Kurt Burnette on the Women's World Cup success for Seven

Jason Pollock
By Jason Pollock | 19 September 2023
Kurt Burnette

The recent FIFA Women's World Cup drew in a record 18.6 million Australians across the screens of Seven, becoming the biggest broadcast and digital viewing event in Australian history.

While perhaps not able to predict the historic viewing numbers that eventuated, Seven's chief revenue officer Kurt Burnette said the network knew it was definitely going to be a big event.

"We've got good experience with understanding what an Australian audience is going to do," he said.

"We've done the biggest streaming event in history in the Tokyo Olympics, plus we've also done a home Rugby World Cup and a home Olympics, so at this level, when Australians are watching Australians on their own shores, interest levels are up tenfold."

"Then when you put the athletes that are the Matildas into that mix, then it's the perfect mix to create an amazing audience."

The World Cup didn't just benefit the network from a viewership perspective; it also helped to serve as an opportunity to cross-promote Seven's brand and the key audience drivers like The Voice, 7NEWS and Sunrise.

"It certainly wasn't just about the two or three hours of the event itself or even the six weeks of the tournament for that matter - it was also about everything happening in and around it," Burnette told AdNews.

"And it worked - very, very successfully - and we are very proud and honoured to be part of that. We recognise that we were just one part of it, but it was nice to be the part that was delivering to the masses." 

Burnette said that the event has proven once again what television can do in mass cultural moments, something he expects to see repeated when the AFL Grand Final takes place on Saturday 30 September.


"This will be the first time that Seven’s delivered the AFL Grand Final on every single screen," he said.

"Last year, it was connected televisions only, due to some historical contractual reasons, but this is the first time that the Brownlow and the AFL Grand Final will be on every single device exclusively on Seven.

"That's going to be another major cultural moment that will absolutely sit in the top five or six of major streaming events in this country after the World Cup."

Burnette said the success of the Women's World Cup has spurred advertisers and brands into action.

"We've been promoting and pushing [women's sports] for a long time, but what we did notice was that people are now leaning in harder into the conversations we're having, particularly now as we come out of the World Cup and into AFLW and the women's cricket, asking ‘how do I be part of your women in sports schedule?'" said Burnette.

"As importantly with that, it's not just 'I'm here because it's women in sport'; they're here because it's a genuine place for brands to be and a powerful place to be. I think the next question is 'how do we show up in an authentic way that feels like it's not just jumping on a bandwagon?'

"They’re very conscious of that and so are we around how we help people show up in the right way, based on what we've seen historically.'

Assessing the ad market at the moment, Burnette told AdNews it’s still a very short market.

"If you take out all the underlying things that are going on, I think what we're seeing is that with the Voice and the campaigns that are coming out from there, there's a lot of activity that's starting to hit market from government and a lot of brands coming out to take a position with that inside their creative - that's actually creating a lot of short-term activity in the market," he said.

"The market is just very bouncy and at the moment, it's sort of surging, but still I think caution is the right word for it. When you look through all the different things that are happening and mediums going up and down, it's difficult to get a real handle on it, but it feels like it's definitely improving on the short term and we're expecting a strong back quarter because this could be one of the last big pushes for retail into the Christmas period before we see any sort of interest rate effects or mortgage cliffs."

Looking ahead to the rest of the 2023, Burnette said that the likes of The Voice, My Kitchen Rules, 7NEWS and Sunrise all look to continue their success, but the big draw in the short term is the AFL Finals series, "probably one of the best final series we've seen for the AFL."

"Then Bathurst is coming, then that moves into SAS, which looks set to be an incredible season, the best ever certainly that I've ever seen, then we move into Big Brother, which will be a lot more racy than what it has been in the past and designed specifically to get the digital viewing on 7Plus," Burnette told AdNews.

"And then we move into men’s and women’s cricket, all through November, December, January, and then we kick off 2024."

"It's a full dance card and what we're really enjoying seeing is not just the broadcast position, but the total TV viewing. That’s what is driving the huge reach that we're hitting through all of those shows every night. As we move into SAS and Big Brother with a very digital skew, being 7Plus heavy, it's going to look interesting to see how much that can drive the audience as well.

"It doesn't really matter to us where it comes from or where you watch, whether it's linear or 7Plus, but we just want to see and are seeing lots of people watching."

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