Weldon’s view of the world from Flower St

MediaWorks’ new chief executive Mark Weldon took to the stage last night to show off the company’s new and returning content for 2015. Here’s what he said about the power of local, the future of TV and the effectiveness of multi-media. 

To have a great business we have to provide great value to you, our customers. This business can be a little complicated, but there are certain immutable laws of life, like MediaWorks throwing a great party and Paul Henry being prone to talking about himself. So a fundamental law of business is that to provide great value to your customers you need to invest. And invest we are. This launch is a completely different level of investment in content, and in particular local content, that takes our audience offering to a different level.

You might ask, in this tumultuous media environment, why ramp up investment? When I was called and asked if I was interested in a role in the telecoms, media and technology space, I said “not telecoms, not technology, and media – only if it is MediaWorks. And the reason I said that was, in interacting with the various media organisations over the past decade, the culture, attitude, grittiness and energy of MediaWorks had continually impressed and inspired me. Since I have been fortunate enough to get this role, I have found all of these things completely true, and when you have that platform—more than any other media organisation—it makes sense to double down and invest in the future

Today is mostly, but not entirely, about television. Since taking this job, apart from “are you nuts?”, the second most-asked question has been “what is happening to the future of television?” The reality is, just as efficient public transport in Auckland is not going to be here any time soon, neither is there any risk that TV is going anywhere. There are three reasons why:

1) Evidence from multiple markets shows that in this ADD age, as choice increases, the centre gets bigger, not smaller. And in media, free-to-air TV is the centre. It will get stronger.

2) Damo from The Block. In 12 short weeks, Damo has become a proper noun. He’s like Bono from Ireland, only it’s Damo from Feilding. No other medium can build a brand like that in a 12 week period.

3) Damo is local. There is a famous New Yorker sketch called ‘View of the world from 9th avenue’. It shows most of the rest of the world being 10th Avenue, and a bit of 11th. Turns out it is true. People care about local. We are more inspired by the idea of fresh whitebait from the west coast, or Bluff oysters, than by foams and sauces in LA. This is what we can do better than anyone else.

What we will do around TV, however, is quite different. Brands like The Edge, with over 100,000 hits on its website after the MH370 incident, have incredible resonance and loyalty with its audience. Our stable of radio brands—with 60 percent share—will play a major role. Imagine the contestants being auditioned on radio, finally selected on Edge TV, and then on TV3. By the time they hit the screen, there is already going to be massive national engagement.

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