Media speculation in the lead up to Nine’s 2017 Australian Content Preview alluded to the fact that Nine fast tracked the date of their 2017 Up-fronts due to a disappointing first half ratings and revenue share result.
Upon commencement however, the network put this rumour to bed early by clarifying this was not in place of the usual end of year upfront and reassured us that they would come to market again with a format akin to an upfront, albeit with a slight twist. The event was in fact Nine reengineering their way of engaging with us and how they approach the market, whilst unveiling local content early to give both advertisers and media buyers a better understanding of their premium content strategy, in preparation for 2017. Furthermore, Nine were eager to convey their thirst to deliver more consumer engagement that brands can leverage, with drone, AR, VR and 360 cameras in the immediate future, leading to the next frontier in storytelling.
2017 was quoted as starting post Olympics, with it being hailed the year of Australian stories and characters. Locally produced content is going to be at the forefront of their schedule with 80% of peak airtime being produced on Australian soil. The 7:30pm time- slot was dubbed where the “shiny, dancefloor shows” will fall and make up 500+ hours of entertainment. 30 Hours of Australian drama was marketed to us in the 8:30pm time-slot, which in isolation this didn’t bowl me over, however when compared to the 6 hours they have aired this year to date, it put the strength of this addition into perspective.
At the risk of sounding too cliché, the TV landscape is evolving and Nine were explicit in the fact that global content does not serve as well as it did before. Reacting to this trend however, was paramount for them, so in order to free up and provide funds to invest in more local content, they stepped away from their deal with Warner Bros, freeing up $80-$180 million.
Nine displayed humbleness and disclosed that The Block last year against MKR did not work and they have yet to fix the Q1 problem. What is needed from their perspective, is an increase in big events, strong local drama, increased sport in Prime time, whilst continuing to underpin the schedule with strong news and current affairs. The components for them to achieve this remarkable combination have been worked on at their headquarters back as early as February this year.
So what in lies the secret formulae? Shows where “families cluster and interact across other devices” were referred to as mandatory. The importance of growing their streaming and ambition to deliver a world class experience with 9Now was highlighted, along with the desire to offer free, premium content to Australians. This recipe for success formed a concrete lead into a deep dive on the key upcoming properties coming to our screens post Rio hype.
Married at First Sight is undergoing a “Supersize” make-over, whilst still enabling the experiment to be amplified across the series. From 10 couples, couples living in couples retreats, themed weeks to as extreme as ex’s weeks, the positivity itself from how it was depicted was enough to have convinced me that it will provide the backbone of Nine’s Q1 format that it deserves. Likely to be pinned up against Seven’s juggernaut MKR, the jury is out as to how it will stack up. Judging by historical data, it would be unwise to back Nine’s returning property to reign supreme. Given the current appetite for the dating genre, the gap will no doubt be narrowed and the one horse race that Seven ran away with this Q1 will be a distant memory, especially amongst the younger demographics.
Australian Ninja Warrior was deemed as “The Olympics for Aussies”, where every-day Australians attempt superhuman feats. Seeing the clip, it was evident to me that my interpretation of “everyday Aussies” is a lot different to that of Nine’s! That said however, I can resonate with the passion they displayed towards this tent-pole program gracing our screens most likely in Q2 of next year. This format welds both sport and entertainment together in the biggest and toughest obstacle course in the world. With cult followings in both the US and UK, having aired eight and two seasons respectively, Nine have high expectations for its Australian counterpart.
Nine then flirted with unveiling details of both their new Food Format along with Hamish and Andy’s return to the small screen. The audience however, were left teased with nothing more than being privy to the fact that both would be coming to our screens in 2017.
Travel Guides is also worthy of note, which was labelled the Gogglebox of travel. It is a unique view of how Aussies travel, which generated some amusement in the audience when it was shared that one of the participants who had never been out of Queensland was sent to Japan and called it China for the first part of the series! Unveiling of personalities will no doubt resonate strongly with viewers.
“This Time Next Year” is another show that will draw heartstrings and have an affiliation with the public. To date only the first half has been filmed, in which the general public give us an indicator on the journey they are about to embark on which ranges from wanting to overcome a phobia, climb the Harbour Bridge, and lose 100 kilos, to name but a few.
These don’t even scratch the surface on what is to come. Along with the preceding shows, Nine are continuing to invest in returning reliable programs such as The Voice, The Block, Love Child and a second season of locally produced drama, Here Come The Habibs. The stability of these titles enables the network to bring new Australian drama to our screens in the likes of Doctor Doctor, Hyde and Seek and Telemovie: House of Bond, all appearing in 2017’s content slate.
They are promising an increased investment in Australian content, an all screens, all platforms strategy and year round consistency. I commend Nine, in having the backbone to acknowledge that they are yet to fix the Q1 problem. Not always getting it right can work as a blessing, and judging from all the aforementioned content, I think in this case it rings true and we are in for an exceptional 2017.