Following MediaWorks’ media event yesterday, the company has announced a few changes for 2018; a new lifestyle channel ThreeLife, a new corporate brand identity, a shuffling of radio presenters and the return of familiar shows.
New kid on the block ThreeLife has been described as a channel intended to take viewers to a “lighter place”, and to do that, each night will be themed from food to D.I.Y, featuring international shows such as Restaurant Revolution and Bondi Vet. Chief content officer Andrew Szusterman says the new channel really plays into the Three brand wheelhouse.
“When you think of the Three brand that we created last year, it has elements of bright and fun. Those were the elements we derived our new brand off, and it really speaks to the content we have on our channels mostly, outside of news.”
Szusterman says when MediaWorks went looking at options for a new channel, it wanted to keep the brightness as well as ensuring a brand extension of Three, and it was ThreeLife that hit that brief the most. The channel will be available from 15 April on Freeview channel 11, with the Sky and Vodafone channels to be announced in due course.
It will include international shows such as Married at First Sight USA, and while a line up like that wouldn’t feel out of place on entertainment lifestyle channel Bravo (MediaWorks’ joint venture with NBCUniversal International Networks which features Real Housewives, Vanderpump Rules and Million Dollar Listings), head of programming and acquisitions Ben Quinn says they have different target demographics and when lined up have different schedules across the board over the week.
Bravo, which recently announced a locally-based presenter Cassidy Morris, focuses on the 25-54 female group, which is similar to the ThreeLife 25-54 target. However, Quinn says Bravo skews younger, while ThreeLife skews a little older with a “real range across the board".
A new format
Speaking about ThreeLife nightly themes, Quinn says there are several reasons for the format, including helping MediaWorks clearly communicate to audiences and advertisers alike what it's doing, which on a small channel can be a challenge at times.
“It’s a nice, neat way to package up and communicate what you’re doing and a chance to get content out there such as Bondi Vet which we haven’t been able to consistently programme on Three.”
In terms of inspiration for ThreeLife, Quinn says the team looked at lots of international examples.
‘We looked at 9Life, at a lot of successful things happening in different parts of the world in these genres, but ultimately we came up with something that really fits well with the Three brand, in how we’ve branded the channel but also the themed nights…it’s a subtle thing but we think it's different to anything else going on here or even in the Australian market for that matter."
The return of Married at First Sight New Zealand
As well as the introduction of a new channel, yesterday saw the announcement of Married at First Sight New Zealand. While its returns for a second season might have people asking where Bachelor New Zealand has gone, as it has run for the previous three years, Szusterman is quick to explain that while they would love to do everything, that’s not possible.
“We can’t deny the success of Married at First Sight NZ, it was our number two series on the network last year behind Block NZ.”
It may leave a few punters disappointed, but he adds it’s a “never say never” situation for the show, similar to Dancing with the Stars which is returning this year—with the announcement of Gilda Kirkpatrick and David Seymour—after a hiatus.
And any negative responses from former Married at First Sight contestants don’t bother Szusterman and the team.
“Some people concentrate on the negative, but we concentrate on the positive. Brett [Renall] and Angel [Renall] have a successful relationship…all people came into the project the same way. That’s what we’re looking for this year—people that really want to be part of the process to find their true love."
With the new additions to the MediaWorks' line up and offering now out in the open, Szusterman says he is proud of what the broadcasting team has achieved to put Three into the position it is currently in—which he says is really healthy.
“If we look at the numbers in 10+ [age category] we’re now the number two network behind TVNZ 1. TVNZ 2 has slipped back to third position for the first time since 2008 – so something we’re doing is going well, I think we have a really good content mix.”
And it’s not just the audience who benefits, but the advertisers too, says Szusterman.
“What we’ve built our channel upon and what we’ve built Three on is consistency and product. What we’re rolling out for this year [are] well-known brands be it Lost & Found and Grand Designs New Zealand that are known and loved not only by audiences but as importantly by advertisers, so they know when they book us they have a solid-ratings show.”
This is echoed by MediaWorks’ chief commercial officer, Glen Kyne, who says ThreeLife will provide greater performance and optionality for its advertisers.
Bringing up the threat of Netflix and SVODs, Szusterman says what he sees is a levelling out of people using television (PUT), whereas when Netflix arrived five or six years ago there was the assumption PUTs would go into a massive decline.
“It’s fragmentation, what’s happening with Netflix now and those SVOD are becoming part of everyone’s media mix. As we all just play on a level playing field now, it becomes a little more fragmented. Media has been fragmented for years and years and we know that Netflix is there but it’s no more of a threat than it was the year before.”
The corporate change
As well as the new channel, MediaWorks unveiled a new corporate brand identity for the organisation.
Chief executive Michael Anderson reminded the audience at the launch how the rebranding of Three brand a year ago was the beginning of a journey.
"It reflected what we aspired to be, and over the course of the past year, we have fully inhabited that brand. "This new corporate identity better represents who we are, the direction we are heading and what MediaWorks stands for. We have created a logo that represents the modern media company we aspire to be."