Update: TVNZ have announced that presenter and radio-host, Jeremy Wells will join Hilary Barry as Seven Sharp’s newest co-host when the programme returns to TVNZ 1 at 7pm on 5 February.
Hilary’s addition to the presenting line-up was also announced earlier this month, however, as personalities move from place to place, Seven Sharp confirms it's dedication to news will not change.
Jeremy Wells says it’s nice to be a part of a grown-up, credible, ratings juggernaut, rather than the low rating, late night schedule fillers he's usually involved in.
"I’ll be leaning heavily on Hilary’s intelligence, professionalism and pronunciation to get me through."
While TVNZ enjoys its last moments of the waning summertime break, Three’s The Project and The AM Show are back at work in what The Spinoff called a stealth attack on rivals TVNZ who are returning next week.
On the other side of the fence, the old hands of Mike Hosking and Toni Street have departed TVNZ’s Seven Sharp and the broadcaster is ready to unleash fresh new lineups, including Hayley Holt's addition to Breakfast and Hilary Barry’s move to Seven Sharp.
The shifting of presenters has evoked plenty of media commentary, with The Spinoff’s Duncan Grieve arguing TVNZ is currently in a "shaky - even vulnerable" state, while ex-head of TVNZ Bill Ralston reported to Stuff that if Barry’s move to 7pm isn’t handled right, it could give the competition a boost.
TVNZ’s head of news and current affairs, John Gillespie, is confident in the move. He states: "We have new faces joining our presenting, reporting and producing teams and they’ll bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to our programmes. What doesn’t change is our commitment to bringing our viewers the best local and international news.”
Although it is difficult to predict the effect presenters have on ratings, last year’s Nielsen figures for competing morning and evening TV shows provide a useful gauge on the current media climate.
Consolidated full ratings collected from Nielsen show that 120,222 Kiwis tuned into TVNZ’s Breakfast, while 59,245 watched MediaWorks' The AM Show across the year.
Using the same data in a focused demographic of 25- to 54-year-olds, the gap tightened; Breakfast attained 42,117 viewers and The AM Show 30,227.
Using the same data from the 7pm slot, TVNZ’s Seven Sharp has a considerable advantage among the public aged five and over, having gained 449,949 viewers. On the other hand, The Project clocked in with 167,972.
While the figures lean considerably in the favour of TVNZ, 2017 saw the birth of MediaWorks' The Project, which premiered on 20 February last year.
Using Nielsen figures of the yearly average data from TVNZ 1 and Three’s commercial demographic of those aged between 25-54, the gap slimmed significantly; The Project had 73,516 viewers in this demo – close to half its total audience – while Seven Sharp had 102,222 – less than one quarter of its total audience.
A month away from its first birthday, MediaWorks maintains a positive view of its infotainment style programme.
A spokesperson for MediaWorks says it's really happy with how The Project performed in its first year.
"The commercially important 25-54 demographic, The Project had an average rating of 3.8 and was the only news and current affairs programme in that timeslot to show growth, increasing its share of the audience by 12 percent year-on-year.”
As for TVNZ, its focus will be to seamlessly integrate the new personalities, while building on its success of last year.
Gillespie says 2017 was a huge year for its news and current affairs teams.
"Our election night coverage and debates were a particular highlight for me, reaching over a million New Zealanders and were the most watched programmes of the year.”
He has great ambitions for the year to come, and shares excitement about the coming Commonwealth Games as well as intentions to embrace new technologies, graphics and augmented reality in the coming weeks via a new studio wall.