Adam Boland

This Wednesday (13/09/11) the 7 Network enter into a deliberate new phase of enagement with their audience, starting with the first Sunrise Online Forum.

This forum, hosted by Sunrise’s David Koch, will feature a panel of financial experts in CommSec economist Craig James, Business Day’s Michael Pascoe, Yellow Brick Road’s Mark Bouris and Choice Magazine’s Ingrid Just (Bouris is especially a grab as he’s about to start filming Celebrity Apprentice Australia this week). Viewers are encouraged to leave questions on the show’s Facebook fan page or tweet them using the hashtag #sunmoney and the panel will answer these questions live online from 12:30pm AEST in a stream available on both their website and Facebook.

“We do believe that we need to engage with our viewers outside of our traditional show times,” said Adam Boland, Director of Social Media for the 7 Network. “Social media is the perfect chance.”

Under Boland’s command, Sunrise did lead the charge in many other areas – including being the first Australian television show to deliver an app to iOS and Android devices to be able to watch segments of the show, as well as signing a deal with Telstra so that customers can watch the show live on their mobile devices as a part of the network’s unmetered content offering. While Channel 7 isn’t the first to offer specific online content in behind the scenes views and interviews, this is the first time a panel has sat down with the explicit view to respond to the many questions the show gets.

“We get many, many questions from viewers who want to tap into Kochie’s finance knowledge,” Adam said. “We thought we should answer as many as possible but expand the brief to include experts across property, the stockmarket and consumer finance. These guys are some of the best in the business who often command sell-out lunchtime forums across the country. The beauty with the online forum is firstly, anyone can attend no matter where they are. And secondly, it’s absolutely free.”

Connecting with the audience is proving to be an important part of the success of Sunrise and the wider network. Over the last couple of weeks the breakfast program has been trialling “Sunrise On Demand”, allowing the audience to choose between three topics for the first story out of the 8am news – traditionally a time when audiences drop off as school runs and departures for work commence. So far it’s been a success.

“Sunrise on Demand has been terrific. Michael Pell (Sunrise Executive Producer) loves it because it expands his producing team to thousands of people across Australia. It ensures his show remains totally in touch. TV people (myself included) can easily mistake what people actually want. This means we’re following their (the audience’s) lead.”

With Adam at the helm of the network’s push to connect with the audience, you can guarantee there will be surprises and new opportunities to come. “Yes, I suspect you’ll see much more of this. We do see it as a chance to value add for our viewers. Broadcasting needs to be two-way traffic in 2011.”