Ninja Warrior will beat Seven’s Spartan, despite ‘undeniable similarities’ in promos, Nine programming boss claims

Nine has come out swinging against competitor Seven, declaring its highly successful Australian Ninja Warrior franchise will easily beat Seven’s alternative offering Spartan.

Nine’s programming director Hamish Turner told Mumbrella: “[Seven is] obviously keen to emulate [the success of] Ninja, but you have to question where the line of appropriation and imitation is.”

Warrior versus Spartan: Nine and Seven’s competing franchises

He flagged the “undeniable similarities” in the way the two programs were being promoted  and noted “we’ll just have to keep an eye on that”.

Despite the potential cross over, Turner said Ninja is “the original and incumbent” and predicted Spartan would be unlikely to dent Ninja’s record-breaking ratings.

“It was a phenomenon last year, so we would hope that it definitely comes back meeting what we did last year – but that was a phenomenal result, so anything in that ballpark would be more than welcome.

“But I think the thing with that show is it actually becomes a better show in season two. You have people coming back trying to conquer the course again, there’s new characters and actually the story-telling is a lot deeper and richer because you have those characters that return trying to conquer Mount Midoriyama. So it shifts in terms of the tone and treatment, but for me it becomes a better show, and we’ve seen that in the US.”

He also noted in the US, Spartan acts as a companion, rather than a competitor, to Ninja – and gets nowhere near the numbers.

Turner said a lot of Nine’s programming successes last year – which saw the network win across the key advertising demographics and almost overtake Seven in total people for the first time in over a decade – stemmed from its bold and original commissions. It would be more of the same this year, he said.

Love Island, which has been commissioned specifically for its multi-channel 9G0 and online 9Now platform, will be a highlight this year, Turner said.

Turner’s favourite non-Nine show last year was The Bachelorette

“It’s also a commission for our business, which is focussed on being a cross-platform business. Audience anywhere at anytime. They were the fundamentals around that commission,” he said.

Turner flagged Ten’s The Bachelorette, starring now Love Island host Sophie Monk, as the best non-Nine program last year, noting it was a risk, but she’s great TV talent and Ten’s numbers for the series spoke for themselves.

Aside from looking forward to Love Island, Turner said he always looks forward to Married at First Sight – which has been performing strongly after a debut audience of 912,000 metro viewers.

“It was strategically scheduled last year in an environment to engage a demographically rich audience and it delivered upon that. And I don’t think we could have predicted the way viewers fell in love with that show,” he said.

“We are really pleased with the first week of Married at First Sight. The show debuted up strongly on its 2017 figures and is performing very well both in the key demographics and also on 9Now, where it is the clear number one on the OzTAM VPM rankings.

“Married at First Sight is a true performer across all platforms and we are also very pleased to see the new 9Honey/Married chat show Talking Married is also drawing strong audiences on our multichannel 9Life.”


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