MediaWorks reveal what’s in the works

MediaWorks TV launched its new season line-up in Auckland this morning. And there’s sure to be some gasps, both of horror and delight, following the much anticipated announcement of the return to screen of controversial broadcaster Paul Henry.  The Paul Henry Show will screen on Sunday nights between 3 News and 60 Minutes. Details are still strictly under wraps, i.e. at this stage no one has any idea, but Paul Henry’s new project is guaranteed to be surprising, controversial and very, very entertaining.

While the re-branded Four channel continues to make inroads as a mainstream entertainment channel TV3 has its sights set on both TV One’s and TV2’s demographic territory.

TV3 hopes to continue its ratings rampage with a raft of new shows including a Kiwi version of the hit show The Block, that sees four couples turn dilapidated properties into dream homes.  There is a Kiwi version of X Factor in the works too.  And with them comes the burgeoning trend of branded content. Advertorial, infotainment, call it what you will.

As advertisers move from being between TV shows to being inside them.  Product placement, or branded content, in reality shows is a growing phenomenon.  On the one side there’s Masterchef, New Zealand’s Next Top Model and The Block, where endorsements are woven into the shows.  Then there are ads that become programs.  One example is the Unitec ads, which follow students on their educational journey, which is expanded into a doco set to screen on Four later this year.

Melanie Reece, general manager for integration at MediaWorks believes it’s a huge and largely untapped growth area.

“Our team work collaboratively with our programming people to determine opportunities for clients across TV, radio and online.  We also have a designated development producer who has responsibility to integrate clients (into the shows) and meet their objectives in a way that’s entertaining for the viewer.

“We then devise a package that incorporates everything form on air exposure on TV through to point-of-sales merchandise or click to purchase online.  When we know the scope of the project, the cost is negotiated dependent on all the components on offer.”

With agencies increasingly focusing on activation, Reece says there’s a bigger appetite for integration and she sees a growing opportunity to design solutions for clients that communicate a single proposition across a variety of platforms.  And the various media platforms it owns, she says, give it an advantage over TVNZ.

“Our eyes are just opening up to this,” she says. “It’s a sleeping giant. And the giant is just starting to wake up.”

TV3 is also bringing some top rating international shows down under – including American Horror Story a subversive modern horror series set in the ultimate haunted house.  Described as a ‘carnival of sex, horror and crazy,’ and splattered with classic movie references, the latest project from Glee and Nip/Tuck creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk is dark, funny and outrageous.

Awake where after a tragic car crash Detective Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) finds himself torn between two simultaneous and parallel lives.  And from the producers of “Underbelly” the true story of the infamous ‘Milperra Massacre’.  The mini-series “Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms” retells the story of Sydney’s notorious motorcycle gangs and a car park battle which ended in tragedy.

Four is adding some drama to their schedule in a bid to broaden its appeal to the more mature demographic. The Ringer will commence early 2012 starring Buffy’s Sarah Michelle Gellar as twins Bridget and Siobahn.

When Siobhan suddenly disappears, seemingly taking her own life, Bridget makes the split decision to take on her sister’s identity – only to learn that Siobhan’s seemingly idyllic life is as complicated and dangerous as the one she’s trying to leave behind.

There’s also some hot new comedies such as Don’t Trust the B**** in Apartment 23, starring Krysten Ritter and Dreama Walker; The New Girl starring Zooey Deschanel; and Whitney, where bright young comedian Whitney Cummings brings her hilarious perspective on modern-day love. LOL.

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