Battle at dawn

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.”


  1. Salf – I agree. The set and graphics is a big reason why I watch Sunrise – it just ‘feels’ better than Today. I do however change the channel whenever the cringeworthy ‘Cash Cow’ comes on and insults my intelligence.

  2. yep, I can’t stand Mel’s fake sincerity when she’s doing an emotional type story. errgghhh! And that whole “brekky central” thing and “sunrise family” is so smug and nauseating.

    I’ll stick with Today. Karl and Lisa are a good team, nothing too flash, but at least they are not faking it. Lisa especially does a great job on sensitive stories.

  3. Breakfast TV should reflect the network image – Sunrise does that perfectly. Poor old Today has such a difficult task because the Nine Network is still trying to define its new image. Back in the days of Packer, Nine was very confident as the sport and news channel and Today with Steve and Liz was a perfect fit. Now? God knows what Nine is; News? No. Sport? No. Reality TV? No. Youth? No. Blokey? Not any more. … God knows.

  4. The difference between ABC NewsRadio Breakfast and ABC (TV) News Breakfast is surprising. There’s much more pace in the radio service, and because you never have to wait for ads, it’s very high-octane.

  5. I wish Today would go back to the the quality days of Steve Liebmann and Liz Hayes and leave the fluff to Sunrise- at least viewers would have 2 very clear choices then. Some days breakast Tv on 7 and 9 ia as light as an episode of Hi 5!

  6. i prefer karl and lisa to kochie and Mel. not overly fussed though, we usually end up watching which ever channel the tv turn onto that we were watching the previous night. but sunrise as a show just seem more watertight, professional and so much better produced and polished which viewers obviously respond to the most. and sunrises set and graphics are far superior.

  7. Love Sunrise. You always get a laugh in the morning and I just like the chemistry with the team. But what I like best is how they mingle with the crowd outside after the show and sometimes during it. There are always people at the windows. Unlike the today show who just sit in there studio with the 4 walls around them and would not even know where they are braodcasting from.

    Also watching Sunrise you discover a lot of country towns that you I didnt know existed because Grant went around the country to do the weather from there.

  8. ABC News Breakfast is a good alternative – but despite better news coverage, it feels (dare I say it), boring. And slow. Virginia is a great asset to have, but something about the show or the set just doesn’t gel.

  9. Sunrise – circa 2001 was really great. No fluff, more news oriented but more lighthearted, and different. By 2009 sunrise was crap and had turned into a TV version of Women’s Day/New Idea. I haven’t watched it since 2008.
    I listen to breakfast radio now.

  10. agree with sam’s comment, kochy is dreaming and he his painful to watch and listen to. Sunrise will never be on my TV, i have been watching the Today Show for a very long time and it Rules.

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