Nine’s Adrian Swift confident Ninja Warrior will do ‘really well’ as a demographic play

Nine’s Adrian Swift, head of content production and development, is confident Ninja Warrior will perform well across the 25-54s demographic, despite the fact “it’s a hard audience to get to.”

Ninja Warrior – which is understood to be one of the most expensive shows for Nine – unveiled KFC, Advil and Berocca as its sponsors today.

Scott Evennett, one of the Ninja Warrior competitors

KFC will have on-ground branding over the course and will extend its sponsorship to the Ninja Support Crew content online, while Advil will have on-ground branding on the screen timer, leaderboard and break engagers. Berocca will own the ‘performance of the night’ replay in the show and online.

Swift said the show, which already runs in countries including the United Kingdom and United States, was easy to sell as advertisers knew what they were buying into.

“The good thing about something like this is, people know the show. The hardest thing for us is to sell a show no-one’s heard of.

“The easiest thing is to go, ‘You know that thing called Ninja Warrior that you’ve got brands in the US and UK and Spain, well we are doing it here’, and that makes it a much easier sell.”

He said while it was a difficult audience to reach, he was confident Ninja would do well in its key advertising demographic, the 25-54s.

“It’s a hard audience to get to. I think it’s a solid 25-54 demographic play because that’s the kind of people who do this.

“This is not an easy audience to reach. It’s a difference audience, probably slightly younger audience than we normally have and it’s an audience we don’t normally talk to in this environment.

“To get a mass audience, and a mass demo audience, you still need people to watch vicariously ie. ‘I’ve never run a course, I don’t really care about cross-fit but I’m watching amazing people do amazing things’.”

Lisa Parkes

Swift said the time frame of the show, Sunday-Tuesday for three weeks, was the right amount of time for audience engagement.

“We felt three weeks – Sunday-Tuesday – was the right amount of time to allow the audience to really engage with the show, the contestants – and to get into it, rather than running it one or two nights a week over a longer period.”

Commenting on his motivations for taking the gamble with one of Nine’s most expensive shows yet, Swift said after five years of thinking about it, the “timing was right”.

“There’s a whole big cross-fit thing going on in Australia. People doing Tough Mudder, things like Spartan, all this stuff was coming to a head.

“Ninja is kind of like the sporting version of cross-fit, if you had built cross-fit as a course, you’d build a Ninja course.

“It represented a whole lot of stuff that was going on with Australians. The other thing we thought that was interesting about it was in a world where everyone is either cooking or renovating, it was quite nice to see something that’s different, that really does feel different.

“At the moment it is unique and that’s why we love it… Taking risks in television is difficult, particularly when you’ve got a show that costs as much as this show costs but we really think the time is right.

The course

“For Nine, it’s a really nice cross over of sport and entertainment. We reckon the two things we do well are entertainment and sport and Ninja is kind of the cross-over of those two things,” he added.

Swift said a point of difference for the local version of Ninja Warrior would be storytelling.

“The big thing with us is storytelling, you’re getting the backstory of all the men and women who compete. The English one is played a little bit more for laughs, whereas ours, they’re serious competitors.

“We tell the backstory of pretty much everyone who runs the course.”

However, while there are 250 contestants, one contestant’s story won’t be told in the same way, with Nine deciding to pull an attempt by Johann Ofner, an Australian stunt man who passed away earlier this year on set of a Bliss n Eso music video.

“Production company Endemol Shine Australia and Channel Nine have decided to feature an on-screen in memoriam dedication to Johann Ofner rather than show his runs in the program,” said Channel Nine in a statement.

“We have been in close contact with his next of kin, who are supportive of this decision. We have the utmost respect for Johann and his involvement in Ninja Warrior, and we want to honour his memory in the most appropriate way.”

The show will commence 7:00pm on 9 July on Channel Nine.


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