‘Nine is a content company’, CEO Hugh Marks tells shareholders

The media business of the future lies in managing ‘content and rights’ with Nine becoming a ‘content company’ said CEO Hugh Marks at the network’s annual general meeting this morning.

Marks told shareholders in Sydney the company is not only proving it understands content but has shown how it can use that understanding to create value for shareholders.

Marks presenting at Nine’s AGM this morning

“While we still report TV and digital as separate divisions, it is fair to say this is becoming less reflective of the way we are thinking about our business,” said Marks.

“The media business of the future is all about content and rights.

“Controlling the rights to premium television content will be the key to potential success in the media of the future. As will the ability to utilise all platforms to extract maximum value for that content.”

Marks’ comments echo those made in August when speaking with Mumbrella about future sports rights.

At the time, he indicated the company would prioritise owning sports rights across multiple formats rather than just free to air television deals.

Today he told shareholders Nine had made significant inroads towards repositioning and refocusing the business towards the $6b video advertising market.


According to Marks, Nine’s content is “by far the most brand-safe and accountable environment for advertisers”, and Nine’s news, sport, entertainment and lifestyle content will generate increased amounts of advertising spend.

“Each of the pillars is becoming a business in its own right,” said Marks.

“With News, Sport, Entertainment and Lifestyle content distributed through all platforms – Free to air, AVOD, digital publishing and soon to be social, and any others that come along in the future that offer Nine the potential to create value.”

When concerns were raised around whether Google or Facebook could negotiate sports deals for a much larger cost, Marks remained confident in free to air television’s ability to lock in deals.

“My experience is at the moment, certainly in this market, there will be some competition around the edges from Google and Facebook but if you talk to the media rights organisations, they understand the benefit they get from being on a free-to-air platform in terms of access to the market quickly, effectively and in one broadcast. And I don’t expect that to change in the near future,” he said.

“Having said that, obviously the ability of us to monetise those sports rights as audience fragment remains the challenging thing. It means right deals will change and rights deals will change in the mix of who has what right and how. Changing the dynamic of the market to reflect the way people are earning new revenues or the way that audiences are being aggregated but that will always involve a role for free-to-air television.”

While Marks and Nine executive chairman Peter Costello both pointed to increased free to air ratings growth, Marks said 9Now has become a “stand-alone business”, with almost 4.4m registered viewers.

“As audiences have registered and begin to experience 9Now, our ability to monetise those viewers will continue to be enhanced,” he added.

Marks also said SVOD service Stan was another example of how Nine is building an alternative revenue stream, claiming a subscriber base of more than 800,000.


Looking to FY2018, Marks said the company was confident in the strength and stability of its schedule.

He added: “We note that the analyst range of forecast EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) has been updated to $204m to $230m, before Specific Items, with an average of $210.7m.”

“We have already guided to an FY18 dividend of around 9.5 cents, consistent with FY17.”


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