Nine 2013 Upfronts

Nine Entertainment Co presented their 2013 programming line up last week across the markets. Nine was the last of the three free-to-air networks to take their offering to market, and there were few surprises to come out of their presentation, given they have been talking about 2013 in market already.

They reflected on their time over the last 2 years, and admitted that whilst they feel that 2012 has been their best year in the past decade, they have been “inconsistently good”. They have lacked ongoing stability and consistency across their format and they are looking to address this in 2013, there are similar promises from Seven and Ten on delivering consistency.

They certainly have big franchises and solid programming in the format, but whether or not they can deliver the bold guarantee of 5% year-on-year audience growth, will be the question. Given the poor start in 2012, they will deliver growth in Q1, however we are less confident about growing audiences to that level later into the year. There are strong tent-pole programs across the year, but are two seasons of The Block in one year one too many? This could be overkill for the franchise. The surprise success of Big Brother in 2012 with a consistent 1 million viewers each night will be a key but can this be maintained? Possibly, as there will be no other event running at 7pm in 2013, it will be 52 weeks of Home&Away and The Project. Cooking shows will dominate the TV screens in 2013 but do Australians want more? Someone will lose in this area and we don’t expect the established franchises to suffer.

It is no secret that a Network’s success is built on content and their early peak format. News and current affairs is crucial for Nine (as well as Seven) for driving audience later into the evening. Just as important is the 7pm timezone, Nine struggled to get it right in 2011 this was addressed in 2012 with a swag of franchises (The Block, Celebrity Apprentice, Big Brother), they all delivered audience and share to build the night.

Investment in local product continues into 2013, with Nine offering over 2,500 hours of local content in which brands can integrate with, across multiple platforms.

New programming on Nine in 2013:

  • The Great Australian Bake Off – New baking competition programme, with hosts Anna Gare and Shane Jacobson. Anna has the cooking creds, Shane will provide some light-hearted comic relief, appealing to a broad audience.
  • The Taste – US-made cooking format where the 4 judges are picking winners based on a blindfolded taste of the food presented to them. Judges include Nigella Lawson and Anthony Bourdain. Think along the lines of the cooking version of The Voice. Success will depend on the caliber of the judges and the slightly different concept should attract a solid GBCH and P25-54 audience.
  • Return to Eden – Remake of the Network Ten drama from the 1980s. This was a fairly sensational but average programme in it’s time. It will be interesting to see how Nine re-work this into an ongoing series, but we can’t see this delivering big audiences.
  • Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch Story – Following this year’s highly successful Kerry Packer biopic, this installment will focus on the period between 1960-75 which saw the famous media families battle for control of Australia’s TV and print industries. This television event will deliver big audiences for Nine again in 2013.
  • Gallipoli – This made for TV movie is being produced to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of Gallipoli, which actually isn’t until 2015. Whenever it goes to air, it should deliver large, event audiences.
  • Schappelle – This movie is based on the book Sins of The Father, which chronicles the downfall of convicted drug smuggler, Schappelle Corby. Nine claims that this will answer a number of questions around this fascinating case, which is sure to generate a lot of interest and large audiences.
  • The Following – New US series that is yet to debut, stars Kevin Bacon as an FBI agent who finds himself in the middle of a network of serial killers. One of the mid-season US shows that is considered a good chance to succeed. This is their strongest US content but the average now is below 1million on these programs.
  • Arrow – Debuted recently in the US as part of their Fall season line-up, averaging around 3.7M viewers on the CW Network over there, and has recently been picked up for a full season run. Based on the fictional character Green Arrow, a costumed crime fighter who appears in comic books published by DC Comics. Will likely run in a 2130 timezone on Nine and have a niche following.

Consistent returning programming in 2013 with much of it Australian produced

All of Nine’s hits from 2012 will return, including House Husbands, The Block (including an All-Stars version), Big Brother, The Celebrity Apprentice, The Big Bang Theory, Two and A Half Men, Anger Management, 60 Minutes and Hamish & Andy (in what capacity, Nine are yet to announce). Underbelly will return with Squizzy, set in the early 1900s, and The Voice will be back – bigger and better (can Ricky Martin hold Keith Urban fans, we would question), there will be more episodes in 2013 which will provide further weeks with The Voice domination.

They are still highlighting the acquisition of Australia’s Got Talent as a key tent pole in their schedule 2nd half. Seven has had a successful few years with this franchise but it was hurt in ratings by competing with The Voice.  Nine are promising big things with new judges of the same caliber as The Voice, with these changes they could inject new life into the format to deliver big ratings, as they have proved this year that audiences still love a talent show.

Jump In to re-launch in February

Nine will be re-launching Jump In in February 2013, following it’s soft launch during the London Olympics this year. Missing a fairly golden opportunity in which to showcase this platform, they are now clear on the benefits for viewers and focused on it’s re-launch with The Block All-Stars in Q1. Viewers will be able to use this app to vote for their favourite rooms, chat with other viewers of the programme, catch up on missed episodes, and potentially purchase products they have seen on the show.

All Nine’s regular programming in 2013 will have Jump In content available to viewers, NRL will play a big part with many engaging stats, voting, trivia available for viewers while watching the game.  To engage Drama viewers will be able to see behind-the-scenes footage and cast profiles, and news and current affairs viewers will be able to share opinions on topics and  participate in viewer polls. No information was detailed regarding how advertisers can get involved and what’s in it for them at this stage.

The launch of Nine’s new data brand, Iris

Nine have claimed this as the most comprehensive audience data brand in the market, with two products on offer, both of which have the potential to put Nine ahead of the game if executed well.

  1. Iris Focus – A suit of apps used to build 3D pictures of consumers. Partnering exclusively with Experian, they are looking to build a massive database of 17 million people and 7 million households.
  2. Iris IQ – A cross media consumption tool that measures R&F across multiple mediums. This is the holy grail in media at the moment, and if Nine can crack this, they will be in a great position in market.

2013 Announcements from Bauer Media

Bauer briefly talked up the strength of their offering and the growth many of their titles have experienced, followed by a flashy montage of their portfolio that made it look impressive. Their big news for next year was around the Australian Women’s Weekly, with 2013 being it’s 80th birthday. In addition to this, they will be (finally) launching Elle, which was actually announced at their Upfronts this time last year. From a credibility point of view, this has to launch next year.

In summary

There would have been few people who were surprised at Nine’s offerings as they have showcased most previously.  We do believe they have a solid and consistent offering for advertisers. 2012 was a great year for Nine and they are moving into 2013 with a renewed confidence that we have not seen in some years. They are extremely confident, perhaps slightly over-confident given the major audience improvements they made in 2012 will be hard to push further.

After the success of 2012 they have the momentum to build the consistency across the year.  We predict it will be another competitive race for the number 1 position against the key buying demographics, and will come down to which channel (Nine or Seven) has more consistency across the year.

They definitely delivered on showcasing how they will move the business forward in future areas where there will be a lot of development over the next year with their new data division, Iris and social media app, Jump-in.

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