Nine Entertainment is preparing to turn on its new live streaming and catch-up service 9Now in the next 10 days, Mumbrella understands.
The move comes as Network Ten prepares to expand its live streaming offering with a block of weekday programming from 4:30pm to 7:30pm on Tenplay from today onwards, while I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here will also to be streamed when it launches on February 1.
Nine declined to comment on the 9Now move, however it is understood the replacement of 9Jumpin will launch before the start of the TV ratings years on February 7.
Both are playing catch up with the Seven Network, which has been aggressively promoting the number of live streams on its 7Tennis app this week, ahead of the “imminent” launch of the Oztam Digital Ratings project.
Last year the major Australian TV networks all signalled a shift towards live streaming of terrestrial broadcasts, while they all hope the new hybrid TV and digital metric will give a shot in the arm to declining live TV audiences.
Seven led the charge, launching live streaming to coincide with the Melbourne Cup, which drew 300,000 live streams on the day.
Gone: Nine is set to dump 9Jumpin.
Nine has promised to follow suit junking its catch-up 9Jumpin brand and instead promising to launch 9Now, which will include both catch-up and live streaming, in the first quarter of 2016.
A spokesman for Ten confirmed that the network will be expanding its existing live streaming offering, saying: “We have been live streaming Ten Eyewitness News First At Five and The Project for some time now, plus Studio 10”.
“From 21 January, we will start live streaming The Bold and The Beautiful and Family Feud. From 31 January, we will live stream I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! NOW.
“The expansion of our live streaming is completely consistent with what Paul Anderson said last year – i.e., we would add more live streaming in a controlled way and test consumer demand.”
Both TV networks will be eager to catch up to Seven which posted strong numbers on live streams with the Australian Open but declined to give more detailed information on the figures.
Clive Dickens, chief digital office of Seven West Media, told Mumbrella that today’s number of 862,000 live streams was not a unique audience, even though it was being promoted alongside its TV audience.
“It is definitely not people – we can’t put people to devices,” said Dickens, arguing that many tennis fans might be watching TV but also monitoring a game online.
“If you have got (people watching) Hewitt on Seven and Tomic on 7Two and Jack Sock online, that’s what people are doing; it is that type of sport.”
Dickens: we are not releasing unique audience numbers.
When asked if Seven had the numbers on the unique devices or registered users Dickens conceded they did, but would not release those figures.
“Yes we do (have them),” he said. “Last year’s number of unique devices across the whole event was 1.2m and we are forecasting to exceed that. We are not going to give daily uniques on that but I’m confident that by the end of the tennis we will be in excess of that.
“We are seeing such an uptick in overall numbers. For example, (Monday) night’s streaming was 100 per cent higher than this time last year.”
While the TV network is being coy on the number of people actually live streaming, Seven’s digital honcho said it is seeing very high audience numbers using mobile devices – particularly iPads/tablets instead of desktop browsers.
“Over 90 per cent of the streams are mobile,” he said. “In terms of the death of the browser we are seeing it here in a big way; rarely have I seen a figure as high as 90 per cent.
“I think consumers sit down and ask ‘which mobile device of mine is going to give me the hybrid experience of mobility, portability and convenience? Ok, I’ll get my iPad out’.
“It is very much a device of choice for video on your lap.”
Dickens also declined to explain what the average time spent viewing was, but did indicate that many viewers were flicking between apps and that it was under five minutes per stream.
“We are not releasing specific data (on time spent) but what I can say is that the app is designed for you to flip around and you can go between up to 18 different courts. Therefore each session time is short and each session time across the whole of last year’s Australian Open was under five minutes.”
Seven also made it clear that its decision to start releasing daily numbers on live streams comes ahead of Oztam’s much-delayed VPM Report, which will give numbers on the size of the viewing audience in digital.
“What we are doing (with tennis) is a precursor. This data is single source,” Dickens said. “It is heading towards this Oztam number, which will come out very soon.”
“What we do know is that as an industry we are seeing more than 8m individual apps or devices feeding into the pre-release (OzTAM VPM) data.
“That’s not 8m Australian or even phones, as if people have multiple catch-up services – phone app, ipad app that counts as three – but we are seeing over 8m unique identifiers a month and that is momentous. Getting that right and being able to have daily reports is critical.”
Oztam had promised to have its first digital data released by late November. This was then moved to December and now into the new year.
A spokeswoman for Oztam confirmed the company is “not far away from launch”.
“OzTAM’s VPM Report is in the final stages of network review, and making sure they are comfortable with the proposed reporting formats,” she said.