Nine unites verticals under 9Honey network umbrella as Helen McCabe seeks better TV and digital integration

Nine has brought together a number of its verticals under the umbrella brand of 9Honey to launch Nine’s women’s network in Helen McCabe’s first big move since being appointed head of lifestyle in July.

9Honey originally launched in April 2015 as a fashion pillar for what was then known as Ninemsn, with the fashion and beauty website rebranding as 9Style while the 9Honey brand will become the overarching umbrella brand.


The launch is the first major step by Nine head of lifestyle Helen McCabe and is part of her ambition to better integrate Nine’s digital and television businesses.

The new women’s network brings together celebrity news site 9The Fix; cooking and recipe site 9Kitchen; interior design site 9Homes; fashion and beauty site 9Style; travel site 9Elsewhere; and fitness website 9Coach.

The offering will also boast parenting content under the masthead of 9Mums.

Speaking to Mumbrella, McCabe said this is stage one of the plan.

“This is an evolution for us, I’ve pulled together the existing network and given it an overarching brand and pulled together a team,” she said.

“This is stage one for me and it’s not where we want to land and in some ways the announcement is the signal of the real work beginning where we go back to the drawing board and look at it from scratch.”

While 9Mums will exist on the 9Honey network from Tuesday, it won’t exist yet as a stand-alone website vertical in the same manner as the other brands with McCabe unsure of when that will happen.

“Mums will be on the site but it won’t be a full-blown site for sometime, it’s really just signalling our intent on 9Mums. We’re not really in the game in a big way just yet, this is very evolutionary,” she explained.

9Honey will be text-based “in the first instance”, McCabe said, with ambitions for 9Honey’s video content.

“We have very ambitious plans for the video side of it, of course we would do, we have a television network sitting over there shooting television stories and overlay and chasing things all over the world. I’m a long way down the path working out how to integrate those two sides of the business and Channel Nine over at TCN is so excited about it and being incredibly supportive” she said.

“Hopefully out of the newsroom over there we’ll have a quick 30-second daily video of the stories we think will be the watercooler stories of the day.”

While McCabe would not be drawn on the KPIs for the site, she said she would measure success by how integrated the two sides of the businesses are.

“The one marker I would put is I’d love the business to be better integrated between the television business and the digital business. I’d love to see a lot of great content from a lot of people you know over at Nine become part of the site,” she said.

McCabe said a number of Nine TV talent are already writing for the site including Leila McKinnon, Sonia Kruger and Shelley Craft.


Helen McCabe wants to see the digital and TV businesses become more integrated

On why Nine wanted to dive into the women’s, and in particular the mums, content space, McCabe said it completed the conversation they were having with women.

“It felt to me like the missing piece of the puzzle. We were having a conversation around fitness, fashion, beauty, health, travel and we weren’t having that broader discussion in the lives of women,” she said.

“Mums is just easy, it’s a short, sharp piece of branding. It’ll be about parenting, relationships, it’ll be about news, opinion. It gives us an opportunity to expand the sort of stories we’re doing. Nine is a network for mainstream, middle Australia, it always has been. Mums and families are very core to our audience and we wanted to create a network that gave the women that are watching our TV shows somewhere to go to.”

The launch of 9Honey as a women’s network follows on from rival News Corp’s News DNA flagging their interest in the space with the appointment of Felicity Harley as the editor of their as yet un-named platform.

It also comes on the heels of Mamamia announcing its intent to become a “generalist” news site with new content on sport, finance, travel and automotive.

On how 9Honey, and in particular 9Mums, is different to the competition McCabe admitted she did not know how it would stand out in the market.

“It is competitive. I’m an enormous admirer of everything all those people have done in the space and they’re some really great sites. But we’re a really big media company, we already have a heap of verticals, we have a television channel with an extraordinary level of video content, it’s something like 7.2m women watching our TV channel, my strategy is to give them somewhere to go online. Yes, it’s competitive but that’s the fun bit.”

McCabe has recruited former supervising producer of A Current Affair Kerri Elstub to edit the new 9Honey network.

Kerri Elstub, Helen McCabe and Anna Quinn

The 9Honey team: Kerri Elstub, Helen McCabe and Anna Quinn

On what audiences can expect from the new 9Honey, McCabe said: “The new editor is a veteran of mainstream family concerns. It will be consumer oriented, it will be entertaining, it will be filled with celebrity, health and fitness ideas. I don’t think it will be super newsy in the first instance. It’s a small, agile, enthusiastic team pulled together out of existing sources.

“My ambition is to get the team humming and get into a bit of a rhythm and certainly work out how we can work with the television network so we can have great content coming out of that.

“When you log on you’ll see a site that is in its infancy and hopefully will give you a bit of an indication of where we might get to ultimately,” McCabe added.

Commercially, 9Honey will offer advertisers traditional display advertising, however McCabe said native is something they are looking at.

“As a big digital business we have lots of big clients, they buy the way they buy which is through display and programmatic but we will be looking to have closer relationships with our clients and to look at the native space that is clearly where a lot of it is going and we will want to be involved in those conversations,” McCabe said.

On the decision to rebrand 9Honey 18 months into its lifespan, McCabe credits the decision to Damien Woolnough who joined the team from Grazia in August.


“It actually took me quite a while to come to the conclusion that Honey wasn’t a great name for a fashion and beauty site. Damien Woolnough, he was the one who said I really think this site should be called Style,” she said.

“It was really then easy for me to then flip it. I didn’t want to spend weeks-months wandering around wondering what a new women’s lifestyle site should be called when we actually already had a name that people had an affinity with.”

Together the 9Honey network – including 9TheFix (excluding the TV guide), 9Kitchen, 9Homes, 9Style, 9Elsewhere and 9Coach – has a unique audience of 1.276m according to Nielsen.


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