John Drinnan: Bravo for the Real Housewives

Show delivers a big boost for new channel.

The Bravo TV channel and MediaWorks are pleased with a promising start for their fly-on-the-wall show Real Housewives of Auckland.

Bravo NZ is a joint venture between MediaWorks and NBC Universal, which said the show was the No1 programme in its timeslot for Auckland women aged 25-54.

It's a useful demographic for advertisers, and will boost Bravo's profile.

Chris Taylor, NBC Universal Australia vice president, international television, says publicity hype in other media outlets and on social media would help establish the channel in the market.

"That is a hard thing to do in a small market," says Taylor, who once managed Prime TV..

Bravo will feed gossip and tidbits to other media companies, which in turn will try to latch on to social media interest in the show to improve their own hit rate and ad revenue.

It's a symbiotic relationship that has always existed between TV and other media, though 10 years ago the hype was limited largely to magazines such as NZ Woman's Weekly.

In this case, the appeal is the phoniness and bitchiness of the show's participants. And these days, the target for tabloid news angles and buying into the manufactured premise of such programmes has moved from the women's magazines to news websites.

All the hoopla over The Bachelor and promotion of publicity-hungry actors took the news-entertainment relationship to a new level. Now, even politically correct outlets like the Spinoff website are going to town with the latest highly manipulated show.

Taylor says the main aim is to boost Bravo, using the "halo effect" around the show, and includes the notion of tongue in cheek coverage that depicts it as slightly cool.

In the US, they call it the "Bravo wink". It's a show that is not meant to be taken too seriously, he says.

To Bravo's credit, it has not attempted to oversell Real Housewives as a documentary, as TV3 did with The GC, which had taxpayer funding.

"It's fly-on-the-wall - but by no stretch is it a documentary," says Taylor.

"With a small channel, half the battle is getting people to sample you.

"Once people get there, they tend to stick," he says.

Digital divide

Back in the real world, advertisers are walking away from some traditional media and towards digital media, including big players like Facebook and Google.

In this country, the Interactive Advertising Bureau is at the centre of a clash between local publishers and global players who are undermining the locals' hold on advertising. The local publishers have recently ramped up their rhetoric, complaining that the global players - alongside other disruptors such as Netflix - are casting dark shadows over their future.

This belief is a major factor in the proposed merger of NZME, publisher of the Herald, and Fairfax NZ, and there are numerous examples of New Zealand media firms working together to fend off the common international enemy.

Ad industry sources tell me that growing tensions are being playing out in the IAB, which is the local arm of an international body that promotes digital media to advertisers.

The chairwoman of the IAB NZ is Laura Maxwell, group revenue director at NZME. Maxwell points out that local digital publishers are fierce competitors in their own right, and there are common issues - such as ad blocking - that are relevant to local and global players.

But publicly, the rhetoric against the likes of Google and Facebook has been terse and some depict the relationship as a fight for the very survival of local media and news.

At the IAB, I am told, one issue is that, unlike local publishers, global firms don't reveal details of their revenue from sources such as search advertising.

The IAB is working on ways to deal with that. Chief executive Adrian Pickstock says, "The purpose of the IAB is to empower media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy, promoting growth and best practice for advertisers, agencies and media owners.

"The IAB is the 'Switzerland' of the interactive industry, enabling all parties to collaborate to ensure the betterment of the wider sector," he says.

Hard questions

Two events this week raised the challenges for journalism in a media market that is facing upheaval and may not have the resources to fund complex investigations.

First, there was a discussion as part of a conference in Wellington on the open society, led by the Scoop Foundation.

Another was led by commentator Russell Brown, sponsored by Orcon, and streamed by alternative radio station bFM.

Both events were reminders of the future of journalism if practitioners don't act to find new funding models. One or two thoughts come to mind:

• Some advocates for new funding models are sceptical about mainstream media and see any change as implying a shift to citizen journalists. But investigative journalism that challenges power needs financial backing to fight legal challenges.

• Journalism is a broad church and should involve a level of (unfashionable word, this) objectivity. The loudest advocates appear to see it as a liberal cause, but it's wider than that.

• Even as journalism has come under threat, in my view the profession appears to have developed a high level of self-regard and back slapping.

• Journalists are not popular, and many people will think there are better ways to spend public money than funding journalism.

• If there must be taxpayer funding of journalism, it needs to be transparent and it should be clear how much funding contributes to any commercial returns.

Comings and goings

Paul Maher has taken over as commercial director at TVNZ, replacing Jeremy O'Brien, who is moving to Air New Zealand.

Maher has been a major player in New Zealand media, as head of sales and marketing at TVNZ and head of TV at MediaWorks, then as a contractor in a senior role at the retail-focused ad agency Ogilvy.

Nicole Horan, a high-profile TV professional who had previously worked on The Bachelor, has resigned from Maori TV after just three months. Horan had been seen as a major win for the Maori broadcaster.

John Drinnan runs the zagzigger media website

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

John Drinnan has been a business journalist for twenty years, he has been editor of the specialist film and television title "Screen Finance" in London, focussing on the European TV and film industry. He has been writing about media in New Zealand since the deregulation of the television industry in the late 1980s.

Read more by John Drinnan

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 28 May 2017 01:06:00 Processing Time: 409ms