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How Nine’s TV sales boss is selling the Olympics by getting back to basics

Nine’s TV sales team is clearly doing something right, even in a challenging environment: last week the division celebrated its highest free-to-air revenue share in two decades.

But the approach is nothing fancy. Instead, as the marathon begins to recoup Nine’s eight-year Olympics investment, Nine’s TV sales boss says the key is nailing the basics.

“We’ve always had a really simple approach to the way that we deal with agencies and clients,” Richard Hunwick, Nine’s director of total television sales, told Mumbrella. “It can be as simple as telling people what you’re going to do, and then do what you said you were going to do.”

Richard Hunwick

“As a sales team, we are only as good as our results, and the results come from our clients and agency partners,” he said. “We know they have a lot of options to spend their money with, and we look to try and earn every dollar effectively.”

Internally, though, Hunwick said the longevity of employees and reliability of products also help create a powerful conversation with clients.

Nine Entertainment’s upfront will be held in early September, where the group is expected to share its holistic offering around the Paris Olympics 2024 across television, audio and publishing.

While it has only been two years since the COVID-delayed Tokyo Olympics, Hunwick said there has already been much excitement around what’s to come.

“It’s a unique opportunity that came with a lot of responsibility and expectation. Because I think it’s been a long while – if ever – that a network has gone into an Olympic with such a strong existing pedigree of product.”

Looking back at the Matildas phenomenon recently, Hunwick said it’s essential that Australian audiences have the same mutual space that is free-to-air television to share the Olympics as a cultural moment.

However, while only selected Women’s World Cup games made it to free-to-air TV on Seven, none of the Olympics broadcast will be behind a paywall.

“The fact that we’ve got it [the Olympics] holistically will make it accessible for all Australians, and it will bring the nation together as it always does, and the great stories will create new moments,” said Hunwick.

Selling TV can be a tough gig in the current advertising market. Revenues are declining, and the medium has to fight harder to maintain its share because of conversations around linear viewership erosion. However, Hunwick said it’s not all doom and gloom for the format.

“It’s been a challenging year, but off really high benchmarks for COVID and into last year’s election,” he said.

“There’s still a power in television, and it’s always existed. I do think the key is to look at what television is today and what it will be in the future.

“We’ve come from linear and we will go to a place where everything is digital. But in the meantime, we will work with a transition space where the new TV is still an incredible powerhouse that’s valuable for brands and advertisers.”

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