Australian Open 2022: Nine names tennis partners and what the coverage will offer brands

With the 2022 Australian Open kicking off today, Mumbrella’s Emma Shepherd asks Nine's director of sales, Matt Granger, and head of content - partnerships, sport, Anne Gruber, what this year’s tournament means for brands and how Tennis Australia and Nine can ensure the event will be COVID-safe.

Nine has released its major partners and sponsors for the 2022 Australian Open broadcast, with Kia, Samsung, Uber Eats, ANZ, Visit Victoria, APT, AAMI, Chemist Warehouse, Peters and Stan all joining in Nine’s Summer of Tennis.

This year has also seen Bondi Sands, Ralph Lauren, Chubb Insurance and Safety Culture take up Nine’s AO Extender packages.

In 2022 a number of new brands have invested with Nine including Crytpo.com, HCF, Microsoft, Peloton, TikTok, and Cancer Council Australia.

Nine’s director of sales – sport, Matt Granger, says: “A significant number of Australia’s leading brands are partnering with Nine and summer’s biggest marketing platform. We are also excited to see a number of new brands in Visit Victoria, Safety Culture and Chubb Insurance, but also to have the likes of our ongoing supporters Kia, Uber Eats and ANZ return this year.

“It speaks to both the power of tennis to engage millions of Australians in one place but also the incredible January launchpad that the Australian Open is for brands.”

Meanwhile, Nine uses its tennis launch to highlight how Tennis on Nine in 2022 is not only summer’s “biggest marketing platform” but also the most effective, according to the network.

With two Australian tennis players, Ash Barty and Dylan Alcott, leading the world tennis rankings and both coming off positive Wimbledon performances, the Australian Open and Nine is promising to deliver “huge audiences,” and provide marketers and brands with a platform to begin their calendar year plans, despite the rise in Omicron COVID-19 cases.

Granger tells Mumbrella: “Tennis Australia over the last few years have invested significantly in the precincts, even as COVID has been on-going, as part of its long-term investment in the environment and the precinct itself. There’s a brand new arena, which again, provides more opportunities to showcase the amazing atmosphere and great tennis.”

“Tennis Australia have further invested into the music and food areas for kids,” Granger admits. “We know tennis is Australia’s favourite summer sport, and this really now brings it back to being the festival that Australians love. I think while people are on holidays they just love to watch tennis. It’s also Dylan Alcott’s last Australian Open, Ash Barty has been preparing for this for quite some time.”

Nine’s head of content – partnerships, sport, Anne Gruber, tells Mumbrella, Nines key focus is not just from a broadcast perspective, but also the on-ground experience for patrons.

“As a broadcast and media house, we need to make sure how that on-ground experience is being represented to the world,” Gruber explains. “The ecosystem that we have at Wide World of Sports (WWOS) is unrivaled in this instance that the content opportunities are tailored through each of the different platforms. No one else has the rights and the opportunity to tell those stories  across all those different platforms, and it’s never been bigger than this year.”

Nine has learnt in the last four years working with its partners, and also across the broadcast, is that every year there are new connect points.

“Particularly, from a sports marketing perspective, the timing of the tournament, and opportunities across Total TV, whether that’s metro or regional, but also digital, radio and print, are completely unmatched,” she says.

In the last 12 months, from a tennis perspective, Nine’s focus has been on innovation in the digital space, in particular a strong emphasis on BVOD and streaming.

“Nine is providing new ad formats, and ways to engage through BVOD, and streaming, because that’s an area that’s growing enormously,” Gruber admits. “We have quite few new ad formats, also lots of different types of QR codes, one of them is called Engage Now, which means the audience can scan the QR code, and can then interact with the brand, while you’re still watching the session, which means the viewer doesn’t have to leave the experience.”

She adds: “There’s also things we have such as digital billboards, with many different options to choose from. These are ad formats, they’re brand and retail driven, but Nine’s focus is how do we make that connect into a full-funnel solution from a marketing standpoint? Again, using data and profiling fans, to inform the right medium.”

And just as the Australian Open provides sporting stories, Nine’s approach to working with brands in the sporting arena has evolved. Drawing on Nine’s content delivery to find new ways to tell a brand’s story, and distributed across a sport ecosystem spanning Total TV, digital, radio and print.

“The power of Nine’s Wide World of Sports is unmatched,” Gruber admits. “In 2022, more brands will experience the unrivalled WWOS ecosystem through content specifically tailored to their needs across multiple platforms to ensure their objectives are met. No other media business can offer the assets to achieve this, the depth of knowledge or the prestige of an iconic brand such as WWOS.”

She adds: “The team at Powered, Nine’s marketing solutions division, have worked closer than ever before with our tennis partners to create big ideas that are 100% customer-centric and engage their consumers throughout the Australian Open and across their customer life cycle during the year.”

“It starts with daily coverage on wwos.com.au and our metro publishing mastheads, giving brands a summer of tennis filled with sport marketing opportunities on Total TV across metro and regional, digital, radio and print, all available in one place.”

Gruber continues: “Beyond the Australian Open, Tennis on Nine can now take partners right around the globe, as the official broadcaster of Roland Garros, Wimbledon, and the US Open – we’re already talking to a number of partner brands about extending their story across the year of tennis on Nine and we can’t wait.”

Meanwhile, Nine met with Tennis Australia last week, and are working very closely with the federal and Victorian Governments on how the tournament can remain a COVID-safe event.

“What we do and how we move forward will be assessed every day, if not multiple times per day,” Gruber says. “The governments will make the call on what is the safest thing to do. At this point, no decision has been made on that, but I know for a fact, around ticket sales, there has been huge success for this year’s Australian Open.”

Gruber adds that despite rumours ticket sales for the Australian Open will be capped at 50% of Melbourne Park’s capacity to make the event COVID-safe, that hasn’t affected ticket sales from this point, or from a broadcast perspective.

“It may be capped, but at this stage nobody knows, but everyone is aware that there will be more COVID-19 cases. Will this make a difference to broadcast? No,” Gruber explains. “Last year, Australia was in lockdown in the middle of the Australian Open, and that meant that less people could view it on-ground, but people were still consuming it either via streaming or free-to-air, or catching up on social media.”

Last year, 1.173 million viewers across the five capital cities watched Novak Djokovic win his ninth Australian Open last night, taking out the title in three sets against Daniil Medvedev.

The match, which ran from 7:46pm to 9:29pm, attracted less viewers to Nine than 2020’s men’s final, in which Djokovic defeated Dominic Thiem, attracting 1.524 million metro viewers – almost as many as the 1.547 million who watched last night’s final nationally.

On Sunday, Novak Djokovic left Australia late on Sunday night after his legal team failed to overturn immigration minister, Alex Hawke’s decision to cancel his visa.

Mumbrella asks Gruber if Djokovic’s exclusion will have any affect on Nine’s ratings or Australian Open audience figures.

“From a brand perspective and with our partners, we are obviously speaking with them every day and it’s a decision that needs to be made by the government, and regardless of the what happened with Novak Djokovic, I don’t think it will have any impact on the interest in tennis, because it’s one player, and there’s been a lot of publicity around it, but I think what the pandemic has shown us, is that the passion for sport and the togetherness is at its peak, and following the action is what brings people together, so we don’t see the decision have any impact on the success of the Australian Open,” she says,

“For us as a network, the Australian Open is the launchpad for the year at Nine,” Gruber explains. “We try to pass that on as an opportunity for brands, because the timing in January is perfect to set up the rest of the year, both from a content standpoint, and from a brand perspective.”


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