Melbourne is the battleground today as two commercial breakfast shows air live on location in the lead up to the AFL Grand Final.
But Melbourne has been the combat zone for much longer than this week. In recent months it has been pivotal to Sunrise dominating over Today, which had been winning the city for two years.
Figures for Wednesday gave Seven a whopping 432,000 over Nine’s 299,000.
David Koch tells TV Tonight the shift happened mid year.
“Since July we’ve won virtually every week in Melbourne. That’s been a really important turning point for us. We went through a stage in the first half of the year where we were being slaughtered in Melbourne and it was the only city that was happening,” he says.
“Now it’s come back to us.”
Koch says the shift happened at the time Sunrise stopped worrying about what the competition was doing.
“We stopped looking over our shoulder and decided ‘Right, we’re just going to do what we do well, and we’re going to do it day in, day out. We’re not going to be reactive, we’re going to be pro-active, like we’ve always been,'” he says.
“We had a good look at what got us to where we are way back in those days when we were in that demountable shed in the car park at Epping, with five of us working on it.
“I suppose the other thing is there are four of us on air and we get on so well, and we actually love doing the job. None of us see it as a stepping stone to go anywhere. All of us see it as the job for us.”
Ask him to analyse the patterns more deeply and Koch begins to resemble his former role as a financial commentator.
“We’re like any product, it doesn’t matter if it’s television or consumer product on shelves. We started out bringing something different to television. As with any business a competitor will change their direction and strategy to match the market leader. It brings confusion to consumers, buyers of your product. And when you’ve been around a while there can be fatigue for consumers.
“For a period of a year we were in a sort of transition period, between being the bright, new young things to becoming a habit,” he says.
“People get a bit fatigued, they look around at alternatives, they give them a go. But if you’re true to what you do, and true to what you stand for as a product they’ll come back to you.
“We went through a stage where it got close. The margin was within 5% or 10%. Our competition came off a really low base and it was terrific for consumers because there were two fantastic products in the market.”
Later this year Sunrise will see a changing of the guard in Executive Producers as 35 year old Adam Boland steps aside for 28 year old Michael Pell, currently Producer of The Morning Show and Weekend Sunrise. Boland will remain 2 days a week and tackle big events.
“Michael is part of the team,” says Koch. “He started with us and has been looking after our sister programmes. There is a very strong, deliberate succession plan that we’ve been working on for 18 months to 2 years ever since Adam went and worked on some other shows for Seven a couple of years ago. We realised we didn’t have a grand succession plan.
“Michael is taking on a top job at an age that Adam did when we first started Sunrise.
“It’s not as if you have someone coming in who doesn’t understand what Sunrise is and what we stand for,” says Koch.
“We looked outside because that’s what you should do. You should get the very best. It just confirmed exactly what we thought, we’ve got the best on side already.”