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Oz TV can’t stop celebrating its 50th

Seven, Nine both airing specials to commemorate milestone

SYDNEY — It’s natural to look back when you turn 50, as Oz TV did last month.

Amid the glut of nostalgia last week, terrestrial web Seven Network launched “Gold as Gold!” celebrating the most memorable moments in TV’s 50-year history.

Already airing are Seven’s “Where Are They Now?”; rival web Nine’s “20 to 1,” which counts down 20 classic moments (songs, sporting achievements, scandals); and “What a Year,” which does likewise year by year.

Seven and Nine both had one-off clip-show specials in September to celebrate the birthday.

And why not? They’re cheap, they’re easy and they pull in auds. “Where Are They Now?” has an average aud of 1.4 million, while “20 to 1” is one of Nine’s star performers, with an aud of 1.6 million and similar figures for repeats.

The shows also allowed the webs to remind viewers how great free-to-air TV is — or was — at a time when auds are drifting to new media.

It is no secret nostalgia skeins skew older, with huge shares in people age 55 and over, a fact Seven is happy to exploit.

“The primary television audience is baby boomers,” a Seven spokesman tells Variety. “Nostalgia is a yet-to-be-over-mined, deep, rich vein.”

For this reason Network Ten, which chases a 16-39 demo, has not jumped on the bandwagon in quite the same way.

“Seven and Nine have gone head-to-head with these concepts, and we don’t think it makes sense for three networks to do the same thing,” a Ten spokesperson says.

Ten, the youngest of the terrestrial webs, had a one-off clip show in August 2005 to celebrate its 40th birthday.

Pubcaster the ABC has jumped on board with a stadium rock tour based on its popular “Countdown” pop skein that featured Oz’s aging rockers cranking out their old hits.

The trend is creating small-screen work for Aussie actors, put out of work due to unusually low levels of local drama production. Many thesps would not be on TV at all if they were not commenting on old TV clips or fronting reality TV skeins.

It seems that as TV hits its fifth decade Down Under, navel-gazing is a growth industry.

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