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Nine’s CEO on building subscriptions when advertising fades: ‘The inherent value of Nine’s business has become increasingly evident’

Nine’s CEO Mike Sneesby spoke at the Macquarie conference today, where he touted the “inherent value” of Nine’s business, which puts premium content at its core.

Sneesby started by outlining Nine’s wins: as Australia’s leading free-to-air TV network in the metro area, Australia’s leading BVOD operator, 9Now as “leading local SVOD service”, Stan’s six years of profitability, owning the leading talk radio network, as well as Australia’s “most read publisher in our targeted markets”, and a 60% stake in Domain, which he described as “one of Australia’s leading real estate marketplace businesses”.

Interestingly, Sneesby then pointed to Nine’s strength in building subscriptions during an advertising downturn.

“Through 2024, the inherent value of Nine’s business has become increasingly evident,” he stated.

“The core of Nine is our premium content which fuels our distribution platforms across television, audio, streaming, publishing and marketplaces. As our business mix becomes more digital, the value we can extract from our substantial cross platform signed-in user base will continue to grow and provides us with a unique competitive advantage.

“Across all of our platforms, Nine has a total registered audience of nearly 22 million Australians and each month 16 million Australians visit one or more of these Nine assets, giving us greater capacity to create value through this increasingly significant pool of data. Across the Group, Nine generates revenues through advertising, subscriptions, platforms and licensing and marketplaces and transactions, of which around half is now digitally sourced and all of which, either directly or indirectly, benefit from being part of the broader Nine group.

“Nine has one of Australia’s leading first party data resources, rivaling any other digital platform. The scale of our data set, coupled with our growing digital audiences, places Nine in a unique position and underpins our confidence in maximising the growth of our digital revenues.”

Sneesby notes “strong and resilient performances from our digital subscription businesses”, with subscription revenue expected to account for around 30% of Nine’s total group revenues in the current financial year — once you exclude Domain from the sums.

“In the first half, our subscription revenues grew by 8%, and we have seen ongoing momentum both in terms of pricing — with price increases this half at both Stan and the AFR.com.au — and subscriptions into the second half,” he continued.

“We remain focused on the ARPU opportunity, a function of the premium content that we create, and which we believe has some way to run.”

While noting the “challenging operating environment”, Sneesby points to the commercial opportunities around the upcoming Olympics, noting “the audiences and advertisers these events will bring to our platform,” as well as “the data we will collect and lessons we will learn in terms of user preferences and dynamics” will help build the overall offering.

All in all, Sneesby believes Nine is “well-positioned when economic conditions and advertising markets begin to recover.”

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