Nine CEO admits network needs to get better at planning to deliver consistent audiences

Nine Entertainment CEO, Hugh Marks, has admitted the network needs to improve its planning to better deliver to audiences consistently throughout the year.

Hugh Marks:

Hugh Marks: “We need to plan well ahead to deliver audiences consistently across the year”

The comments from Marks comes as he celebrates his one-year anniversary in the top-job at Nine as the company also reveals its programming slate for 2017 which has seen it announce a new Underbelly series about Mark ‘Chopper’ Read, the return of kids’ show Hi-5 and a “bold” relationship experiment show.

Speaking with Mumbrella on the sidelines at the Upfronts event, Marks said: “The lesson we’ve learned is we have to plan well ahead. We have to plan well ahead to deliver audiences consistently across the year.

“That’s not what we did last year, particularly at the top of the year. We’ve done it at the end of the year, certainly the middle of the year and post-Olympics, that consistency has been there. Working our schedules so that we can deliver that across the whole year is really important for us in a business environment at the moment.”

Marks said Nine will achieve consistency with 50% more local premium hours of content.

“That’s a big commitment. So if you think about that over the year and take that over the week, we’ll have more premium television on air, so that’s number one,” he said.

“If you look at the brands and other things we’ve chosen to do, very much in that strong 7:30pm slot where the family audience is engaging with television, so that consistency of big entertainment across that 7:30pm slot will be very important.

“More hours, more shows, bigger entertainment. Less money spent on international content and more money spent on local content.”

Marks said he was confident Nine has “the most comprehensive content slate across television and digital going into next year”.

“We have the biggest shows, biggest number of shows, more extensions, more integration opportunities, that sets us apart into next year when you add that on top of the solid pillars we’ve always had – news and current affairs and sport.

“Adding that big entertainment lens across all of our assets – broadcast and digital – really sets us apart from the opposition.

“If you’re an advertiser, you can get television, you can get extensions out of television, we can do content that you can take into your own owner-operated environment; we can do content that you can use in social. All of it has a role to play in marketing, we just think content, premium content should be at the centre of it.”

When questioned if the new programming slate would help Nine achieve a win over Seven in total people, Marks said it would be nice but it is not the focus.

“I’m very focused on demographics, those are the things advertisers buy; 25 to 54 is important for us, 16 to 39 and grocery buyers and children are the demographics we focus on,” he said.

“Servicing total people can be a very different exercise. That real point of focus – and that is something I got very clear on early when I started on Nine – what’s our demographics focus and that is something we’ll continue to push.

“Total people… it would be nice, as that is what the media report on but it’s not going to turn our business.”

Today’s Upfronts event also saw Nine unveil its programmatic play 9Galaxy, which Marks admits is “about 12 months behind” where he’d like to be.

“But then on the other hand, we know what is working and what’s not working and coming a little bit later sometimes enables you to come with a better model,” he said.

“The model we have chosen is probably the optimal model for this market, so hopefully that will give us a little bit of a competitive advantage – more than just a catch-up when we do launch it. It’s really important to make television an easier buy and I think it will really help as we go forward. Particularly with great content.”

Nine has also unveiled its digital women’s network 9Honey, which the network was pitching as the first mass-market women’s platform.


Marks said 9Honey differs to the likes of Mia Freedman’s Mamamia as 9Honey brings together a television network and a digital publishing network.

“She’s had a very successful business and she should be proud of her business. Our approach is just a little bit different, this is taking a television network and a big digital publishing network and focusing it on that women’s segment,” he said.

“Our business will be different and the mass market comment is a reference to the combination of those assets.”

Marks also referenced Labor’s opposition to the media reform bill, saying it was positive to see Labor address the issue of license fees.

“What was really positive from what Labor said is that they recognise that the thing that needs to be addressed first is the license fees we pay, no other broadcast networks in the world pay at the levels we do,” he said.

“We’re very focused on that being changed first, and after that’s changed, we’re broadly supportive of what media reform will look like, perhaps a little more comprehensive than where we’re at today but we’ll engage in that debate and discussion but license fees are the most important and that needs to be addressed urgently.”


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