Nine prepares for its Olympic year
So what to make of Nine’s upfronts?
First, there were few surprises. Big Brother we knew about. A new series of The Celebrity Apprentice was a no brainer.
And of course, the network’s main commercial focus will be on The Olympics.
So what was unexpected?
It’s actually been, I think, three years, since I’ve been invited to the Nine upfronts. And they’ve changed a lot since I was last there.
The most notable change is that it is now a companywide sell.
Last time, I don’t remember any mention whatsoever of NineMSN, ACP Magazines or the rest of the then PBL family. mainly it was about how Gordon Ramsay was the savior of the network.
But now it’s the Nine Entertainment Co family, the name of the game is integration. We heard a lot about cross platform opportunities and even a mention of the product funnel so beloved of NineMSN’s Mark Britt. We heard from Powered (their cross channel sell) boss Michael Branagh too.
Indeed one of the surprise announcements of the afternoon ended up being the launch of two new magazine titles from ACP.
But there were some TV nuggets. Nature doco Great Barrier Reef looks brilliant, but I suspect that it will also once again raise the issue of how on earth we’ve ended up in a situation where none of our free to air broadcasters don’t offer their main channels in HD.
Nine’s live events arm also got a mention, which may not have been welcome as there were a few problems with the audio synching on the big screens at the event.
Howzat, the next stage of the Kerry Packer story from the team behind the ABC’s Paper Giants, looks very good. And if real life drama Beaconsfield is half as decent as the sizzle reel it’ll be amazing.
I’m not sure about the US comedy pipeline. 2 Broke Girls doesn’t necessarily feel like it’ll find an audience here, although its ratings success in its home market was emphasized in the preso.
Nothing was said about Kerri Anne Kennerley’s future. And, for the Sydney event at least, no sign of Eddie McGuire in person and not much in the reels either. No doubt he’ll be used heavily in the Olympic cioverage though.
Expect stripping. Seven O’Block was one of the messages.
Of course we heard from David Gyngell, albeit briefly. He appeared to be talking off the cuff rather than autocue. He emphasized his career long commitment to Nine and warned that people would be reading about Nine it the press for the wrong reasons next year. Clearly he’s expecting the coverage of the company’s debt renegotiations to be widespread. This did not mean though, said Gyngell, that the company was not investing in its content.
Overall, Nine acknowledged that it had had a poor first half and made a plausible case that it had got back its momentum. There was much less of the old arrogance around the network.
There was also no bombastic talk about wanting a 35 share or being number one. To a cynical media agency and advertiser audience, that would not have convinced anyway.
But at the very least, most of the people in the room went away thinking that Nine’s not dead yet.
Nine now needs a great Olympics.