How 9Rush will use Discovery content to fill the gap in Nine’s programming slate

On Sunday, April 5, Nine will launch a new multi-channel - 9Rush. In partnership with Discovery, the channel will be aimed at men in the 25-54 demographic, but it isn’t launching as a competitor to 7mate, insists Nine’s program director Hamish Turner and director of network scheduling Geoff Dyer. They sat down with Mumbrella’s Hannah Blackiston to discuss the new offering and its place in the free to air market.

Top Gear UK, Man vs. Wild with Bear Grylls, Street Outlaws, Naked and Afraid and Gold Rush: Parker’s Trail. Those are just some of the titles you will find on 9Rush on April 5, when it launches as Nine’s newest multi-channel offering.

9Rush launches in April and fills a gap in Nine’s content slate

“There’s been a bit of a hole in our slate, outside live sports, for that male-skewing 25-54. Hugh Marks [Nine CEO] has been in conversations with Discovery for a while, both casual and more recently formal, and an opportunity came up because Discovery wanted to extend its reach past the paywall. Nine is a great partner to help them do that,” says Hamish Turner, Nine’s program director.

Discovery’s content has previously lived on Foxtel, a platform that Turner stresses only 30% of the country have access to, and this will be its first time on free to air (FTA). Geoff Dyer, director of network scheduling for Nine, says it’s that content that provides the real edge for 9Rush.

“All of this content is world-class content, no one does it better than Discovery. Having all of this as never before seen was absolutely perfect for us. Assembling a channel of stuff that’s all been seen on FTA in a couple of different places wasn’t going to be enough to provide a real alternative and to build an entire channel over,” said Dyer.

The obvious FTA comparison is 7mate – a channel which offers a very similar skew to 9Rush. The difference, says Turner, is that 9Rush won’t skew from that Discovery content.

“We’re launching with that content, we’ve got years of that content which can fill that slate. We won’t be diversifying off into movies or anything of that ilk. What you sell is what you get and it will be an offering that will deliver an audience over time,” said Turner.

“7mate started there with a bit of A&E content, but what they’ve done is drifted away a little bit from that, whereas we’ll really stay in those lines.”

Top Gear UK will be exclusively launched in Australia on 9Rush

Viewers, says Dyer, should be able to know that when they turn on 9Rush, they’ll find content they love. Always.

“It’s not going to be one night sport, one night movies and a couple of nights of male-skewed reality. 7mate is a fantastically put together channel, but we’re not seeing this as the alternative or the competitor to 7mate, this is just about providing more content for free to air audience to enjoy,” says Dyer.

This is also a great chance for Nine to expand on its 9Now broadcast video on demand (BVOD) offering. Currently, the platform skews heavily female. With Nine’s flagship reality content, including Married At First Sight and Love Island, a big hit on BVOD but also aimed at women, the broadcaster needed to find a way to diversify.

The deal Nine has signed with Discovery has given it a custom channel full of content tailormade for that audience which will be available on linear and BVOD. Amid the chaos that has followed the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, which has cancelled live sport across the board, 9Rush’s launch may also provide its audience with content in a time when that is lacking on FTA. It’s timing that couldn’t have been predicted, but timing which might result in a great launch for the channel.

The door has also been opened for advertisers who are looking to boost their buy with a specific demographic, minimising wastage and completing Nine’s audience mix. 9Rush will be a destination, says Turner, for both audiences and brands.

“At the end of the day, it’s getting access to amazing content that targets a very specific audience that the sales team can then go out and sell to. When buyers are going in and trying to top up their reach or their buys they can do it with 9Rush and get an audience that they’re currently not getting as part of our suite of channels. I think it’s becoming even more important now, with the loss of sport across the world so this provides a great alternative for that audience.”


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