From TV3 to Three: Glen Kyne on the enduring commercial power of television

It’s barely been five months since Glen Kyne was officially appointed MediaWorks’ new chief commercial officer, but much has happened at TV3 since then.  Old shows were cancelled, new shows brought in, and now the channel is welcoming the arrival of its biggest rebrand in almost 15 years with the launch of Three.

It’s a rebrand that’s bold, vibrant and actively buzzing with a concourse of familiar faces all round—and there’s good commercial reasoning behind it.

“You’ve got to have a bullseye in terms of what the channel represents,” says Kyne, who’s been with MediaWorks in various executive positions since 2014.

“Our commercial theme this year is that we’re positioning ourselves as the 25-54 audience company, and the Three rebrand is a huge part of that. It’s vibrant, energetic, playful, inspiring, and it’s very much talking to that 25-54 audience,” he says.

Already commanding a sizeable share of the 25-54 audience (otherwise touted as TV’s most lucrative trading demographic), Three are looking to make the most of this rebrand opportunity by both consolidating and cultivating their hold on this core viewership group.

The Block, for instance, attracted 2.6 million viewers last year (1.3 million of those aged between 25-54) according to Nielsen data, and when Newshub was launched at the start of 2016, its first 6pm bulletin experienced a 31 percent increase in viewers aged 25-54 compared to the February 2015 daily average—a marked improvement from its predecessor 3News which pulled in just over 71,000 viewers from the same age group.

“Our audience for TV3 was already very well shaped in terms of the percentage of the audience that sits in the 25-54 demographic. So if we can increase the volume of that and if the Three rebrand contributes to bringing more audience into that, then that’s a very a good story for MediaWorks and makes my job a lot easier,” he says.

For decades, the 25-54 demographic has been recognised as one of the most important when it comes to TV advertising, so it’s no surprise it’s a key part of what’s anchoring the Three rebrand. However, some have recently dismissed or diminished the demographic’s continued relevance (“a blunt  instrument” is one description, “almost useless” a somewhat harsher one), and in Nielsen’s most recent TV results, only three of the channel’s programmes made it into the top 20 most-watched shows for those aged 25-54 last year.

Despite what looks like an uphill battle, data released by MediaWorks yesterday showed that it reaches around 94 percent of this demographic across its TV, radio and digital channels. And this is pretty good base for the company to build on.   

“The rebrand is colourful, inspiring and playful, because if you sit in the 25-54 age bracket, you don’t want to be reminded that you’re too old or reminded that you’re too youthful,” says Kyne.

“We certainly want to cement our existing audience by creating an environment for consumers that’s comfortable and energising. But you also want to create something that’s appealing enough that you can shift audiences from other channels, and I think the rebrand does that.”

The enduring power of TV

Television’s heyday may have passed, but to proclaim it dead would be woefully premature. Kyne says the opportunities for TV advertising are abundant and dismisses the notion that TV has lost its impact, insisting it’s still the most powerful medium out there.  

“Part of this rebrand is we’re trying to get the story out there about the effectiveness of television,” he says. “We want to demystify a lot of things out there about TV viewing because TV viewing is four to five times higher than it is for YouTube or Facebook videos.”

“It’s a very big commitment for us to educate and get the message out there about the power of television.”

Kyne isn’t alone in this sentiment. Mark Ritson, adjunct professor from Melbourne Business School and visiting speaker at Three’s public launch yesterday spoke at length on the truth about traditional platforms versus the myths about emerging ones. And in 2016, a Think TV study from Australia found that TV was the only media platform that came out with a positive return on investment for advertisers, concluding that not only does TV advertising work, it’s actually more effective now than ever.

Nielsen also reported last year in their multi-screen report that 84 percent of New Zealanders were viewing 23 hours of broadcast TV every week, while just 26 percent were watching TV content via other devices. Furthermore, Nielsen revealed a 94 percent plummet in Facebook streaming numbers this week after the social media network admitted last year that it had overestimated its viewing figures based on people watching as little as three seconds of a video.

“With the TV industry, if we misrepresented or misreported audience numbers, we’d probably be crucified,” says Kyne.

“So part of this rebrand is to remind people that the TV model is a trusted advertising platform. It works, it’s engaging, it’s got integrity and it’s measured well. TV advertising does the job.”

Creating brands from brands

Having established TV advertising still works, the next question is, how do you go about doing it?

During Three’s launch event last night, MediaWorks also announced the launch of Radiate, a new influencer marketing platform making the most of the company’s extensive pool of talent. An example of the platform’s offerings can be seen from last year’s ‘Jono v Ben’ campaign which saw Frucor’s V Energy drink integrated into the Jono and Ben show using a creative taste test segment. It turned out to be a massive success, with the campaign eventually taking home three golds and two silvers at the Beacons.

“You look at the success of our content brand across TV and radio, and all of the talent we have sitting there. Now we’re making that talent available to advertisers,” says Kyne.

One of the things Three has done well in the past is the creation of event television. Pivotal and dramatic moments on shows like The Block or The Bachelor create “water cooler conversations” that continue to be reported on and engaged with days on from the actual event.

Kyne also adds that such programmes have the ability to bring New Zealand’s next celebrity influencer to the fore. Former Bachelor contestant Matilda Rice, for example, boasts more than 100,000 followers on Instagram and still graces the covers of magazines more than a year on from appearing on the show.

“That talks to the power of television. It talks to how powerful that platform is at creating brands. It’s still the best platform to launch a product and create a brand promise,” says Kyne.

In other words, it’s creating new brands out of existing ones.

Inform and/or entertain?

Although the celebrity talent pool for Three is thriving, could it be that entertainment has usurped the channel’s more newsworthy capacities in the name of commercial success? Not surprisingly, Kyne disagrees.

“I’d say that Newshub has been a real success story and a significant investment for us—we’re now the biggest news brand across TV, radio, and digital in the country,” he says.

“We’re also investing a lot into The AM Show and we’re expecting that to go very well, we’re very proud of the talent line-up we’ve got and the chemistry between the three announcers is sensational.”

Kyne says current affairs programmes like The AM Show, The Project, and Newshub at 6pm are all part of the channel’s commitment to both entertain and educate New Zealanders.

“I think Kiwis demand that you have news and that you’re informing them all the time. One of the obvious changes if you compare Story to The Project is that the nature of the consumer is changing and the way that they want to consume news is changing,” he says.

“In that sense, The Project is a really good blend of actually delivering news and entertaining, and I think a format like that is not only on brand for the audience, but also perfectly on brand with our own vibrant and inspiring rebranding.”

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