On Tuesday 8th November, a star studded Network Nine talent line up hosted the media industry for their 2017 upfront at The Star. Premium local content, broadly distributed and accessed via both TV and digital, was at the heart of the (very long) presentation and the message driven home by the roll call of celebrities that hosted the afternoon. Against a sophisticated set design backdrop (including what would become very well used couches), the show was opened by CEO Hugh Marks, who coincidently was celebrating 1 year in the job.
He committed to improving forward planning to better deliver audiences consistently throughout the year. This will be achieved with 50% more local premium hours of content – less money spent on international content has freed budget to invest in local properties, including new family programs to be introduced into the 7.30pm network battleground timeslot. Hugh was followed on stage by Hamish & Andy who announced they would be back next year with a new show – after taking a gap year from their gap years.
Creating great content with broad distribution underpinned the theme of the 5 key segments presented:
- NEWS & CURRENT AFFAIRS STORYTELLING
This segment sought to deliver the message of the scale and depth of Nine News
- A live to air News cross, hosted by newsreader Peter Overton, to their US based reporters covering the election re-enforced their authority, experience and dedication to remaining the ‘home of news’.
- Their News update also included announcements by Georgie Gardiner of new look News studios, quality HD simulcasts and a distribution partnership with SCA to be rolled out across 15 new regional markets in February.
- A Q&A on the couch with ACA and 60 Minutes talent regaling stories of their favourite interviews and experiences and Peter Overton delivering a special News Bulletin to the audience live from the studio closed the News segment of the show.
- WOMEN’S NETWORK
Capturing a greater share of the women’s market is a key focus for the network this year. The announcement of data driven research and expanded online content demonstrated their commitment to achieve this and being seen as the market leader
- Alex Parsons, Chief Digital & Marketing Officer, announced a data partnership with Data Republic providing Nine the ability to merge online shopping habits with offline viewing habits.
- Data Republic will provide Nine with grocery and loyalty data sourced from a network of 1,600 independent grocers allowing advertisers to improve customer targeting across its digital network. This partnership will provide advertisers access to the lucrative key women’s grocery-buying segments across its network.
- The Data Republic partnership is linked to Nine’s key focus to explode its women’s network which Helen McCabe, Head of Lifestyle, then announced the re-launch of its mass women’s digital network 9Honey.
- 9Honey new verticals include celebrity news site 9TheFix; cooking and recipe site 9Kitchen; interior design site 9Homes; fashion and beauty site 9Style; travel site 9Elsewhere; and fitness website 9Coach, alongside its newest offering 9Mums.
- Pitched as the online destination for women as a source of community, inspiration, advice and content, a panel discussion followed with a host well recognised Nine female personalities with international influencer Margaret Zhang adding to the credible line up.
- The Real star of the Women’s Network segment however was Yolanda Hadid of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills fame and new 9Honey contributor who was interviewed on the couch by Leila McKinnon.
- FUTURE CONTENT
The announcement of the Future Laboratory, an insights and research company that Nine are working with, will focus on key consumer segments and trends, enabling advertisers to further refine audience targeting when planning campaigns
- Access to the Lab provides advertisers with a deep dive into key audience content consumed and overlayed with upcoming trends to reach audiences via visual communication.
- Nine stressed the point that the ability to tell a story via live local premium content remains at the heart of its DNA
- SPORTING POWER
Unsurprisingly, sport will remain a core offering, with a host of sporting luminaries promoting its 2017 line-up with new womens sport coverage adding to its live sport portfolio
- Tom Malone, Director of Sport, announced the addition to the networks live sport offering to include winning the FTA rights to netball.
- Sporting talent was welcomed on stage by Erin Moylan that included a one on one interview with Warney who was joined on the couch by Gus Gould and Liz Ellis regaling their sporting moments.
- They committed to continuing to invest in technology to provide the ultimate viewer experience with particular focus on the long history of Wide World of Sports.
- PROGRAMMING CONSISTENCY & DEPTH
Whilst there were no new ground breaking program announcements, Adrian Swift, Head of Content & Programming, again highlighted Nine’s commitment to local content with new and returning programs with the announcement of 500 hours of entertainment including 50 hours of drama and the largest production budget ever in 2017.
- Nine have struggled to find consistent audiences this year, declining -10.6% against P25-54 and will focus on harnessing their strengths in news, current affairs and sport alongside several new programs launching in the new year.
- Local Australian drama production remained the theme of the live chat with the stars of Nine’s small screen interviewed by Lisa Wilkinson that included Rodger Corser, Julia Morris, Mandy McElhinney and Rhys Muldoon.
Nine will introduce several new programs at the start of 2017 which should provide a point of difference from the market saturation of cooking and talent shows and help drive momentum for the network from the outset of the ratings year. Network 10 have seen success with the family targeted Family Feud, which bodes well for the introduction of two new family reality genre programs, Ninja Warrior and Family Food Fight to Nine’s line–up.
- Ninja Warrior – Nine is pinning its hopes on this show to be the no 1 family show next year (with Rebecca Maddern given her first hosting job) – based on the US version, it’s an obstacle course for elite athletes.
- Family Food Fight – which will pit family members against one another to find “Australia’s greatest food family” and challenging MKR for the number 1 food program
- This Time Next Year – people achieving personal goals over a year-long period hosted by Karl Stefanovic.
- The Last Resort – Love me or Leave me – relationship show that sends unhappy couples to a tropical island to determine if they should split or not.
- The return of Hamish and Andy
- An Alan Bond mini-series title House of Bond
- A new Underbelly series on the life of Mark “Chopper” Read
- Travel Guides that sees ordinary Australians sent to uncomfortable overseas destinations
- Murder Calls – re-opens cases of unsolved crimes
- Sophie Monk and comedian Nick Cody will host Accidental Heroes – “the weirdest families, wildest animals and some of the greatest fails ever to be caught on camera”
- The A List entertainment program hosted by Richard Wilkins
- Returning reality & drama includes Love Child, Doctor Doctor, House Husbands, The Habibis, Married at First Sight & The Voice (with Seal returning)
Michael Stevenson, Chief Sales Officer, then introduced us to Story+ and Nine Galaxy and invited advertisers to challenge the status quo with the new Nine in 2017:
Story+ is a suite of opportunities that enable brands to be deeply integrated into premium drama across every screen and platform via several options:
- Director’s Cut: Where brand creative takes on the treatment of the show.
- Blurred Lines: Where brands seamlessly meet plotline.
- Storyline Extend: Back stories, spin-offs and behind-the-scenes.
- Get the Goss: The moments that everyone is talking about.
Step-in: Immersing consumers in the experience through an online hub that outlines each of the characters, their backstories and how they’re all connected.
9Galaxy is a dynamic trading model that will automate the scheduling of TV airtime to deliver an agreed number of ratings for an agreed budget with testing commencing in market from February
- Based on briefed campaign parameters, 9Galaxy will provide a cost to deliver guaranteed ratings & will continue to monitor and adjust performance of the campaign based on audience forecasts.
Pyrotechnics and the entire Nine cast then closed the (perhaps) longest upfront ever!
With their expanded digital offering and commitment to local content and broad distribution delivering stable audiences via the 9 Brand – as opposed to just the TV screen – is their key focus for 2017.
Underpinning the framework of Nine’s presentation for the year ahead, is the reliance on its traditional strengths in local news, current affairs and sport alongside it’s new family reality shows to deliver consistent audiences.
The opportunity for advertisers on Nine for 2017 lies in the potential growth of their multi-platform women’s network and alongside its new research offerings, enabling buyers to target this key grocery buying audience via cross platform campaigns and testing efficiencies via dynamic trading.