitors. Although the format was a hit in the UK and the US, the show didn’t rate locally. It’s impossible to know whether that was simply because Australian audiences didn’t have the patience for the format or if it could be saved be recasting the host - Roger Corser did not work.
On Paramount+ there’ll be no return of Tasmanian reality contest The Bridge.
But there will be several interesting Paramount+ commissions that will no doubt eventually end up on Ten too. NCIS Sydney is the big one. Top Gear Australia will be intriguing, given that it’s been commissioned while the original UK version has been on hiatus - reportedly never to return - after Freddie Flintoff’s awful crash. Episodes are being filmed outside Australia which gives it potential global appeal.
Back in 2011, Nine briefly did an Australian edition of Top Gear. At the time its first episode rated half a million. At the time that was seen as a disaster, and it was soon axed. These days that would be a decent overnight number.
Drama commissions for Paramount+ include Paper Dolls, following the rise of a girl band and cautionary dating tale Fake.
Increasingly, Ten has been playing a different game to its rivals. In large part that’s because of its ownership by Paramount. It’s starting to feel like that is the most significant point of difference.
Unmade Index falls back through the trapdoor
Seja Al Zaidi writes:
It was a poor day on the Unmade Index which fell back below the landmark of 600 points. It dropped 0.81% to 596.7 points.
Ooh Media was the main laggard, falling 2.19%, with Seven dropping 1.72%, Southern Cross Austereo 1.09% and The Market Herald 5.77%.
The only stocks to rise were ARN Media and Enero Group - they rose 3.05% and 0.63% respectively.
Time to leave you to your day.
We’ll be back with an audio-led edition in the morning, featuring longtime Unmade contributor Abe Udy, as his business Abe’s Audio makrs its 25 year anniversary.
Have a great day
Publisher - Unmade