When Matt Shirvington left Foxtel and joined Seven in 2020, it may well have been his best TV career move so far.
After a decade at FOX Sports, he changed allegiances and was recently installed as the new co-host on Sunrise as successor to David Koch.
Shirvington tells TV Tonight the move was a big risk.
“It was simply that Seven had the rights to the Olympics and I wanted to be involved in another Olympic Games. I reached out to (CEO) James Warburton and said, ‘Look, if there is ever a chance, how do I get across to be a part of the Olympics?’ I had a chat with Andy Kay, who was Head of the Olympics (for Seven) at the time. He said, ‘There’s nothing at the moment, but hang tight, who knows, maybe down the track…’” he says.
At FOX Sports he had begun to move away from FOX League, doing more with FOX Sports News, covering all sports.
“I’d already been thinking, ‘How do I get out of (Fox)? What do I do? I’d love to spend some time at a commercial network,’” he explains.
“James called and said, ‘Look, we have a change-up with Jim Wilson going over to 2GB and it leaves a void for our sports reads on the weekends. Would you be happy to do that?’ So I jumped at the chance.”
Seven also began to steer him into other TV projects, with mixed success -but there was a long term benefit.
“I did Holey Moley which I really enjoyed. I loved that show so much. And then Ultimate Tag, which was a challenging show. It didn’t really land where we wanted it to land,” he admits.
“But outside of that, everything that I’ve done at Seven has prepared me for this and I didn’t realise that at the time.
“Whether it was Holey Moley, Ultimate Tag, reading the news, doing the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the Beijing Winter Games and the Commonwealth Games, I kind of ticked all those boxes, and was filling in (on Sunrise) in between.”
In June he was formally announced as successor to David Koch, who stepped down after 21 years. For Shirvington, the breakfast show provides the perfect mix.
“Sunrise is everything I love about TV. I get a bit of sport. I get a bit of everything. It’s great. It was a big call stepping away from sport, and Fox had been the start for me. Brian Walsh brought me into Foxtel as part of the Games there,” he recalls.
“Walshie said, ‘Go and spend some time in the SKY newsroom and you’ll learn everything you need to know.’”
He adds, “To put it into perspective in that sports team, either just prior to me arriving or during was Mel McLaughlin, Roz Kelly, Megan Barnard, James Bracey, Yvonne Sampson, -these are now key broadcast hosts on other networks. So there was a really great team of people there.
“It just happened that I was in there at that moment and had some great mentors, some great people to work with and that really set me up.”
Next week: Natalie Barr & Matt Shirvington on Sunrise.