Guessing game continues over new TVNZ show Seven Sharp

Alison Mau will front Seven Sharp with Greg Boyed and Jesse Mulligan Seven Sharp format under wraps as questions raised over 'quirky' pulling power.

Alison Mau will front 'Seven Sharp' with Greg Boyed and Jesse Mulligan. Photo / Supplied
Alison Mau will front 'Seven Sharp' with Greg Boyed and Jesse Mulligan. Photo / Supplied

Viewers and advertisers are still second-guessing Seven Sharp, Television New Zealand's new daily current affairs show "with plenty of laughs".

TVNZ announced this week that established presenters Alison Mau and Greg Boyed and TV3 Seven Days writer-comic Jesse Mulligan will front the show, which replaces CloseUp.

"Seven Sharp will reflect the day's events with smart thinking, different viewpoints, and plenty of laughs along the way," said TVNZ head of news and current affairs Ross Dagan.

The broadcaster refuses to say when the show will be launched, though TV3 expects it will be after the launch of CampbellLive on January 21.

CloseUp sponsor, car company Kia Motors, is expected to announce tomorrow it has extended its sponsorship to Seven Sharp in 2013. Mazda is repeating its sponsorship of CampbellLive.

Advertising consultant Martin Gillman said agencies are still second-guessing key elements - in particular the split between current affairs content and laughs.

Mr Gillman liked the idea of Seven Sharp being a satirical, witty programme, but questioned if that was the case whether that would draw the mass audience needed at 7pm. Adman David Walden said the lack of detail was surprising.

Mr Dagan defended the secrecy, saying the show and its format would be judged when it went to air.

Content would not to be a continuation of stories of One News which were best covered in the news hour, he said.

Seven Sharp would have a "conversational tone" similar to the Holmes Show, and its focus would be on current affairs and would include interviews.

Mr Gillman praised TVNZ for a "bold and risky step" breaking away from the traditional current affairs format of predecessors CloseUp and the Holmes Show, and CampbellLive.

The launch marked a pivotal point for New Zealand television because the 7pm timeslot was so important to advertisers, with the 6pm-7.30 news segment providing a stable base of audiences to place advertisers' money.

The question is whether Seven Sharp can take viewers away from the TV3 show.

Most in the advertising industry believe TV One had to change at 7pm, but some questions remain about whether TVNZ should have abandoned CloseUp to establish a new brand.

Mr Dagan's counterpart at TV3, Mark Jennings, was predictably dismissive, saying Seven Sharp will be "CloseUp with a few laughs".

CampbellLive had a strong year editorially in 2012. Mr Jennings said that over the years it had held its audience where it would have liked to see growth. He questioned whether humour or "quirkiness" would be good for ratings. TV3 had used quirky presenters like Jaquie Brown and David Farrier. "We found the audience at 7pm found quirkiness good to watch - but it was not compelling and did not pull people to a programme".

It was hard to hold together a three-headed show. "Greg Boyed is naturally quirky [and] holding up the success of Seven Sharp will depend on his performance."

- NZ Herald

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