Seven West Media expects fresh opportunity for digital earnings growth from new TV audience metrics

Adrian Lowe
The West Australian
Seven West Media chief executive James Warburton (left, with Seven West Media Chairman Kerry Stokes.
Seven West Media chief executive James Warburton (left, with Seven West Media Chairman Kerry Stokes. Credit: Seven West Media/Seven West Media

Seven West Media chief executive James Warburton expects new television audience metrics will deliver the company fresh opportunity to significantly grow its digital earnings as it remains the nation’s number one network in audience and revenue share.

Reporting results for the first-half of the 2024 financial year on Tuesday, Mr Warburton said Seven West Media had increased its share of audience growth to 41 per cent. Importantly, he said, given the tight advertising market, Seven had maintained a tight and disciplined approach to cost management. Seven has increased audience and revenue share for six consecutive quarters.

West Australian Newspapers delivered strongly, driven by strong growth in digital audiences and the launch of new digital products. WAN’s unique monthly audience was up 18.5 per cent year-on-year and revenue increased thanks to new commercial print opportunities.

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“We are well capitalised, have growing audiences and revenue share, and have significant upside for growth as we pursue our digital future,” Mr Warburton said.

“We have delivered on the commitments we have made, driving our content strategy to deliver strong operational results across the metrics that we can control, delivering audience growth and total TV market share growth.”

Mr Warburton said the recent launch of the VOZ broadcast audience system — which combines television and online on demand viewing nationally — now meant direct comparisons could be made to other media channels.

“Thanks to our audience growth we were able to record a total TV revenue share of 41 per cent, achieving the number one position in the market,” he said.

“Our share growth was achieved across each month of the half and partially offset the 9.1 per cent decline in the total TV advertising market during the period. We gained share in metropolitan and BVOD markets and remained in line in our regional markets.”

Mr Warburton said opportunities for streaming app 7plus to grow thanks to digital rights for AFL and cricket later this year were enormous.

“Together they will add an estimated four billion minutes of content a year to 7plus and allow us to capture an estimated 45 per cent revenue share,” he said.

Seven West has previously announced a two-year program to find $60 million in cost savings. Mr Warburton said $25m had already been delivered and was expecting cost growth to be between one and 2 per cent for the financial year — but said the program would be revisited if the advertising market remained weak.

Outgoing Seven West Media managing director James Warburton with successor Jeff Howard.
Outgoing Seven West Media managing director James Warburton with successor Jeff Howard. Credit: Seven West Media/TheWest

He told analysts: “No matter what the naysayers claim, VOZ is clearly demonstrating that free-to-air viewing is growing, driven by the two biggest networks and people are spending longer watching our content across multiple streams. This will drive advertising dollars back to TV.”

In December, it was announced Mr Warburton will stand down as chief executive, with chief financial officer Jeff Howard taking over. The transition is to occur on or before June 30.

Revenue across Seven West Media in the six months to December 31 was down 5 per cent year-on-year to $775m. The company reported first-half post-tax profit of $54m, down from $115m a year prior.

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