Supercars’ role in Seven Network ‘transformation’

James Warburton

Seven West Media CEO James Warburton has declared Supercars will help seal his network’s status as the home of sport.

Seven recently released its half-year financial results to December 26, 2020, with positives to be taken in cost savings, reduced net debt and improved profits.

It’s part of a “two-fold transformation piece” led by Warburton, and a core pillar of that process is content-led growth.

Seven invested in Supercars when it became the official free-to-air partner in a new five-year broadcast deal through 2025, bringing the sport back to its screens after a six-year run with Network Ten.

Besides the launch of shows like SAS Australia and Holey Moley – plus the relaunch of Big Brother and The Farmer Wants A Wife – sport is a key factor in that growth plan.

“If you think about Seven, obviously we have got the AFL, we have got a massive horse racing suite, notwithstanding the disputes with cricket – which we’ll see where they end up – we’ve still got that, we’ve got the Olympics and Paralympics, so it’s pretty powerful, market-leading stuff,” Warburton told Speedcafe.com.

“We have got the NFL Superbowl for another couple of years.

“It kind of feels like Supercars is back where it should be, home on Seven.

“So for us, you’ve seen how we have integrated and promoted it – there’s been over 900 promos running across the network for the course of pretty much since we made the announcement.

“And I think the promo that we ran, the Neil Crompton/Mark Beretta one is the best promo that has been made in terms of the sport for probably at least the last five years, as a really provocative, exciting promo.”

That promoting, and cross-promoting via other shows and sports, is expected to pay dividends.

“If you think of all the major sports, around 75 percent is free-to-air audience and around 25 percent is the pay TV audience,” said Warburton, who held the role of Supercars CEO from 2013-17.

“Supercars has been 50-50 for two reasons: one is Fox have done a fantastic job, well Supercars have because they produce it, but obviously Ten struggled to promote the sport.

“Our job is to really take Supercars to the broadest audience that we possibly can and find new exciting angles for Supercars and to actually get as many new viewers, whether they are younger or lapsed or they don’t subscribe to Foxtel, and to actually provide them excitement to want to look at the telecast.”

Long an advocate for sprucing up the show in the spirit of progress, Warburton is looking forward to Seven running its own hostings for both the Repco Mount Panorama 500 this coming weekend and the Repco Bathurst 1000 in October.

Its broadcast team will include Mark Beretta, Abbey Gelmi, Molly Taylor, Jack Perkins and Brad Hodge. Seven will show six rounds live and free this year, including the aforementioned two at the Mountain.

It’s all part of a win-win situation for both Supercars and Seven, Warburton believes.

“Our target is looking at the Ten numbers and looking to punch the highest growth figure that we possibly can and then that drives revenue upside, revenue share and brings back the viewers,” he added.

“We’re in a really unique revenue share arrangement with Supercars so the better it does, the better they do from a rights point of view as well.

“So it’s a really intelligent deal for the next five years and I think you can see how we have pushed through from that perspective.

“We’re ready to go for Bathurst.”

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